The Content of Our Catechesis

The editorial “A Year After Dallas” (June 29-July 5) discussed the implementation of national sex-abuse policy by the U.S. bishops. The editorial stated that “In St. Louis the bishops discussed three questions a plenary council would address: the need for catechesis, the role of laity and the spiritual life of priests and bishops.” The item then goes on to say that these topics “go to the heart of the crisis”—presumably the sex-abuse crisis.

From the point of view of this layman, there is one issue even more fundamental than these three topics: the ignoring of Humanae Vitae by the bishops and priests in our country.

There is a profound schizophrenia in the U.S. Catholic Church over the issue of sexual morality that stems from the-semi-rejection of Humanae Vitae by bishops and priests. Why do we have an organization known as Priests for Life? Are not all priests for life? Well, no, many are for artificial contraception and abortion. Is there any wonder we are having a sex-abuse crisis?

The embarrassed silence on this issue on the part of bishops and priests speaks volumes to the faithful. Before catechesis we need to address the content of the catechesis. Even the role of the laity and the spiritual life of priests and bishops is mere tinkering around the edges unless and until the bishops themselves demonstrate their obedience to the vicar of Christ.

How will the faithful know that their bishops and priests embrace Humanae Vitae? By hearing-it proudly proclaimed by-their shepherds.

May we address the real problem in the sex abuse crisis and end this-tragic episode in the history of the American Church.


St. Louis

Nothing Doing at Notre Dame

Thanks to Tim Drake for addressing Notre Dame's dirty little secret (“Notre Dame to Parents: We Won't Tell,” July 6-12).

The article barely scrapes the tip of the iceberg of the increasingly lax attitude toward Church mandates within the Notre Dame community. I graduated from Notre Dame's sister school, St. Mary's College, in '99, and was often dismayed at the non-Catholicism of the theology department. I did take one course “across the street” in Mariology at my brother school, and fortunately found the professor (a Jesuit priest whom I never, ever-saw in a Roman collar) mostly in line with the teachings of the Church. However, rumblings in the conservative community regarding the non-Catholicism-of the theology department increased throughout my time there.

My faith did grow as a member of the Notre Dame family, as I became a member of the Ladies of Columbus and served as an acolyte at Basilica Masses. These activities, however, were detached from the theology department and were decidedly extracurricular. A student attending St. Mary's or Notre Dame can find some wonderful fostering there regarding their Catholic faith, but they're going to have to look pretty darn hard.

Keep up the great work.


Orlando, Florida

Embryo Adoption Again

Well, a letter on the subject of embryo adoption has finally appeared (“Embryo Adoption,” Letters, July 13-19).

There are three things to answer in Kitty Cleveland's letter. First is the notion that surrogacy is defined by what happens after birth. This is the position of the advocates of embryo adoption, i.e., that unless the woman who is carrying another woman's child surrenders the child she is carrying to the genetic mother, then no surrogacy is involved. This is completely erroneous. The evil of surrogacy consists in the pregnancy (one woman carrying another woman's child) and not in what happens after birth.

The second thing to answer is whether the quote from Donum Vitae is taken out of context. Yes, it is taken out of its original context but that does not mean that the concept it embodies could not be applied to another context. And the words in the document that the spare embryos are exposed to an absurd fate—i.e., that they have no place to go is a statement of fact, independent of context. Were the authors of this document not aware of the possibility of embryo adoption to solve this dilemma?

The third thing to answer is the implication that Msgr. William Smith has no other basis to oppose this notion. However, in the original article, he speaks of embryo adoption as an additional trespass to the one incurred with in vitro fertilization. This is where he hits the nail on the head, in my view. Embryo adoption merely expands the original evil intent of the scientist who practices in vitro fertilization. The act of implantation of the embryo into the womb of the genetic mother is evil and hence so is the act of implantation into the womb of a surrogate. Orthodox Catholics should know that the ends do not justify-the means. To borrow Msgr. Smith's term, embryo adoption is an additional trespass on the procreative design of the Creator. And it is he, not creatures, who determines who shall live or die. Who are these advocates of embryo adoption to play God, anyway?

Spare embryos are in the same boat as aborted fetuses. They've reached the end of their earthly sojourn. They are victims of the evil design of men. They may be seen as martyrs to the moral law and hence receive an implicit baptism of blood. These human creatures who have no personal sin are more precious in the eyes of God than any of us who have lived and sinned on the earth. Let them go to the arms of God.


Montague, New Jersey

Pray for Gregory Peck

Local Catholic papers printed a long eulogy on Gregory Peck from the Catholic News Service saying what a great man he was and an exemplary Catholic, but the article failed to mention that he was a strong outspoken proponent for the killing of 4,000-plus pre-born babies a day in abortion. I hope he repented before he died. (The Register noted the actor's death in “Memorial Service Held for Gregory Peck,” Media Watch, June 29-July 5).

According to Gerri Pare, director of the U.S. bishops' New York-based Office for Film and Broadcasting, Peck “embodied both in his personal and professional character a strong moral presence …”

However, when the pro-life Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court, Peck became the radio voice for the People for the American Way announcements used to distort Bork's record and mobilize public opinion against him. Peck helped mightily to defeat Bork, and what a difference that has made in our society where even the barbaric, medically unnecessary and high-risk procedure known as partial-birth abortion was sanctioned by a Bork-less Supreme Court.

If Bork had been confirmed, the moral standards of the country would be much higher now.


Rockville, Maryland