Letters to the Editor

How to Hold On to Hispanic Catholics

The juxtaposition of the two columns in the Commentary & Opinion section of your Nov. 6-12 issue — “Why Converts Choose Catholicism” and “Why Hispanic Heritage Month Wasn't Catholic” — struck me as providential, for the first article answers the second.

Hispanic Catholic immigrants come to the United States from what is a relatively conservative Catholic culture. They are solidly pro-life and pro-family, and have a love for the Blessed Mother. But just who are the first people they meet upon their arrival here? A cadre of pro-death social workers, teachers and healthcare workers armed with contraceptives and access to abortion. Planned Parenthood is so effective in this re-education program that I have never met a Hispanic immigrant who didn't apologize for their large family of origin, saying, “I won't have that many kids. After all, this is America. We don't do that here.”

Where is the Church in all this? The most welcoming members of the Church are often the liberal, social-justice types, who for all their charity toward the poor, subscribe to the contraceptive mentality. I have heard of an official Church delegation in a maternity ward of a Catholic hospital counseling the new mother to get on the pill as soon as possible. What resemblance does the Church in the United States bear to the Church in Latin America? Where is the commitment to principle that attracts the converts?

This strength of the Church — its high moral standards and demands placed upon its members — is not readily visible to the Hispanic immigrant, and so they begin to look elsewhere for the true Church.

Enter the local evangelical-Protestant pastor, who for all his lack of apostolic authority resembles the Hispanic's Catholic priest back home in his insistence upon basic doctrine and Christian moral standards. He knows what he believes, and places demands upon his flock. How unlike the weak-willed, condescending “self-esteem” homilies so often heard in Catholic Masses here!

Many Hispanics who “church shop” are just trying to find a church that seems like home. Sadly, that church often isn't the Catholic Church.

What's the answer to the bleeding of Hispanics to the sects?

First of all, don't negate, hide or apologize for the four marks: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Our Church is, after all, the body of Christ on earth. It never will conform to the world.

Second, proudly and publicly display our Catholic faith by building the fraternities here that bolstered the Hispanics’ faith back home: groups dedicated to the different cults of the Blessed Mother, the saints, the Infant Jesus and exposition of the holy Eucharist. Third, celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast day; she is, after all, the patroness of the Americas. Let the Hispanic Church members display all their cultural richness, as we have enjoyed in the older ethnic churches in this country, with their colorful feast-day celebrations and public processions.

Perhaps we, the second generation of European immigrants, will remember the glory of our childhood faith as well.


East Moriches, New York

All Religion Is Local

Let me start by saying how much I appreciate your publication. Your coverage of the recent Years of the Rosary and Eucharist was top-notch.

Sadly, I never heard about either of those yearlong events at my local parish. What good is it when the Vatican declares an event if the local parish does not participate? Is there a mechanism in place to report these shortcomings to Rome?


Puyallup, Washington

Editor's reply: The principle of subsidiarity applies. Communicate your concerns at the most local level, then work your way up if you get little or no response. Start by speaking with your pastor, then move on to your bishop. Most dioceses celebrated these “years” in various ways. And, always, approach these men with love, respect and assurances of your prayers, which they deserve as icons of Christ.

We Believe as We Pray

Regarding “Do Catholics Understand The Real Presence” (Oct. 28-Nov. 5):

I ask, “Does anyone understand the Real Presence?” How can a mystery be understood? If it can, it is not a mystery.

Evidently the problem for the bishops was not about understanding or explaining but about presenting.

I would suggest that bishops and priests simply tell it like it is. We believe Jesus is really and truly present in the Eucharist because at the Last Supper he told us he was in the Eucharist and told his disciples they were to do as he did so he could continue to stay with us in the Eucharist. The Church has affirmed this truth for 2,000 years.

Secondly, the bishops and priests themselves should act as if they believe he is there, and also teach the people constantly about the Real Presence. Sometimes in our churches, the Mass is a stage for the priest and the choir and a community party instead of an act of adoration to our God. Sometimes there is little or no reverence when people are socializing before and after Mass and ignoring Jesus instead of preparing and thanking.

Bishops, as one of the people in the pews, I say we need example and teaching.


Camarillo, California

Nativity Scene Nixed

Regarding “Christmas Wins at Wal-Mart” (Nov. 20-26, 2005):

Recently during prime Christmas shopping season, I went to Marshall Fields (recently purchased by Macy's) in Chicago to buy a Nativity set for a wedding gift. I like to buy religious Christmas items for wedding gifts to remind couples of the joy of Christ's presence in their marriage. (“Loved the wedding…. Now invite me into your marriage — God).

After looking for and not finding a Nativity set, I asked a sales clerk if they had any. Looking very puzzled, the clerk responded that she hasn't seen any in the store and that she’d go ask the manager. The manager came back to me and said that the store did not carry any. A couple of other shoppers waiting to check out overheard our conversation, and one commented, “That's odd. You’d think they would have Christmas stuff in the Christmas section of the store.”

I, probably like the other nearby shoppers, hadn't even thought about the absence of religious Christmas items in the midst of the multitudes of items for sale such as ornaments, Santa items and menorahs.

This incident reminded me just how subtle the devil really is. He chips away slowly, subtly so that we don't even notice his creeping in, quietly eroding our acknowledging Christ's presence in our lives.

So although there is a “Christmas Wins at Wal-Mart,” we Christian consumers have to stay alert to all the additional ways the devil tries to creep into our lives without our even noticing it. So let's take a bit more discriminating look as we Christmas shop this year and charitably ask if a store could start selling Christmas items such as Nativity scenes.

In terms of sales, revenue and profits, I venture to say that retailers probably make more money from Christmas than Hanukkah and Kwanzaa combined. So doesn't it make sense then that Jesus, Mary and Joseph Christmas items should also be sold at stores?


Flossmoor, Illinois

Keep Clear of Code

I found “Hollywood Has Faith in a Christian Market” interesting (Nov. 20-26).

The Christian market is a strong one. Because of our economic power, I would ask Christians to skip the forthcoming movie The Da Vinci Code because it misrepresents Christ's legacy and that of his followers.

I feel so strongly about this that I would ask Register readers to skip going to all theaters on the weekend that it comes out.


Little Meadows, Pennsylvania

Puzzled by Pick

In your Oct. 30-Nov. 5 issue, you had the movie Millions listed as a thumbs-up in your Video Picks and Passes section.

Seeing this in the Register, we trusted your expertise and let our children watch it. To our disgust, the movie was against many Church teachings that your critic failed to mention. After the movie was seen by our children, they told us what they found disturbing, and we took it upon ourselves to look it up on Screenit.com.

It's disappointing when we have to rely on a website instead of a Catholic newspaper for valid information. We're just confused on why you’d bother pointing out insignificant things like “Clare rhapsodizing about the infinitude of heaven” but failed to mention a sex scene.


Halfmoon, New York

Editor's Note: Many readers may have missed the content advisory for this and other Video/DVD Picks & Passes. We have moved them so that they will be more visible.

Here, for the record, is the content advisory we printed for that particular film: “Millions contains fleeting but clear implication of a non-marital affair, brief depiction of juvenile curiosity in online lingerie ads; recurring strong menace; some mildly objectionable language, and could be okay for discerning older kids.”

Having noted this, we are planning to change the Video Picks & Passes design so that the content advisories will be more noticeable to readers.