The Worth of Saddam's Soul
Regarding “Death Penalty Clarification Needed” by Father Raymond J. de Souza (Commentary, Jan. 4-10):
As Christians, we are called by God to hate evil. But attach a human face to that evil and you've got a problem. Christians are obligated to rise above evil and conquer it with the power of good. We are to hate evil actions but not the person committing them. In other words, we must hate the sin but love the sinner. Christ was very emphatic about this when he said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
We have just seen the capture and arrest of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Millions of people around the world are calling for his death, including many Christians. Fighting evil with more evil can never produce anything good. Instead, we should be praying for the soul of this man, that he might experience a conversion before it's too late for him. By doing so, not only will we be assisting a needy soul, but we will also be comforting Our Lord, who said to St. Faustina, “The loss of each soul plunges me into mortal sadness. You always console me when you pray for sinners. The prayer most pleasing to me is prayer for the conversion of sinners” (Diary of St. Faustina, No. 1397).
We all know of Saddam's atrocities. But what some might not know is that Saddam was born into a difficult life as an unwanted child whose own mother tried to abort him herself before his birth. His stepfather also abused him emotionally and physically.
But if none of this makes it easier to care about what happens to Saddam, perhaps this will: Our Lord said to St. Faustina, “the greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to my mercy … On the cross, the fountain of my mercy was opened wide by the lance for all souls — no one have I excluded” (Diary, No. 1182).
So how much is Saddam Hussein's soul worth? The price of Christ's blood. No human soul is worth less.
Janine E. Schutt Bremerton, Washington
Regarding “The New Year's First Saints: The Vatican Clears Path for Four (Jan. 4-10): I have some corrections to offer regarding Augustus Czartoryski, Eusebia Palomino and Alessandrina da Costa.
Augustus Czartoryski: Please note the correct spelling of his first name. He was a Polish prince, the son of Princess Maria Ampara of Spain. He was born Aug. 2, 1858, and died April 9, 1893. He attempted to enter the Salesian Society four times and three times he was refused by Don Bosco, who thought a prince would have a hard time adjusting to the austerity of the Salesian life. The fourth time he applied, he was finally accepted by Don Bosco after having recourse to Pope Leo XIII, who told him to tell the founder the Pope said he was to become a Salesian. Embracing the poverty of the Salesian Society with all his heart, he was a model novice and avoided discussing his life prior to entering. He was ordained April 2, 1892. Shortly after his ordination, he began to show signs of tuberculosis and was nursed by Venerable Andrew Beltrami (another holy Salesian). His last words were, “Jesus Christ, my master.”
Eusebia Palomino: She did not belong to the “Institute of the Daughters of Mary of Perpetual Help” but the Institute of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, founded by St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello.
Alessandrina da Costa: She was not a “lay member of the Union of Salesian Co-Workers” but a member of the society of apostolic Life, which at the time was called the Pious Union of Salesian Cooperators (it is now known as the Association of Salesian Cooperators).
The main work of Salesian cooperators is geared toward the young and the poor. A number of the more recent popes were Salesian cooperators, among them Pope Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII.
Thank you for publishing such an excellent paper. I read it cover to cover every week.
Brittany Marie Harrison Lake Villa, Illinois
Courageously Counter Contraception
Talk about the moral dilemma involved in the inducing of labor (“Induction Procedures Raise Moral Dilemma,” Oct. 19-25).
There is a greater dilemma pro-life activists have to face concerning Catholic Hospitals.
Here are the pro-life activists picketing against abortion and all attacks on life while Catholic hospitals are involved in distributing contraceptives.
One of the bishops at the recent bishops’ meeting actually called contraceptives the “silent killer,” which is a perfect name for contraceptives.
We are told, “It's the law of the land!“
Let us pray for our bishops to have the courage of St. Peter, who responded to the Sanhedrin when told not to preach about Jesus: “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).
Bias in the Register?
I was very disappointed to see the article “Vatican's War Warnings Confirmed” by John Thavis of Catholic News Service in your Dec. 7-13 issue.
This is the kind of biased article I would expect of The New York Times. The Iraqi infrastructure is not destroyed, it is being rebuilt by the United States. The hardships on civilians have not increased; the overwhelming majority of the people are glad we are there. And most importantly, Iraqi men, women and children no longer have to worry about being taken away in the middle of the night to face torture or execution.
While the minority of those who are engaged in terrorism get all of the attention, I would hope the journalists at the Register would give a more balanced presentation and include all of the facts. The country is much better off without a murderous psychopath as dictator.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
On Holidays in Europe
Your news brief “France to Cancel Pentecost Holiday” (Media Watch, Dec. 7-13) says the feast is still marked in Britain by various traditional celebrations. Alas, this is not really so.
Whitsunday, as it was known here, ceased to be an official holiday some years ago. We now have the “Late Spring Bank Holiday,” which sometimes coincides with Pentecost and sometimes not, and we also have a holiday on May 1, but the Whitsun weekend has officially disappeared and you will not see it mentioned in a diary or calendar. There are local rural traditions, such as you mention, but the big events such as Manchester's “Whit Walks” are a thing of the past, and the name Whitsun is fast disappearing as it is no longer associated with a holiday weekend.
The irony is that we are always being told that we should standardize life across Europe, and one of the useful things we have in common is the calendar, centered on the traditional round of Christian seasons. Britain abolished many holidays at the Reformation while much of Europe kept them. Now, just when it would make sense for us all to enjoy them together, separate countries are abolishing various Christian feast days one by one — while inventing new secular ones.
Here in Britain there is talk of our having “Trafalgar Day” to give us an extra holiday so the number of our holidays keeps up with the rest of Europe! It is hardly likely to foster friendship with the French.
New Malden, Surrey