Praise of Our Penitent Pope
Pope John Paul II stood up before the world and did what very few in high places would do: ask forgiveness for crimes committed against Jews and others now and long before his time. Can you imagine even after this profound act of humility someone could say, “He didn't go far enough?”
Apparently they assumed he was going to take the blame for Adolph Hitler's crimes even though it took the compound efforts of the free world to defeat him. The Pope could have asked: Now, who among you will do likewise and take the blame for all the wrongs committed against Catholics for the last two thousand years? But he's content to leave that up to the One who reads hearts and will be the final judge of us all.
[The Pope], like the One he represents, taught a profound lesson of humility and courage. In imitation of Jesus, he took on the faults of all Catholics. But, as with the enemies of Christ, they wanted blood.
I'm quite sure the Lord is well pleased with our Pope. He stands head and shoulders above men of the world. No doubt he'll be remembered long after those who find deficiencies in this profound act fade away from the pages of history.
Jim Ziegler Georgetown, Texas
Many Things About Mary
I enjoyed David Gordon's column “There's Something About Mary” (March 19-25). However, I would like to point out an error. In speaking of the Annunciation, Mr. Gordon stated that Mary “was skeptical of what the angel promised, asking ‘How shall this be?’” Mary was not skeptical. If she had been, something similar to what happened to Zachary when he expressed doubt would probably have occurred. On the contrary, Mary's faith in God's power was complete. Her only question concerned what she was to do. After all, she had vowed virginity. Did God want her to repudiate her vow? No doubt she was willing to do that if God so willed.
However, the angel made it clear she would remain a virgin. She need only agree and God would do the rest. Her response was unhesitating: “Be it done unto me according to thy word.”
Mary Irving Port St. Lucie, Florida
I am writing about the headline of the March 19-25 column by David Gordon — “There's Something About Mary.” When I first noticed it, I expected to read about the movie There's Something About Mary, which is a vulgar, adolescent film that seeks to regularize and make humorous perversity and immorality.
Imagine my shock in realizing that the column was about the Blessed Mother! To link the two by using the title of such a disgusting film is a serious sacrilege. Our dear Blessed Mother is known by so many beautiful titles — Mystical Rose, Throne of wisdom and many others. Furthermore, as our Lady is known to be an example of purity, modesty and obedience to God, the comparison to a movie filled with tawdriness and obscenity is vastly disappointing.
Mary Alexander Norton, Massachusetts
In the March 26-April 1 issue, you ran a three-quarter page rambling tribute to the arrogance and narcissism of Ayn Rand written by Donald DeMarco. Seemingly questioning the resurgence of her popularity, he himself devotes much too much space trying to make us understand her philosophy. Her absence of warmth or love for her fellow human beings, her selfish attitudes and life glorified in her writings is not something I expect to read about in the Register.
There is no redeeming value to her life or her writings, so why tell us about them? Or pretend to wonder why people are reading about her while writing about her? The place where Ms. Rand rests in eternity is surely her just reward for such a selfish life. The only warmth surrounding her has come posthumously.
Surely, there are more worthy authors to be written about. Mr. DeMarco's piece just serves to keep her name in the public eye longer than it deserves to be.
Lorraine Mutschler Scottsdale, Arizona
No Catholic Stands Alone
“What do Catholic Apologies Mean to Jews?” (March 12-18) was very thought-provoking. In describing the Holocaust, Rabbi Leon Klenicki said, “It showed the diabolic possibilities of the human being without control.” Father Peter Stravinskas called the 20th century the most horrible of centuries and said it is important to highlight the lesson that “when man tries to go without God, these are exactly the things that one should expect.”
One of the Jewish commentators said on television that, if Pope John Paul II were Pope during the time of the Holocaust, there would not have been a Holocaust.
Perhaps, if history taught us anything, it is that [a] pope cannot do it alone. We know that Pope Pius XII did speak out and did all in his power to prevent the Holocaust, and who should know better than Pope John Paul II of this leadership?
From the many Catholics who were killed during the Holocaust, we know that his words were heard. What we do not know is how much support he had from the members of the Catholic Church and leaders of the other faiths. Today we see that all our modern day popes have been condemning the “culture of death” at least since 1968, and violence is worse than at any time in history, not the least of which is the 40 million babies killed by surgical abortion. Let us all join in the prayer shared by Rabbi Klenicki so that “The Lord will reign for ever and ever.” Amen.
Bernie and Elaine McHale Greensboro, North Carolina
Brian McGuire's report on the activities of the International Commission on English and the Liturgy (ICEL) was informative and welcome (“Liturgical Translations Face Vatican Overhaul,” Jan. 23-29).
The purpose of liturgy, as I understand it, is to afford the faithful the means of jointly expressing their love for God in union with their faithful.
The constant tinkering with and changing of the liturgy has left those of us in the pews thoroughly confused and amazed.
Confused for obvious reasons and amazed that those in command would tamper with something that has been so successful and rewarding. The folly of the past 30 years can be substantiated by checking [declining] Mass-attendance figures.
Rome has apparently finally realized that, if control is loosened and authority not expressed and enforced, we shall encounter situations like the resistance by the Catholic college presidents to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the drop in Mass attendance and 45 minutes per week for confessions.
We love the Church and shall follow its dictates, but if there is confusion amongst the leaders, what can you expect from the rank and file? The activities of the ICEL remind me of the man whose house is on fire and, instead of training his garden hose on the burning house, he decides instead to water his garden.
John M. Flynn, Jr.
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- April 9-15, 2000