Letters 07.01.12

Memorable Dates

Regarding the article “Crucifixion Date” (Briefs, June 17 issue):
I believe that Christ was crucified on March 13, 33. Christ died on the eve of Passover. Passover was celebrated on the 14th of the month. According to the Julian Calendar, in use in 33, March 14 was a Saturday. Therefore, Christ was crucified on March 13, 33. That might explain the fascination with “Friday the 13th.”
If Christ died on March 13, 33, the Resurrection was on March 15, 33. That might explain the fascination with the “Ides of March.” Local seismic activity may not be important in this case. In the book The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, St. Alphonsus Liguori states that the earthquake and darkness that took place when Christ died were worldwide.

Joseph V. Simon
Richland Center, Wisconsin


Bishops vs. Obama

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, Calif., was quoted in the article “Bishops Defend Legal Strategy” (June 17 issue) about the bishops’ lawsuits against President Obama’s mandate requiring Catholic entities to provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives in their health-care plans: “I think there are different groups that are trying to co-opt this and make it into a political issue, and that’s why we need to have a deeper discussion as bishops.”
The article continued to say Bishop Blaire was worried that “a legitimate religious-freedom battle could be hijacked by Republican forces during an election year, with unpredictable consequences.” His comments gave the opposition media an opening to say there was a huge rift among the bishops over the lawsuits.
But President Barack Obama made forcing the Church to violate its conscience a political issue long ago to curry the campaign support and funding of Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations. And if Republicans use it in their campaign to help defeat Obama, that is a major benefit.
The bishops have tried negotiating with Obama, and that didn’t work and won’t work because he is so pro-abortion, even funding forced abortions in China and sex-selective abortion in the United States. His abortion position is antithetical to the Church, and he wants to limit the Church’s activities to inside the Church. Further, the bishops have tried the legislative route, but the opposition in the U.S. Senate made it a political issue and stopped that attempt.
The time for “discussion” is past: It is time for the actions the bishops are pursuing — prayer and legal relief — to defend our religious freedom. And no one should say anything that can be considered in any way negative about those actions.

John Naughton
Silver Spring, Maryland

The editor responds: In the same story, Bishop Blaire clarified his remarks, saying he endorsed the legal strategy of the U.S. bishops in their opposition to the president’s abortion mandate.

Ideological Caricature

Regarding “DOMA and Prop. 8: 2 Defeats for Marriage This Week” (June 7, NCRegister.com):
Marriage naturally is the exclusive, irrevocable and procreative union of one man and one woman. It is a state. The authentic married state is a fundamental human right which every legitimate human government has an obligation to protect.
No state or person has the right to abolish the authentic definition of marriage or to coercively replace it with an ideological caricature.
The claim of equivalence between same-sex “marriage” and natural marriage is false on its face.
Natural marriage is inherently procreative, barring extraneous factors or interventions. It is also inherently critical, in the sense that in natural marriage two people ratify their irrevocable dependency upon another who is as corporally different as possible from themselves. Lastly, as it is irrevocable, exclusive and inherently procreative, natural marriage is also relatively unpredictable.
Same-sex “marriage” is inherently sterile, barring extraneous factors or interventions. It is also inherently affirming, in the sense that each party to a same-sex “marriage” claims a physical or sexual image of themselves for permanent companionship. As it is inherently sterile and affirming, same-sex “marriage” is also relatively benign.
Christians do not claim the right to define marriage for others. We do not proclaim civil marriages or Jewish marriages or Islamic marriages invalid as such.
We do recognize, however, that under the proper conditions natural marriage can be an image of the relationship that unites the Creator to all of his creation.
Government in the United States has a constitutional duty to protect the Christian’s right to this belief.
Government’s present hostility to religion vs. health care and contraception reveals everything that needs to be known about the trajectory of same-sex “marriage.” Those demanding same-sex “marriage” today are already prepared tomorrow, once their “right” is granted, to charge Christians and anyone else who disagrees with them with discrimination of the highest degree and with denial of their fundamental human rights.
The demand for same-sex “marriage” today is also the demand to abolish the right to cherish natural marriage.
State sanction does not diminish the inherent falsehood of same-sex “marriage” any more than state licensure diminished the inherent value of traditional marriage. The defense of marriage that is presently required is more a defense of human nature than a defense of religion.
If those who understand the truth of the matter do not speak now, any state-imposed silence of the future will simply be the echo of their own self-neglect.

Gabriel A. Zamora
via email

On Subsidiarity

There it was — the important but mysterious word: “subsidiarity.”
Rarely invoked in Catholic publications and never appearing amidst the verbal snow of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ press releases (but defined in the Catechism), it took a letter to the editor of the Register (“The Common Good,” Letters to the Editor, June 3 issue) to make an important point in the new debate about religious freedom.
Tom Leith of St. Louis writes bluntly, and it’s worth repeating, “For decades, it has been the episcopacy pushing for federal provision of medical financing in the name of social justice and mere expediency also that has made this [the conditions of the Health and Human Services mandate concerning contraception] possible. Sister Carol Keehan is a creation of the bishops, the incumbents and especially the immediate two generations of their predecessors, because they have ignored the concept of subsidiarity articulated especially by Pope Pius XI in 1931.”
We should hear more about subsidiarity from the Register.

Charles Molineaux
McLean, Virginia

The editor responds: Most, if not all, of our content on Catholic social teaching at least touches on that doctrine. Rep. Paul Ryan just last month brought it again to the fore in our news story “Rep. Ryan: ‘We Have Pursued Solidarity but Abused Subsidiarity’” (May 4).

Morality, Not Politics

I just read Joan Frawley Desmond’s fine report on the latest assault on religious liberty (“Bishops Defend Legal Strategy,” June 17 issue).
The fact that even bishops and so-called “progressive Catholics” are weighing in against any attempt by the Church to defend religious freedom is not only frightening, but proof that their own political agendas trump the eternal truths that the Catholic Church professes through the Gospel of Jesus. This is clearly a morality issue, not a political one.
For more than 40 years, public policy has been forged to eradicate the presence of God in the public square. Yet the present administration goes farther than that.
The recent health-care legislation is just one of its many initiatives designed to get rid of God altogether from the hearts of individuals, the businesses they run, and the Catholic institutions that serve them and others of different faiths. Elimination of meaningful conscience protection in the recent health-care legislation and the Justice Department attack on the Defense of Marriage Act (instead of defending it in court) and labeling its supporters as “bigots” are just the tip of the iceberg.
The technocrats in this administration are intent on eliminating religious freedom altogether and are totally indifferent to any persuasion of morality. They just do not care.
Until the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops becomes a real moral force in society and speaks with unity, this trend will continue, until one day totalitarianism will rule instead of the freedom envisioned by the founders of our country.
How should we respond? St. Paul’s vision of goodness in Philippians is a call to reflection: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ... Then the God of peace will be with you.”
As Catholics, we would be wise to reflect on St. Paul’s admonition in making decisions affecting the common good of our country.

Ed Smith
Kettering, Ohio


Regarding “Ministry of Moms Sharing Bonds Mothers in Faith” (Culture of Life, May 20 issue, and at NCRegister.com): This group is not connected with a similarly named group called M.O.M.S. It is uniquely and independently created to fit the needs of the mothers at St. Gregory’s Parish in New York state and driven by surveys.
In “Truth and the Need for the Holy Spirit” (In Depth, May 20 issue), the Scripture reference was incorrect: It should have read: “I have much more to tell you,” Christ told his apostles, “but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth” (John 16:12).