Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: April 2001

April 2001

A Grateful Indian Priest

My wife and I read with concerned interest the letter in your July-August 2000 issue (“An Urgent Plea”) from the priest in India, Fr. Thomas Thumpailchirayil. We were so touched by it that we made a contribution to his work. And his handwritten thank-you letter in reply moved us deeply. In it he indicated exactly how our funds were used — i.e., how much went to whom. He told of the three recipients: an asthmatic man who heads a starving family, a woman abandoned by her husband and in need of food, and a widow requiring treatment for her eyes. Fr. Thumpailchirayil said that all three — whose names he wrote down for us — “cried out with joy” when they were presented with the assistance.

We were so inspired by what the small sum we sent enabled him to do that we intend to send him another donation soon. When one is able to learn of the good that can be wrought through the efforts of one of God’s servants, it makes one very thankful for your magazine.

Clifford Craft

St. Mary's Malankara Catholic Church

Malibu, California

Entrusting your magazine and your kind readers to the loving care and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I am writing you these few lines. You published my letter (“An Urgent Plea”) in your July-August 2000 issue, and several of your readers, inspired by our Lord Jesus Christ, God and Savior, responded favorably. We received about $3,200.

My poor parishioners and villagers have benefited from your kind intervention, and are much indebted to you. I have written the name of your Editor in Malayalam, our mother tongue, on small pieces of paper and given them to all persons and families who have benefited from your kindness, and they are all praying very earnestly for your magazine. Jesus Christ never fails!

Please do pray for me and my poor people.

Fr. Thomas Thumpailchirayil

Holy Virgin Protection Church

Kerala, India

No Apology Needed for What Was Predestined

Walter Perry says (letter, Jan.) that the Jews should apologize for the crucifixion of Jesus. But a true Christian must believe that God gave His only begotten Son over to crucifixion in order to offer salvation to mankind, and therefore the Jesus drama was preordained and all the actors performed so that Jesus would end on that cross.

I am a Jew, but have no desire to deprecate Christianity. Indeed, I read the NOR because it’s the only publication I know of that maintains the high standards of Judeo-Christian morality.

Sadly, the bad guys are winning. I belonged to a Reform synagogue until the rabbi (teacher of the Torah) asked the congregation to amend the by-laws of the synagogue so that homosexual couples and fornicating heterosexual couples have the same status as couples married according to the law of Moses. I’m not quite sure who the St. Bozo spoken of by the NOR is, but I think I get your point.

Reuben Cohen

Boise, Idaho

Assume the Best of Same-Sex Couples

I write in reaction to a letter published in your January issue from Name Withheld under the header, “It’s Worse Than Many People Realize.” The writer was distressed at the behavior in church of a couple that he or she apparently assumed were same-sex lovers.

I do not support the actions of the pastor in “banning” Name Withheld from the parish. However, since the writer referenced the Catechism regarding homosexuality, Name Withheld should consider this from the Catechism (Second Edition): The homosexual “inclination” is for “most” homosexuals “a trial.” Moreover, “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (#2358).

Name Withheld does not specify what behavior the same-sex couple manifested that disturbed him so, other than “embracing,” so unless they acted in a manner giving grave scandal, I do not understand how the writer can immediately make assumptions about the sinful nature of their private life. In the case of the pastor, I don’t believe he would be correct to make such assumptions and act on them in the sight of the community.

Gay and lesbian Catholics are called by the Church to a life of chastity, which in most cases signifies a life of celibacy. This does not mean, however, that the possibility of companionship or even life partnership must be shut off to homosexual Catholics. It is possible, if challenging, to live in celibate companionship. It takes the kind of strength that can only come from prayer and the sacraments. In most parishes, there is no pastoral focus whatsoever directed toward homosexual persons. Most gay Catholics find their way to Christ through a personal journey that follows many different paths. I know one thing from experience: Parishes that welcome all parishioners, and invite them to the life of the sacraments, do more to facilitate a life consistent with the Church’s teaching than parishes where people draw lines in the sand.

Christ did not tell sinners to go away and come back when they were healed — He welcomed them, and healed them, and helped them to “sin no more.” The conversion of gay and lesbian Catholics to a life of celibacy does not happen outside of the Church — although it may take months and years of prayer and sacramental assistance for a gay person to be able to take up his cross and follow Christ. And, as we know, our society outside the Church does nothing to assist that cause — quite the opposite nowadays. If two gay Catholics find in each other the companionship and support to live such a life, parishioners should be applauding — not writing letters to the chancery in complete ignorance of what may be the true nature of their lives.

There may be Catholics who err, gravely, in receiving Communion while in a state of mortal sin. (It need hardly be said that this situation is not unique to practicing Catholics who happen to be gay.) There is a much greater chance of such people reconciling completely with the Church if they are in communion with the Church, than if they are rejected by the Church and refused all fellowship until such time as they are deemed completely “worthy.” Further, it is a matter of personal conscience — I do not believe that Christ condemns those who seek Him honestly, with open mind and heart, and I believe He will forgive the transgressions that might have attached to their “former life.” God knows what is in men’s hearts. It would seem to be an act of Christ-like charity to look on the couple described by Name Withheld and assume the best, not the worst. And if the “worst” is true, then rejoice that they are at least seeking God and seeking the true way for their lives. In His own way and time, God will guide the sinner to redemption if the sinner accepts Him. In the meantime, pray for them, instead of confronting them.

I thank God daily for the men and women, clergy and laity, of my parish who have truly shown me what it means to walk with Christ. May we all approach one another hoping for, and eliciting, the best, rather than assuming the worst.

Terence E. Meade

Stamford, Connecticut

The Editor Replies:

You make some interesting points. We must, however, make some necessary distinctions.

The behavior that bothered Name Withheld was not merely that the same-sex couple embraced, but that they did so “in a manner that seemed designed to display unmistakably the nature of their relationship,” and that this was done in the vacant front pews so as to “advertise their apparently un-Catholic beliefs.”

We live in the era of “gay liberation,” and it isn’t hard to differentiate between a same-sex couple that might be homosexually-active (and for which we should try to assume the best) and a same-sex couple that is advertising its homosexual “lifestyle” in an in-your-face manner. A same-sex couple of the latter type is surely not coming to church seeking a gradual conversion to a life of celibacy, but quite the opposite — is seeking moral approval of homosexual behavior and (in many cases) trying to convert the Church to the ways of the fallen world.

Yes, the Catechism says that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect.” But the preceding sentence says that for most homosexuals the homosexual inclination is “a trial.” So, what about a situation where homosexual couples enter church with a manifest attitude that their condition is not “a trial,” but rather a gift, even a moral good — something to be celebrated, even flaunted? Must homosexuals be “accepted with respect” when they do not treat the Bride of Christ with respect? No, for where the Catechism says homosexuals “must be accepted with respect,” it is discussing only those who have a homosexual “inclination” or “condition,” not those who commit homosexual “acts.”

Yes, the Catechism opposes “unjust discrimination.” But there is such a thing as just discrimination, which you seem to acknowledge by referring to those who act in a manner that gives “grave scandal.” Name Withheld was clearly scandalized. Laurette Elsberry, in the letter that follows, tells of similar couples receiving Communion, and that that scandalizes her. When homosexuals who advertise their mortally sinful situation receive Communion, then the sacrament is profaned, and other people who are in a state of mortal sin will feel free to refuse to repent and to receive Communion nonetheless.

Yes, the Catechism says that homosexuals “must be accepted with…compassion.” St. Paul says that those who receive Communion unworthily eat and drink unto their own damnation (1 Cor. 11:27-29), and so it would be uncompassionate in the extreme to allow pertinaciously practicing homosexuals to receive Communion.

Where the Catechism says homosexuals “must be accepted with…compassion,” it is (again) referring only to those who have a homosexual inclination.

You seem to say that whether mortal sinners should receive Communion is a matter of “personal conscience.” But that is not what the Church teaches. Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law says that “Those…who obstinately persist in manifest grave [mortal] sin are not to be admitted to holy Eucharist.”

So, what’s a pastor to do? The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts issued a “Declaration” (June 24, 2000) on Canon 915: “Pastoral prudence would strongly suggest the avoidance of instances of public denial of Holy Communion. Pastors must strive to explain to the concerned faithful [i.e., the faithful in question] the true ecclesial sense of the norm [Canon 915], in such a way that they would be able to understand it or at least respect it. In those situations, however, in which these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible, the minister of Communion must refuse to distribute it to those who are publicly unworthy” (#3). Clearly, where obstinately practicing homosexuals do not respect the Eucharist, they need not be “accepted with respect.” Yes, it may well be necessary to “draw lines in the sand.”

We are puzzled by your statement, “Gay and lesbian Catholics are called by the Church to a life of chastity, which in most cases signifies a life of celibacy.” In what cases wouldn’t celibacy be called for?

You say, “In most parishes, there is no pastoral focus whatsoever directed toward homosexual persons.” There may be a good reason for that. As Fr. Paul Shaughnessy has written, “No one familiar with the conduct of Catholic gay/lesbian ministry…will contest the claim that many, perhaps most, of the ministers are sexually active gays” (The Catholic World Report, Nov. 2000). Of course, this cannot be said of Courage, but Courage is not welcome in many dioceses and parishes.

We thank you for writing, and may the Lord richly bless you in your walk with Him.


What a heartbreaking letter from “Name Withheld” in the January issue. He (or she — I’ll just use “he”) objected to what I would call “in-your-face” Sign of Peace activity by a same-sex couple in the front pew at Mass. Name Withheld was then removed from the church and banned from the parish by the pastor.

I am not knowledgeable of the legal or canonical aspects of this situation, but I would suggest that Name Withheld contact the St. Joseph Foundation (11107 Wurzbach #601B; San Antonio TX 78230-2570) to learn about his canonical rights in this matter.

The last line of the letter was: “Catholicism is in worse shape than many people realize.” This statement is absolutely correct. In fact, my experience with the Catholic bureaucracy in chanceries and pastoral centers in northern California leads me to conclude that the priests, sisters, and diocesan staff who are dedicated proponents of the “gay agenda” are generally the most influential people in those dioceses.

Name Withheld innocently talked to the same-sex couple in church asking them not to “advertise” their apparent perversion. He did not realize that that couple was probably deliberately acting in a provocative manner to desensitize parishioners to their self-advertised “lifestyle.” I see this myself here in the Sacramento diocese, where same-sex couples kiss each other ardently at the “Sign of Peace” and then walk up to Holy Communion, hand in hand, sometimes with “their” children, to receive Our Lord. Where are the Catholic clergy? They appear to approve. And after Mass they are busy setting up “gay” and lesbian events, AIDS Masses, “gay” weekend retreats, and recruiting parents of “gays” to join their “gay”-affirming clubs. Where are the bishops?

What to do? We need more martyrs like Name Withheld. He upheld the teachings of the Church as did the first apostles and martyrs. Jesus calls us to action to protect and defend His Church. He tells us to obey His commandments. God made it clear from His actions in Sodom and Gomorrah, and in many other inspired sections of the Bible, that sodomy is an abomination.

I certainly cannot judge the soul of the pastor who banished Name Withheld from his church, but I can judge his actions in supporting those in his church who scandalize parishioners. I can determine that his permitting outrageous behavior is a sacrilege. I can fear for his soul at the Last Judgment.

For the sake of His Church and His people on earth, I pray that God will raise up more people like Name Withheld who will stand up for Christ and who at the Last Judgment can truly say, like St. Paul: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.”

Laurette Elsberry

Sacramento, California

Fight On, But Good-Bye!

I have reluctantly decided not to renew my subscription, and I am moved to provide you the courtesy of a reason.

I am neither angry with you nor at odds with your positions. Perhaps a bit of personal history would be helpful. Evangelical Protestantism shaped my early childhood and teen years, after which I wallowed in a bit of obligatory rebellion, dissipating my spiritual inheritance. When I woke up, I realized I could not simply return to the same tired choruses, prayers, and weekly altar calls. So I sojourned with the Episcopalians for a significant period because, at the time, it appeared as if they knew how to worship God not only with their hearts and souls, but with their minds as well. Little did I know, however, that I was aboard a Hell-bound train. By the early 1990s I realized that my time with the Episcopal Church was drawing to a close, as their liturgical novelties and other various and sundry heresies were becoming too much to bear.

At that time I happened across an ad for the NOR. You were trumpeting the achievements of the “life of the mind” within Catholicism. I was ripe for harvest. I subscribed immediately and was thrilled.

I followed my subscription to the NOR with subscriptions to First Things and the now-defunct Caelum et Terra, gobbling up the crumbs that fell from the table, so to speak. Crossing the Tiber seemed a matter of not if, but when. I wanted to be at the banquet, seated at the table with everyone else.

But the corruptions of the Episcopalians found their way into the Catholic Church, into what The Wanderer calls “Amchurch,” and so your mission became, by necessity, one of damage control and encouraging those under siege. I was not, however, encouraged. Nevertheless, I was warned: What communion would I find with Fr. Flapdoodle at St. Bozo’s?

I did cross the Tiber, but kept going — to Eastern Orthodoxy. I am not inclined to make any triumphal proclamations as a result of this move, as some are wont to do. Indeed, I am distressed to discover that the “life of the mind” is not as vibrant in the East as in the West, but perhaps that is a personal idolatry I must relinquish. But now when I go to worship, following the ancient but timeless Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, I have no fears of seeing dancing girls in the sanctuary or clowns at the baptistry, of finding the choir replaced by a rock band — or of someday seeing a priestess attempting to confect the Holy Mysteries.

I hope you will forgive my departure. I pray for your continued strength and courage in the face of a daunting battle. May the Theotokos and all the saints intercede always on your behalf. And finally I pray that on that Last Day we will be joined together in the Kingdom of our heavenly Father, seated around the marriage banquet, where we will sing together in one voice, one mind, and one heart the praises of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

John Thienes

Newberg, Oregon

What Next?

Serge Beeler (letter, Jan.) suggests that Frank Kimball (article, Nov.) never acquired an “Eastern mindset” and that this may explain why Kimball returned to Catholicism from a sojourn in Eastern Orthodoxy. But, amazingly, Beeler acknowledges that Kimball “is right about Orthodox deviation from Holy Tradition regarding contraception.” So what ever happened to Orthodoxy’s own “Eastern mindset” that it so recklessly permitted this “deviation from Holy Tradition”?

Logically, the Eastern Orthodox Churches should be expected to deviate from their “Holy Tradition” by approving unholy homosexual activity which, just like contraception, separates the procreative dimension of sex from its unitive dimension. Of course, both contraception and homosexual activity are unholy.

Fr. Ralph Federico

Clarendon, Pennsylvania

The Editor Comments:

We are reminded of Kimball’s statement that Orthodoxy allows contraception, as well as remarriage after divorce, because the Orthodox see the need to accommodate “human weakness.” Can mere human weakness trump Holy Tradition? If so, that is in itself scandalous, but we are also led to wonder if human weakness will get the better of Holy Tradition in other areas as well — abortion, homosexuality, shacking-up, euthanasia, etc. Because of the fall of Communism, decadent Western culture is now impacting the bulk of Eastern Orthodoxy in a big way. We are not optimistic about the outcome.

Russian Orthodox Church Abroad: Not Really Orthodox

As a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), a.k.a. the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, I must take issue with the broadside against my Church by Serge Beeler in his letter (Jan.), to wit: “He [Kimball] is…fair in describing his confusion about jurisdictions, such as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), that are hostile to the rest of Orthodoxy” (emphasis mine).

“Hostile”? That’s like accusing Roman Catholicism of “hostility” toward Orthodox and Protestant Christians because of its refusal to be in full communion with them!

Of course, the truth behind ROCA’s refusal to submit to the hierarchal authority of the Moscow Patriarchate has nothing to do with “hostility,” but is based solely on the undisputed criminal record of the Moscow Patriarchate and its total, abject subservience to its militantly atheistic masters in the Kremlin.

Beeler continues: “ROCA once [emphasis mine] had an understandable reason to exist — communication from Russia was unreliable and liable to be Communist-tainted, so the Russian bishops in exile had to make their own jurisdictional arrangements.” He also asks: “are ROCA, the Old Calendarist Greeks, and the Christ the Saviour Brotherhood really Orthodox?”

Why isn’t ROCA “really Orthodox,” pray tell? How can Beeler imply that ROCA is not really Orthodox, and in that same letter write: “Still, ROCA has faithfully preserved the practice of the pre-Revolutionary Russian Church in its liturgical and monastic life.” What else should an Orthodox Church preserve, Mr. Beeler?

It’s unbelievable how lackadaisically Beeler, an Orthodox Christian, deigns to describe the gravity of what happened to the Russian Orthodox Church following the 1917 Revolution. For one thing, as Beeler himself admits, it led to “the multiplicity of canonical Orthodox jurisdictions in the U.S. …” and “exists as a practical consequence of the Russian Revolution.” He continues: “All of this division is temporary and superficial and has nothing to do with the essence of Orthodoxy….”

But in Beeler’s opinion, ROCA’s refusal to be a party to this — truly uncanonical — recognition of the existing “multiplicity of canonical [sic] Orthodox jurisdictions in the U.S.” places ROCA and all her members outside the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church! Never mind that we — as Beeler truthfully admits — have “faithfully preserved the practice of the pre-Revolutionary Russian Church in its liturgical and monastic life”!

Archpriest George Larin

Nyack, New York

The Blessed Virgin Mary Was Not an Unwed Mother

In both your December and January issues I read the outrageous calumny that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was in effect an unwed mother. To wit: Raymond Heckert, in his letter (Dec., p. 2) says “she [Mary] realized that her fiancé wasn’t the child’s real father.” And the sidebar from the American Life League (Jan., p. 19) says “A teenage girl [Mary] is pregnant. She’s not married.” This is horrendous error.

Mary was not an unwed mother. St. Jerome put that knuckleheaded idea to rest 1600 years ago. In the Jewish custom and law of the time, to be espoused or betrothed was to be married. Indeed, an intelligent reading of the Gospel of Matthew will show that the two terms, betrothed and wedded, are used interchangeably and that the angel clearly says to St. Joseph: “Do not be afraid, Joseph,…to take to thee Mary thy wife” (italics added).

Though not true of the two instances I’ve cited in your magazine, certain people with more sentimentality than brains compare unwed mothers to Mary in order to help such mothers feel better about themselves. Certainly, we must feel sorry for those poor creatures and help them, but the reality is that all those unwed mothers got that way either by their own sin or a sin against them. To compare them to Mary is an insult — and a blasphemy against the Providence of God that He would allow the Mother of His Son to suffer such indignity.

Fr. James Downey, O.S.B.

Chicago, Illinois

Classical Liberalism Is the Issue

In the January NOR, Fr. Robert Sirico responded to my October NOR article in which I criticized him and the Acton Institute, of which he is President. I would like to reply to his letter.

Fr. Sirico objects that I took my quotations from his popular newsletter, Acton Notes. However, in the issues at the end of 1997 and the beginning of 1998, Fr. Sirico addressed the foundations of economic thinking, and therefore this seemed to me appropriate to use for examining his basic viewpoint. Moreover, in the numerous other publications of the Acton Institute, the same basic view is espoused. And this brings us to the heart of the matter. For the differences between us do not concern interpretations of arcane aspects of Catholic social teaching but rather our basic outlooks on society and the state. Fr. Sirico is (in European terms) a liberal, or, in American terms, a classical liberal, and this he openly acknowledges. But classical liberalism, which promotes the free market and the rule of competition in economic affairs, is incompatible with Catholic doctrine. One could find dozens of papal statements to that effect. In Quadragesimo Anno (1931) Pope Pius XI wrote, “With regard to the civil power, Leo XIII boldly passed beyond the restrictions imposed by liberalism, and fearlessly proclaimed the doctrine that the civil power is more than the mere guardian of law and order….” Pope Paul VI, in Octogesima Adveniens (1971), stated that “at the very root of philosophical liberalism is an erroneous affirmation of the autonomy of the individual in his activity, his motivation and the exercise of his liberty.”

Although I have no doubt but that Fr. Sirico values many of the same spiritual and cultural goods that I do, classical liberalism does not understand the necessary role of the state in preserving and fostering these goods. It exalts freedom as its highest political good, whereas St. Thomas taught that the purpose of the state is to lead men to virtue. And the popes have not been at all shy about proclaiming the crucial role of the state in bringing about and guaranteeing just wages, moderating market competition, and generally supervising the economy to bring about justice. Nor, contrary to what some have imagined, does the encyclical Centesimus Annus (1991) change Catholic teaching on these points. The means for achieving a just social order, as proposed by St. Thomas and papal social teaching, are very different from those desired by classical liberalism and the Acton Institute.

Thomas Storck

Greenbelt, Maryland

More Annulments Than Confessions

As a non-Catholic subscriber, I found Gregory Roden’s article (Dec.) on sola Scriptura and sola Fides interesting. If my church took the approach he describes, I would not believe those principles either.

According to Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion (Book I, Chap. VII), Scripture, as the Word of God, is not subject to the judgment of the church. In other words, the canon of Scripture was not voted into existence by a church council in a manner similar to that of the Jesus Seminar today. The church councils of Hippo and Carthage, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, received into the canon the books that had already made their marks on the church. The Protestant view of Scripture is similar to that found in #101-104 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

To the Protestant, Scripture is God’s Word and is the standard by which everything must be tested. In Matthew 16:18-20 the church is given a grave responsibility to determine what is acceptable behavior by her members. My church (Baptist), for example, includes abstinence from alcohol and tithing of one’s income among what is expected of her members. While support can be found in Scripture, these things are not explicitly commanded. However, there are certain things clearly stated in Scripture that cannot be overruled by the church.

For example, Roden’s illustration of divorce is particularly intriguing. He is correct that Scripture teaches against divorce. According to the doctrine of sola Scriptura, separation and remarriage is wrong no matter what name you give it. His assertion that divorce is accepted by all Protestant denominations is incorrect. A divorced person will find it much harder to remarry in my church than in Roman Catholic dioceses. Based on the experiences of my Catholic friends, it would seem that annulments are practiced more often than the Sacrament of Penance.

With regard to sola Fides, the Reformers’ position was that saving grace comes by faith and not through works, as stated in Ephesians 2:8-9. However, they also maintained that a saving faith produces works. Therefore, they would agree with Roden that a faith not manifesting good works is absurd and not supported by Scripture. Yet if even the smallest part of saving grace were the result of works we could then boast that we were good enough for God to save us. As noted by Calvin, in Institutes of the Christian Religion (Book III, Chap. XVII), faith is the cause preceding works which are the effect.

The variations in the Protestant churches described by Roden do indeed exist. They are not unlike the variations in Catholic parishes that I read about so often in these pages. However, just as I am sure that not every parish in America is run by Fr. Flapdoodle, not every Protestant church fits Roden’s mold.

Thomas J. Kunsitis

Richmond, Virginia

Hats Off for the Southern Baptists

In his socialist classic, Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, Friedrich Engels claimed that the monogamous family is not “natural,” but that it came into existence through the enslavement of women — i.e., by making women economically dependent on men.

Engels said that the “emancipation” of women would come through “the introduction of the whole female sex into public industries,” and then the monogamous family would “cease to exist.”

Dave Goldstein, once a leader of the Socialist Party in Boston who converted to Catholicism, said that if the economic equality of men and women is established, “civilization is doomed.”

All around us we see movements that have one thing in common: the destruction of the God-instituted family. The feminist, homosexual, socialist, and environmental movements are all geared to this end. And we Catholics just sit watching, sometimes applauding.

My hat goes off the Southern Baptists, who are determined to follow Scripture regarding the structure of the family. Why are our bishops so silent?

Pete Fiorillo

West Haven, Connecticut

'Homophobia' Is the Wrong Term

Regarding your New Oxford Note, “Why No Call for Dialogue With ‘Homophobes’?” (Feb.): The term “homophobia” is the wrong word to describe opponents of the homosexual agenda. The correct word is homosexualphobia. Why? Because homophobia means an aversion to anyone who is like oneself. If that were true of me, then I would have an aversion to my father, my uncles, my grandfathers, my brothers, my male cousins, and all my male friends. Furthermore, I’d be averse to homosexual men as men, not to homosexual sexual behavior (as I am).

John C. Morris, M.D.

Orinda, California

The Editor Replies:

We are well aware of the linguistic queerness of the word “homophobia.” That’s why we put “homophobe” in quotation marks in the title of the New Oxford Note you reference — and put “homophobia” in quotation marks the first time we used it in the text of that piece.

Sorry, but phobia doesn’t mean aversion, it means fear — and we don’t know of anyone who fears homosexuals. (Leery of? Yes. Fears? No.) According to our dictionary, the suffix –phobia means “an intense, abnormal, or illogical fear of a specified thing,” which is why the terms “homophobia” and “homophobe” are not only inaccurate but heavily loaded, suggesting some sort of mental illness in a clinical sense. For this reason, the term homosexualphobia doesn’t cut it either.

So the question is: What word — or neologism — would be appropriate to designate people who oppose the homosexual agenda, who have moral objections to homosexual behavior? We will gladly entertain suggestions from our readers. (To get you started: Moral opponents of slavery were called abolitionists, moral opponents of abortion are prolifers, moral opponents of all violence are pacifists.) Let’s come up with our own word! Homosexual activists have commandeered the rainbow and the word gay. Maybe we should commandeer a word.

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