Letters 11.25.2007

Separation Anxiety

The brief article on Justice Antonin Scalia (“Scalia: ‘I’m Not a Catholic Judge,’” Oct. 28) demonstrates one of the things that is wrong with many Catholics in America.

The idea that we can separate our faith from the decisions we make and the manner in which we conduct our lives (yes, even our public lives) stands in total contradiction to Christ’s command to spread the Gospel message into the world. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we can no more separate our faith from our politics than we can separate our souls from our bodies.

Scalia’s comparison of his role as Supreme Court justice to that of a hamburger chef is ludicrous, if not frightening. (“Just as there is no ‘Catholic’ way to cook a hamburger, I am hard-pressed to tell you of a single opinion of mine that would have come out differently if I were not Catholic.”)

If being Catholic has no effect on one’s worldview, then I wonder what the point of being Catholic is.

Michael Cibenko

Branchville New Jersey

Maine’s Moral Travesty

In your Briefs section of Oct. 28, you caption the item concerning my criticism of the outrageous Portland (Maine) School Committee’s decision to allow middle school students to obtain birth control at the school’s health center as “Bishop: Trust Kids.”

That caption misses the essence of my response to this moral travesty.

“Bishop: Teach Kids” would have made the point more accurately. The school committee’s decision is totally flawed on every level, and signals an abandonment of responsibility on the part of too many parents and teachers to form children in the virtues necessary for chaste living.

Children and teens have consciences that can and must be formed. Our young people are capable of being taught how to live virtuous lives. When we do that effectively, we must “trust kids” to make good decisions. If they fail, we lovingly guide them toward healing, reconciliation and a new beginning.

The Portland School Committee decision is a capitulation to the amoral pragmatism of our times, another manifestation of the moral relativism about which Pope Benedict XVI warns us.

Thank you for the many ways in which the National Catholic Register shines the light of truth into the darkness and confusion of our times.

Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, The.D.

Bishop of Portland, Maine

Meaning of Thanksgiving

Our great, national holiday of Thanksgiving is again upon us.

I think it would be in the best interests of your readers to print one or both of the presidential thanksgiving proclamations reproduced below between now and that celebration so dear to so many families in this land, and remind all of the historical and real meaning of that day.

James Pawlak

West Allis, Wisconsin

Editor’s note: Thanks for the suggestion. Here they are, below.

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the twenty-six of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that Great and Glorious Being, who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind

care and protection of the people of this country, previous to their becoming a nation; for the single manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, in the courage and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish Constitutions of Government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private institutions, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discretely and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us) and to bless them with good governments, peace and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science, among them and us; and generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity and He alone knows to be best.”

George Washington,

Oct. 3, 1789

The proclamation that follows is taken from the collection of Lincoln’s papers in the Library of America series, Vol. II, pages 520-521.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.

To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Abraham Lincoln

Oct. 3, 1863

Risky Plan

The Plan A strategy by Deacon Tom Davis (“‘Plan A’ for Plan B,” Nov. 11) to rescind Plan B legislation is theoretically sound but not likely to succeed unless the bishops are willing to risk closing the Catholic hospitals.

The Connecticut Legislature is overwhelmingly in favor of abortion rights with the acquiescence or support of a majority of Catholic voters. Plan A could only succeed if a small but effective coalition of the laity were backed up by the bishops willing to exercise their significant leverage.

Sadly, the latter is not likely to happen since both here and worldwide the Church has opted for sustaining membership rather than authenticity.

The previously existing Catholic hospital Plan B procedures were founded upon sound moral theological principles which have now been compromised.

William F. Contois

Glastonbury, Connecticut