Letters 10.28.2007

Cost-Efficient Death

Regarding “How We Die Today” (Oct. 7):

When abortion was made legal in the United States by the Supreme Court, I knew that ending the life of the elderly, handicapped and severely injured would soon be acceptable.

The millions of babies slaughtered in the womb would have been today’s workers who would fund the social programs that would take care of these “useless eaters” as Hitler called them. The simplest and most cost-efficient means of doing this is dehydration and starvation. Terri Schiavo was not the first victim of this “treatment,” but she became the light in the darkness that exposed the horror.

When Rose Kennedy, the matriarch of the Kennedy family, needed to be fed and hydrated through artificial means, the term “extraordinary” was not used. But if a helpless person, without financial means, required the same treatment it could very well be considered “extraordinary means of extending life.”

May God help us to end the slaughter on both ends of life.

Agnes Peterson

Malibu, California

Iraq’s High Stakes

A letter in the Sept. 30 issue under the heading “Unsurprising Results” suggests that Pope John Paul the Great would not consider continued American presence in Iraq justifiable.

It is not surprising when his opposition to the war is used as an argument to “end it now,” because his view of the situation after the invasion never gets reported. Here is what he said:

“The many attempts made by the Holy See to avoid the grievous war in Iraq are already known. Today, what matters is that the international community help put the Iraqis, freed from an oppressive regime, in a condition to be able to take up their country’s reins again, consolidate its sovereignty and determine democratically a political and economic system that reflects their aspirations, so that Iraq may once again be a credible partner in the international community” (Jan. 12, 2004, Address to the Diplomatic Corps).

“It is the evident desire of everyone that this situation now be normalized as quickly as possible with the active participation of the international community and, in particular, the United Nations organization, in order to ensure a speedy return of Iraq’s sovereignty, in conditions of security for all its people.” (June 4, 2004 Address to President Bush).

The human rights stakes in Iraq are extremely high. A January 2007 Brookings Institution paper warned of unrestrained civil war in Iraq leading to a “humanitarian nightmare” with “hundreds of thousands (or more) of Iraqis killed along with several times that number maimed and millions of refugees” — and the possibility of a “spillover” regional war.

To “end it now” (presumably by immediate withdrawal of American forces), as the author suggests, is not likely to bring the international community in, or result in the secure, democratic Iraq with consolidated sovereignty that Pope John Paul desired — but pressuring the U.N.-- and the international community to engage now might.

Patrick J. Grant
Lanham, Maryland

Editor’s note: The Register has indeed reported on what Pope John Paul said after the war in Iraq began.

Breaking the Fifth

Regarding “Boxing: an Insult to the Brain” (Sept. 30):

The Jesuit magazine, La Civiltà Cattolica editorially condemned professional boxing. It alluded to the Fifth Commandment and stated it belongs up there in the chamber of horrors. But then it goes on to condone and praise supervised amateur boxing in a gym. It states that head protection is used, making the sport “morally acceptable and even useful.” This is wrong. I want to clarify boxing should not be confused with self-defense activities such as karate, which teach restraint and avoidance of conflict. In karate, protection of oneself is the motivating factor. This is not so in any level of boxing.

I grew up with nine brothers and the 10 of us would often fight, but it was controlled — never hit in the face. Then as a teenager I started frequenting a so-called amateur boxing gym. I have big fists and was nicknamed “The Hammer.”

In the ring, the goal was to “jell your opponent’s brain before he jelled yours.” I was very good and I did knock opponents senseless. Was that my intent? You bet, drop him as hard as I could. The accolade and praise made it all seem worthwhile. The payoff was if the guy was injured or died, your reputation was made.

At age 17, I quit the Michigan Golden Gloves competition undefeated. Why? Several of my brothers, older and wiser, talked some reason into me.

The issue raised to me was quite simple: You can knock another person senseless, is that what you want? The obvious conclusion: Supervised amateur boxing is a rationalized violation of the Fifth Commandment. Since then, as a city councilman, mayor, county supervisor, and as a teacher, I have voted, worked, and prayed for an end of boxing of any sort.

Larry Schmit

Fountain Hills, Arizona

Profound Contradiction

I noted with interest the recently published letter “It’s Just Common Sense” (Sept. 23) regarding abortion and animal cruelty and the obvious inconsistency on these two subjects by pro-abortion supporters.

Significantly, at a recent New Hampshire Democratic Party event attended by every candidate seeking the presidency in 2008, all these officials went on record in opposing “torture” as a policy of the United States.

By contrast, all these Democrats have supported open-ended legal abortion, even though it is a clear medical reality that during the abortion procedure the unborn child experiences both “pain [and] dismemberment.” Is this not “torture” also, and are not all these candidates demonstrating a profound contradiction?

Thomas E. Dennelly

West Islip, New York

Selfless Service

It is good that we are discussing daily Mass attendance for Catholic school students, and it is good that Father Peter Stravinskas is wrestling with understanding the past.

In [the letter] “Quality Before Quantity” (Sept. 30), however, Father theorizes that daily Mass in the 1950s and 1960s in parishes “west of Pennsylvania” was offered mainly for the sisters, not the pupils, since “schools and parishes ... were generally smaller, with many parishes being served by only one priest.” I would suggest that we need to look for other explanations.

The urban centers of the Midwest had massive immigrant Catholic populations, and the U.S. was in the middle of the baby boom. I attended a typical Catholic elementary school in Detroit starting in 1957. We had daily Mass for all students at 8 a.m. Our school had 1,200 pupils from grades 1 through 8; nothing small about it; huge, by today’s standards. 

Also, suggesting a dichotomy between offering Mass for the sisters as opposed to for the pupils seems off the mark. The needs of the pupils and the sisters were aligned. Daily Mass was part of our Catholic formation, the vocation which those sisters had embraced.

Those saintly women encouraged us in religious fervor. For example, they taught us the First Friday and First Saturday devotions, praising them and reminding us to make them. 

I don’t believe that our two priests were looking for something efficient or practical. The school Mass was preceded by the 6:30 a.m. daily Mass for those going to work. The priest who did not say the 8 a.m. Mass would still come by to help distribute Communion; no extraordinary ministers. 

Looking back with adult eyes, I see selfless and untiring service, not pragmatism, and I say a prayer of thanks for those priests and sisters. 

Roger Harden

Austin, Texas

Twin City Lapses

I noticed two errors in the editorial “Educated Flock” (Sept. 23). First, Archbishop Weakland was from Milwaukee, not Minneapolis. Second, there has never been an Archbishop of Minneapolis. The correct nomenclature is the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, with the cathedral located in St. Paul. I have toured Rome, Florence and Venice and believe that St. Paul Cathedral in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis measures up to those in Italy: at least in stature if not in age.

Richard F. McMahon
Maplewood, Minnesota

Refuse Compliance

Regarding “Connecticut’s 2 Lessons” (Oct. 14):

Yes, shame on the laity for not standing up for the freedom to practice our religion. We certainly get the leadership we deserve. But now that a coercive bill has been passed, it is the responsibility of the laity to refuse compliance.

Administering Plan B before confirming the non-presence of an embryo establishes the risk of inducing an early abortion. That was the reason the Catholic Church in Connecticut initially resisted the emergency contraception law.

Nothing has changed since then to remove that risk. In fact, the intent of the law in cases of pregnancy would be to abort the child. Shame on all of us if we allow the government to use us to carry out its deadly will.

Gerald T. Yeung

White Plains, New York

European Catholic Colleges

Thank you very much for your list of Catholic Colleges that meet the criteria of Ex Corde Ecclesiae (Out of the Heart of the Church). It has been very helpful for me and for my friends as we search for a place to continue our educations. I have a friend who is going to graduate school in Europe. Is there a similar list of schools for European countries or Europe as a whole? Any help you could provide would be much appreciated.

Carle Mock

Sidney, Nebraska