Letters to the Editor

Sister Stang’s Sacrifice

I am e-mailing you regarding “Three Suspects Arrested in Murder of Sister Stang” (March 6-12).

I am 20 years old. Sister Dorothy Stang was my great aunt. I had the privilege of meeting her on several different occasions when she came to the States for family reunions.

After finding out about her tragic death from my grandma (Sister Stang was my grandma’s sister), I also learned so many beautiful details about her life — the poverty in which she lived so she could better serve her people — no electricity, no running water, and she slept in a hammock.

For the next few weeks, I carefully read the National Catholic Register, hoping that maybe an article would be posted about the heroic life that she lived in the Amazon jungle. But no such article ever came. I want to thank you though for posting an article about the suspects being named, but I must admit, it’s her life and all the amazing work that she did that is so interesting and motivating. She is such an inspiration of living one’s life to the fullest for our mission, never stopping or hesitating to take her hand off the plow.

Thank you for taking the time to read my e-mail, and thank you also for updating me about the men who murdered my great aunt Dorothy.

Katherine Heil

Woodstock, Georgia

Supercilious Singer

Peter Singer keeps referring to some “Catholic theologians” in order to back up his sick reasoning. I would like to know to whom he is referring (“Life or Death: A Conversation with Peter Singer,” Feb. 20-26).

We should do everything possible to ensure that these “theologians” are not teaching or being taught in Catholic seminaries and universities. Indeed, I strongly believe that the Holy See should accredit all theologians and Catholic universities and seminaries.

This accreditation should be sought by the appropriate parties at regular intervals, and given only after careful examination of their teaching. In this way, all Catholics could readily know who is teaching the Catholic faith and where one might go to obtain proper doctrine.

Also: When considering someone who is “suffering greatly,” has “no hope of recovery,” has “no capacity to make an informed judgment,” and has left “no statement of wishes or intentions,” he states: “[A]ny human person would say we shouldn’t keep this patient alive.”

Not only is Mr. Singer denying the personhood of the patient, but also of anyone who says the patient should be kept alive.

This man is too arrogant for words. Cursed is a society that takes such a one seriously and follows his lead. Shame on Princeton for giving this man a prestigious position.

Father Joe Blonski

St. Joseph and Holy Trinity Parishes

Aztec, New Mexico

Trouble at Notre Dame

Regarding “Bishop Finds Notre Dame Events Revolting” (Feb. 27-March 5):

Without a doubt, many Catholic universities and colleges have lost their Catholic character. The article on Notre Dame’s “Queer Film Festival” shows that secularization abounds there, contravening what Catholic education should teach.

Holy Mother Church does teach, very clearly and explicitly, that we should be tolerant and have compassion for [all] individuals. However, the Church does not teach that such tolerance and compassion extend to acceptance of “intrinsically disordered” homosexual behavior.

Clearly, the Notre Dame festival was a clear call for acceptance of GLBT (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transsexual) behavior. Not only a call for acceptance, it was a celebration, an embracing, a revelry, an endorsement.

The administration at Notre Dame is disgusting in its rationalization of such an event by citing a need for students to “encounter the secular American culture.” As if in today’s multi-communications world, it is possible to “cloister” students from reality. 

George Garbell

Phoenix, Arizona


Clothes to the Edge

“Can the Law Tell People What to Wear?” by Benjamin Wiker (Commentary & Opinion, Feb. 20-26) addresses an ongoing problem regarding the lack of respect for the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

What puzzles me is the silence from our Church leaders to educate their flock and instill in them the respect owed not only to the great gift God has left with us, but the respect owed their neighbor. It is sad to see parents who not only permit their children to wear immodest clothing, but the mothers themselves outfit in similar apparel.

I was wondering whether those who can sew, knit or crochet would mind making “tummy blankets,” just a simple rectangle that could be available in a basket at the entrance of each Church. They would be large enough to cover [exposed parts] and would serve those who insist on wearing the low-slung pants and far-too-tight shirts. They can flaunt whatever it is they think they have to show, but upon entering God’s house they could modestly enter to pray. Can’t you just see the possibilities?

Or, maybe, it would just be simpler for everyone to remember where they are and what they are doing.

Frances Saenz

Thousand Oaks, California

The Suffering Pope

Regarding “He’s Suffering for Us” (Editorial, Feb. 13-19):

Just a wee note to congratulate you on a fine reflection on the present suffering of the Holy Father. Certainly he is an ongoing inspiration for us all and, perhaps, particularly those of us who were small children when he began his pontificate.

Sister Gill Goulding ibvm
Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology
Regis College
University of Toronto

Oscar-Winning Euthanasia

Regarding “More Than a Game” Jan. 30-Feb. 5:

Now that the Academy Awards have been distributed and Million Dollar Baby picked up a bushel of them, allow me to give you my review of the film. I am not a professional reviewer. This is merely one man’s opinion.

I begin by admitting that the movie is one of the best cinematic products I have ever seen. The last 30 minutes of the film were mesmerizing. There was no way the viewer could refrain from being drawn into the action on the screen. From the standpoint of cinematic accomplishment, Million Dollar Baby deserved every ounce of its Oscar glory. But …

By this time you’ve read enough of the reviews to know that Baby is a boxing story, but an unusual one, in that the boxer happens to be female. It is also a love story between the young woman and her aging manager, played by Clint Eastwood. There is absolutely nothing sexually suggestive in the entire film, which is probably why it was given a PG-13 rating. There is some brutality, as one would expect in a film about boxing.

Viewing the movie from a Catholic standpoint, I was disappointed in the portrayal of the priest. Some of his language was offensive and his personality was icy, at best, as he dealt with the “Catholic” Clint Eastwood, one of his parishioners. Most of the conversation between them involved Clint questioning (ridiculing?) some of the Church’s doctrines — the Trinity, the Immaculate Conception, and so on.

But these shortcomings are minor compared to the happenings in the last 10 minutes of the film, which concludes with a scene of euthanasia being accomplished by the manager. The scene is done so convincingly — and so lovingly — that, unless one has the firmest of convictions of the evil of euthanasia, one could easily come away with the belief that the perpetrator was justified in the deed.

It grieves me that the director or the author of the book on which the movie was loosely based chose to conclude this story as he did. If those final 10 minutes were to be withdrawn and replaced with a scene wherein the victim dies with dignity or is rendered capable of living a fruitful life in spite of the great handicap, as many are doing today, what a beautiful, touching movie it would have been.

What a means of evangelization for truth those 10 minutes could have been. But, as it is, we are left with nothing but a senseless taking of a life, authored by a supposedly “Catholic” manager whose warped concept of love led him to enter an arena reserved to God.

Msgr. Myron  Pleskac

St. Mary Catholic Church

Denton, Nebraska

Double-Edged Daggers

Jennifer Roback Morse is right, of course, about the great damage that can be wreaked by false allegations of sexual abuse (“The True Cost of False Witness,” Commentary & Opinion, Feb. 13-19). So, too, Michael Gallagher’s letter “The Sting of Slander” (Feb. 27-Mar. 5), relaying his catastrophic story of false allegations outside of divorce and custody proceedings. His concern for falsely accused priests is right on the mark. The bottom line is, any lie is going to do some kind of damage to somebody, somewhere.

With that in mind, I am compelled to reveal to you a monstrous hidden cost of false accusations of sexual abuse, one that in my experience is destroying many more lives than are the false accusations themselves. If one spends time following family-law court these days, it is clear that the heyday of false accusations in divorce cases is over. And, while the false accusers themselves tragically have escaped with very little punishment at all, you must know that family-law courts are now exacting a severe penalty for the past decade of false accusations — and it is being exacted from good parents and innocent children who are making truthful accusations of sexual abuse.

A family-law attorney would tell you that now, after dealing with years of false allegations, family-law judges simply loathe any claim of sexual abuse, thinking it’s usually just two parents squabbling. The tragic result is that, unless there is physical evidence, even most truthful accusations of sexual abuse are received with immediate skepticism and are practically assumed false until proven true.

How catastrophic: When an oppressed, intimidated, abused child finally works up the courage to speak out about the abuse, he is told by the adults to “prove it!” — rather than the abuser being required to prove his innocence.

Name Withheld

Representing the Holy Spirit that descended “like a dove” and hovered over Jesus when he was baptized.

Bishop Burbidge: The Pandemic is Our ‘Pentecost Moment’

This “21st century Pentecost moment” brought on by the pandemic, Bishop Michael Burbidge said, has underscored the need for good communication in the Church across all forms of media, in order to invite people into the fullness of the Gospel.