Not So Fast with Vouchers

I have always been a vocal promoter of the Register and am thankful for this positive publication. I am dismayed, however, at the paper's coverage concerning the school-voucher debates (“School Voucher Showdown Looms,” Dec. 31-Jan. 6).

I think that the one-sided presentations of this topic really diminish the paper's credibility. Also the many Catholics who form their opinions from what they believe is the truth written in the Register are not receiving all of the facts of the voucher issue. It appears that not supporting school vouchers is like not being pro-life.

Before we endorse a system, we must evaluate its effect on society and not just the financial gains possible for Catholic schools. The Cleveland court case and actual events in Cleveland are a great example of only looking at one, very small, side of this issue.

The fact is that many of the schools that were started to take advantage of the voucher program were for-profit businesses using the guise of religion to open “schools” in condemned buildings, with few supplies, [employing] teachers without certified teaching degrees (actually some were convicted felons), and where little learning took place.

Before we become euphoric over Catholic-school benefits from vouchers, we need to be sure that the overall program will have the desired effect for everyone and not become another vehicle to exploit the poor. These programs, which will certainly drain financial support from the public schools, also do not address what will happen to those who need the special-education classes and care which public schools provide since most private schools have no special-needs programs.

There is plenty of Catholic bashing in America today, so we should be careful not to equate vouchers with Gospel directives, which can only provide for those who accuse us of only seeing what we want to see. The Register should be more responsible by offering both sides of this issue and not by presenting vouchers as the Catholic position.

TOM SAWYER Cleveland


I just saw your article on the papal comic book (“Italy's Latest Superhero: John Paul the Great,” Jan. 7-13). Thank you for taking the time to interview me about our Pauline Comics and our children's biography, Karol From Poland. I just wanted to clarify that our initials, FSP, do not stand for Franciscan Sisters of Peace, as was indicated in your story, but are the Latin initials for the Daughters of St. Paul. Sister Leonora Wilson, who wrote Karol From Poland, is also a Daughter of St. Paul, not a Franciscan Sister of Peace!

Because we are an international congregation, it was decided many years ago to use the Latin initials in order to standardize them for the sisters all over the world. Up until then, we in the States had used DSP, the English initials.

No harm done. I just thought I'd mention it in case confusion ever arises in the future.


Sigh of Relief

I am writing in regard to Karl Keating's column “Catechizing the Catechist” (Dec. 31-Jan. 6). This item about the hosts being scattered to “christen” the ground appeared in The Wanderer on Aug. 31. Like most people, I was shocked to read of such a sacrilegious act.

Some time later, an update appeared in that publication. Unfortunately, I cannot find it. However, [the gist was] that, upon investigation of this incident, it turned out the priest had embellished his description of the service for the bulletin, which was used as the basis for later news reports. The update stated that the host had not been used in a wrongful manner, after all.

SARAH MCCRAY Annapolis, Maryland

Faith No More?

Well, now that “New Research Confirms Life After Death”( Jan. 7-12), it would appear that faith is no longer necessary. The famous art critic Sister Wendy Beckett said the same thing to Bill Moyers in a PBS interview. When asked about her faith, she replied (and I paraphrase) — “I don't need faith, because I am certain of Christ's promises.” For those of us who still require the grace of faith, this article may be titillating, but it is not solid science and never will be.

Come on now, let's stick to orthodox Catholic theology and teaching. And let's also remember the admonition in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.”

DAVE BRACKENRIDGE Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Another Ex-Democrat

This is in response to Paul Szymanowski from Curtice, Ohio (“Another Vote for Gore,” Letters, Dec. 31-Jan. 6): You asked if any of us who had abandoned the Democratic party had tried to fix it first? I did. Not far from you in Mansfield, I was a precinct committee chairman back in the mid-'80s.

It is a long story that I would be happy to share with you privately, but the short of it is, [the candidate] said he couldn't change his pro-death voting record, and would continue to vote that way. I decided to resign and became the chairman of his opponent's election campaign.

In the Gospel Jesus tells us that he is the Life. To deny that would have been to deny Jesus. I chose Jesus, and would never apologize for it.

DON MARCUM Mansfield, Ohio

New York NFP Miracle

Thank you for the ‘pill’ article mentioning Dr. Thomas Hilgers (“The Pacquettes vs. the Pill,” Jan. 7-13). He is an underutilized miracle worker. His natural family planning science, when reversed, can resolve infertility problems.

Our story in a nutshell: We were a ‘fast track’ New York couple, Wall Streeters, five years married, no children. The fancy Westchester fertility doctors all wanted to bypass my wife's body with artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. Because of our faith, we said no. None of them explained what was actually causing the problem.

Meanwhile, a young, pregnant immigrant girl decided on abortion. While price-shopping, she accidentally called Expectant Mother Care, a pro-life center. After a few meetings she said that if they could get her a doctor, hospital, job and a place to live, she would choose adoption. They called us, and we accepted the challenge.

After inviting the Sisters of Life to speak to my seventh-grade CCD class, I gave Sister Simeon and Sister Loretta a ride back to their convent. The sisters asked if I had tried the Pope Paul VI center and gave me their number. We contacted Dr. Hilgers, who put us on, of all things, a natural family planning charting program. After three months of charting, he made a temporary diagnosis of the problem.

On Dec. 6, 1996, our gorgeous adopted daughter Julia was born. We believe her biological mother is a hero. A few months later, my wife flew to Omaha and was operated on by Dr. Hilgers. She was pregnant two months later, and, over the years, again and again!

Last week, our fourth child was born. Thanks to Dr. Hilgers, the sisters and Julia's biological mom, we are the luckiest people in the world.

Dr. Hilgers' clinic needs more publicity, both for the financial well-being of the clinic and the emotional (and financial) well-being of the 1 million couples in the United States who are struggling with infertility and don't know about this resource.

KEVIN MCMAHON Pelham, New York

Weakly Video Picks

I find the “Weekly Video Picks” to be very weak. What ever happened to good, conservative Catholic entertainment? What is justifiable profanity, nudity and sexual content? Seems like the Register is promoting these less-than-desirable shows! How can these “picks” build the Kingdom of God?

JOEY A. MATIS Houma, Louisiana

Editor's note: You'll find justifiable profanity, nudity, sexual content and violence in several of the films recommended recently by the Vatican — and in the Bible and Shakespeare. That's not to say that the Register embraces the culture's standards in this regard. Since the Catechism calls depictions of sexual acts pornographic, we don't include even many PG-13 rated films.

Virgin Birth a Mystery

I admire your periodical's efforts to search out and recognize what is laudable from a Catholic point of view in contemporary current events and entertainment, and I know how difficult it can be.

Along with John Prizer, I consider Franco Zefferelli's Jesus of Nazareth a great motion picture. Nevertheless, I believe it does contain certain elements that are incompatible with the Catholic faith. In particular, the image of Mary yelling in pain while giving birth to Jesus seems to me to be contrary to a Catholic understanding of the virgin birth.

My impression, in fact, is that we are to believe that Mary gave birth to Jesus, not only without detriment to her virginity, but, in addition, without the pangs of childbirth and any carnal movements as well.


Editor's note: While many Catholic theologians would agree with you on this point, Church doctrine is undecided on the question of Mary's pain at childbirth.

Parade of New Saints

I was deeply impressed with the article on the new martyrs (“Jubilee Year Abounds With New Saints,” Dec. 31-Jan. 6). The priest at my parish was impressed as well. We wanted to know if you were aware of where one could obtain the images of the martyrs that were used in your article.

We are thinking of purchasing them, if able to, in order to place them in the Hispanic mission of our church as well as in the main church as well. If you are unaware of where one can purchase them, do you know of a Web site where one can find them? Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

JAVIER BRAVO Yuma, Arizona

Editor's note: The pictures are just one of many new features available on the Vatican Web site. Find them on www.vatican.va by choosing “Liturgies” on the main menu, then “Saints and Blessed,” and then “Saints of 2000.”