Mostly Right O'Reilly

Hundreds of people could write a “get-even” article with more logic and Christian charity than the one written by Patrick Coffin (“The All-Spin Zone? Catholicism According to Bill O'Reilly,” Nov. 9-15). I am surprised and disappointed that you published it.

While Bill O'Reilly is controversial and some of his ideas are questionable, the general tone of his views support a high standard of morality

In light of recent scandals in the Church, it seems that any help with a high moral standard from someone in the media would be appreciated.


Texline, Texas

Wily O'Reilly

Regarding “The All-Spin Zone? Catholicism According to Bill O'Reilly” (Nov. 9-15):

Someone should write a book with a cover picture of an embryo on one side and a “No-Spin” coffee mug on the other, with the title “WhO's Looking Out for What? — Will the Real Bill O'Reilly Please Stand Up?”

I believe you are correct in your speculation that Mr. O'Reilly's position on abortion is really all about doormats — of every kind.


Frankfort, Kentucky

Sizing up Families

I am prompted to reply to Tim Drake's column on big families (“The Family as a Sign of Contradiction,” Oct. 19-25), and some of the letters published afterwards, because of a disturbing trend I see.

As a preface, I'd like it known that my husband and I teach Natural Family Planning, have five living children (one miscarried), and very much appreciate the beauty and truth of the Church's teachings on God's plan for human sexuality and the family. The Holy Father's “Theology of the Body” is a work whose beauty is unparalleled, in my mind.

That said, I see a growing trend among Catholics to judge and presume about those with small families, or those who comment about family size. I have several friends and family members who would love to have a large family, but are plagued with infertility. Added to that heavy and sad cross are the frequent judgmental looks and comments of Catholics who see themselves as “Real Catholics, open to life, and faithful to the Church's teachings on marriage and the family.”

Comments like “Large families are truly happier families,” by one of your letter-writers, distances our suffering brothers and sisters even more. Does that imply that if God blesses you with one child in the midst of the infertility, you can't be as happy as those who have been blessed with six? The Holy Family had three members (one child) — and who could be happier than they?

What really needs to happen is that we all need to stop judging and presuming we know what goes on in the souls of men. Those with large families need to just bear joyful witness to the gift they've received, and open the circle of that joy to bring in those less fortunate. If well-meaning but uninformed people comment or question, be a light, without judgment. Why get angry when people comment? You are a sign of contradiction. Be grateful for that, and for the opportunity to evangelize. If ill-meaning, uninformed people comment, accept it with humility. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for my sake …”


Laplace, Louisiana

Time to Clean Campus

In the Campus Watch column of Oct. 26-Nov. 1, one item gives hope for the future of the Church and one shows what has to be corrected

In “True Reform,” Catholics interviewed not only back Pope John Paul II's apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, but also say the Holy Father is too lenient toward “internal dissent.”

Meanwhile “Arm's Length” is about a gathering of the lay organization Voice of the Faithful at Fordham University. Voice of the Faithful has been banned in many dioceses, including Rockville Centre, N.Y., because of their attempts to change the doctrines of the Church. According to the university, the arrangement is a conference-services agreement, nothing more. However, the university is giving scandal not only to those who are going to attend the gathering, some of whom have stated that the fact that Fordham is hosting the gathering is a gentle sign of support, but also to all Catholics as well. I wonder if the learned professors and theologians at Fordham would invite a fox into a henhouse so the hens could learn the fox's side of the story.

The sex scandal by the clergy is nothing compared to the scandal being perpetrated by the so-called Catholic universities that ignore directives from the Pope and the Vatican, and that teach against the doctrines of the Church. It is time for the cardinals and bishops to clean house at the universities, starting with the clergy who are guilty.


Coram, New York

Broadcast Buffoonery

Regarding “Prime Time Fiasco: ABC Takes on ‘Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci’” (Nov. 16-22):

What was ABC thinking? Various enthusiasts say that the tales of the Holy Grail are really about their favorite thing, but they all fail to take into account the fact that these stories first appear in the 13th century (about 500 years after the Merovingians fell out of power.) The 13th was a time of increased Eucharistic devotion (for instance, the feast of Corpus Christi was added to the universal calendar in 1264), so it makes the most sense to see the tales of the Holy Grail as fairy-stories that sprung from that increased devotion (in the same way our stories of Superman come out of American hopes and dreams but not any occult knowledge).

As for the claim that the Gnostics valued the spiritual gifts of women more than the Church did, even Elaine Pagels admitted, in her book The Gnostic Gospels, that the Gnostic gospels spoke poorly of the spiritual capacity of women. The only way she could point to a Gnostic feminist was by claiming that St. Clement of Alexandria was really a Gnostic.

And don't get me started on the notion that the Apostle John in Da Vinci's The Last Supper is really a woman because he looks like a young Howard Stern. While “Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci” did reject the more bizarre claims that the conspiracy theorists it interviewed made, it still left us with the notion that the Church has oppressed women, scientists and all lovers of the truth through the ages. It was a Jack Chick comic for liberals.


Allentown, Pennsylvania

Till Now

Like many, I have come to rely on the National Catholic Register for fidelity and accuracy not only in ecclesial matters, but also more broadly. Accordingly, you can perhaps understand how aghast I was when I opened the Nov. 9-15 issue. On page 3, a headline reads: “Bishops to Consider Statement on Principles for Agricultural Policy.”

Accompanying the article is a photo showing one Ryan Weaver who, the cutline says, “tills the land on his LaPorte County, Ind., farm.” Ryan Weaver is obviously sitting in the cab of a combine, and he is probably harvesting wheat.

While my Webster's Dictionary acknowledges that “to till” may include the broad meaning “to … raise crops from,” the main definition of “till” is: “To plow and prepare for seed.” One doesn't till with a combine; one gathers, reaps or harvests with a combine. Tilling is the very first stage of preparation of the land: breaking up the soil to make it receptive to rain and seed. Harvesting is the last stage.

If the Lord Himself can take the time to distinguish sowing and reaping (Luke 19: 22), His followers should do likewise.


Wichita, Kansas