Letters 08.09.2009

Thanks for the Gift!

My name is Father Maurer; I am one of the newly ordained priests of 2009. I was very pleasantly surprised to receive your gift subscription for my ordination. I have enjoyed reading the Register’s articles and look forward to continuing to follow the solid reporting and faithful witness that you provide. Thank you for giving me several months of the Register!

Father Jacob Maurer

Tacoma, Washington

‘Choose Life’ Progress

I want to sincerely thank the National Catholic Register for writing an excellent article on the history, purpose and progress of the “Choose Life” license plate on the occasion of its 10th anniversary (“‘Choose Life’ License Plates Mark 10 Years and 24 States,” July 12). Seeing the cute, bright yellow “Choose Life” tag with its two smiling kids on the front page of your wonderful newspaper reminded me of the first time the Register published a picture of the Florida “Choose Life” tag back in the spring of 2001. Back then, my husband and I were amazed that a license plate could raise $300,000 for the cause of life, and we are still amazed today to see that this “GR8 PL8” has now raised more than $10 million in 24 states. It is a wonderful story indeed. While I am so grateful for your coverage, for the record, I would like to clarify a few facts about our organization and the quote that was attributed to me in your article.

First of all, the correct name of our organization is The Children First Foundation, and we are the sponsor of the “Choose Life” license plate in not one but three states: New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

As a strong adoption advocate, the quote that is attributed to me is, unfortunately, not entirely accurate. Given that adoption is a “pro-life choice,” it can often be somewhat difficult to properly understand that adoption is both “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” For the record, what I do recall saying is the following statement: “What people need to understand is that those of us who support adoption are really both pro-life and pro-choice, because the adoption option respects a woman’s right to choose as well as the child’s right to life. It is becoming increasingly clear in our country that ‘choice’ is not synonymous with only one choice, because adoption is a good choice that every American can support.”

Since its inception, The Children First Foundation has consistently emphasized the many positive aspects of adoption. Thank you again for your timely and informative article.

Elizabeth B. Rex, Ph.D.

President and co-founder

The Children First Foundation

Obey God, Not Men

Regarding “Colleges and Abortion” (Letters, July 12): As a priest and a relative of family members who attended the University of Notre Dame who also marched in the marching band, there are many good Catholic principles present.  However, in response to Caitilin Landrigan’s statement that “the university ascribes to the teachings of the faith,” I must ask: What is the depth of her knowledge of Church and diocesan policies, procedures and the sacrament of holy orders? For a “dignitary” such as President Obama to be invited to speak at the university’s commencement, certain protocols were to be followed. As an ordained priest, Father Jenkins promised to obey his ordaining bishop and his successors. Where was Father Jenkins’ obedience in all this mess?

Additionally, this decision of his has struck the flock and has been very divisive. Certainly, there are many other more appropriate and God-fearing community and national leaders from which to choose than President Obama. I am sure that the professors in the university’s psychology department would agree that by honoring President Obama with the conflicting platforms between Obama and the Church sends the message that Father Jenkins has prioritized President Obama over his Church leaders. When the Pharisees asked Sts. Peter and John, “Did we not give you strict orders to stop preaching in [Jesus’] name?” they responded, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Father John M. Zimmerman

St. Anne Parish

Florence, South Carolina

Eucharistic Truth

Regarding David Widdoes’ letter “Notre Dame: The Last Straw” (June 14): Being a pro-life activist for more than 20 years, I understand his despair over the lack of courage of many of our bishops and priests with regard to boldly speaking out and witnessing against the evils of abortion and euthanasia. He ignores the many bishops and priests who have courageously spoken, witnessed and written publicly against these evils, and so, tragically, he left the Church and will not come back.

But, it seems that he fails to realize that the Church does not belong to the priests or the bishops or the laity: The Church belongs to Jesus Christ. She is his bride, and he has promised to be with her until the end of time. And, no matter what we may think of any individual priest’s public witness, he brings the precious body and blood of Jesus to us in holy Communion. How can we spiritually survive in this darkening world without that sacred food?

Mary Schwarz

Ponce Inlet, Florida

I am edified by Cheryl Butler’s letter (“Response to ‘Last Straw,’” July 12). Her wise and pious counsel regarding the Eucharist is both appropriate and prophetic. However, zeal mustn’t trump truth.

Ms. Butler’s strong emphasis that the Eucharist is present “nowhere else” than in the Catholic Church is simply untrue, because it does not give credence to the great apostolic lineage of the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches, who, though not in union with the Catholic Church, do have valid sacraments which flow from the “source and summit” of the Eucharist.

The Register is a wonderful publication. But Christ’s prayer for unity and the implications of that prayer are too important for a publication with such integrity to print assertions that, with all their good intentions, are false. We will gain more — always — by speaking the truth in love.

Brother Cassian DiRocco, O.S.B.

St. Andrew’s Abbey

Valyermo, California

Mass Amid ‘Distraction’

The article “Driven to Distraction” (July 12) about noisy neighbors at Mass got my attention, even though I have an easy solution: I think of the “Bronze Star Mass.” My late friend Father Richard Wersing, a longtime Army chaplain, died in 2006 at age 96. To my knowledge he was the celebrant of the only “Bronze Star Mass” in Korea, circa 1953. An eyewitness, Jim Tiezzi, gave this account: “We met several times on the front lines of Hill 355. Wherever he went, Father Dick always gathered as many GIs as he could to say Mass; sometimes there were only a few and sometimes over 100. On one occasion he said Mass on the reverse side of Hill 355; all of a sudden, the enemy started shelling our position and all of us GIs had been trained to duck and put our helmets back on: They had been off because we were in ‘church,’ so we put them back on and kept them on for the remainder of the liturgy. As I looked up at Father Wersing, there he was still standing up continuing to say Mass like nothing else mattered except the completion of the Mass. Some enemy shells had landed nearby and fortunately no one was hit; however, dirt and mud had splattered his garments. He was later recommended for the Bronze Star for this action.”

When the youngster (or adult!) in the next pew begins to fuss a little — or a lot — I think of Father Dick and the distractions he ignored during the “Bronze Star Mass,” and my resentment goes away.

James K. Hanna

Venetia, Pennsylvania

Health-Care Economics

Regarding “Work in Progress” (July 12): The quick response to an atheist is “God exists whether you believe in him or not.” Similarly, economic realities exist whether you (or the president, Congress or the bishops’ conference) believe in them or not. One such reality is that an economic benefit cannot be had without incurring a cost. Proponents of universal health care typically downplay the costs and focus only on benefits.

Apparently, one of the bishops’ objectives is to “spread costs fairly across the spectrum,” but the reason health-care costs are increasing so quickly is precisely because they are spread out. Doctors and patients usually have no idea how expensive a procedure is and therefore choose that which promises the highest benefit without any regard to cost since “my insurance will cover it.” Systems of third-party payers will always result in higher expenditures than if consumers themselves bear the full cost. Insurance is supposed to cover unexpected events, not routine ones. Car insurance works this way, and no one complains about the skyrocketing costs of an oil change.

According to the article, the bishops want “universal access to health care.” Is our health-care system so terrible in this regard? The article’s accompanying photograph proves otherwise. There, an uninsured toddler is given treatment. In countries with universal health care, the norm is for insured patients to not receive treatment for weeks or months at a time. Of course, when the price is pushed down to zero (and the cost subsidized by third-party taxpayers), there will be excess demand. The bishops are to be highly commended for their integration of advanced biomedical science in their teachings on stem-cell research, cloning, etc. If only they would integrate basic economics in their teachings on health-care reform.

Tim Shaughnessy

Bossier City, Louisiana

Carter’s Christianity

While some of your comments about the historical evidence about the treatment of women President Carter claims may be correct in “President vs. Christianity” (Daily Blog, July 21), I believe that he is correct in some areas also. But, what amazed me the most was the timing of the delivery of this post with the feast of St. Mary of Magdala, a woman and the first witness to the Resurrection.

Father Gary P. Gummersheimer

Saint Andrew Catholic Church

Murphysboro, Illinois