The Quality Quotient
Regarding “Terri's Life in the Balance” (Oct. 10–16):
If the Florida Supreme Court has overturned the constitutionality of the emergency law passed last fall by the Florida Legislature that saved Terri Schiavo's life, then there is cause for concern — but not for surprise.
The quality-of-life mindset permeating our culture underpins many of the assaults directed against vulnerable individuals throughout all stages of the human life cycle.
Here's how William Brennan put it in his book Dehumanizing the Vulnerable:
“Although these quality-of-life proponents claim they wish to enhance everyone's life, many of them are only primarily concerned with enhancing the lives of people with an ‘adequate’ range of capabilities. Anyone who falls below the minimum standards of acceptability — especially individuals suffering from debilitating illnesses and those whose survival depends upon respirators, feeding tubes and other life-sustaining aids — is placed in imminent jeopardy of being declared superfluous. Unborn children are sacrificed because they are viewed as only potentially human, not as humans with potential. Handicapped children are rendered expendable because they do not possess the requisite physical or mental capacities, while the severely afflicted elderly have lost theirs. In the practical order, the quality-of-life imperative too often translates to mean the quality-of-life for some at the expense of others.”
Regarding “Decades-Long Cover-Up?” (Sept. 26-Oct. 2):
The most apt word I can think of when I hear about so-called Catholic colleges and universities refusing to tell students and their parents whether their theology professors are teaching in accordance with Catholic teaching is ridiculous.
A comparative example would be a person going into a jewelry store and putting down $100,000, and the jeweler telling you that he can't tell you if it is a real diamond or a zircon.
The difference would be that the result of making an error in regard to choosing a college can be much more serious.
Judge Casey's Quandary
Regarding “Judge Casey's Difficult Decision” (Sept. 12-18):
I don't think the judge should be given a pass quite so easily. Professor Robert George gave a very reasonable approach to Casey's quandary, which could easily have been taken advantage of.
Furthermore, in the very same issue of the Register, you quote Evangelium Vitae in your editorial. You point out that the Church teaching regarding laws permitting abortion is that it is “never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or to vote for it.” Judge Casey's position does not excuse him.
Roe v. Wade and its progeny have nothing to do with our U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court is not interested in “strong messages.” As a matter of fact, Sandra O'Connor admitted that late-term abortions were brutal, but pointed out that all abortions were. Nothing will change the mindset of the U.S. Supreme Court majority constituency. At this point, they probably wouldn't know how to reverse it even if they wanted to.
With all respect for his personal piety and physical disability, Judge Casey missed an opportunity that he should have been looking for.
ROBERT H. MESSIER, M.D.
Hillside, New Jersey
The Issue is Sanity
After reading Jennifer Roback Morse's column “What We Learned in Massachusetts on May 17” (July 4-10), I was indeed nonplussed as to your motive in publishing it. Discussing homosexual unions being legitimized by recognition of them as marriages belies rationality. What is, is; what is not, is not. In this case, marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Relationships between homosexual men or women are not, and can never be, a marriage, discussion of the various pros and cons therefore or state laws thereto notwithstanding.
The issue is not whether we want a national policy of marriage as the sexually exclusive union of a man and a woman or a national policy of marriage as the union of any combination of consenting adults with no particular expectation of sexual fidelity, as Morse says, but rather whether we want to retain sanity in the laws that govern this country.
ALBERT C. SCHULTZ
San Antonio, Texas
Research and the Reagans
As 2,000 doctors associated with the Christian Medical Association noted in a letter to Congress and President Bush (“Ron Jr. Wrong on Stem Cells,” ProLife Victories, Aug. 22-28), Ron Reagan Jr. — in a shameless exploitation of his father's memory in making stem-cell research a partisan issue before delegates to the Democratic National Convention and a national TV audience — offered “political science of the worst sort.”
Ron Reagan, a lifelong liberal who, according to brother Michael, never voted for his father, ignores the public and scientific record, as well as his father's own words, in trying to link him to embryo-destroying research. Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem-cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, has labeled claims of an embryonic stem-cell cure for Alzheimer's a “fairy tale.”
Michael Reagan has written that he's “tired of the media's insistence on reporting that the Reagan ‘family’ is in favor of (embryonic) stem cell research, when the truth is that two members of the family have been long time foes of this process of manufacturing human beings — my dad, Ronald Reagan, during his lifetime, and me.”
President Reagan stated: “Unless and until it can be proven that the unborn child is not a living entity, then its right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness must be protected.”
While over-hyped, speculative embryonic stem-cell research wallows in rat and mouse research, adult stem cells were first used to treat human illness in 1957 and today are used to treat about 80 human diseases. Yet Ron Reagan made no reference to an alternative that is decades further along, or to the fact that the Bush administration last year wisely invested $190.7 million in that research.
Ron Reagan began his speech on stem-cell research by saying it “should not — must not — have anything to do with partisanship,” yet his presence at the Democratic National Convention and John Kerry's promise to “lift the ideologically driven restrictions on stem-cell research” belie that claim.
DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI
Adoration for Elders
Regarding “Stay With Us, Lord” (Oct. 17-23): I have a wonderful idea for every diocese during this Year of the Eucharist: Have a day of adoration weekly at the nursing homes. Most nursing homes have a weekly Mass; a few hours of adoration could follow.
If finding a monstrance is a problem, maybe a closed parish would loan one to the elderly. Better yet, the elderly and their families may want to donate money to purchase a small monstrance as a permanent fixture for their chapel. I know for a fact that this is a great idea because Foley's Nursing Center and adjoining Heritage Place Apartments (of Foley, Minn.) implemented a modified service four years ago this coming February.
The elderly love it and look forward to it weekly. Their prayers, sufferings and silent presence are an awesome source of grace. The elderly are Mary's humble army ushering in the triumph of her immaculate heart with her son's Eucharistic reign.
- November 7-13, 2004