Letters 12.13.2009

Misguided ‘Assumption’

In regard to “The Abolition of Man (and Woman)” of Nov. 1:

Benjamin Wiker seemed to portray the old “guiding assumption that a boy becomes a man precisely in becoming a husband and provider for his family” as a great blessing.

Yes, it may be better than the new “entirely indistinct, androgynous image of a large boy making money by himself, for himself, and for the satisfaction of his own pleasures,” but I still think it’s a gravely flawed “assumption.”

I’m discerning a call to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Yes, I’ll be married to the Church and provide spiritually for my parish family, but Wiker seemed to imply a physical marriage. Does this mean I’ll never be a man? And what about those God calls to be single or consecrated religious?

The proper and good goal of boys and girls should not just be marriage, but discerning and fulfilling whatever God desires for them. Quite frankly, I think it’s time for a new “guiding assumption”: A boy becomes a man precisely in joyfully fulfilling his vocation.

Mike A. Ignatius Girard

Jewett City, Connecticut

Health Care a Power Issue

Regarding your coverage of health-care reform: While very few deny the moral imperative for assisting our fellow humans, why are we turning to the government for a solution?

The Catholic Church is and has been in the forefront of providing health care as a ministry. What do we gain, what moral goal is achieved, by handing control of many aspects of health care to a central government? Will our moral imperatives/principles be respected by the federal government?

The fact is: Reforming health care is not the goal of this political effort; power is. Why is this so hard for so many Catholics and others to see? How can any bishop endorse such a massive overhaul of health care, with so much at stake for our Catholic hospitals, without taking a serious amount of time to understand the legislation and, more importantly, the intent of those who propose and craft it?

A legislator can strip/change a pro-life amendment easily enough, but can we easily regain control of our health care from the government once we allow them to take it?

Bill Nolan

Lubbock, Texas

View Built on Sand

Regarding “Friar Pluck” (Nov. 22): I was struck by this comment from Father Groeschel, “Well, I was at a Catholic college recently, which is sort of edging recently toward becoming a secular school, and the students were totally against that.”

I thought about that, and also the information I learned that the religious orders that are growing are those that have a traditional orthodoxy. It does seem, to my hopeful eyes, that the liberal/progressive streams of thought are dying out in the Catholic Church, but it did make me wonder why.

I think it is systemic. In the end, those attempting to argue from a liberal/progressive view find it difficult to take a firm position and espouse that position. A teacher may find he or she can’t tell you “Here is what we believe” because they don’t feel any particular tie to what they believe. What they believe in amounts to doubt, and doubt is not compelling.

When asked a question, you may get answers like “Some believe this; others believe that,” but to the question “What do you believe?” there is no answer. They feel morally wrong in pushing what they believe. Not because, as they might suppose, of some ecumenical sensitivity. Rather, because they do not have the courage of conviction. And that lack does not translate into a living and vibrant worldview and does not make for a compelling argument. For, if you are not orthodox, what can you teach?

Mark Connolly

Carrollton, Texas

Vocations Coverage Rocks!

I have gone through several issues of the Register where I found articles regarding vocations to the priesthood.

The stories you ran regard the use of psychology in the admission process to the seminary to how to mind their whereabouts (“The Priest Game”/new Internet video) and also how to go about them when they are found (the pastoral care of altar boys).

It is very rare today to read about such issues — even in Church publications — as if the vocation to the priesthood has become sort of a taboo. In fact, the priestly vocation is a call from God, and, therefore, it is a gift from God to the person who receives it and to the Church.

Many thanks to the Register for giving this service to its readers.

Msgr. Francis Bonnici

Pontifical Pastoral Ministry

for Priestly Vocations

Vatican City

Scientific Fact of Life

Your “Promoting Personhood” (Dec. 6 issue) was interesting and encouraging. But those who wish to establish personhood at the moment of conception need only look to science and the Constitution.

The Fifth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution require states to provide equal protection of the law to “all persons within their jurisdiction.” I have been a person all my life, and according to science — repeat, science (not religion) — a new, individual person exists from the moment of conception.

Hence, all persons must be protected by the Constitution — irrespective of the Supreme Court’s irresponsible Roe v. Wade decision — from the moment they exist.

Webster’s Dictionary and Encyclopedia defines a person as “an individual human being.”

We must continually point this out in conversations, letters to the editor and all discussions about when we become persons with constitutional rights.

Hap Corbett

Staples, Minnesota

‘Tea-Party’ Time

Regarding “Tea-Party Catholics” (Nov. 1): I found the tenor of this article to be rather strange. When the administration/Congress acts are so egregious regarding the tenets of our country and also of our Church teachings, it should not be strange to find the people responding in diverse and activist ways, as the current tea parties have been.

These people are not of one organization or background, but all recognize that what is happening in Washington is antithetical to American and Catholic beliefs that they feel obligated to act — some for the first time ever. This is neither anti-American nor contrary to Catholic teachings. Yes, it can get out of hand, but it is also necessary sometimes, and these people should be congratulated for standing up for the common good.

It should also be noted that the march on Washington, not covered by the mainstream media, was very orderly and the day after found the grounds in very good shape. I’m not sure what the author’s point was.

Al Wunsch

The Villages, Florida

Abortion Rider

I believe you need to correct Rich Daly’s article on what could happen in the Senate version of the health bill. He makes a statement that, under the House version, the Stupak amendment would allow one to purchase a rider for abortion coverage. I believe this is incorrect. The thinking was that buying such a rider on the back of the insurance plan would simply confuse the difference between private and federal funds for abortion. Any abortion would have to be paid entirely out of pocket, with no insurance.

Timmy DeCelles

Beavercreek, Ohio

Rich Daly responds: It’s a confusing question because there are so many fine points involved. The clearest explanation I could find is from the nonpartisan PolitiFact.com that addresses the rider question. Note the last sentence: “Essentially, the Stupak-Pitts amendment bars abortion coverage for those who choose the ‘public option,’ which is the House bill’s federally administered, but privately funded, insurance plan. (Cases of rape, incest or a danger to the life of the mother are exempted.) The amendment also prevents anyone who accepts federal subsidies for health coverage from purchasing a plan with abortion coverage on the exchange.

“However, the amendment does allow people purchasing insurance on the exchange to choose a plan with abortion coverage if they pay for it without federal subsidies. Those who do accept subsidies can purchase an abortion ‘rider’ — that is, a separate policy covering abortion — as long as they pay for it entirely with their own money.”