Letters 12.6.2009

Catholics’ Culpability

With respect to your article about the use of morally tainted vaccines by Catholics (“Vanity vs. Moral Stem-Cell Sanity,” Nov. 15), I wish to clarify a couple of points. Catholics are not given a “free pass” to use vaccines that have been developed by killing innocent babies.

In fact, in two separate documents, readers should clearly understand their culpability when they choose to use these tainted vaccines. The first document, Dignitas Personae, was quoted in your article, but not the key parts for all Catholics to understand.

It doesn’t say a parent “may” use a tainted vaccine (as your article sidebar indicated); it says parents “could” use such a vaccine on their children, saying the “danger to the health of children could permit parents to use a vaccine which was developed using cell lines of illicit origin.”

This document further instructs all of us who choose to use these tainted vaccines to immediately register a protest with the manufacturers of the vaccines. It calls on health-care professionals to an even higher standard; it is their responsibility to take steps to stop their manufacture.

Finally, the Pontifical Academy of Life, in 2005, laid out clear guidelines specifically for the use of tainted vaccines, telling Catholics we have a “grave responsibility to use alternative vaccines and to make a conscientious objection with regard to those which have moral problems.”

The academy also said that when one chooses to use a tainted vaccine, it is to be understood as cooperating in a remote sense in the evil act of abortion that created the vaccine. The academy further stated, “This is an unjust alternative choice, which must be eliminated as soon as possible.”

Mark Armstrong

Bismarck, North Dakota

Married Clergy

Regarding recent coverage of the constitution for Anglican conversion: It doesn’t seem fair for the Anglican ministers to be able to be priests or pastors in the Roman Catholic Church if they are married.

I understand that Anglican bishops who wish to join the Catholic Church cannot be bishops in the Catholic Church. If all clergy of the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. have to remain celibate, why then can the Anglican clergy remain married yet remain priests?

Where would their priority be? First to their families then to their clerical obligations?

I would think that if one wants to join the Church, they must follow the ways of our Church. All of these different rites of our Church seem to me to be a watering down of the rules and regulations that need to be followed by those who are to be our clerical leaders. Why can’t everyone be expected to adhere to one rule?

Shirley Bremer

Decatur, Illinois

The editor responds: An act of mercy and generosity by the Church made this possible. According to the Pastoral Provision, enacted in 1980, the Holy See, in response to requests from priests and laity of the Episcopal Church who were seeking full communion with the Church, provided this special dispensation. Under the guidelines, the ordination of married Episcopalian priests was made possible (Pope Paul VI, Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, No. 42).

Grim Fairy Tale

Your newspaper, on or off line, is the best there is going.

The sheer horror of the youth-restoring beauty creams produced from cell lines harvested from fetal tissue is a story worth the consideration of the Brothers Grimm.

In a recent article, “Vanity vs. Moral Stem-Cell Sanity” (Nov. 15), there was an exposé on the use of fetal tissue cell lines in the production of cosmetics, a topic bantered about by outraged pro-lifers, but one that has never really broken the media plane of our “changing” standards and awareness.

Given the vital sacredness of youth and beauty in our enlightened culture, it is not likely to even raise a blip on the right-and-wrong radar of national consciousness. The discussion may draw the astonishment, indignation, disgust and ire of the morally endowed, but for the marketing and progressive reasoners who cogitate in the absence of natural law, surely “eye of newt” and “boil and bubble” will win the day, opening up channels of possibilities heretofore only dreamt about in fairy tales (hence the hark back to the Brothers Grimm).

Susan Joy Bellavance

Newbury, New Hampshire

Under Indulgent

I was disappointed not to read anything about indulgences, especially plenary indulgences, in the article on the Dead Theologians Society and its (laudable) charism of praying for the dead (“Love Beyond the Grave,” Nov. 1). Have they introduced this practice to their members?

It is such a neglected practice that one would hope that a society formed to pray for the dead would be devoted to it.

For your readers: Generally, receiving a plenary indulgence for oneself or a soul in purgatory is not a difficult practice (it can be done even daily), and the rewards are eternal. Some acts that serve the purpose would be a Rosary in a church or with family or a prayer group, Stations of the Cross, a half hour of adoration or Bible reading.

One would also need to go to confession within 20 days before or after the act (basically once a month), receive holy Communion, and pray for the Pope’s intentions. One is also to have no attachment to sin, the desire for which one can express in a simple act of faith: “O Lord, free me from all attachment to sin.”

Do let us keep the poor souls in our prayers, and may more of us take advantage of the Church’s great mercy found in the plenary indulgence.

Peace of Christ!

James Kurt

Jersey City, New Jersey

Obeying Our Mother

David Mills’ column in the Nov. 8 issue (“Don’t Be Dismayed by Overdone Devotions”) is not accurate.

He wrote how so many people have an “exaggerated” devotion to Mary as the loving Mother who will intercede for us to appease the wrath of Jesus, the tough judge.

Let’s turn to what St. Louis de Montfort had to say in his consecration prayer to Jesus through Mary: “I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to thee in my baptism. I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called thy child nor yet thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit thine anger and thy repulse, I dare not any more come by myself before thy most holy and august majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of thy most holy Mother, whom thou has given me for a mediatrix with thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.”

This man is a saint, and I don’t think his devotion to Mary is “exaggerated” or “a bit embarrassing.” What his devotion to Jesus through Mary makes clear is that we deserve whatever the just Judge hands us for our sins. And I don’t see anything wrong with going to his Mother, our mother, for help. It’s not that Jesus is harsh, but rather just. After all, haven’t we all gone to our earthly mothers to intercede for us when we disobeyed our earthly fathers and deserved punishment?

Michael Rachiele
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

David Mills responds: In his moving words, St. Louis talks about our fear to go to Jesus because we are ashamed of our sins and the great comfort of being able to approach him through the Blessed Mother. The devotions I was describing make it sound as if we can’t go to Jesus because he doesn’t like us or because he is only interested in judgment. That’s very different.

Abortion’s Old Tricks

Regarding Nov. 15 article “Abortion Fight Dominates House Vote”:

No matter what discussions and debates regarding publicly funded abortions ensue in the proposed health-care bill, we will all be paying for abortions. The tactics the abortion lobby employed to pass this reprehensible practice in the ’70s will be dusted off to defeat any attempts to prevent even one abortion. Like a monkey who learns to press the red button for a treat, the abortionists just have to go back to their playbook to force their views on everyone. If we fail to remember history, we are doomed to repeat it.

Judith Carroll

Payson, Arizona


In a recent issue, the phone number for Sophia Institute Press was listed incorrectly. It is (800) 888-9344.