Photo Negative

Regarding Dwight Longenecker's article, “Why They're in This Mess” in the November 16-22 issue: It is with interest that I read all articles on the acceptance of the practicing homosexual bishop by the Episcopal Church and how it impacts the Christian world. Certainly, this activity is newsworthy and has created a crisis in the Episcopal/Anglican Church as well as a roadblock to ecumenical dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. My objection to the article was not the text but the undignified photo of V. Gene Robinson. As Catholics, we are called to treat each individual with dignity and love—this silly photo did not meet that standard.


Granite Falls, Minn.

Regarding “Why They're in This Mess” (Commentary&Opinion, Nov. 16-22), about Rev. Gene Robinson's elevation as an Episcopal bishop:

I must confess that I found your choice of photograph (pages 1 and 9) highly offensive and insulting, not only to Episcopalians but also to your own image as an objective, responsible publication.

In an age of disturbing polarization between Christians of different denominations, why did you choose to run a photo that does nothing but feed people's already ingrained and unjustified contempt for “the other side”? Or, more to the point, in an age when the Catholic Church in America has become so polarized, why did you run a photo that does nothing but feed your critics' view of your publication as one-sided, anti-ecumenical and shallow?

Normally, I would let little slips like this go by because I myself work in the publishing world and know how even one poorly chosen word can give the wrong impression. But this offense seemed too deliberate. Surely there was a vast array of photographs from which you could have chosen. Why choose this one?

Say what you like about his religious convictions or his moral choices, but Bishop Robinson remains a human being deeply loved by God. You may disapprove of his election and mourn the state of the Episcopal Church, but this man still deserves to be treated with dignity and respect—if for no other reason than because he is a human being.

I believe you owe Bishop Robinson, and your readers, an apology.


Fruit Cove, Florida

Editor's note: Point taken. We thought a humorous photo would serve as an apt visual lead-in to the commentary, which questioned the seriousness of the ordination. In hindsight, the photo was inappropriate. Our sincere apologies to all who were offended.

Girls on the Altar

Regarding “Altar Boys and Girls” (Letters, Nov. 23-29):

Christopher Pasquale writes, “Most disturbing was the theory … that girls serving along with boys will dilute the significance of the boys' role and the chances of priestly ordination. Does this even sound a little ridiculous to anyone?”

No, Mr. Pasquale, it doesn't sound ridiculous to me. My son has a good friend who served as an altar boy both before and after his church allowed girls to become altar servers. The young man told us that, when it was just boys, the altar servers focused on the Mass. Once girls became altar servers, the boys focused on the girls instead.

From the time the oldest of my four sons was very young, I sensed that he may have a priestly vocation. Therefore when he came of age to serve on the altar, I switched parishes in order to belong to one that didn't allow altar girls. I wasn't going to take any chances with his possible vocation.

I must say that I was surprised to see that the reply was written by a man. I myself am a woman, and I can attest that, in all of my 44 years, I never once felt cheated by not being able to serve with the boys on the altar. As a matter of fact, I have never even known of another female who has felt that way, be it my daughter, nieces, friends or anyone else. I think that, unfortunately, the feminists have thrown Mr. Pasquale a line, and he has believed it.


Covington, Louisiana

Carl's Jr. Crash

Thank you for producing the extremely valuable Register, which I read front to back every week. Relative to “Thomas Aquinas vs. Hugh Hefner” (Inbrief, Nov. 30-Dec. 6), I thought you'd like to see the letter that I sent to the parent company of the Carl's Jr. Restaurants to protest its using Hugh Hefner as a corporate spokesman. The letter was signed by 20 detention-ministry volunteers. This letter may be of some use to your readers in view of Thomas Aquinas College asking the chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants (which operates Carl's Jr.) to resign from the school's board of directors:

“Our purpose in writing this letter is to express shock and dismay that Carl's Jr. would use an individual with the character and reputation of Hugh Hefner as a corporate spokesman in its advertising campaign.

”We are members of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Westlake Village. We serve as volunteers in the Los Angeles Archdiocese Detention Ministry and minister to the young men at Camp Vernon Kilpatrick, a Los Angeles County probation facility located in Malibu, Calif., in the Santa Monica Mountains. For the past 15 years, we, a group of detention ministry volunteers numbering from five to 20 individuals, have been patronizing the Carl's Jr. restaurant located on Kanan Road in Agoura Hills, Calif., for lunch on Saturday after we complete our detention ministry duties at Camp Kilpatrick.

“Since Carl's Jr. has decided to use Hugh Hefner as a corporate spokesperson, we will no longer patronize any Carl's Jr. restaurant and will encourage our friends, relatives and associates to do likewise.”


Agoura Hills, California

Factor This: Prayers for Bill

I must admit that whenever Bill O'Reilly starts talking about “things Catholic” on his show, I cringe. He is clearly misinformed (at best) about the full meaning of the Catholic faith. In this, unfortunately, he is not unlike the majority of American Catholics today. In fact, his views on the faith are about where mine were some years ago.

But he does do some good with his show, and he has a huge audience. He also needs our prayers as much as anybody, more than he needs our criticism. Imagine the possibilities if this outspoken journalist had a real conversion.

Let's all commit to praying for him, and for other Catholics in the public eye, who are not in full communion with the Church. Our God is an awesome God!


Andover, Minnesota

Ethical Erosion in Health Care

As a Catholic obstetrician, I am concerned with the ever-increasing erosion of morality and ethics occurring within Catholic hospitals worldwide (“Induction Procedures Raise Moral Dilemma,” Oct. 19-25).

There is not a moral dilemma with early induction of labor for fetuses with anomalies incompatible with life. The desired intent is to terminate the pregnancy. To do so prior to 24 weeks' gestation (the clinical “time of viability”) is clearly abortion. To do so immediately afterward has the same evil intent and is merely a thinly veiled attempt to sidestep the “Ethical and Religious Directives” of the Providence Health System.

The morally correct procedure in these tragic instances would be to allow labor to occur on its own or induce once the child is overdue (as one would with any other pregnancy), unless other intervening conditions occur (i.e. pre-eclampsia or premature rupture of membranes).


Kitchener, Ontario


“Bishops' Plan: Engage Public Pro-Abortion Catholics” (Nov. 23-29) was very disturbing and prompted this commentary. The Nov. 10-13 meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops was cut short by one day (one out of four!) but could not decide on guidelines to confront pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians. The guidelines are not expected to be in final form until after the 2004 elections. This is outrageous. Moral leadership is needed now.

The legalization of murder of the innocent has been going on since 1973. Thirty years and 40 million murders: How many more babies will be murdered by waiting another year? Answer: 1.3 million. This is equivalent to the Sept. 11 attacks every day for the next 365 days. The time for moral leadership is long overdue.

The protection of the innocent souls must take top priority on the bishops' schedule. A special meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops should be scheduled now.



Bishops: More on War

Regarding “Bishops Hear Debate on Just-War Letter,” (Inbrief, Nov. 16-22):

May I suggest that we Catholics, the laity, hear more about it than that? Don't we deserve to understand the nuances of this topic in light of terrorism, guerilla warfare, weapons of mass destruction, etc.? Why is this kept from the rest of our Church? What are the proposed guidelines in light of the 21st century warfare?


Englewood, Florida