Letters 1.26.14

Church Charities’ Effect

Relevant to Pope Francis’ call to serve the poor and help the needy: Charity comes voluntarily from our time, talent and treasure. When the government forcibly separates citizens from their hard-earned money to provide "charity" to those who may not need help, it tempers the desire of people to do real charity. Privately run Church charities have always been far more effective and would receive much more support if the government were not spending our money to give out free cellphones and student loans to perpetual students, etc.

There would be much more accountability from recipients if they had to answer to the people in their communities and/or churches from which they received these gifts. This way the incentive to remain needy would be greatly diminished, thereby rightfully leaving only those who are truly needy to be served. St. Paul says, "If anyone will not work, let him not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The United States is the most charitable country on the face of the earth; it didn’t get that way under socialism.

The Acton Institute was founded by Father Robert Sirico. He presents conferences for clerics called "Toward a Free and Virtuous Society," which is the only true way to fight poverty. After all, "all boats rise with the tide."

Aggie Langschied

Lambertville, Michigan


Atheists’ Missed Point

Regarding "The First Four Things" by Father Dwight Longenecker (In Depth, Dec. 1 issue): Father Longenecker points out that some atheists consider the creation story in Genesis to be foolishness. "How can you believe this when light is created first, but the sun, moon and stars that give the light are only created on the fourth day?"

They are, of course, talking about physical light rather than "light" in the broader sense, as used by Father Longenecker. By limiting the discussion to physical light, atheists still miss an important point.

One must first distinguish between light as a physical phenomenon from the sources of light, such as the sun, the stars or a light bulb. Over the years, scientists have proposed several theories to explain the exact nature of light. These include the "particle theory," the "wave theory" and the "quantum theory." Whichever theory is correct, the laws of physics that govern physical light must have been established before the first light bulb was turned on and before the sun was created.

James M. Dempsey

Walnut Creek, California


Evenhanded Analysis

Thank you for Andrew Abela’s insightful and evenhanded analysis of the Holy Father’s apostolic exhortation ("The Economic Message of Evangelii Gaudium," In Depth, Dec. 15 issue).

In the wake of the document’s release, commentary — especially, but not solely, in secular media — tended to fall into one of two categories. Attempted exploitation from the political left employed the document as a club to promote a big-government, welfare-state agenda.

The political right tended to be reactionary and defensive, seeing socialism and an attack on markets of any kind. Ensuing days brought some interesting information, e.g., the phrase "trickle down" was not part of what Pope Francis wrote but an innovative interpretation on the part of a translator.

Even so, the document remained unsettling. That is not an altogether bad thing. It is not the Holy Father’s mission to confirm us in our settled positions on matters of the organization of human society and the achievement of social justice. The contrary is closer to the truth. He should make me — and make us — uncomfortable and cause me — and us — to question myself (and ourselves).

But it must be acknowledged that this particular Pope’s method of expression does seem to leave his words more open to interpretation and misinterpretation than we are accustomed to seeing from his immediate predecessors.

Insofar as that tendency engenders productive discussion, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Insofar as it allows his words to be used as tools by those who are essentially opposed to the Church and Catholic teaching, it is worrisome and potentially dangerous, because it can sow seeds of confusion among the faithful where none need exist.

For all of those reasons, Abela’s commentary was welcome and helpful. Rather than starting with an ideology and finding content in Evangelii Gaudium to support it, he approached the Holy Father’s words at face value, in good faith and with his feet planted firmly in both Catholic doctrine and the real world. Those two things — Church and world — have never been in true conflict, except when the world has gotten it wrong.

Clear thinking such as the good doctor’s column exhibited is always helpful to the faithful in applying the faith to our lives in the world. I am grateful for the help.

Ed Cobb

Stephens City, Virginia


Religious-Freedom Issue

Relative to "Little Sisters’ Case Reflects Administration’s Bully Tactics" (Jan. 6, NCRegister.com): Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a temporary injunction protecting Little Sisters of the Poor from providing contraceptives, sterilizations and drugs and devices that can cause abortions to their employees through their health-care plans.

This is not about contraception. This is an issue of religious freedom. The Obama administration is threatening religions from practicing their own moral codes. This is a blatant abuse of the sisters’ First Amendment religious rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..."

The Little Sisters of the Poor came to the U.S. in 1868 and opened their home in Cleveland in 1870. There are 30 homes in the United States. These humble, holy women care for the elderly poor. They beg weekly at churches and markets for financial and material help to sustain their residents. I have witnessed firsthand their compassionate care. I was blessed to be employed by them for many years.

If the injunction isn’t extended, the Little Sisters will be punished with crushing fines of $100 per employee per day. This would necessitate the sisters closing their houses in the United States. That would be a travesty of justice. The accommodation offered by the Department of Justice is a shell game. The real "war on women" is the bullying bureaucrats against the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Rita Krebs, R.N.

South Euclid, Ohio


Presidential Promises

In his very lucid moral critique of the Affordable Care Act, Eric Reed ("Letters to the Editor," Dec. 15) still gives too much credit to President Obama. He writes, "The president promised he would protect freedom of religion and conscience before the law passed." This is inaccurate.

What our commander in chief promised was a much-narrowed freedom of "worship" and an "appropriate" conscience provision. He deceives without lying (except in the much-repeated promise that, if they wanted, the same Obamacare would allow the peasants to keep their current insurance).

Peter D. Beaulieu

Shoreline, Washington