Letters to the Editor
Here Comes Harry — Again
Your article about Harry Potter (“Judging Harry,” July 24-Aug. 6) fails to be objective in two ways:
1. It allows the anti-Potter viewpoint to beg the question of whether Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger intended his letter to advise parents or children of an appropriate age not to read Harry Potter books. While Regina Doman and Msgr. Peter Fleetwood present an understanding of the facts as their opinion, the others promote their opinion as established fact.
2. After assuming the Pope “opposes” Harry Potter, the anti-Potter representatives appeal to Catholics not to read Harry Potter based on respect for authority. However, in a sentence from the letter not included in your article, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: “I would like to suggest that you write to Father Peter Fleetwood.”
Msgr. Fleetwood at that time was a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which had just released a document on the Church and the New Age. He was in an authoritative position, informed about the New Age worldview, and he took the time to read both Gabriele Kuby's and J.K. Rowling's books. Msgr. Fleetwood thoughtfully responded to Mrs. Kuby with a four-page letter advising her about the Harry Potter books. According to Msgr. Fleetwood's July 14 interview with Vatican Radio, Mrs. Kuby never responded (source: Catholic News Service).
Father Joseph Fessio is quoted in your article as saying: “We should be disposed to want to follow the leadership of our superiors in the Church.” I hope your readers will dispose themselves to consider the informed opinion of Msgr. Fleetwood, since he is the superior recommended in Cardinal Ratzinger's letter.
Regarding “Citing Kids, N.J. Court Says No to Same-Sex ‘Marriage’” (July 10-16):
Judge Stephen Skillman pointed out that polygamy supporters could use arguments made by same-sex “marriage” supporters. I strongly agree with him. Further, I believe that, if a society allows same-sex “marriage,” it is consistent for it to allow polygamy, too.
Same-sex “marriage” supporters say we should allow marriage between any two consenting adults who desire it. They also point out “the right to privacy and equal protection” to support the legalization of same-sex “marriage.” Polygamy supporters could use the exact same arguments and assert that we discriminate against them. They could also ask on what grounds same-sex “marriage” is acceptable while polygamy is not.
If we allow same-sex “marriage,” we cannot reject polygamy without being arbitrary.
YEONGLAN G. DROUAL
Regarding “Bill Would Require Parental Notification When Teens Seek Contraception” (July 24-Aug. 6):
Let's charitably remind others of this inconsistency:
Parental consent is required for allergy, asthma or ADD medicine to be administered at school. No parental consent is required to dispense contraception to minors.
This one is common sense.
The President Is Not Pro-Life
In your June 26-July 2 issue, a letter titled “President Falls Short” indicates ways in which President George W. Bush falls short of being truly pro-life on the embryonic stem-cell issue. I share the writer's concerns, and I would say that Bush made the wrong decision on embryonic stem cells on Aug. 9, 2001. That alone ought to disqualify him from being pro-life.
However, there is another reason why I cannot consider Bush to be pro-life. This reason very probably disqualifies most other conservative Republicans from being pro-life as well. However, most pro-life groups, including your paper, have almost completely ignored this question.
Welfare reforms in some states contain family caps, a provision where welfare payments are not increased for additional children born to welfare mothers, and/or they deny welfare benefits to single, teenage mothers. However, such provisions will tempt the woman to abort the baby and are therefore pro-abortion.
Bush supports family caps. In his 1997 State of the State (of Texas) address, he said, “We should not give additional cash benefits for having more children while on welfare.” That statement clearly contradicts his claims to be opposed to abortion. As a result, I did not vote for him in either 2000 or 2004; I cast write-in votes for president, instead.
The abortion issue ought to make it clear that the problem of unmarried sexual activity will have to be solved by some other means besides punishing the woman after she is pregnant. The fact that a pregnancy is out of wedlock is absolutely no excuse for abortion. When it comes to out-of-wedlock pregnancies and childbirths, avoiding the further sin of abortion simply must have priority over punishing any prior sexual sins.
Also, Bush's tax cuts did not include converting the dependency exemption into a 100%-refundable tax credit or making the child tax credit 100% refundable, measures that could have compensated for the effects of family caps. This makes it even clearer that Bush is not being truthful in his pro-life claims.
PAUL D. WHITEHEAD
Falls Church, Virginia
Women Who Pine for Priesthood
“Activists Still Pine for Women Priests” (July 24-Aug. 6) is a fairly balanced article. Aside from the usual suspects who dwell on the fringe of the Church and mostly inhabit the far side of 50, there is barely a ripple of interest in this matter among most Catholics.
The late Christopher Lasch called this the age of narcissism and indeed it is. Every time someone or some group becomes dissatisfied, a great issue arises in the media — whether it's over sex-change operations, reparations for the reputed descendants of slaves, reconquista of the American Southwest, homosexual “marriage,” polygamy or sundry other items of self-absorption.
In The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (1979), Lasch defined the American narcissist as “… acquisitive in the sense that his cravings have no limits, he does not accumulate goods and provisions against the future, in the manner of the acquisitive individualist of 19th-century political economy, but demands immediate gratification and lives in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire.”
Considering just how closely linked are the issues of female ordination and the goddess movement among self-described “progressive” Catholics, one may soon expect that many of them will find themselves back where they started — in the mental hovels of self-centered adolescence.
JOHN I. HETMAN
God on the Pod
Thanks for the article “Invasion of the Podcasters” in the July 17-23 edition. And thanks for mentioning Disciples with Microphones, of which I am a member. We're trying to make this new technology a good means of answering our late great Pope's call for evangelization using the media.
A couple of notes, though. Virtually all of the podcasters noted in your article are members of DwM, including the featured podcaster, Jayson Franklin, and the most famous Catholic podcaster, Father Roderick Vonhogen. This fact wasn't mentioned.
Also, you should give yourselves a little pat on the back: Our group is the direct result of an article one of your correspondents (and our fearless leader), Carlos Briceno, wrote last year calling for a reform of Catholic radio and asking openly for volunteers to join together in the renewal.
Thanks for the great paper. Keep up the blessed work!
Jersey City, New Jersey
This writer is author of Our Daily Bread: Exposition of the Readings of Catholic Mass and co-podcaster of “The Breadcast.”
I produce a Catholic radio show called “Cross Signals” (crosssignals.com) that you and Jayson Franklin referred to in the Register article titled “Invasion of the Podcasters” (July 17-23). First of all, thank you. It is a good thing that we as Catholics are becoming more involved in new media technologies and I appreciate your efforts in promoting these works and making other Catholics aware. There are quite a few things happening in this arena, and your coverage of this is valuable.
I have been producing “Cross Signals” here in Portland, Ore., since January 2004. It's basically a Catholic variety show, incorporating interviews with priests, music, dramatic presentations, movie reviews and so on. Recently some other stations around the country have expressed interest in the program, and I hope that more will open their doors to this type of program. I am presently creating an even greater web presence, podcasting included, and I'm excited to see what transpires.
I worked several years with a Catholic film company and now I'm doing production work for a major Christian television network. If ever you would like to collaborate on Catholic media issues in the future, please let me know if I could be of assistance.
Due to a reporting error, “Sisters and GIs Remember WWII Rescue” (Feb. 20-26) gave the impression that John Fulton of Kinnelon, N.J., led the U.S. ground forces in a 1945 rescue of civilians in the Philippines. In fact, Fulton led about nine Filipino guerrillas and an escaped internee in the raid.
Also, the website offering Lorraine Murray's book How Shall We Celebrate? (Resurrection Press) is catholicbookpublishing.com. The web address was printed incorrectly with her column titled “Help Wanted: Long Hours, Low Pay, Meet Jesus” (July 10-16).