Three Cheers

I was especially pleased with the July 11-17 issue of the Register.

First article to praise: you have once again addressed the issue of unjustly accused priests and the painful lack of due process, “In Today's False Climate, Can a Priest Clear His Name?” (July 11-17). I have been embarrassed by our actions because our Church gave in to the media spotlight by reacting in such an unjust manner, expelling priests with only an accusation!

I am privy to the knowledge that priests, like law officers, teachers, and others in authority, are often accused of crimes simply because of who they are and not because of what they have done.

It is an infantile way of retaliation from a perceived wrong such as a bad grade, a correction, jealousy or rejection.

Children today know they have the power to remove a person from their lives with a simple word, “abuse.” There are many who will eagerly use it, even against parents! There are many others who will “cash in” on it, for money, for attention, or for vengeance.

Beyond that there is also the door that has now been opened for those who are looking for ways to destroy the Church and her influence on our society. “Strike the Shepherd and the flock will scatter.” They can make one accusation and remove a priest. It is as effective as murder. And our Church fell for it! Thank God, the bishops seem to be stepping back and taking another look at what they have done.

I agree, applaud and thank Joseph Maher and all who support Opus Bono. I too would like to see real justice — a fair shake.

Second article to praise is the commentary by Renee Schafer Horton — “Careful, Priest: The World Is Watching” (July 11-17); excellent observations about those who “enjoy their job” as priests and how they attract youngsters to the vocation. Translate that to “Filled with the Holy Spirit and using the Gifts.” Amen.

Third article to praise is the very timely article about the “Conversion of ‘Jane Roe’” (July 11-17) since Angel network just aired the Roe v. Wade story and it portrayed the decision as a good thing for “women's rights.” Too bad this article cannot be made an addendum to that documentary, and tell “the rest of the story.”


Ralston, Oklahoma

Most Important Issue

Regarding “Kerry Admits Life Begins at Conception” (July 18-24):

As Catholics, it's our time to stand up and be counted. There's no middle of the road regarding this issue. We must choose our leaders. Either we follow “cafeteria Catholic” leaders such as Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, or we follow our true leaders who are Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa.

Just a brief quote from each to convey a vital message:

Pope John Paul II said: “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”

Mother Teresa said, “It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

Their message is clear. It's up to us to make the right choice.


Old Forge, Pennsylvania

Abortion and Death Penalty

I am writing in response to Catholics who equate the evil of abortion to capital punishment (“Kerry's Catholicity Quotient” July 4-10). A Catholic can be opposed to abortion and support the use of the death penalty and still be in communion with the Church.

The Church teaching is clear. “No one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258). Further, “the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion” (CC, 2271). Every direct abortion, without exception, is evil and wrong. A member of the Catholic Church may not support abortion or promote the continuation of its legality.

However, the Church allows for the use of lethal means against an aggressor when it is necessary for the defense of oneself, others, or society as a whole. Legitimate defense is not considered an exception to the fifth commandment, but rather killing an aggressor in defense is an unintended consequence of insisting on respect for life. In fact, “legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another's life, the common good of the family or of the state” (CC, 2265). In addition, “the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty” (CC, 2266). A member of the Catholic Church may support the use of the death penalty and be in full communion with its teachings.

Capital punishment is not lawful “if bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons” (CC, 2267). However, I would argue that the prison system in the United States has failed to protect public order and the safety of persons from known aggressors. Witness the failure of our prison system to incarcerate convicted killers for life, the failure to protect prison security personnel, and the failure to protect prisoners from each other. Even the United States cannot guarantee that a convicted killer will not strike again.

My point is not that I want everyone to support capital punishment. Obviously, people of good conscience can disagree on the use of the death penalty in the United States. There is no room to disagree on abortion. Catholics must fight to end all abortions and not be distracted by those who wish to focus on the death penalty as an equivalent evil.


Sidney, Ohio

Stem Cells Plea

Regarding “Meet the Catholic Voter” in the June 27-July 3 issue.

With all the talk about our country's future it seems as if the abortion issue is squeezing out another that will become as troubling as the abortion issue is. It is the stem cell embryonic research debate. It troubles me greatly because in January of 2002 I was part of a protocol program at the National Institute of Health, involving a stem cell transplant. I underwent a bone marrow transplant that consisted of harvesting my own cells, killing my bone marrow off thru chemo, and restarting my bone marrow thru my stem cells. People need to understand that embryonic stem cell research is the growing of embryos in labs for the sole purpose of killing them to harvest their cells. It amounts to growing people and killing them for medical research.

Adult stem cell research is what our medical community should be focused on. It doesn't require any loss of life and it has proven to be very beneficial in finding breakthroughs to fight diseases like the rare one I had.

If embryonic stem cell research is allowed to expand the way Sen. Kerry wants the progress that has been made on fighting abortion on demand will be lost.

The growing understanding of life beginning at conception will be lost in the name of medical research. I hope this issue will receive the attention this election cycle it deserves.


Saginaw, Michigan

Lady Macbeth, Catholic?

Catching up on some recent issues of the National Catholic Register, I came across the excellent article by Jennifer Roche, “Did William Shakespeare Die a Papist?” (May 2-8). Roche cites certain facts of his life and quotes from his works that suggests Shakespeare may have harbored Catholic sentiments at a time when such ideas guaranteed his persecution.

However, one important piece of “evidence,” if you will, that was omitted from the article is Lady Macbeth's quote, “Out damn spot, out, I say!” (Act V, scene 1.) This scene is strongly reminiscent of the Lavabo from the Latin Mass, Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas, from the gesture of Pontius Pilate, following his implicit condemnation of Jesus.

Shakespeare would certainly have been familiar with it if he were indeed a secret Catholic.

My thanks to Ms. Roche and to all of your writers for your fine newspaper.


Charlottesville, Virginia

Bishop's Busy Week

I thoroughly enjoyed Father Raymond De Souza's coverage of President Regan's funeral in D.C. (“The Week America Mourned,” June 20-26). Well done!

Curious was his comment about the Episcopal Church's great elan mixing civic religion and Christianity. Fox TV's Brit Hume noted Bishop Chane's probable discomfort in his very brief appearance. The next day Bishop Chane performed a “marriage” ceremony between one of his male priests and male partner in a Maryland church. The bishop was resplendent in gold and white vestments — not so at the funeral.