Chilling Effect on Choices

Regarding the editorial “Bush vs. Kerry: The Conscience Issues” (Sept. 12-18):

I feel that it is very unfair of you to present the five non-negotiable issues from the Catholic Answers Voting Guide without supplying the faithful with the whole truth.

The guide specifically says: “The unborn child is always an innocent party, and no law may permit the taking of his life. Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest, the fault is not the child's, who should not suffer death for others’ sins.”

Candidates need to learn that being wrong on even one of the non-negotiable issues is enough to exclude them from consideration.

You have portrayed Bush as the perfect candidate for every Catholic to vote for. You have given information that makes it look like he is right on every issue that really counts. That is not entirely the whole truth.

As part of informing our consciences, we, the faithful, have a right to be informed of the truth, without those in places of leadership and authority in the Church covering over and pretending all is well.

It needs to be said: President Bush is in favor of abortion in the cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. President Bush is not against all embryonic stem-cell research but feels some is necessary and essential. President Bush believes that individual states should be allowed to decide what they do about homosexual marriages.

We deserve the truth and that should not be taken from us.

Wendy M. Johnson

Branchport, New York

Editor's Note: A good point. Please see Archbishop Burke's guidance on the question of two imperfect choices on the facing page.

Perplexing Priorities

I want to make an observation in response to Father Joseph O'Keefe, dean of the Lynch School of Education, Boston College, that Catholic schools must “innovate or perish.”

Since the 1960s, solid Catholic education has not been taught in our schools. We are now reaping the error of our ways. I speak from age and experience, not hearsay. The saddest fact is that this fault was being pointed out to our parish priests, bishops, cardinals and even Rome, to no avail.

The most obvious solution is to turn to God for his help. Decades ago, many parishes had daily Mass attendance for school-children. The problem is, we have lost faith in Mass and en masse. There is a frequently repeated statement attributed to an unknown non-Catholic who supposedly said, “If I believed what you Catholics believe about Communion, I'd crawl down that aisle on my belly.”

I can't help but believe that if, for the past 40 years, all the Catholic schoolchildren had attended daily Mass, monthly confession and had at least weekly recitation of the rosary, stations or a litany, not only would our schools be benefiting from God's graces being showered on us in response to the students’ prayers, but we would have less violence, child abuse and abandonment, divorce, adultery, drugs, homosexuality, pornography and mental-health problems.

The prayers of these children could have been the saving grace for their parents’ marriage. Doesn't anyone believe that but me? If clergy and religious really believe in what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist, aren't we really denying our children the optimum object of life?

If our priests don't have time to offer daily Mass to our students, then our priorities are wrong, wrong, wrong.

Joan Solms

Aurora, Illinois

Teen Beat

I love the National Catholic Register newspaper and read some of the articles every week. I like the movie reviews (naturally), the pro-life/abortion articles and sometimes I like the Inperson, if the interview is with a young adult.

I was wondering if you've ever considered having a small section of “good books for teens.” It would give a brief summary of some good, inspirational, Catholic books and where to order them. I love to read and feel like I've read a whole lot. I really would like some other suggestions. Maybe it could be from kids around the country who would write in with a brief summary of a book they'd like others to read.

If you're interested, I'd be only too happy to contribute the first book's summary!

Janie Wells

Age 16

Louisville, Kentucky

The Silence of the Singers

Regarding “Why Catholics Can Sing — But Too Often Don't” (Sept. 19-25):

In my opinion, Gord Wilson made a fundamental mistake. He asked two music ministers for their opinions. He should have asked a dozen people in the pews.

I travel much and attend Mass in many churches. Time and time again, I witness the music leader singing all alone, while the congregation suffers in silence. Why? Because the melodies are so bad, to put it in gentle words.

I have written the Oregon Catholic Press twice about this, but they take the attitude that they know best. Well, they don't! I have little problem with the lyrics, but the melody really prohibits any of us common people from wanting to join in. And the leaders haven't a clue. Perhaps they prefer singing solo.

John Peacock

Fremont, California

Fatally Flawed Founding?

Regarding “Prayer Campaign” (Editorial, Oct. 3-9):

(You urge your readers to pray that) “in this year's elections, our nation will embrace the moral values of a culture of life; that America will reclaim her founding principles of faith and dependence upon God in public life.”

The “founding principles” included the legalization of slavery, and the near-total elimination of the population of Native Americans and their beliefs, established long before Christianity appeared! More need not be said!

Louis J Mihalyi, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

California University System

Editor's Note: You are mistaken. Abolitionists, Indian-rights activists and civil-rights reformers were able to gain their victories by championing our founding principles. As articulated in the Declaration of Independence, these include the equality of all people and the right to life.