I Was There
Beverly McMillan writes in her article “Confessions of an Ob-Gyn” (Sept.) that in 1969 as a second-year ob-gyn resident she was sent for six months of training to Cook County Hospital in Chicago where for a six-week stretch she was assigned to a ward called the “Infected Ob ward.” She goes on to relate that to her surprise and shock “the 15 to 25” women she admitted every night were recent patrons of Chicago’s back-alley abortion mills.
The ward of which Dr. McMillan speaks was Ward 63. It seems likely that Dr. McMillan was the unwitting victim of pro-abortion propaganda when she was working in this ward, for her description of the ward inaccurately suggests that it was filled with infected patients who had undergone illegal abortions. This is untrue. Ward 63 (the so-called “infected” or “septic” ob ward) included many spontaneous abortions (popularly known as “miscarriages”), as well as some illegally procured abortions. Women were admitted to this ward when they were bleeding so that the cause of the bleeding could be determined. By no means were all of these cases infected. But this ward was where those cases that were infected were treated. Not all, nor even most, of these septic cases were from illegal abortions; incomplete spontaneous abortions can also turn septic.
Back before abortion was legalized, I was a year-long resident in ob at Cook County in charge of the young ob interns who came in for their six-week stint. Ward 63 admitted a small number of women with illegal abortions — no more than four or five every month, never “15 to 25” women every night. Moreover, it is untrue that the treatment for infected abortion (whether spontaneous or induced) was to perform a D & C. That procedure is an improper treatment for septic abortion because it further spreads the infection. (The proper treatment is to sponge out the infected uterus.) As for the many, many women in Ward 63 with spontaneous abortions (miscarriages), the treatment indicated was not a D & C (dilation and curettage) but an E & C (extraction and curettage) since in such women the cervix was already dilated. McMillan’s memory that D & Cs were performed on 15 to 25 women a day cannot be accurate since the majority of women admitted each day were spontaneous miscarriages or threatened miscarriages. For the latter women one avoided any operative procedure for fear of aborting a live baby.
In those days disinformation was one of the chief tools of the pro-legalized-abortion movement. Lumping miscarriages together with illegal abortions was only one of the ways the movement deceived the public into thinking there were many more illegal abortions than actually was the case.
The movement brazenly claimed that ten thousand women in the U.S. died of illegal abortion every year. But, as Herbert Ratner, M.D., the Public Health Director of Oak Park, Illinois, pointed out in 1970, according to the Vital Statistics of the United States only 50,000 women per year died from all causes in the reproductive age period of 15 to 45 years. If thousands of women died annually from abortion alone, as often claimed, there would not be enough women left to account for all those in that age bracket who died from auto accidents, cancer, diabetes, and various other diseases. The wildly inflated figure of ten thousand deaths per year, a fabrication never questioned by the press, was 200 times larger than the actual number of yearly deaths from illegal abortion in the entire U.S.
Another myth perpetrated by the movement was that legalizing abortion made it “safe.” But as Ratner also pointed out in 1970, after abortion was made legal in the State of New York there were more maternal mortalities from legal abortions there than from miscarriages. Moreover, a certain proportion of maternal mortalities from abortions performed in the State of New York would have gone unreported when the out-of-state women hemorrhaged or became infected after leaving New York.
Since a legally procured abortion is an invasive procedure that interrupts a normal, healthy bodily process, women who abort are prone to a variety of short-term and long-term physical problems, some of them extremely serious and life-threatening and some of them merely physically painful, as in the case of one woman who had distressing dysmenorrhea every month because her legal abortion had partially blocked her cervix with scar tissue.
Few women who undergo abortions today understand what the physical risks are. I myself frequently treat women, some as young as 14, who have attempted legal abortions by having laminaria inserted at a clinic, then changed their mind. None of these young women was told of the serious long-term risks when they entered the doors of Chicago’s infamous Albany Clinic a few blocks from the inner-city hospital where I work. But all of them were victimized by abortion. Because of damage to her cervix, one woman may never be able to bear a living child. Another had no understanding that she was carrying a child (not a “blob of tissue”) until she saw it, held it in her hands, and wept “I didn’t know, I didn’t know.”
George F. Dietz, M.D.
St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital
I'm Not Soft on Abortion
You seem to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick in commenting on my review-article on David L. Schindler’s book, Heart of the World, Center of the Church (New Oxford Notes, April 2001, pp. 22-23). You think I am soft on abortion. Although two correspondents have kindly written in to the NOR to defend me, I felt that I should try to put the record straight myself.
Admittedly, I did rather ask for it, with all those long words. I am capable of writing more clearly, but I was reviewing a rather difficult book and I got carried away. But I utterly reject the insinuation that, in my view, banning abortion would be “too much.” I said “not enough,” and I meant it. Of course I would like to see abortion eliminated. I do what I can to support the prolife cause. The point is that our culture is going precisely in the other direction, and we have to ask why. All the efforts of those brave and clear-minded folks who campaign outside abortion clinics and stand as prolife candidates in elections are not wasted, because they build up the Kingdom, but in this visible world, the world of politics and power, they are not even slowing our slide down the slippery slope toward commercial eugenics. Schindler’s book is one of those which actually tells us why this is the case.
The culture of death has deep roots. It has to be fought at a deep level. What I was calling prolife “counterreaction” is a way of fighting, sure enough, but it doesn’t go deep enough. Closing abortion clinics and terrorizing the women who go there is likely to drive the problem underground. Much better to imitate the late Cardinal Winning of Glasgow, the Sisters of Charity, and the Sisters of Life, and offer women the financial and other support they need to continue the pregnancy, and then look after the children themselves.
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
We fear you are not combating the Culture of Death in a deeper way, but only digging yourself in deeper.
In your original piece you said that attempting to ban abortion would merely be “to counterreact to the culture of death” and “feed its flames.” You say here that you wish to go deeper than such counterreaction. So what do you propose? Offering “women the financial and other support they need to continue the pregnancy.” That’s deeper? No, that’s just skimming the surface. Women have abortions for all kinds of reasons and nonreasons having little or nothing to do with finances or support. There’s nothing wrong with your proposal, but when it comes to saving lives, deeper it ain’t.
You say: “Closing abortion clinics and terrorizing the women who go there is likely to drive the problem underground. Much better to….” That sounds like it was lifted right out of a Planned Parenthood pamphlet: Prolifers are “terrorizing” women. “Closing abortion clinics” would likely “drive” women to back-alley abortionists. “Much better to….”
If you don’t want to drive abortion underground, you don’t really want to ban abortion. Which means that you are soft on abortion.
University of Illinois
Massapequa, New York
An Apology Is Owed
John L. Botti’s cutesy piece about slavery (“The ‘Catholic’ Politician of 2001 & the Southern ‘Gentleman’ of 1860,” Oct.) may be politically correct but basically it’s not true. The truth is that the Southern States actually seceded from the Union because of the economic assault by Northern legislators in Congress who were in the majority. Does anyone really believe the North went to war because of slavery, that half a million men died to stop slavery?
Why did so many black soldiers fight for the South if they were so abused? There were black farmers who had slaves. Long Island Newsday had articles this year on white slaveholders in New York and Connecticut.
The trouble with politically correct views is that the people who swallow them whole stop thinking. They can’t see any other viewpoint. Also, in accepting the lie about the cause of the Civil War, they accept the negative attitudes it engenders and feel free to insult Southerners who don’t deserve it. The South was assaulted by the North before the Civil War by the Northern legislators, during the war by armies, and after the war by the so-called Reconstruction, which was a continued war against a beaten people.
Mr. Botti owes an apology to the people of the South.
NN: Richard J. Savadel
Our Lady of Corpus Christi
In the Confederate Museum at New Orleans is a crown of thorns made by Pope Pius IX expressly for Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. In a side chapel at the Catholic cathedral in Charleston, S.C., is a statue of Our Lady of the Confederacy sent to the people of the South by the same pope. In many Southern homes to this day is the volume of verse by the “Poet Laureate of the Confederacy” — Fr. Abram Ryan, a Catholic priest of Nashville, whose brother, a Confederate soldier, was killed in combat with Union troops. The state song of Maryland, “Maryland, My Maryland!” which decries the “tyrant” Abraham Lincoln and calls upon Marylanders to rise to arms against the “Vandal invader,” was composed by the Catholic poet James Ryder Randall. And one of the most courageous and eloquent exponents of the justness of Southern civilization, and of the principles and purposes of secession and of the formation of the Confederate States of America, was the renowned missionary priest, Bishop of Savannah Augustin Verot.
So much for the suggestion of John L. Botti that “no explanation is needed” for his entirely fictional narrative “The ‘Catholic’ Politician of 2001 & the Southern ‘Gentleman’ of 1860.” To address even the issues that led, sadly enough for all concerned, to the War Between the States, requires a great deal of explanation, indeed. Further, to his query “Is there any difference?” between the Southerner of 1860 and the advocate or practitioner of abortion in 2001, the answer is yes — wholly, utterly, and completely — as a huge body of literature attests. Again, because Botti does not cite a single historical personage or a single historical text, the entirely fictional nature of his text cannot be overemphasized.
About 15 years ago, in an essay published in both National Review and Crisis, Lewis Lehrman also attempted to equate slavery in the Old South and abortion today. Among the respondents who attempted to correct that grievous misconception was Sheldon Vanauken, the late lamented Contributing Editor of the NOR, whose name well remains on your magazine’s masthead. Van contributed many articles to the NOR that made a similar case for Southern civilization and principles as the sole example available for Americans of our time who wish to redress any number of the ills of our society, abortion foremost among them. It is astonishing that the NOR has so soon forgotten his brave and eloquent reflections.
Significant works that explore for Catholics the theme reintroduced so ineptly by Botti, however admirable his intentions, include American Catholic Opinion in the Slavery Controversy by Madeleine Hooke Rice; Catholics and the Civil War by the Rev. Benjamin J. Blied of St. Francis Seminary; Rebel Bishop: A Life of Augustin Verot by Michael Gannon; and — most especially — The Slaveholders’ Dilemma and A Consuming Fire: The Fall of the Confederacy in the Mind of the White Christian South, both by the eminent historian Eugene Genovese, now a Catholic. Several biographies of the Catholic jurist Roger Taney, who, as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, strove in vain to inaugurate Northern support for compensated emancipation rather than inflammatory abolitionism, and who penned the hugely misunderstood Dred Scott decision, have appeared in recent years. Readers of The Wanderer have recently been given a learned series of columns on actual Southern history generally and the realpolitik of Abraham Lincoln specifically by Joseph Sobran, who in his own newsletter has expanded on the subject.
Southerners have for generations faced the necessary challenge of fending off simplistic condemnations of slavery while striving to call attention to the larger enveloping issues that led to secession, war, and defeat, and of which slavery was of course an inextricable part, but by no means the whole matter. As the foregoing studies demonstrate, most emphatically in the case of the Catholic bishops of both American and Europe, hugely important questions of the very nature of a Christian moral order in the fledgling modern era were the context in which the South resisted by arms the purported “coming of the Lord” announced in the Battle Hymn of the Republic. These questions included the very viability of a specifically Christian order in American society, of the increasing secularization and industrialization and therefore the explicit materialism of the states of the North, and of the proper means of ameliorating in the South the admitted shortcomings of slavery — while avoiding the revolutionary unrest that was arising everywhere in Western civilization, including in the American Northeast, in response to Enlightenment ideologies and the vast dislocations of peoples caused by the “modernization” of capitalistic economies.
Accordingly, the issue of the American War Between the States generally, and specifically the practice of slavery as it actually evolved in the U.S. between 1619 and 1861, is to be judged within a centuries-old tradition which, for reasons once held sound by the Church, affirmed the propriety of the ownership of one person by another, provided, of course, as St. Paul stressed to Philemon of Onesimus, the relationship affirmed the eternal moral worth of the bonded servant and fulfilled the obligations of Christian charity.
In a contrast to slavery in the American South as total as it is stark, abortion-on-demand today is the practice of a people bereft of tradition, disinterested in even social — let alone biblical — constraint, and committed to the very notion of unrestrained individualism made inevitable by the political and social consequences of the Yankee conquest in 1865.
Ironically for Botti, then, it was the very principle of Federal power in the name of “Union,” which in 1861-1865 destroyed Southern civilization and overwhelmed the sovereignty of the states, that more recently, in Roe v. Wade, struck down states’ laws against abortion. Contrary to his glib assertions, those who resisted Federal force in 1861, however imperfect their quest of Christian civilization, waged with arms the war he espouses only with words. Thus it was that, in 1866, a year after Appomattox, the eminent English historian Lord Acton wrote to Robert E. Lee, the defeated former commander of the Confederate armies of Virginia: “I believed that the example of that great [Confederate] reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.” Lord Acton, as so many “Southern sympathizers,” was a Catholic.
Not ’til Christians of all sections, whether Catholic or Protestant, and whether white or black — or Hispanic or Asian — rediscover the virtues of Southern life and conviction as they actually, historically, existed will there be possible the unity of historical understanding and Christian brotherhood necessary for adequately addressing the grave questions of a proper moral order in our national life. For only in this unity would it be possible to discredit the ideologies to which Botti no doubt means to allude, ideologies that, victorious in 1865 and triumphant through all realms of American life in the decades since, are nowhere more manifest — as the might of a national regime that will countenance no dissent on the part of the people or the states — than in the various abortion-related rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.
David A. Bovenizer
Our Lady's Chapel
Theft Begets Terror
The article by David Stolinsky, “‘Except Jews'” (Oct.), contained many facts about the Jewish people and their Middle Eastern experience. However, he did not adequately treat one item. How did Israel acquire Palestinian lands and homes? Was it by conquest or by proper adjudication? The Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this past spring that the theft of Palestinian property is the basic provocation in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
For those not too blind to see, there is a relationship between the U.S. support of only one side, Israel, and the terror that struck us on September 11. Let’s heal this festering sore!
Anthony D. Lutz
Stolinsky’s article detailing Jewish grievances was painful to read. But I’m sure an Arab writer could come up with a list of grievances that would also be painful to read.
After the Second World War, we, the victors, laid the groundwork for the crisis between Arabs and Jews when we carved out a section of Palestine to create the State of Israel. That’s just what the English did over 200 years ago when they carved out a section of Ireland to create Northern Ireland. Are Americans prepared to oversee, like the English, a continuing state of war, this time between Arab and Jew, for at least that long, and a thousand times more deadly and ten thousand times more expensive?
San Francisco, California
I take issue with Stolinsky’s claim that winning wars automatically entitled Israel to “rights normally accorded to victors.” The defeated Palestinians had lived in Palestine before the U.N. partition plan. They were victims of Israel’s wars.
The United Nations Palestine Partition Plan, U.N. Resolution 181, was approved on November 29, 1947 by a majority of countries, including the U.S. It created two states, Palestine and Israel, with East Jerusalem to be under Christian/Muslim control.
In the war of 1948 Israel took 78 percent of Palestinian land. Those Palestinian Muslims and Christians have been under Israel’s yoke ever since. Those Palestinians have had their homes destroyed and replaced with homes for Jews. Palestinians have no freedom of movement, as everywhere they wish to travel they are stopped at Israeli checkpoints. There are now millions of Palestinians in refugee camps in occupied territories. This kind of treatment of victims of occupation was never envisioned by the U.N.
Thomas A. Mullaney
I would compare the conflict between Israel and the Arabs with the conflict between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir, where a Muslim majority is dominated by a Hindu minority while Pakistan supports its co-religionists but India keeps control. In Israel the Jewish forces exercise control while the Palestinians revolt and seek assistance from supporters in the greater Arab world, mostly in the form of propaganda.
As for the Jewish victories in war cited by Stolinsky, they would not have been possible without the massive shipment of American armaments to Israel (except for the original 1948 clash).
Stolinsky poses the question, Why should the refugee status of one group have greater longevity and validity than that of another group? The answer is that for many, many centuries the Palestinians lived in the land of Palestine.
Because of the guilt feelings of the Allied powers — due to their lack of support for Jews trying to escape the Nazi terror machine — Israel suddenly became a nation. One fell swoop of the pen gave diaspora Jews a nation, but not their nation — rather, someone else’s.
Stolinsky’s portrayal of Israel as an oppressed victim of a worldwide anti-Semitic conspiracy and discriminatory treatment among nations is laughable to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the facts. It is an example of a Jewish persecution complex which, however understandable historically, has little to do with present-day Israel.
Stolinsky claims that the world imposes special restrictive rules on Israel, not applicable to other nations. In fact, he stands the truth on its head. Israel claims that special permissive rules apply to itself and they are used to justify outrageous actions which would be condemned if done by others. Just as a starter, these include open legal discrimination against non-Jews. Israel is also the only nation in the world which does not officially define its borders. There is a reason for this. Israel has expansionist designs on the territory of its neighbors.
Stolinsky’s piece contains glaring omissions.
– Israel is the third or fourth most powerful military power in the world and it uses its power daily to suppress those without such power — Palestinians, Lebanese, and others. Israel is in no danger from its neighbors (as is widely recognized in Israel but not by American Jews such as Stolinsky), but is a constant threat to those neighbors.
– Israel has been repeatedly condemned for aggressive and oppressive actions by the world community, and Israel has been supported in this by the U.S., which provides military support for these actions and huge financial aid, dwarfing anything in U.S. history. This support has isolated the U.S. in the world community more than once, most recently when the U.S. vetoed a U.N. resolution calling for peace monitors in the Palestinian crisis. Israel is not the poor victim portrayed by Stolinsky’s fevered Zionist views. Israel is the very definition of a rogue state.
Stolinsky makes many incorrect statements:
– Israel has not turned over 90 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians. It has sought to create a Bantustan situation there, hemming Palestinians in with “checkpoints” and “security roads,” keeping the Palestinians in a state of permanent subjugation and humiliation in the hopes that they will leave. During the so-called peace process, Israel has continued to seize land from Palestinians and expand the illegal “settlements.” It is ludicrous to claim that the Israelis are under siege by the victims, as they have done. The present intifada is an act of desperation by a people with nothing more to lose.
– The notion that Israel is entitled to keep land held as a result of war is the law of the jungle, long repudiated by civilized nations and contrary to all international rules painfully worked out over many years. Stolinsky apparently sees these rules as not applicable to Israel. I’ll credit him with one thing, however, he didn’t say that God ordained this. Many other Jews do. And it is very effective among some ill-informed Christians.
– Planting one’s nationals in occupied territory is clearly and specifically a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and this principle is accepted by every nation in the world, including the U.S. This is not mentioned by Stolinsky. He also portrays these “settlers” as peaceful sojourners, but the reality is that they are heavily armed bullies who terrorize Palestinians and are supported by the occupying Israeli military.
– The idea that Israel is entitled to “select” Jerusalem as its capital to the exclusion of the Palestinians is again contrary to international law. Stolinsky’s repeated reference to the “Temple Mount” as the former site of the Jewish Temple and his ignoring the very real Dome of the Rock, sacred to Muslims, which is now on the site, reveals an extreme bias, sadly common among American Jews. And Sharon didn’t make a peaceful “visit” there to say a few prayers. He intended a provocative demonstration and was accompanied by 1,000 Israeli police sent by Barak.
The article contains many other examples of blind Zionist distortions, but I don’t want to extend this letter.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Eugene Hoyas’s “Brief, Air-Tight Argument Against Abortion” (Sept.) is, in spite of its good intentions, likely to bring the cause in whose favor it argues into some disrepute. It presents itself as a simple, accurate statement of embryological facts, but in one important respect is significantly incomplete and therefore, given its avowed purpose, also inaccurate.
Hoyas argues that the developing fetus is biologically human, and therefore also a human being and a human person, from the moment of fertilization. But this isn’t correct. The fertilized egg during the first few days of its existence, before implantation in the wall of the uterus, has the interesting property of being able to divide into two genetically identical individuals. This happens rather rarely, of course; when it does, we have identical twins. But that it can happen at all is germane to Hoyas’s essay, since he runs together the concepts “human organism” and “human being,” while the mentioned embryological fact suggests instead that there are at least two kinds of human organisms: those capable of dividing into two human beings, and those not so capable. (Other interesting things can happen to blastocysts before uterine implantation, but this single well-known example serves to make my point.)
Should we call the zygote-blastocyst during the first week or two of life a human being or a human person? Not on Hoyas’s understanding of either term, for he seems to think that both require individuality, and this property is called into question by the capacity to twin.
What does this mean for the Church’s teaching on abortion (a teaching whose substance I fully endorse)? I’m not sure. But it doesn’t help that teaching to have relevant embryological facts distorted or omitted by its defenders.
Paul J. Griffiths
New Campuses Springing Up
This is a response to the fine article by Marian E. Crowe, “Let’s Abolish Most Catholic Colleges and Universities” (June). I wonder if Prof. Crowe and other readers of the NOR know how many small Catholic liberal arts institutions are springing up precisely because of the problems of secularization in some of the famous large ones.
I am currently spending what were to be my retirement years as a professor of philosophy at Our Lady of Corpus Christi, an undergraduate Catholic liberal arts program. With the encouragement of Christus Magister, designed to support small Catholic colleges loyal to the Magisterium, we are striving to develop curricula that combine a great books emphasis with spiritual formation of students who will become, with God’s grace, the evangelizers of the third millennium. Founded by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, our courses hand down perennial wisdom and culture with strong majors in theology, philosophy, and English. Our spirituality combines strong Eucharistic devotion with the classical Catholic wisdom of the saints and papal documents; it is devotional but also expansive and social justice minded. We’re a lot like the NOR. As a bonus we are situated ten minutes from the gulf beach so that our students get to enjoy swimming and boating throughout the winter months. For more information, call 361-289-9095.
About Christus Magister institutions, call Dr. Nicholas Healy, President of Ave Maria College, at 734-337-4255.
Prof. Ronda Chervin
Chester, New Jersey
Not the Magisterium, But the Holy Spirit
If I were to summarize Thomas Storck’s article on C.S. Lewis, “Is There Such a Thing as ‘Mere Christianity’?” (Jul.-Aug.) in a single word, I would say it was about the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Catholic Church). Storck’s thesis is that in matters of theology the Catholic Church has the final word on what is right and true. Reading Scripture alone is not sufficient, since the Catholic Church is the only provider of authentic interpretation of the Bible. This position is articulated in #85 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).
Readers of the NOR who have spent significant time talking with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints know that a magisterium is not unique to the Catholic Church. The LDS church also holds that it is the only authority. Furthermore, its president, who holds the office of Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, is infallible when it comes to pronouncements on church matters. Taken within its own frame of reference, the system works. However, you cannot honestly read the Bible (or the Book of Mormon, for that matter) and derive the LDS church.
Both the Mormon and Catholic systems purport to be the authority when it comes to matters of faith. They can both be wrong, but no more than one of them can be right. The problem now becomes, how does one resolve two mutually exclusive points of view?
The answer is in the Bible. However, first I would like to examine the doctrine of “eternal security” cited in Storck’s article, since he identifies it as a point of contention between Catholics and Protestants. It is an area that is unfortunately misunderstood by many of my fellow Protestants.
In Catholic theology, one must be infused with saving grace. This occurs first at Baptism (CCC #1279), when one attains a “state of grace.” Sins are forgiven, including Original Sin, with which we are born. However, the tendency toward sin remains (CCC #405) and one must co-operate with this grace to keep it (CCC #2002, #2008, and #2010). Initial grace belongs to God but depends upon man later to keep it. Failure to keep it results in mortal sin, which kills saving grace (CCC #1861) and reverts man to his unregenerate state. Saving grace can then be restored by the sacrament of Penance (CCC #1422).
The effectiveness of the sacraments depends upon the disposition of the recipient (CCC #1128), which is a matter of faith. Grace is transmitted by acts performed (ex opere operato). Salvation therefore is a matter of faith and works. However, Canon XXIV of the Council of Trent explicitly states that saving works are not to be taken as the fruits of faith.
This is to be contrasted with the Reformed view, where salvation is a supernatural act from beginning to end. Man comes into the world already stained by Original Sin (Rom. 3:23) and condemned (Rom. 6:23). Salvation is by grace, through faith, and not a matter of works (Eph. 2:8-9), otherwise we could boast of being good enough for God to save us. If any part of it is merited, we have earned it and it is no longer grace. Man simply cannot do anything good without God’s grace (Jer. 17:9, Rom. 3:11, Heb. 11:6). God provides the means and the desire (Phil. 2:12-13; Thomas Aquinas’s take on this is in CCC #155 — he was a Calvinist when it came to grace!). God bestows His grace on whomever He pleases (Eph. 1:5), and sustains it (Jn. 6:37, Rom. 8:30-39).
A common criticism of Protestants by Catholics (including some former Protestant ministers who really ought to know better) is that we believe works play no role whatsoever in salvation. Yet faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:17) and works are even presented as evidence for judgment (Mt. 25:32-46). A saving faith must produce works or it is nonexistent. However, it is faith that produces works (Eph. 2:10).
So again how does one reconcile mutually exclusive concepts when it comes to matters of faith? Paul answers this question in 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. To know God one must have His Holy Spirit within him. One must know the Scriptures to know the Savior (CCC #133). Only a person indwelt the Holy Spirit can have the mind of Christ. Only then can one begin to understand what the Scriptures have to say about God.
Thomas J. Kunsitis
New Bedford, Massachusetts
I was not surprised that Peter Kreeft should have asked you (letter, Jul.-Aug.) to go easy on Balthasar’s champion, Fr. Neuhaus. I am a great admirer of Kreeft and an avid reader of his books, in which he invariably displays brilliant insights, philosophical soundness, and solid balance in explaining and defending the Catholic Faith.
I was, therefore, most surprised — and dismayed — to read Kreeft’s gratuitous sideswipe at the poor old weary Wanderer, which takes more than its share of contemptuous treatment from the arrogant intelligentsia of Amchurch, who not only would not be seen dead reading it, but effectually block its entry into most of the “Catholic” parishes, schools, rectories, and convents in America. Most of us who read it know that it is a hard-hitting, no-nonsense purveyor of Catholic news, good and bad, and does not back down in the face of the enemy. Just like the NOR. It is ironic that Prof. Kreeft should strike this low blow in an otherwise excellent letter asking all defenders of the faith to refrain from doing just that.
Fr. James P. O'Kielty
San Francisco, California
No Hell, No Vocation
Your July-August issue, which had quite a bit on universal salvation and Hell, interested me personally. Let me explain.
When I came home from the Second World War, where I saw combat in the Pacific, my dear mother urged me to read a book on Fatima. I wasn’t particularly interested in religious reading at that time. But good mothers are noted for not giving up easily. Out of love for her I read the paperback More About Fatima. God’s grace and Mary’s intervention did the rest. At the time, I was going to church on Sundays, but for the rest of the week I hardly recognized God’s existence. I was really a typical secularist. Well, the book converted me from being a nominal Catholic to a committed one. I eventually entered religious life — over 50 years ago. And I am still a Franciscan Brother-Friar — now with a renewal group, the Franciscans of the Immaculata.
Obviously, the book had a great impact on me. One part of the book that greatly impressed me was the vision of Hell that Our Blessed Mother showed three little children (ages 7 to 10).
Why did Mary show a graphic scene of the souls of the damned in Hell, tormented by devils in repellent, strange animal forms? Was it to scare them? Indeed, they were petrified with fear. If they had not been assured by the beautiful Lady from Heaven that they would some day be with her in Heaven, they would have died of fright.
The Fatima apparitions were of a universal nature. They were more than just “private” revelations. I personally got the message. I had little understanding, much less love, of God at the time, but I did know intuitively that there would be a day of reckoning some day. Like many sinners my age, I was not motivated at the time by love of God, but by fear of eternal damnation. That’s what got to me.
It was the first time that I realized “Hell” was more than just a word that was not used casually in polite company. It actually exists, and I was doing little to avoid it. How many other sinners got the message of Fatima and converted to a more sensible way of life, putting their priorities in order? Our Lady gave her own specific reason when she exhorted the children to a life of prayer and penance. “Behold, you have seen the place where poor sinners go…. Many souls go to hell because there is no one to offer sacrifice and pray for them.” Little seven-year-old Jacinta got the message. She kept asking the other two seers, “You mean to say that hell never ends?” From that time on the little apostle offered many sacrifices and prayers so that sinners would not be lost. Nothing was too small or too hard for her in her zeal for saving poor souls from going to that very real place of eternal damnation that she saw.
No doubt, Jacinta and her brother, Francisco, who were recently beatified, would strongly object to Fr. Neuhaus’s contention that the purpose of evangelization is merely to bring others into fellowship with Christians. Would that more theologians had the simplicity of “little children,” for “from such as these is the kingdom of Heaven.” Pope John Paul II certainly subscribes to Jacinta and Francisco’s understanding of that place of eternal retribution. Otherwise, how to explain his beatifying the two saintly seers?
St. Thérèse of the Holy Face and Child Jesus, recently honored as a Doctor of the Church by the Pope, had no trouble accepting the Church’s time-honored belief in Hell and the need to save souls from eternal damnation. As the co-patroness of the Missions, along with St. Francis Xavier, nothing was too great or too small to offer up to Jesus for the salvation of souls. One will never find a canonized saint of the Catholic Church, much less a Doctor of the Church, subscribing to the error of universal salvation. If he did, he would be immediately disqualified from canonization.
Similar to the false belief that all are saved is the theory of the “anonymous Christian” promulgated by Karl Rahner. He held that all, though un-baptized, were in some way already Christians. That and “universal salvation” have contributed greatly to the tragic collapse of missionary vocations in our day, for obvious reasons.
Sincerely yours in the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Bro. Francis Mary Kalvelage
There has been considerable controversy over universal salvation in your pages. Given your opposition to universal salvation, would you please explain these passages of Scripture: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22), and “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
Neither verse supports universal salvation. As for 1 Corinthians 15:22: All who are in Christ shall be made alive. That is clear from verse 18, where we see that St. Paul’s statement (in v. 22) refers to “those…who have fallen asleep in Christ.” It is also clear from the way Paul opens chapter 15: “Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel…by which you are saved, if you hold fast to it…” (vv. 1-2; italics added).
As for John 1:29: On the cross the Lamb of God died for the sins of all mankind, not just the elect (as Calvinists and Jansenists claim). But it is venerable Catholic teaching that while Christ redeemed all mankind from Adam’s sin on the cross, He saves only those who choose to co-operate with His grace, who accept the redemption won on the cross. To believe that, on the cross, Christ obliterated everyone’s sin for all time, you’d have to believe that ultimately we don’t have free will (that everyone is predestined to go to Heaven) and that all the talk about Hell and the urgent need to repent found in the New Testament is pointless and mischievous deception. Moreover, at Mass we have the Agnus Dei: “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world” (taken from Jn. 1:29), twice followed by “have mercy on us.” If all our sins were expunged on the cross, we’d have no need to beg for mercy — or to, as Paul says, “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling…” (Phil. 2:12).
I’m trying to talk about your attitude toward Our Sunday Visitor without using the phrase “smear campaign.” Oops!
The first New Oxford Note in your September issue, “Liturgical Pacifism,” accuses Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) of “crying ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace” and of disparaging the “‘carping extremists’ who seek to re-sacralize the liturgy.” OSV, you say, is made “queasy” by the thought of Liturgiam Authenticam being enforced, the implication being that if it has to make a choice, it will quail cravenly to the side of those “who seek to (further) pedestrianize the liturgy.”
Truly, a stirring call to arms and a righteously indignant protest. There’s just one problem: I read the editorial. It doesn’t say that. What it says is that it’s “a bitter irony…that one of the most divisive [issues in the Church] is the liturgy itself.” It says that many Catholics are tired of the liturgical wars and want only to “come to Mass and weekly draw closer to the Lord.” The editorialist hails Liturgiam Authenticam as a possible end to liturgical experimentation and argument. He praises the Vatican for “emphasizing fidelity to the Latin texts” and “less use of gender-neutral language.” The only thing he does not like about Liturgiam Authenticam is that those whose pet liturgical innovations have been ruled against will probably just keep arguing that the document has to be interpreted differently.
Moving along to the next New Oxford Note, “Pacifying Men & Boys,” we find that OSV printed an even more nefarious column in the very same issue. The column’s author, Ron Seigel, apparently attacked “masculine malignity” and asserted that “the woes of the world are due to the male chauvinist pigs.” Seigel, we’re told, wants men to “embrace feminine traits” — and, it’s implied, complete their slide into neuterdom and effeminacy.
A shocking column indeed. I picked up my copy of OSV so I could see it firsthand. Seigel says that our culture makes boys ashamed of any traits perceived as feminine. “This in itself may not necessarily be a bad thing,” he says. But “many of the traits boys scorn as feminine are basic Judeo-Christian values. One of them is abstinence.” Other rejected traits are “caring and love.”
Abstinence, caring, and love. You’d never guess that those were the path to perdition. Thank goodness we’ve got the NEW OXFORD REVIEW to tell us these things.
I have been an enthusiastic reader of the NOR for years, and I was as disappointed as anyone when OSV refused to print your ads. However, that was years ago, and I think it’s time for you to lighten up.
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
We did not say that Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) is made queasy by the thought of Liturgiam Authenticam (LA) being enforced. We said OSV is made queasy by the thought of quarreling over how LA is to be interpreted. We quoted OSV’s words: “Unfortunately, the controversies may continue as various groups fight over the interpretations” of LA, with OSV adding that this would be “an unfortunate waste of time” and “a distraction.” And, as you should be able to see, OSV referred to “various groups,” not just liturgical innovators. Those “various groups” were earlier identified in the OSV editorial as “carping extremists,” including both those who seek to further pedestrianize the liturgy and those who wish to re-sacralize it.
We never implied that OSV would side with those who seek to further pedestrianize the liturgy, for OSV identified itself with those in “the middle,” those in between the “carping extremists.” OSV listed four items that LA calls for, saying that they are “generally positive developments,” but without actually endorsing fidelity to Latin texts or less so-called inclusive language.
We do agree with you that OSV cheered LA as “a possible end to liturgical…argument.” Indeed, that was our point! OSV wrote that LA indicates that “the Vatican has had enough with the incessant carping and crowing” over the liturgy and is “ready to call an end to the altar wars.” But it was also our point that LA is not a liturgical cease-fire; rather, it is a major counter-attack in the liturgical wars, and everything hangs on how it is interpreted and enforced. Over the years we’ve seen the Holy See issue splendid documents intended to correct problems, only to be interpreted and “nuanced” into oblivion in diocese after diocese. No, the “altar wars” are far from over; actually they’re becoming more intense. Contrary to OSV, this is no time to raise the white flag.
As for Ron Seigel’s column: Hey, we too are for caring, love, and teenage sexual abstinence. But the weird thing was that Seigel felt the need to identify those qualities as feminine. We do question the wisdom of trying to sell Judeo-Christian values to males in the name of effeminacy.
Not only did OSV and all its sister publications refuse to print our signature ads “year ago,” but they still refuse to print them. We trust you have already written the OSV corporation to ask them to “lighten up.”
As for our alleged smear campaign: Please see the review of Russell Shaw’s book Papal Primacy in the Third Millennium, published by OSV, in this issue. The review is overwhelmingly positive, as have been other of our reviews of certain OSV titles after the OSV corporation banned our ads.
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