Letters 11.11.2007

Surely You Jest

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

You can’t be serious, can you? The laity is to blame for the Connecticut bishops’ decision on Plan B? Surely you jest.

I cannot speak for the Hartford Archdiocese or the Diocese of Norwich, but I can say that in the Diocese of Bridgeport, the opportunity to preach to the laity on any given Sunday regarding pro-life issues is routinely squandered. Only a few priests will bring up issues related to abortion or Plan B or any other life-related topic and the Church’s teaching on those topics.

I know The Fairfield County Catholic featured some articles on the Plan B controversy. I even recall that Bishop Lori wrote a column about it specifically.

But how much more effective it would have been to include a bulletin insert explaining the finer points of the matter — rather than reading or hearing about them in the local press after the fact.

How much more effective it would have been to have the added benefit of having parish priests preach about the contents of such an insert on a Sunday to a captive audience.

Until bishops and priests speak out to their flocks, the anti-life forces will win again and again. The laity has been on the front lines of the pro-life movement for years. We need to see more courage from those designated as shepherds.

So far, the sheep are leading the flock.

June Archer

Danbury, Connecticut

Defense Offensive

It is lamentable to read in the Register an article seemingly bent on defending the Connecticut bishops’ decision to allow Catholic hospitals to give Plan B contraceptives to rape victims.

The Register article, “Reluctant Compliance,” (Oct. 21) claims “[t]he use of Plan B as an ‘emergency contraceptive’ for rape victims is not in conflict with Church teachings.” As authority, the Register quotes a Mr. Richard Doerflinger of the USCCB [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops], who assures us “[i]t is not immoral to give a rape victim a contraceptive.”

Later in the article, the Register further assures us that “Plan B won’t cause an abortion in the overwhelming majority of cases.”

First, the USCCB is not the arbiter of Church teaching; the Pope and the college of bishops in communion with the Pope are. As Bishop Robert Vasa famously said, “I answer to the Holy See. I don’t answer to the USCCB.”

Second, the Register and Mr. Doerflinger and the USCCB are wrong. The Catholic Church clearly teaches that contraception is immoral, whether before, during or after coitus. Humanae Vitae (The Regulation of Children) declares: “[T]he direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded. … Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation whether as an end or as a means” (No. 14).

Finally, even if Plan B contraception will not cause abortion in the “majority of cases,” it will cause abortion in the minority of cases. Abortion is now acceptable if it occurs only occasionally? When did Church teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion change?

What transpired in Connecticut, and what is being proposed by the Register and Mr. Doerflinger and the USCCB, conflict with established Church teaching on contraception and life.

Faithful Catholics in America — from Human Life International to the American Life League — recognize this and have condemned it. Why the Register would defend it is a mystery and a great disappointment.

Alberto A. Macia

Naples, Florida

Editor’s note: As readers well know, the Register is a big promoter of the Church’s teaching on contraception. Rape is not a unitive act to be protected from being thwarted, perverted or blocked by contraception. In fact, rape is an aggressive act on the part of the rapist. See Tom Davis’ column on the previous page for more discussion of this issue.

We have published four stories about Plan B and bishops. “Reluctant Compliance” (Oct. 21) surveyed top bioethicists on the Connecticut decision. “Plan B Blues” (Oct. 28) was a Catholic News Service story about Father Thomas Euteneuer’s objections to the Oct. 1 change in Connecticut’s policy. “Abortion Activists’ ‘Plan B,’” traced how the abortion business lobby is targeting Catholic hospitals via Plan B.

None of the Catholic sources in any of these stories suggested that contraception is immoral in the case of rape, only that contraceptive drugs that cause an early abortion are immoral, in the case of rape or any other case.

Lack of Support?

Where was the Register while Catholic presidential candidate Sam Brownback faded from the race? In recent issues, the Register went to some lengths to provide its readers reasons they would not want to vote for Hilary Clinton and Rudy Guiliani. But what about the one, clearly traditional Catholic candidate Sam Brownback? He was forced to withdraw from the race due to lack of funds.

Where was the support from organizations like the Register? It could have helped if we could have seen an article on how Sam Brownback so eloquently modeled our Catholic values.

Dan and Ruth Ellis

Ida Grove, Iowa

Editor’s note: Sam Brownback announced his candidacy in the Register in February, and has appeared in our pages multiple times since then. We regret his withdrawal from the race, but will still follow his work closely, because it’s so important to issues of importance to Catholics.

Confusing Stance

Regarding your editor’s note to letter “Hypocritical Position?” (Sept. 2):

I find it confusing that the Vatican wanted the Americans to intervene in Rwanda’s internal civil war (a country that has no strategic interest to us) and accepted our Afghanistan invasion as one of “self-defense” (since the Afghanis were harboring the al Qaeda), but did not support our invasion into Iraq as self-defense.

Let’s see: Saddam’s attempt on the first President Bush’s life and his harboring of al Qaeda personnel — even some from the 1993 attack upon the WTC, Iraq’s continued breaking of the cease fire of 1991 (which the USA reserved the right to resume hostilities if it was broken), and the pre-invasion Russian warnings to our intelligence services that Saddam was planning a large terror attack upon the USA. No right to topple Saddam?

Let us look at it another way: Saddam was urging Palestinians to commit suicide bombings against the Israeli citizens, by his paying off families of the bombers the sums of $25,000-$30,000. Israel certainly had a right to retaliate! But, if it did so, Middle East stability would have disappeared as the Arabs possibly joined together for yet another war against Israel.

So, just as we counseled Israel to stay out of Gulf War No. 1 (even though Saddam’s missiles rained upon them) we decided to act on the behalf of Israel and the whole Middle East to remove Saddam.

Daniel Barton

U.S. Army Retired

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Series Gives Clarity

Thank you very much for your three-part end-of-life series: “How We Die Today” (Oct. 7), “Life, Death, and Politics in the U.S.” (Oct. 14), “The Hour of Our Death” (Oct. 21).

Finally, I gained clarity regarding why feeding tubes are considered “ordinary means” of help for the very ill and comatose.

I began subscribing after seeing your editor in chief’s interview on “EWTN Live” this fall. I have ordered a month of bulk copies to distribute to churches and individuals, simply to make them aware of your excellent publication.

In the Seattle area, actual reading material (books, papers, not on-line) is quite popular; I’d hate to see you go Internet-only. For me, a twice-monthly Register would be fine, if production costs become too great. God bless you.

Joyce Crain

Seattle, Washington


The article, “Shaking Bushes, Team Vianney Contributes to College Seminary’s Success,” (Oct. 28) erroneously stated that no seminarians at St. John Vianney college seminary are coming from the Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. According to Father William Baer, rector and president of St. John Vianney, there are a few seminarians from the Catholic high schools, including Tim Rasmussen who was interviewed for the article.

One of the content-advisory notes we ran with our Oct. 28 DVD Picks was an inadvertent holdover from a previous week. It stated that there is “nothing objectionable” in Spider-Man 3. As we reported when Steven Greydanus reviewed the movie in full last May, the latest “Spidey” installment contains mild profanity and some intense comic-book violence. We apologize for any inappropriate exposure of this material to young eyes due to our mistake.