Make Me Feel Good
I don't like all the stuff about bad priests in the NOR. I know we have a lot of bad ones from all that has happened in the past several years. But I really don't want to know about it. Cancel my subscription.
Mrs. Kenneth Ebelhar
While many of your articles are fine, there is a certain negativity. I live in the Archdiocese of Boston, which has been hammered by the media for over two years. So I'm not in the mood for your publication right now. Therefore I'm canceling my subscription.
Mary E. Flynn
The Influential Homosexual Element in the Priesthood Continues to Carry On
Every time I hear the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church blamed on pedophile priests, I cringe, because the facts tell us it has little to do with pedophilia. When the media exposed this problem in 2002, it was very painful, but it was the opportunity for the Church to be cleansed of this filth, and for her leaders to be redeemed. But the cover-up of the actual problem continues.
How do I know?
First, the John Jay Report commissioned by the U.S. Bishops to gather data about the abuse irrefutably confirmed that over 80 percent of the sexual abuse cases were due to homosexual priests. To quote Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist: "The John Jay report has clearly revealed that the crisis in the Church is not one of pedophilia but of homosexuality. The primary victims have not been children but adolescent males."
Second, I have seen it with my own eyes. When I went to seminary in 1996 to study for the priesthood, I was shocked to find so many blatant homosexual seminarians, teachers, and clergy. I was 34 years old and had been away from the Church for nearly a decade. In all my prodigal decadence I had never seen anything like it. It was like getting hit between the eyes with a two-by-four. What had happened to the Church? Homosexuals and heretics had seized control of certain seminaries and were corrupting the priesthood from the ground up. As I became more involved with the clergy, I came to realize that dissident homosexuals had infiltrated nearly every diocese, and that our leaders were doing nothing about it. Anyone who reported or fought this problem was persecuted and marginalized. Needless to say, my life has been a living hell because I am nothing more than an orthodox Catholic who loves Christ's Church and wants to see this cancer removed from the Body of Christ.
So far, over $700 million has been awarded to victims of clerical abuse. Given the John Jay Report, simple math shows nearly half a billion in damages paid out because of homosexual priests. Yet the media and those who know better continue to spin the myth that the scandal has nothing to do with homosexuality. That's a lie and a cover-up. The Protecting God's Children program implemented by certain bishops carries the brand name VIRTUS, and was developed by a group known as The National Catholic Risk Retention Group Inc. Everyone from the grandmother volunteering to help out with the lunch line to the parish gardener is forced to pay for background checks every three years as well as sit through long politically correct seminars that misrepresent the problem. Presenters of VIRTUS emphasize that the problem is pedophilia and repeatedly stress throughout the "training" that the Church scandal is not a homosexual problem.
The influential homosexual element continues to carry on in the Church. God help someone to find the courage to expose this continuing cover-up so that the Church can be purified of this abomination before it's too late.
Fr. John K. Nesbella
Prince of Peace Parish
No. Cambria, Pennsylvania
Like It Is
The NOR is like a light shining in the darkness. You have the truth, and you tell it like it is. Thank you!
San Francisco, California
The Feast of Divine Mercy
In reply to Tom Fath's letter (Feb.) claiming that there is a priest shortage: If there is a priest shortage in America, where are the lines of people waiting to be served? If there is a shortage of some commodity, there will be a lineup to obtain that commodity. If there is a shortage of gas, people will line up to get it.
When I go to my local steakhouse restaurant, it is overflowing with people, there is a line out the door, and the manager is wondering if he can enlarge the restaurant and hire more waitresses and cooks to serve all the people. When I go to Confession, however, there may only be a few old folks there with me. When I go to Mass on Sunday, the church is half full I could literally lie down on the pew and stretch out if I wanted to and yet I am told that there are not enough priests! Where is this great lineup of people waiting to be served by the scarce number of priests? Except for baptisms, I don't see it where I live.
The reality is that there is a shortage of sincere Catholics. In America 31 million or so Catholics do not keep the Sabbath holy by attending weekly Mass. They somehow find 30 hours a week to watch television, but cannot find even one hour on Sunday to give thanks to God. Forty million or so Catholics in America voted for either John Kerry or George Bush. Half of them somehow believe that killing the innocent in the name of "freedom of choice" is alright. The other half somehow believe that killing the innocent in an unjust war in the name of "preserving our way of life" is also alright. What is the difference between a woman who freely chooses to abort her innocent baby to preserve her way of life and a nation that freely chooses to kill innocent civilians abroad to preserve its way of life?
If Pope John Paul II could snap his fingers and instantly come up with 100,000 more priests for America, would it change the fact that half of Catholics in this country do not attend Mass on Sunday? Would it change the fact that 50 percent of the Catholics who voted in this country's presidential election voted for John Kerry, who was vocal and unashamed in his support for the legal protection of abortion? Would it change the fact that the other 50 percent of Catholics voted for George Bush, who started an undeclared and unconstitutional war against a nation that did not threaten or seek to go to war with us killing tens of thousands of people in the process?
How are we to get through to these people? Jesus Christ Himself taught us the best way to help guide others: "first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to help your brother remove the speck that is in his eye" (Lk. 6:42). I take this to mean that we should confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and let Jesus Christ remove the sin that darkens the vision of our own souls. Then we will be able to see how to help these 31 million lapsed Catholics and many more of our neighbors who aren't Catholic.
Jesus Christ is quoted by St. Faustina as saying the following words: "All those souls who will glorify My mercy AND SPREAD ITS WORSHIP, encouraging others to trust in My mercy, will not experience terror at the hour of death. My mercy will shield them in that final battle.... Encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given you.... When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one" (Diary, 1540, 1541). "I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy..." (Diary, 1109).
I believe that if we feast on God's mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we will be filled with whatever grace we need to bring fully into the Holy Catholic Church the millions of lapsed Catholics in America and our non-Catholic neighbors. I believe that the best time for us to partake of this Sacrament is during the Feast of Divine Mercy, the first Sunday after Easter. I encourage everyone who reads this letter to learn what this Feast of Divine Mercy is all about, to participate fully in this feast day of the Church. Then, when so many Catholics in America are actually going to Mass each Sunday, and have dumped the "sacrifice the innocent so that we can preserve our way of life" mindset, the only shortage that we would have to worry about is the shortage of time that we would have to enjoy the great abundance of peace and prosperity that there would be.
Macomb Township, Michigan
How to Protect The Unborn
My compliments on your forthright messages. One of them is the New Oxford Note, "Would Protecting the Lives of the Unborn Be Tyranny?" (Jan.). You requested the views of your readers. Here are mine.
First of all in importance is the principle of Natural Law, which precedes, in time as well as in logic, all Positive Law. The Constitution implies the truths of the Declaration of Independence, but made the mistake of not including it as the Preamble of the Constitution. The other mistakes of the Constitution have partly been corrected by the Amendments (the one on Prohibition was an anomaly). Yet to be corrected is the failure to define the terms, including the definition of the subjects of the Constitution; namely, what is a human being and his term of existence throughout which the Constitution is effective? The Declaration includes the definition but omits the moments of origin and termination.
Abortion is against Natural Law from the beginning of human life fertilization (commonly called "conception"). Euthanasia is against the Natural Law also.
The solution? Let us press for a Human Life Amendment, with definition, moment of origin, and moment of termination all in place.
John C. Morris, M.D.
You wanted to know whether tyranny say, a Franco-style dictatorship is the only way to protect the unborn.
The situation is certainly dire. I do not disagree with your description of the realities: Roe v. Wade has entered the judicial Valhalla of stare decisis; the Republicans are not serious about reversing it; and a majority cultural mindset tolerating it has set in. You are also right that no president will ever propose a constitutional amendment overturning Roe and even if one did, there is no prospect of getting such an amendment ratified.
If Republicans were serious about reversing Roe, however, they could easily do so tomorrow with their existing congressional majorities and White House occupant. Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution gives Congress explicit control over the jurisdiction of the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.
Moreover, the House of Representatives has twice recently exercised this power and demonstrated its feasibility in current conditions. Last July the House passed the Marriage Protection Act by a vote of 233-192, and in September the Pledge Protection Act 247-173. The Senate has not yet taken up either bill, but that could very well change when the Senate understands that passions run high against approving "gay marriage" and deleting "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.
Even if the Senate does not act, the existence of that constitutional weapon for Congress has been firmly established.
With regard to abortion, I favor the enactment of the following law: "All cases involving abortion shall be decided by the judiciaries of the several States. Any failure by any member of the federal judiciary to comply with this enactment shall be considered contrary to good behavior' within the meaning of Article III, Section 1." This law can be enacted with simple majorities in both houses of Congress and the President's signature. Some kooks will remain on the bench, to be sure, but very few of them would risk their livelihoods for impeachment.
Yes, this would return jurisdiction over this explosive issue to the states and, yes, a number of states would continue to make abortion legal and, yes, some women would cross state boundaries to kill their children. But the statute would immediately eliminate the federal franchise for abortion, along with the patina of constitutional legitimacy it now enjoys.
It will certainly be easier to fight for innocent life in New York, California, Florida, and Illinois than it is to fight the federal behemoth.
William J. Quirk, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, has been writing clear and powerful expositions of such a strategy for the Rockford Institute's Chronicles magazine. In the final analysis, the rot of abortion can be purged from our national bloodstream only with a reversal of the cultural mindset that tolerates it. If ten million loyal Catholics would simply take their cues from Chronicles and the NOR, and then make themselves into the salt and yeast of their ailing society, we could then turn our attention more fruitfully to urgent issues such as "preventive" warfare, which should be termed perpetual warfare.
At the practical political level, this new mindset can probably not achieve majoritarian status without jettisoning the Republican Party and replacing it with a new party devoted, not only to the protection of innocent life, but to foreign policy realism, small government, strict constitutionalism, and economic populism (without statism).
Many people still pin their hopes on the Republican Party and buy into the lesser-of-two-evils psychology. If we owe gratitude to George W. Bush for anything, it has to be his consistent demonstration of how vain such hopes are. There are huge reservoirs of discontent with the status quo throughout the land, even if they are slow in congealing.
Frank W. Creel
You ask if "we need to start thinking outside the box" (of U.S. law). I say yes.
A Confessional State imposing morality against a consensus is not a possibility.
Americans are slaves to money, and babies are very costly. Poverty equals damnation, and fecundity equals poverty. It's amazing there are not more abortions than there already are.
Economic slaves cannot make valid laws, so we need new answers.
We need to form a practical community with those who answer like us. Graduates of Thomas Aquinas College (my son's alma mater) are already doing exactly this.
Lawrence J. Dickson
National City, California
You ask: "Do we need to start thinking outside the box or not?" That's a creampuff question.
If the writers of the Federalist Papers were our contemporaries, they would have set fire to Washington, D.C., forty years ago.
James A. Dirr
It is estimated by some knowledgeable prolife leaders that at least 95 percent of the American people have never heard the whole truth about abortion.
Most know it was made legal in 1973 by the Roe v. Wade decision, but they are in the dark about the lies, distortions, pain, health risks, the money factor, and the silence of our leaders.
The prolife movement has striven, year after year, to stem the tide of this never-ending slaughter, which has now reached every corner of the globe and is being made easier by new and more efficient abortifacients and contraceptive devices. The results have been meager despite the heroic efforts of many brave people.
A march here, a life chain there, a prayer vigil, a billboard, a newspaper ad but nothing of any consequence has been achieved to reverse the tide of killing. Sermons about abortion are still rare in our churches, prolife legislators are a distinct minority, and the general public regards the issue as settled. The average citizen gets more upset about a beached whale on the coast or a snail darter whose existence could be endangered by a much-needed community project.
Our mailboxes are filled daily with appeals for donations from hardworking prolife organizations that have waged the battle courageously for decades without much to show for it.
That said, perhaps it's time we tried something new like a Paul Revere approach to take the prolife message on one designated day to every town and city across the country to the millions of people who give little thought to this grisly business of abortion.
For the most part, prolife groups are preaching to the choir, telling us year after year how horrendous this procedure is and the havoc it is wreaking on women and how innocent children are being deprived of their most precious gift the gift of life. Millions of people, unfortunately, have never read or seen a prolife message in their lives.
Recently, I wrote to 27 national and regional right-to-life groups suggesting that we join forces to bring the truth about abortion to the unenlightened and uniformed among us.
The idea is simple, cheap, and achievable in a short space of time. It could work this way:
· After agreeing on one solid, easy-to-read prolife message, it could be e-mailed or faxed to every prolife group in the U.S.
· These organizations, in turn, would transmit the message to everyone on their mailing lists.
· Recipients of the one-page message could duplicate it, at their own expense, and enlist the help of their family and friends to distribute it from door to door in their communities.
· On one designated day, millions of flyers could be delivered to the homes of Americans in all 50 states. Costs would be minimal and would be borne by everyone involved.
Recipients of this suggestion were asked for their comments. To date only four responded, but this included none of the major organizations. Exceptional and enthusiastic responses, however, were received from Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, and Joe Mortimer of Voices For The Unborn.
"I love your idea of the whole pro-life movement going door to door with a basic information pack," wrote Scheidler. "This has been highly successful where it has been done, such as in Appleton, Wisconsin, some years ago.... Count me in!"
Joe Mortimer, whose Voices For The Unborn has been putting out the prolife message in the eastern U.S. for years, was equally enthusiastic and willing to give it a try.
Arthur J. Brew
Mountain View, California
You invite your readers' thoughts on our federal government's temporizing over abortion. You lack radical insight: The root of abortion is feminism, the 19th Amendment (granting women the right to vote), Titles VII and IX, etc. As long as women can vote, they will vote in a leftward fashion and away from right order.
It seems a stretch to compare one's disgust with abortion with that for the Iraq War. Bush's leadership against terrorists and their breeding grounds deserves our support. Bush is defending America and freeing the Iraqis. There was ample justification for going into Iraq.
W. Edward Chynoweth
Americans glory in being free. Freedom without parameters! "Live and let live" is the way to go; don't bother me and I won't bother you. There's a rock-bottom moral rule, "Do unto others" but whatever you do, leave me alone to follow my own conscience. What is my conscience? Why, it's what I feel what's inside me.
You ask about abortion? If people want it, let them have it. If there's anything wrong with it, let those involved worry about it not the government. That's what this country is all about. Do what you will with what's yours, including unborns.
If a goodly number of citizens think there's something wrong with abortion, what needs correcting is not American law, but the attitude of the populace. Legal abortion only reflects millions of nice folks and their consciences.
John F. Hanley
Willingboro, New Jersey
You intimated that our government's legitimacy has been destroyed by its acceptance of abortion, and that a benevolent dictator like Francisco Franco might right the wrong.
Spain in 1936 was a deeply divided society but still largely Catholic. When its elected government began attacks on the Catholic Church, culminating in the murder of Calvo Sotelo, the leading Catholic member of parliament, the largely Catholic army, and Civil Guard rebelled. General Franco quickly became the leader. The republican government was soon dominated by the Communists, who sent Spain's national reserves of gold to Russia before the civil war's end. The war was bitterly fought for almost three years. Basque and Catalan separatists, many of them Catholics, fought for the republican government, which had promised them autonomy. But the outcome was never in doubt. After the war, Franco restored law and order, brought Spain prosperity, and left a constitutional monarchy.
Such a rebellion cannot happen today. The sexual revolution has destroyed the morale of Europe and America. Our rulers do not take the right to life seriously.
This does not mean that there will be no revolution. The export of our industries to China, foreign military adventures, debasement of our currency, constant and ever-increasing deficits in government spending and foreign trade, and the destruction of family life through the welfare state all point to increasing strains in our society. The hatred of George W. Bush by the Left is a harbinger of things to come. At some point the strains brought on by the collapse of the welfare state may well bring on a revolt from the Left and perhaps even a civil war.
Can we hope for something better when it is over? Perhaps the Holy Spirit will intervene at last. We need Him. America today is even more confused and divided than Spain was in 1936. The Republicans pretend to support the right to life and the Democrats pretend to support the interest of the working class. Conservative Catholics are gulled into supporting a war of aggression in Iraq that has been opposed by the Pope, but the Leftists oppose the war only because they sense that it is a loser.
Juan J. Ryan
New Providence, New Jersey
True believers in the rights of the unborn would be morally justified to engage in revolution, more so than what the Founding Fathers fought for. But several things make this impossible at this juncture. Consensus is not on our side. Should a number of us courageously, albeit foolishly, decide to fight this injustice with force of arms, the jackboot of the government would be on us like flies on you-know-what. Look at what has happened to mere peaceful protestors.
Regarding the Republican Party: Their leaders are mostly talk and no action concerning abortion. Sure, they throw a bone our way now and then, just to have the courts take it away, but the Republicans never put their necks on the line. Ideally, we should separate ourselves into a national third party, but the status quo makes this highly unlikely.
The solution that eases my conscience is to vote only for candidates who truly uphold the rights of the unborn. If need be, I stay at home on election day, which can be a civic duty.
Kenneth F. Easter
Bel Air, Maryland
You raise the question whether we can seriously expect any significant inroads to be made against legalized abortion by our political leaders. You seem to think that we cannot. I agree.
You also seem to be hinting at the possibility that our form of government may be to blame. You write, "So we ask, do we need a Franco-style dictatorship to protect the unborn? Yes, we know that's un-American. But we're Catholics, not Americanists." Well, I don't know if Franco is the type of guy we need. Nevertheless, I think you have a point.
Two questions must be asked and answered before we can sign onto such a suggestion: Is a dictatorship necessary? Is it justified?
Theoretically speaking, such a dictatorship would not be necessary if Holy Mother Church would once again assert herself and raise up a generation of solid Catholics who would always protect the unborn contrary rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court notwithstanding. A Catholic block-vote against any politician who would dare conspire in the destruction of the unborn would settle the question in perpetuity.
For example, the papal encyclical Casti Connubii promulgated by Pope Pius XI states the following: "If public magistrates...do not defend them [the unborn], but by their laws and ordinances betray them to death at the hands of doctors and others, let them remember that God is the Judge and Avenger of innocent blood which cried from earth to Heaven." The above must be understood as Divine law, as the law of God. Once it is so understood, one can only be astonished at the temerity of the Supreme Court in its Roe v. Wade decision. For it has ruled that, not only are legislators and governors allowed to not codify or enforce this Divine law, but that they are forbidden to do so.
Alas, there are not enough true Catholics left to confront this outrage by regular means. Therefore, other means should be explored.
Catholics are duty-bound to obey civic law when it is just. But in the case where civic law stands opposed to Divine law, the Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas, wrote, "Laws may be unjust through being opposed to the divine good: such are the laws of tyrants inducing to idolatry, or to anything else contrary to the Divine law: and laws of this kind must nowise be observed, because as stated in Acts v. 29, we ought to obey God rather than man."
Roe v. Wade also requires that flagrant violations of the Fifth Commandment be allowed that innocent unborn babies have no protection under the law, if the mother so wills it.
But do these things justify a dictatorship?
We are morally bound to obey laws that are just. The laws in this country that deny dictatorial powers to any person and require that officials with great authority be elected by the people are not, in themselves, unjust. Therefore, we are morally bound to obey these laws.
However, laws exist to serve the common good. If, therefore, the occasion arises wherein the common good would be harmed by obedience to the laws, then it may be not only permissible to violate the law, but may be condemnable not to do so.
In the case of leaders being chosen by the people, St. Augustine wrote, "If the people have a sense of moderation and responsibility, and are most careful guardians of the common weal, it is right to enact a law allowing such a people to choose their own magistrates.... But if, as time goes on, the same people become so corrupt as to...entrust the government to scoundrels and criminals; then the right of appointing their public officials is rightly forfeit to such a people, and their choice devolves to a few good men."
Laws that grant the right of the people to elect their magistrates are not necessarily unjust laws; however, if a situation arises in which maintaining the people in these rights will inescapably lead to great evil, then these rights should be forfeit.
Moreover, the protection of the weak and innocent (e.g., the unborn) from the strong and vicious is one of the principal reasons for human laws. Therefore, it is absurd to think that human laws may be justly erected and maintained that obstruct this principle. If it happens that human law does obstruct this principle, then the former should give way to the latter. As Thomas Aquinas says, "necessity knows no law."
George E. Rocchio
North Providence, Rhode Island
Regarding your New Oxford Note (Jan.) "Would Protecting the Lives of the Unborn Be Tyranny?": I wish Fr. Gregory Kalscheur would tell us what the difference is between a supposedly Catholic politician who publicly says, "I am personally opposed to abortion, but..." and the hand-washing of Pontius Pilate. Each proclaims the innocence of the victim and each then sends the innocent to their bloody and barbaric death. Both Pilate and Kalscheur capitulate to the murderous desires of the mob (Kalscheur's vaunted consensus).
Would Kalscheur have defended the law that would prosecute Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat on the bus? Had he lived during the time of the Dred Scott decision, would Kalscheur have justified slavery (the same as he does for Roe v. Wade)? According to his line of reasoning, he would have to because they lack a consensus.
St. Thomas Aquinas told us that man-made laws must square with God's law or the human code is unjust. It is not consensus that gives legitimacy to human law.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Can't Tolerate Hardball Catholicism
This past December I subscribed to the NOR. My first issue was January. I sat down to read it and couldn't get past page 15.
Actually, my concern that perhaps I had made a mistake in subscribing started when I read your reply to Martin Lobert's letter charging you with being theological McCarthyites. While his letter deserved your ire for its unjust accusations, your reply was strident, discourteous, and lacking in fraternal charity. I thought to myself, "these guys play hardball" and I dislike that approach.
Then I read the New Oxford Note (p. 15) on Bishop Gumbleton, and I was pushed over the edge of tolerance. It was crude, ugly, and mean-spirited. I know you are appalled by the Bishop's liberalism, as I am. However, he is a fellow human being and child of God. As such, he should not be shown the disrespect you heaped upon him.
In my search for a Catholic journal that was neither too far to the Left or the Right, I saw your ad in National Review, to which I subscribe. Guess I'll have to keep looking since the NOR apparently is not my cup of tea.
Please cancel my subscription.
Clare M. Byrnes
Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania
THE EDITOR REPLIES
Of course we play hardball. We had two full-page ads in National Review (to which you subscribe) titled "HARDBALL Catholicism," announcing as clearly as can be what we are, with the latter one appearing on September 27, 2004. How did you miss it?
After that we had other full-page ads in National Review (Oct. 25, Nov. 29, Dec. 27) since you subscribed to the NOR in December, saying that we've got "attitude" and/or "cheek." What were you expecting?
But you can dish it out too, calling us a number of epithets. Don't you realize that when you call someone "mean-spirited," you yourself are being mean? You say we lack "charity." That very accusation is uncharitable. Why are you perpetuating the cycle you deplore?
The Indult Mass
This note is in response to Robert Kumpel's letter (Feb.). Although he does not say there is no indult Tridentine Latin Mass in the Diocese of Savannah, it is implied. There is such a Mass and it is offered four times a year at one o'clock on Sunday afternoon. There have been eight such Masses thus far, four in 2003 and four in 2004. There are four scheduled for 2005. After that the future is up in the air as Bishop Kevin Boland has not made a decision yet regarding its future past the end of this year.
No advertising of this indult Mass has been allowed outside the Savannah deanery and only in diocesan organs inside the Diocese. So other parts of the Diocese of Savannah may well not have knowledge of this indult Mass other than by word of mouth.
Additional information and details on this indult Mass can be had by sending a note to SLMA, P.O. Box 60520, Savannah, GA 31420. Please give your mailing address and/or phone number.
The NOR is my favorite periodical and I devour it immediately on arrival. Don't change a thing. A good game of hardball beats a girlie game of softball any day.
Senator Joseph McCarthy Was Right
The letter from Martin Lobert (Jan.), claiming that you at the NOR are theological McCarthyites, has some facts wrong. It wasn't a "victim" of Sen. McCarthy in the 1950s, but attorney Welch, a Boston lawyer in defense, who made the assertion. And the assertion wasn't "Have you no sense of decency?" but "Have you no shame?"
When the Soviet Union fell, secret KGB files became public and went on to prove that Sen. McCarthy was right. Our State Department and Hollywood were full of traitors.
Center Conway, New Hampshire
Women Who Wear Pants
The letter by Donald C. Wilcox headed "How Women Can Lose Respect" (Jan.) may present a valid argument regarding the roles of men and women in modern society. However, I think Wilcox places too much importance on clothing in his discussion and is uncharitable when he says of a woman, "In pants she is a crotch and buttocks." This perception of a woman in pants may be the view of some people, but it certainly is not mine. When I see a woman in pants, I just see another person, another child of God.
Wilcox wrote, "In pants [a woman] is a crotch and buttocks." Wow. Does Wilcox believe in the dignity of the human person? When a man wears pants, does he become a crotch and a butt?
Although I usually wear slacks, no one has ever confused me for a man. No one has ever reduced me to a crotch and a butt. Sure it takes some effort to avoid being seen as an object, but it can be done with grace and style. Perhaps it didn't occur to Wilcox that sometimes modesty requires a woman to wear pants.
Furthermore, perhaps it didn't occur to Wilcox that some women suffer leg injuries, disease, or deformities, which consequently forbid them from wearing dresses in so-called polite society. I know women like that. Neither their afflictions, nor their pantsuits, make them less of a woman. And while nothing would make them happier than to wear a dress every day, they cannot so thank God we live in a time when pants are acceptable in most places. Otherwise some women wouldn't be able to go out in public and earn a living.
I hope that Wilcox and like-minded critics will become better Catholics, removing any beams or crotches and butts from their own eyes before condemning women in pants.
Bravo to Donald Wilcox. Women should wear modest dresses or skirts, but no one seems to listen.
I have not worn slacks or jeans for over two years, and the graces are extraordinary! Men are very respectful of me when I'm in public. They go out of their way for me. Mind you, all my skirts and dresses are just above the ankles. I don't wear a man's hairstyle, but natural shoulder-length hair. Now, I don't think I'm particularly good-looking, but I feel beautiful. I feel beautiful in the eyes of God, my beloved.
I would encourage women to start changing. We don't have to live with the insecurity of sexy models and we sure aren't going to gain any favors from God when dressed like males.
This simple act has the ability to change the hearts and minds of both men and women which is what is needed to turn the tide of abortion. The start must come from every prolife woman. Look at yourself. Are you promoting sexual innuendos? Are you wearing clothes that excite the male gender? Are you using contraception?
With these harmful attitudes, the prolife movement shoots itself in the foot.
Be honest and chaste and modest, then our God will begin to change the tide on the abortion front.
Door County, Wisconsin
In the January NOR, I read a letter from Donald Wilcox and a guest column from Michael Hearing discussing how respectable women should comport themselves. I must concede that I fail to find myself in either of these depictions and that I disagree vehemently with both.
After reading the opinion of Wilcox that women who imprudently wear pants become "a crotch and buttocks" to the eyes of men, and how, in the view of Hearing, "sticking it out with a drunken husband" is an acceptable form of female courage, I have to admit, I took umbrage. Hearing also went on to characterize all forms of legitimate feminine courage as passive, and I beg to differ.
Mr. Wilcox, if you perceive women in pants as "a crotch and buttocks," then you need to practice "modesty of the eyes." This wonderfully old-fashioned virtue of avoiding visual temptation is one we all have to practice when out in the world, because of the in-your-face lewdness that surrounds us. I have to practice this virtue myself, particularly around belt-challenged plumbers.
In defense of pants and trousers, they can be just as modest if cut and tailored properly, as a skirt or a dress. Due to the plethora of accessories available to women, we can also manage to look feminine when wearing them. I live in New England, Mr. Wilcox, and I write this letter in the midst of a blizzard. Both the climate and circumstances of my daily life make pants the practical and modest choice for me most days.
Yes, I own dresses and skirts and I wear them, weather permitting, in appropriate occasions. I very much doubt, Mr. Wilcox, that the Most High expects me to wear a dress when housecleaning, gardening, doing errands, or taking care of either my elderly mother or the ten-year-old nephew in my custody.
I have never been mistaken for a man nor, I believe, have I ever been perceived as his "competitor." That would be difficult due to my small stature. Amazingly, there are still some men who open doors for me, and when they do, I smile and thank them. One man pointed out to me that "there are still some men who do this, you know." I assured him that I knew and that I was grateful. This gentleman showed me this courtesy when I was wearing pants, hiking boots, and a parka apparently, he was not confused as to my sex.
I confess that I am a pants-wearing Catholic convert who is divorced, celibate, and if the truth be told "mouthy," when necessary. Please note, before I am condemned for my divorce, that when married, I was a pagan who married a heathen in a pagan church. Case closed. Before conclusions are incorrectly inferred, I attest to the fact that my ex-husband is not a drunk.
I don't put up with drunks of either sex because aiding and abetting or enabling is not a virtue. The sad fact that women put up with drunken husbands reveals more about their moral weakness than their feminine strength. The callow assumption that a wife's tolerance of a drunken husband is a "strength," and the knee-jerk presumption that the woman is doing God's will, indicate a complete ignorance of the spiritual and moral fall-out that is passed down from one generation to the next, when the husband and father is a drunk. It will remain a mystery until Judgment Day as to whether Christ fashioned this cross for these women, or if they fashioned it themselves.
For those of you who have the model of the Holy Family mirrored in your lives and the lives of your parents, count your blessings. Take heed of the fact that many, if not most, of us poor, first-world, American sinners, penitent or obdurate, do not. The devil's most successful battle in the 20th century was the attack on the family and the spoils of his victory are evident.
My entire family was merely culturally Catholic, in that we were Irish and definitely not Protestant. This was the beginning and the end of our Catholic upbringing, for the most part. Since there were nine of us, and my father was not only a drunk, but also a deadbeat and a narcissist, it was all my poor mother could do to feed, clothe, and keep us out of jail. We were all baptized to be sure; some received First Communion, I did not. The oldest of my siblings may have been confirmed, but Catholicism, like any of the subjects that pertained to the elephant in our living room, was not discussed.
Clearly, there are some cases where it is not a woman's job to "stand by and be supportive," as Hearing says. I have been criticized, mainly by family members, for being harsh, unkind, and generally lacking in compassion. I am accused of this general lack of charity when I reveal the unpleasant fact of any situation that involves sin and its consequences. Christian duty calls both men and women to speak up for the truth. I have always known the difference between genuine compassion, which requires correction and instruction, and its bastard cousin, tolerance. Tolerance is passive, Mr. Hearing, but don't compare it to anything genuinely feminine, when it is cowardice in drag.
I consider myself fortunate that I finally heard God's voice at the ripe old age of 35. It was through the medium of prayer, specifically the Rosary. I did not rely on anyone's example, at least no one I knew, because there was no one in my immediate experience. While preparing to be received in the Church, I turned my attention to those to whom I refer to as the "big guns," the Doctors of the Church, specifically Catherine of Siena and Teresa of Avila. These women proved what I had always suspected, that good Christian women could be as tough, intelligent, and as brave as any man, without being either perverted, man-hating, or denatured.
Strangely enough, I also consider myself fortunate in having the exact opposite of God the Father imaged in my own failed father. His failure did not lead me to either the hatred of men or God as Father. Having the use of my reason, I knew that if there were bad men, there also had to be good men. My lack of a good father revealed my need and desire, not for a "Mother" God, but for the self-defined and revealed God the Father. I was just as appalled as any orthodox Catholic to hear Scott Hahn characterize the Holy Spirit as feminine and to refer to his wife as "the Holy Spirit of our home."
Neither Teresa nor Catherine the latter being quoted recently in the pages of the NOR could be described as women who were called by God "to stand by and be supportive" or "passive," as Hearing says. Teresa stood up to, not by, both hostile and venial nuns, and the Spanish Inquisition! Due to Catherine's bold criticism of, and challenge to, her Pope, the NOR quoted her, quite appropriately, as a means to defend its own criticism of John Paul II's failure to govern. Catherine set holy precedent, as a faithful Catholic, to challenge the Pope: "Since [God] has given you authority and you have assumed it, you should use your virtue and power; and if you are not willing to use it, it would be better for you to resign...." Catherine challenged the Pope to be a man, in the truest sense of the word. In my less than humble opinion, our Holy Father's failure to use the rod on his children reveals him to be in effect a textbook enabler.
The current example of a holy Catholic woman who doesn't keep her mouth shut is Mother Angelica. Although now muted by strokes, and perhaps obedient to excess to the Holy Father in her silent support, Mother has not kept her mouth shut about bad priests or bad bishops. She admitted that the biggest obstacle to her Network was American bishops. Mother constantly told viewers to change parishes if the priest was lax. She recounted an anecdote in the history of EWTN, where she doubted a particular priest's belief in the true Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Mother told him that she would "humiliate him badly" if he dared to present the Host as merely symbolic on her program. When he retorted that she couldn't do that, she replied: "Yes, I can; it's my Network." She also promised that she would "burn the Network to the ground" before she would let the liberal American bishops take it. All of her statements are on tape and are rebroadcast as Mother Angelica Classics.
Sadly, I no longer watch EWTN, after having been a daily viewer for eight years. One of the reasons is that I miss Mother Angelica terribly and can't be satisfied with any replacement. But the main reason is what I deem to be the preponderantly mealy-mouthed response to the sex abuse scandal that I heard from most of the EWTN affiliated priests. Mother Angelica would have been braver, bolder, and plainer in her reaction, had she the power of speech.
In at least an attempt at charity to Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Hearing, I can understand their masculine disgust with masculinized women or emasculated priests. Considering the culture of perversion and death-embracing defiance of natural law in which we now live, a rigid interpretation of traditional masculine and feminine appearances and conduct may appear as a remedy to the sickness. However, the medicine is not to be found in compulsory dress for women, nor in the assignation of approved forms of courage, one masculine, the other feminine. The remedy is what the Blessed Virgin has told us time and again in every approved apparition: prayer and penance.
Both these men would have a very difficult time with militarily garbed and fighting St. Joan of Arc. It's a war, gentlemen; we are in spiritual combat. Fr. John Corapi describes our lives as Catholics in just these terms and he is a very masculine priest, thank God. Look to your right, and to your left; the foot soldier next to you may be an ordinary, penitent sinner, a woman wearing pants.
Caroline M. Eccleston
Where Are Your Criticisms of Liberal Catholics by Name?
After a bit of thoughtful consideration, I recently renewed by subscription to the NOR. I find myself strongly at odds with much of what has appeared in recent issues of the NOR and thought I might be able to spend my time and money more profitably with other publications. Eventually, I decided to stay with you for another year to see if our agreements transcended our differences. Permit me to explain.
I emerged from my mother's womb three score and nine years ago, and for almost 50 of those years I have been actively engaged with a number of organizations and causes. My affiliations included adult and youth athletic organizations, fraternal organizations, homeowners' associations, country clubs, political groups, and church groups. The causes dealt with anti-Communism in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s; organizing political conservatives in New York State in the 1960s and 70s; rebuilding the Republican Party here in western Illinois in the 1980s and 90s; and establishing a traditional Catholic ministry at present. In all of those endeavors I served in an executive capacity at one time or another.
My experience is that all groups and causes have any number of disagreements and conflicts that arise as they work toward their goals. How those conflicts are resolved differs greatly, however, on the type of organization. Problems in athletic, social, fraternal, and homeowners' groups are usually debated (sometimes heatedly), actions are proposed and adopted or rejected, disgruntled members tend to resign and are replaced, and the groups move on. In ideologically driven groups, conflicts are handled differently. Each party to the dispute tends to think he is the custodian of truth and that his opponents are driven by ignorance or malice. Differences are personalized and the raison d'être for the group gets lost in the bickering. Members often lose focus on the real enemy and turn on one another. They become unable to compromise or to put aside minor differences to pursue the greater good. Sadly, I see the NOR as a striking example of this tragic phenomenon.
Recent issues have included strong criticisms of Scott Hahn, George Weigel, Crisis magazine, Thomas Monaghan, and others who are generally considered to be members of the traditional Catholic community. I do not mean to suggest that these folks are above criticism, but I am unable to determine what you are trying to achieve by demonizing them. Surely, there are far more grievous threats to our beloved Church than these folks. Where are your criticisms of liberal Catholic bishops (by name and diocese), of liberal Catholic teaching institutions (by name and location), of liberal Catholic publications (by name)? More importantly, where is your assistance, advice, and guidance to those of us who are working in the trenches to restore the traditional norms and teachings of our Church?
An illustrative example of my thesis is an article that appeared in your December 2004 issue. The author, Charles James, discussed the matters that afflict some seminaries in the U.S. passionately and effectively. The problems he presented are undoubtedly real, but they are not necessarily universal. He chose not to identify those seminaries where the concepts he espouses are followed and those where they are not. Absent that one detail one must wonder if the author really knows whereof he speaks.
Your practice of directing criticism toward persons and publications that differ with you in their degree of orthodoxy fits into the pattern of self-destruction I have observed over the years. I have developed Ryan's Maxim: Virtually all leaders of ideologically driven organizations eventually destroy themselves by eating their young and are succeeded by more pragmatic persons who are willing to settle for less than what was within the original leaders' grasp.
In your print ads you emphasize your feistiness and independence. Those may be wonderful qualities, but time has moved on. In some ways you are now simply being obnoxious. Traditional Catholics have emerged and are organizing.
They do not need a steady diet of scholarly and long-winded articles about things they already believe; they need practical help in identifying their friends and enemies, inside and outside of Holy Mother Church. Present scholarly articles if you must, but use the pages of your letters and New Oxford Notes not to trash friends, however imperfect, but to help those of us in the trenches to identify the bishops we can trust, the colleges to which we should send our children and grandchildren, the publications we should read, the causes we should support, and the things we should do to establish traditional Catholic ministries. A recent issue of Crisis, the magazine you routinely malign and with which I have serious disagreement, identified several colleges that call themselves Catholic, but are not, and several bishops who have supported traditional Catholic causes. In one issue they gave me more useful information than you have provided in a year. Dare I suggest that you rethink the thrust of your publication?
Edward J. Ryan
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
We're not Manicheans. The good guys aren't always good and the bad guys aren't always bad. It's so easy to lampoon the bad guys and we do it. The harder thing is to police the people on our side. If only our bishops had policed pederast priests, those on their side! Jesus warns us about prophets who can "deceive the very elect." You want us to "compromise" with the deceivers on our side and "pursue the greater good." Sorry, but we're not compromisers.
People who were (properly) excoriating Bill Clinton for his sexual debauchery were defending Deal Hudson's sexual debauchery, Bill Bennett's gambling habit, Rush Limbaugh's addiction to narcotics, etc. It's called circling the wagons. But there's no credibility in double standards.
There's a lot of screwy theologizing on our side. To wit, Scott Hahn. Should we overlook his brushes with heresy, just because he's on our side? Sorry, we don't care to lose our credibility.
And there's a lot of sloppy thinking on our side. To wit, George Weigel. Should we cover up his inanities? We'd lose our credibility.
As for Crisis, aren't you interested why it carried a five-page article trashing Michael S. Rose's book Goodbye, Good Men about homosexuality in many of our seminaries (by name)? The NOR told you why.
Should we remain silent about Tom Monaghan's moving his campus from Michigan to Florida? You want to know to which college "we should send our children and grandchildren." Would you prefer to be ignorant of all the turmoil over Monaghan's Ave Maria University? Would you prefer not to know about the feminist theology of Scott Hahn, the star professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville?
Hahn, Weigel, Crisis, and Monaghan were free to reply. Hahn and Weigel responded with letters to the NOR. As for Crisis, it chose to respond in its own magazine. When we replied to their response in the NOR, Crisis fell silent. Might that not tell you something? Monaghan responded with two articles in the NOR, one by Nick Healy and one by Fr. Fessio.
Do you really think the traditional Catholic cause is so fragile that it can't stand intellectual debate?
As for that recent issue of Crisis you speak of: You say it "identified several colleges that call themselves Catholic, but are not...." The article you're referring to is "Class Clowns: Catholic Colleges and the Political Left" (Jan. 2005). That article basically targets colleges that in one way or another seemed to support Kerry over Bush, for example, by inviting Democratic speakers a practice we find highly dubious. But just because some Catholic colleges seemed to support Kerry doesn't ipso facto make them "not Catholic." They may well not be Catholic, but one would need more evidence than that.
You say Crisis also identified "several bishops who have supported traditional Catholic causes." You are referring to the article "What the Election Revealed" (Jan. 2005). It notes four bishops who (indirectly) supported Bush over Kerry. One of the four is Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Virginia. You may wish to consult the NOR article by Michael S. Rose (March 2005), where Rose fingers Loverde as someone who has protected sexually depraved priests and is persecuting the faithful whistleblower priest who exposed them. That a bishop supported Bush does not necessarily make him a traditional Catholic.
As for Crisis in general and the January 2005 issue in particular, let us quote Karl Keating, a traditional Catholic and definitely not a Kerry supporter, from his E-Letter of January 11: "Crisis became accused of being a Republican house organ.... More and more the criticism seemed to have some merit. I can't recall anything in the magazine that criticized the Bush Administration but plenty that criticized its opponents."
The NOR is not a Republican house organ (nor a Democratic one). Crisis is a Republican house organ. Mr. Ryan, you are wrong if you think the NOR is ideologically driven. Quite the contrary, the NOR is theologically driven. You mention the ideologically driven groups you have been involved in, "organizing political conservatives...rebuilding the Republican Party." You, Mr. Ryan, are ideologically driven, and you are not alone in virtually equating the traditional Catholic cause with the Republican Party.
You also fault us for our "scholarly articles." Here is perhaps another source of your problem with the NOR. Intellectuals are notoriously troublesome. They are intellectually "playful" (others mistake that for "demonizing") and they usually make lousy Party hacks.
Finally, you ask, "Where are your criticisms of liberal Catholic bishops (by name and diocese), of liberal Catholic teaching institutions (by name and location), of liberal Catholic publications (by name)?" Obviously, you haven't done your homework. Let's assume you've been subscribing from at least February 2004 to January 2005. Here by name are the liberal Catholics we've criticized: Archbishop Fitzgerald of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (Feb. 2004); Cardinal Kasper of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, and Cardinal Marini who is Master of Pontifical Ceremonies (March 2004); St. Mary's Catholic Church in Silver Springs, N.Y., and Bishop Higi of the Diocese of Lafayette, Ind. (April 2004); St. Elizabeth School in the Diocese of Oakland, Gabe Huck in the National Catholic Reporter, and Marquette University Press (May 2004); Bishop McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose, Cal., and the "inclusive language" New Jerusalem Bible (June 2004); The Catholic Periodical and Literature Index, Fr. Willard Jabusch in America, Rector John Canary of the Mundelein Seminary in the Chicago area, Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago, Cardinal McCarrick of D.C., and Catholic Charities (Jul.-Aug. 2004); the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., Catholic Charities, and Bishop Walsh of the Diocese of Killaloe, Ireland (Sept. 2004); Providence College in Rhode Island, and the Jesuit Seattle University (Oct. 2004); Clinical Pastoral Education in southern California (Nov. 2004); Providence College, and Thomas Groome (Dec. 2004); Bishop Gumbleton of Detroit, Fr. Gregory Kalscheur in America, Catholic Charities, the Diocese of Tucson, Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore, Bishop Loverde of Arlington, Va., Cardinal Mahony, and Sr. Elizabeth Johnson of Fordham University (Jan. 2005).
Hey, how about paying some attention!
We Need Personal Interpretations Of the Bible
David Cavall's letter (Oct.) said: "If Dr. [Scott] Hahn desires to be a true Roman Catholic, he needs to leave his personal interpretations of the Bible back where he came from, back in Protestant-land, where each new spin on the unchanging Word of God is applauded and given a huge audience."
(1) There may be some individual biblical verses of which the Church's Tradition through councils or popes has given an infallible interpretation, but such are surely very few.
(2) Catholic commentaries on Scripture provide at most only theological interpretations, which are personally the commentators', although compatible with Catholic teachings.
(3) New spins on the unchanging, but yet inexhaustible, Word of God are what theologies are all about, and are always needed, and applauded, if not incompatible with defined dogmas.
(4) As long as the spinner, or theologian, does not claim his spin is already the Church's official teaching, and only argues that it could (theoretically) become so, a huge audience is a Godsend.
(5) Inside the Catholic rule of the Analogy of Faith reliance upon both Scripture and Tradition let freedom ring. No Catholic need dance to every spin.
(6) Protestant-land is heresy-territory only where it contradicts the Catholic-ocean.
Richard J. Rolwing
There Is an Orthodox Catholic College in the Ann Arbor Region
In all of the great struggle, conflict, and controversy regarding the "winding down" of Ave Maria College and the opening of Ave Maria University, one very important fact is constantly overlooked. Fr. Joseph Fessio's article (Jan.) stated that "If the Michigan Catholic community wants a Catholic college in the Ann Arbor region, they will no doubt find the means to establish it." The fact is: A real, viable, totally orthodox Catholic liberal arts education is available in Michigan! I am talking about the Catholic Integrated Core Curriculum program at St. Mary's College of Madonna University. This is a liberal arts/great books program that is completely Catholic, and totally faithful to the Magisterium. From the very start, our program was designed to make a real contribution to authentic Catholic higher education an education that is really Catholic in substance, not only in name.
A great part of the Core Curriculum is focused on helping students see the Truth (yes, we're not afraid to say there is a Truth!) through understanding the Catholic Faith. An important feature of the Core is its emphasis on theology. Indeed, St. Mary's offers both a theology and philosophy major. The thought of John Paul II is studied in freshman rhetoric classes and there is a senior capstone class in which the students think about how to implement the Pope's teaching in their chosen professions.
Developing the students' power to know the Truth through reason is another central part of the Core. Students take courses in philosophy in their first three years. They study politics, history, social thought, literature, mathematics, and natural sciences. In the seminar courses students read the great books. Students are encouraged to seek the Truth in these books by reading carefully and discussing the books in class questioning the books and sharing their thoughts about the books with one another.
At St. Mary's College we seek to feed the soul and the mind and really prepare young people to take on the challenges of the modern world and to bring their Catholic Faith into the world so that the Truth of God may be known and all that is sacred in the world defended. We have daily Mass, an active student-run prolife group, a theology group, and a Chestertonian Society. St. Mary's College has two chapels and 24-hour Eucharistic Adoration. All the faculty hold doctorates many of them are published authors and most importantly all are in love with the Church and committed to the cause of re-establishing authentic Catholic liberal arts education.
All of this takes place on a truly gorgeous campus with vintage buildings right on Orchard Lake northwest of Detroit and about 40 minutes from Ann Arbor.
So, yes, there really is orthodox Catholic higher education in Michigan. The program is growing and expanding.
Prof. Monica Migliorino Miller
St. Mary's College of Madonna University
Orchard Lake, Michigan
The Iraq War: A Good Cause
As with many of your readers (letters, Feb.), I was disturbed by your answer to the National Guardsman (letters, Dec.), but I have no plans to discontinue my subscription. I do disagree with the main theme that ran through your December reply. While no doubt there is a large segment within our government that wishes to protect the interests of Israel, it was not the major reason we invaded Iraq. There was also the desire to promote democracy throughout the world and take down a major tyrant. But the major reason was to stabilize a country with a large reserve of crude oil and install a pro-Western government that would work with the West to keep oil prices reasonable.
My son is on active duty with the Army and currently stationed in Germany, but before his enlistment is up he expects to serve in Iraq. While I will fear for his safety when that happens, I will know he is over there for a good cause and not just for the security of Israel.
Just War Doctrine May Not Be Valid Today
Regarding the Just War squabble (New Oxford Notes, Jan., pp. 16-18), I'm not certain just when this doctrine developed, but obviously it was some time ago. Unfortunately, what might have been reasonable long ago may not be valid in today's world. For example, if a country were to wait until it was attacked before it retaliated, such delay might be horrendously imprudent.
A recent event puts this situation into context. We've recently dispatched a space probe that is intended to intercept a comet that can't possibly strike Earth, and there is considerable complaining that this is a gross waste of money that could be better used elsewhere. While this position is valid, to wait until we can confirm that an object from outer space is going to strike Earth before we determine what we might be able to do in order to avoid the possible extermination of life is not an acceptable alternative.
Likewise, to sit idly and pray that irrational crackpots will not employ nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons against us when they have previously used them, even on their own people also seems to be imprudent and unacceptable. The background and actions of the U.N. weapons investigators in Iraq were not very reassuring. President Bush acted on intelligence from several sources which was presumed to have been true and accurate, and although there may no longer be WMDs in Iraq, these reports still may have been valid. I vote for President Bush over Hans Blix. I vote for the U.S. over the U.N.
Charles Town, West Virginia
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
All Catholic doctrines were developed "some time ago." There are Catholics who say our doctrines against abortion and homosexuality "may not be valid in today's world." It looks like you'd be quite at home in the world of pick-and-choose Catholicism.
If you were familiar with Just War doctrine, you'd know that it does not stipulate that a country must "wait until it is attacked before it retaliates." Pre-emptive attack is allowed in cases where an adversary has a manifest intent to injure and is actively preparing to attack even when the attack has not yet occurred. This was clearly not the case with Iraq.
What is prohibited in Just War doctrine is preventive war, which is a unilateral attack against the possibility of some distant or hypothetical future attack by a potential adversary. Preventive wars are unjust wars, are wars of aggression. This is clearly the case in Iraq.
Comets are not human beings. There is no such thing as an unjust war against a comet.
Our government and President Bush have officially admitted that Saddam had no WMDs, and yet you insist that those bogus intelligence reports may still be valid.
You say: "I vote for President Bush over Hans Blix." You are also voting for President Bush over Pope John Paul II, who made it abundantly clear that the war on Iraq was unjust.
Hugging a Corpse
For the benefit of Lt. Col. Riddiford, Capt. Tremaine, and the others whose frenetic letters supporting the war on Iraq appeared in the February issue: I am a veteran of World War II. I understand all too well where Riddiford, et al. are coming from; alas, it is also clear they haven't a clue as to the dilemma faced by serious Catholics today. Riddiford, et al. are anchored in a past that no longer exists, that disappeared a generation or two ago. That was a time when we lived in a country where you could be both a loyal American and a serious Catholic. The fit wasn't perfect, but it worked.
This is no longer possible. America is now a secular-humanist construct dedicated to destroying all that we, as Catholics, believe in. The Abortion Holocaust has so far killed upwards of 50 million innocent babies in this country alone, and should suffice to discredit any pretence to legitimacy entertained by the government. Beyond that we see a hedonistic, sex-mad popular culture that has transformed our young people (including Catholics) into a generation of studs and sluts. I could go on to speak of the massive drug culture and the many other depravities, but you get the picture.
When Riddiford and the rest attempt almost pathetically to call us back to the old verities, to "rally 'round the flag," they are asking us to hug a corpse. The old America they and I believed in is gone beyond recall. They are actually backing a system that despises them and their beliefs.
You can be a serious Catholic or a "loyal" American. You can't be both.
Enclosed is a contribution to help offset the subscription cancelations by these poor confused "patriots." God help them!
Joseph P. Wall
The NOR is better off without those jingoistic jerks who let off hot air in your February letters section. Enclosed is a donation to help offset the loss of subscriptions incurred as a result of your principled and courageous stand against the war in Iraq.
The NOR is easily the most honorable son of the Church in print today, slaking our thirst for divine truth in a parched land.
Mineola, New York
You have had many New Oxford Notes and letters to the Editor on evangelization. Years ago a pastor organized yearly processions through the streets. About 450 people showed up. After two years, the pastor was sent away. No more processions.
Tex (not his real name) thought: If a hundred people walk through the streets, praying, it's called a "procession." If one person does so, it's called "silly." Tex decided to go once a month to a Marian statue near a busy intersection downtown to pray, Rosary in hand. Tex wrote: "Four hundred and fifty people walked in a procession. They had to come on a certain day, a certain time, and spend about two hours. If instead they go once a month (in Canada, at least from May through October) to this statue, any day, any time when they happen to be downtown, spending less than 30 minutes praying the Rosary, that could mean an average of about 15 per day. Pretty soon it would be known. Whenever you pass that statue, someone would likely be praying there. Is that so difficult in a city of over 100,000?"
Evangelize, anyone? Do you only pray within four walls?
Protestant Fundamentalists & Israel
I believe that as Catholics, we are the inheritors of the true religion revealed by God to Abraham and Moses as perfected by the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ. While it is true that, before the New Covenant inaugurated by Christ, the Hebrews were the Chosen People with a mission to be His "witness among the nations" (Is. 55:4), it is also true that they completed that mission when the Messiah came into the world from their nation. Thus, when the Apostles, who were all Hebrews/Jews, transmitted the true Faith to us Gentiles, we became part of the Chosen People, the composition of which is no longer determined by race, tribe, or nationality. The Chosen People after the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus are the people, Jew or gentile, who choose to follow Him.
When I broached this view in a faith meeting, someone with M.A.s in theology and pastoral care accused me of adhering to "replacement theology" and gave me a pamphlet written by a priest-theologian which said that Christians who believe that they are the "new" Chosen People are guilty of replacement theology. The pamphlet claimed that the Jews remain the Chosen People and that all the promises made to them by God in the Old Testament will be fulfilled for them as a nation.
I have problems with this stance. For one, the Judaism practiced during the Temple Era no longer exists. Does he (the priest-theologian who wrote the pamphlet) mean that the promises made by God to the Chosen People during biblical times now strictly apply only to that political entity now known as Israel? Indeed, "salvation comes from the Jews" as Christ said to the woman at the well (Jn. 4:22), but, since Christ, I would put that phrase in the past tense as "salvation has come from the Jews" through Jesus Christ.
On a practical matter affecting world affairs, I know that the esoteric belief of many Protestant fundamentalists in Britain that Christ would return only when the children of Israel are once more gathered in Jerusalem has caused the problems we are now facing in the Middle East. I refer to the infamous Balfour Declaration that set aside a homeland for Jews of the Diaspora engineered by the imperial British government in 1917. I thought that this new 19th-century speculative eschatology of the fundamentalists had lost currency when the Jews did not convert to Christianity. But I was surprised to learn that this fundamentalist movement is very strong here in the U.S., and that there are groups raising millions of dollars to "rescue" ethnic Jews from all over the world and settle them in Israel. I am afraid that this would just encourage those hardline Israelis who advocate an expansionist policy in Palestine.
I am wondering what biblical prophecies these fundamentalists are referring to and what is the orthodox Catholic interpretation of such? Can any NOR reader help me out?
Crescente G. Villahermosa