Letters 07.18.2010

Timely Article

The Register is doing an excellent job. I especially liked the May 23 issue.

The article “More Than E=MC2” on Catholic education was timely and inspiring.

We need to publicize more men like the one you featured in this article.

Brother Thomas Frey, CSC

Austin, Texas

St. Pio Rocks!

I wanted to tell someone how the Register brought me home to the Catholic Church.

The Sept. 20, 2009, edition was mailed to me. I do not know who was responsible. I read “‘Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry’: St. Padre Pio’s Prescription for Eternal Health.” It touched my heart and soul.

Within a week, I attended Mass — the following week, confession.

After 30 years of being away, I am happily back and attending St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Port Charlotte, Fla.

I just want you to know the Register “reeled me in.” I am so thankful.

Sylvia LeBourveau

Port Charlotte, Florida

Life’s Definitions

I write to support Charles Coudert’s letter on “How the Pill Works.”

One correction is in order — the stage “fertilized egg” lasts for only 24 hours, not until implantation one week later. During this first week, this new human divides and subdivides as he or she floats freely down the mother’s fallopian tube. The proper term during this first week of life is “living human embryo.”

J.C. Willke, M.D.

Life Issues Institute

Cincinnati, Ohio

Half the Story

The Register has covered only half the issue in its coverage of illegal aliens (June 20 and July 4). There are two distinctly different classes of immigrants: legal immigrants who respect our laws enough to live under them and illegal immigrants who do not.

It’s not “xenophobic politics” to understand that we, as a nation, cannot continue to let people with no respect for our laws, our culture, our way of life, and our Constitution come into our country and set up housekeeping. We have national security issues to consider.

The people who regard this national security issue as merely an immigration issue are overlooking the fact that large numbers of illegal aliens have crossed the border illegally because they are criminals being hunted — by the law in their own countries. The murderers, drug dealers, flesh peddlers, rapists and arsonists entering the United States are fleeing justice and imposing their particular crimes on law-abiding American victims.

I want to hear more about the American lives being lost in Arizona and Texas to these criminals. I want to hear more about the American students who got sent home from school for wearing T-shirts bearing the American flag on May 5 because it might offend the Mexicans in the American school. I want to hear more about the arrest of the arsonist who turned out to be an illegal alien in my neighborhood.

The Catechism teaches us in No. 2240 that “submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote and to defend one’s country,” and No. 2241 teaches us that “immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”

Our laws must be respected. The broken part of our “broken immigration system” is that the illegal aliens break the law and no one prosecutes them.

Mary Shacklock Ryan

Hastings, Florida

Thanks, Archbishop!

I thank Archbishop Thomas Wenski for the truthful information regarding “Why We Defend Migrants” (June 20). Residing in the state of California where immigrants populate, I strongly agree we must welcome our brothers and sisters as we would Christ. Many citizens believe immigrants come to our country to take over our jobs; some even think our bad economy is in relation to this.

On the contrary, thanks to immigrants, I believe, they have stimulated our economy. They are willing to work very low-paid, hard-labor jobs that we citizens are not willing to endure. I’m talking about your all-day-in-the-sun, minimum-wage field jobs that are tough. Immigrants are disposed to work these positions to feed their families, some of which are large Catholic families open to life, even some of whom still have families living in their native country (where they can’t be with their loved ones for years to come because they can’t come and go as they wish).

Immigrants are so often criticized and discriminated without us truly knowing the facts. The U.S. government is willing to offer amnesty so immigrants can pay taxes; however, they don’t offer a permit to be able to work. That, to me, is pure hypocrisy! Immigrants are simply here to earn a living to then be able to provide for their families where in their countries they aren’t given the possibility to do so.

We are truly blessed to have what we have here; they simply want us to share of that blessing. Let us pray, help and welcome them. As Christ himself reminds us, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me. … As you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:35-40).

Marisela O. Llamas

Duarte, California

Arizona Ethics Muddle

Much criticism has been leveled against the Church because “Bishop Olmsted excommunicated a nun.” Your article in the June 20 issue “Conflict of Clarity” paints a much different picture. According to this article, Bishop Olmsted said, “Sister McBride was automatically excommunicated by concurring in the hospital ethics committee’s decision to abort the child.”

Bishop Olmsted merely observed that, by approving an illicit abortion, Sister McBride incurred an automatic latae sententiae excommunication; he did not impose the excommunication.

One may assume that Sister McBride, a member of the ethics committee in a Catholic hospital, and Bishop Olmsted are very familiar with the principle of double effect, a principle, whereby, under very specific circumstances, an “unwilled” abortion is permitted by the Church. If sister knew that this rare exception did not apply in this case, and approved the abortion, she incurred automatically a latae sententiae excommunication. It seems reasonable to assume that Bishop Olmsted, in light of sister’s ethical training, could not assign ignorance as a valid excuse, and the bishop, knowing all of the circumstances, medical and moral, assumed the obvious. What is surprising to me is that the other Catholic members of the ethics committee were not treated similarly.

Because of privacy laws, I do not believe that the public will be made aware of all of the circumstances. I do hope and pray that, if Sister McBride’s position differs from that of the bishop, she will present her own position so that concerned Catholics and others might get to know her side of the story. Justice can only be ascertained when both sides of the story are reviewed and there is an absence of prejudice.

James J. Clauss

Dunmore, Pennsylvania

Church and Immigration

This letter is in response to Jimmy Akin’s article on immigration (“Immigration: What Does the Church Teach?” June 20), in which he points out that the Church’s doctrine on immigration has not been elevated to “infallibility” status just because it’s included in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Now, I’ve always been taught that when the Church teaches on matters of faith and morals, it’s always infallible. It doesn’t matter if it’s a doctrine or dogma — it must be believed by all the faithful as the truth because of the Church’s teaching authority given by Jesus Christ to his Church, which is guided to all truth by the Holy Spirit.

Mr. Akin’s article is confusing in this regard, and I hope he would clarify what he is saying, because it seems like he is inferring the Church’s teaching on immigration is not infallible.

Michael Rachiele

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Jimmy Akin responds: The Church’s teaching on immigration is not infallible, though it is understandable that the reader would think this, given the view that everything the Church teaches on faith and morals is infallible.

In fact, that is not the case. The Church is capable of teaching infallibly on matters of faith and morals, but it rarely does so.

Canon 749 of the Code of Canon Law spells out the conditions in which the Church teaches infallibly (see also No. 891 of the Catechism). It is not enough that a teaching concern faith or morals. It also must be proposed to the faithful in a particular way, either by a definitive act of teaching on the part of a pope or ecumenical council or when the bishops and the pope agree that the teaching is to be definitively held.

Historically, a number of phrases have been used to signal the presence of a definitive teaching. Pontiffs have commonly used the phrase “declare and define,” and councils have commonly used “let him be anathema,” but identifying which particular proclamations are infallible requires some care.

The Church wishes us to err on the side of caution in deciding which of its teachings are infallible, and so Canon 749 concludes: “No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.”

In promulgating the Catechism, John Paul II did not use the kind of language that would make it a definitive and thus infallible act of teaching. Consequently, then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in his book Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The individual doctrines which the Catechism presents receive no other weight than that which they already possess” (p. 27).