February 1998

Even the Calendar “Offends”

In harmony with your editorial “The Intolerant Ideology of Tolerance” (Jan.), in which you challenged Christians not to fear “offending” hypersensitive secularists and libertines and therefore not to buy into politically correct speech patterns, I challenge the use of C.E. (Common Era) to replace A.D. (Anno Domini, in the Year of the Lord) in certain Catholic schools and religion textbooks. Likewise, I challenge the replacement of B.C. (Before Christ) with B.C.E. (Before the Common Era). This is being done, it’s said, so we will learn how not to “offend” those who don’t share our belief in Christ Jesus. But it’s just a cowardly capitulation to the Spirit of the Times, and a denial of Our Lord.

Just what is meant by “common era”? Common to whom, and in what sense? And what was before it? An uncommon era? And what makes it uncommon?

Why are we being encouraged to embrace a secular view of history by means of a secularist calendar reform that removes the Incarnate Christ? Shall we remove Christ from all things? Is not “Merry Christmas” already reduced to a secular “Happy Holidays”? But holiday derives from “holy day” — will we soon be required to say “Happy Offdays”? And must the local Christian Brothers High School rename itself Kindly Siblings High School, so as to avoid giving offense?

Jesus said Christians are to be the light of the world: “A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men….” Why should we Christians bow down to secularists and put a bushel over the most important event in all of history? Why should we be squeamish about the Incarnation? If we truly believe that God became man at a point in time, how could we not want to mark time in terms of the beginning of His presence on earth? If this is our belief, then it is a degrading vulgarity to refer to these last 20 centuries as merely “common.”

A former effort to remove Christ’s presence from history and abolish the Christian era occurred during the French Revolution in 1793. Years were to be counted not from the Incarnation of our Lord and Savior, but from the date of the overthrow of the monarchy. The seven-day week of the Bible became a ten-day week. The Cathedral of Notre Dame became the “Temple of Reason,” the Catholic faith was replaced, and the Christian admonition to love your brother was supplanted by a new fraternité that commanded, “Be my brother — or go to the guillotine.” What a curious precedent!

The push to get rid of Anno Domini is another symptom of our culture’s abandonment of God in favor of gods made in its own fallen image. Let us not fall for this conceit. Let us heed the words of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who said, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Hank Williamson
Chesterfield, Missouri




Nothing Sacred About My Cardinal

Your December issue was a special treat because it was the first enlarged issue — yes, I still read it cover to cover — and because it included an article by one of my favorite authors, Msgr. George Kelly. His article, entitled “Needed: Formidable Bishops,” was especially poignant in view of the situation here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where Cardinal Mahony, an enthusiastic Common Grounder, is caving in to the secularist trendsetters. For example, Mahony is hardly “formidable” when it comes to standing up to Hollywood. While Richard Land, a Southern Baptist leader, was denouncing the ABC/Disney television show Nothing Sacred as “yet another egregious example of Disney’s Christian-bashing agenda,” Mahony was praising the show, and he “pointedly” (as the Los Angeles Times noted) posed with the star of the show at a media awards ceremony. What would those formidable bishops of bygone years cited by Kelly have said about a show that misrepresents Christ’s teachings and demeans the Church He founded, and whose star plays a priest who refuses to tell an inquiring pregnant woman whether abortion is right or wrong? They would have said what Land said. Would any of them have posed with the star for a photo? Not a chance.

Charles J. O’Connell
Sylmar, California






Msgr. Kelly’s statement that we must acknowledge that “the cure for the Catholic malaise is primarily the responsibility of Shepherds of the flock — notably, the bishops” certainly reflects the bitter truth. That this was written by a highly qualified monsignor soothes the conscience of someone like myself, who has wondered if it is sinful to say so publicly.

The facts known to all of us prove it. Many, if not most, Catholics do not accept the teachings of the Church on the sinfulness of premarital sex, the use of contraceptive agents, divorce and remarriage, women priests, the true presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, and even abortion. Furthermore, priests believe they have a right to dissent from the Magisterium, and even bishops dance around these issues. Christ’s last command to His disciples was to teach (Mt. 28:20). After 30 years of silence from our pulpits on doctrine and morality, we laity are ignorant of the truths being taught by the Holy Father and the Magisterium. The responsibility for this must fall on our bishops.

John J. Cranley, M.D.
Cincinnati, Ohio






Regarding the discussions of episcopal and liturgical matters in recent NORs: On November 10, in his address to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the President of the NCCB, Bishop Anthony Pilla, made a pitch for so-called Common Ground and in the process essentially blamed the long-suffering laity — i.e., the victims — for all the squabbling and fighting over the liturgy in the Church today. But perhaps if the laity had begun fighting 30 years ago, when the crazy, desacralizing liturgical changes were starting to be imposed on us, we would be finished fighting by now, without the loss of so many Catholics to the Faith, and without all the heartache, disgust, and righteous anger that have built up since then.

Thirty years ago we laity thought we could trust our bishops to take care of the House of God. But today, with all the evils, abuses, false teachings, and sex scandals in the Church, many of us have said, “Enough is enough,” and have finally begun to fight. We have no choice but to pray, fast, and work to repair our dilapidated Church.

Eleanor Fischer
Sleepy Eye, Minnesota




Those Wonderful (Banned) Ads

The ads for the NEW OXFORD REVIEW that I see in so many newspapers and magazines are truly incredible: serious and yet so wonderfully satirical, even hilarious. Keep up the fantastic work!

Roger Schwartz
Simi Valley, California



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