I would like to clarify a minor fact W. Patrick Cunningham presented in his excellent article “The Supreme Court’s Clear Trajectory of Falsehood” (Oct.). It is my understanding that California legalized abortion when the Therapeutic Abortion Act of 1967 was passed by the state legislatures and signed into law by Republican Governor Ronald Reagan. That would make California the first state to legalize abortion, Hawaii the second, and New York the third — not Hawaii the first and New York the second, as Cunningham writes.
I always look forward to reading your fine magazine, and articles like Deacon Cunningham’s are the reason why.
Professor of Psychiatry, New York Medical College
Morro Bay, California
Ed. Note: The statement in question in Deacon Cunningham’s article reads, “In 1970 New York became the second state to legalize abortion (Hawaii was first).” It should have read, “In 1970 New York became the second state to legalize abortion on demand (Hawaii was first).” The inaccuracy stems from editorial changes to Cunningham’s original manuscript.
In actual fact, in April 1967, Colorado became the first state to decriminalize abortion in certain cases (rape, incest, and permanent physical disability of the mother). Shortly thereafter, North Carolina (May 1967) and California (June 1967) approved similar measures.
In 1970 New York became the first state to legalize abortion on demand through 24 weeks (“on demand” meaning at the discretion of the mother). Earlier, Hawaii had legalized abortion on demand through 20 weeks, but for state residents only. Alaska and Washington were the next states to follow suit.
By the time the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand across the nation in 1973, a total of 20 states had liberalized their abortion laws and several others were poised to do the same. Since then, some 58 million American children have died at the hands of abortionists operating under the protection of U.S. law.
Terence J. Hughes
Fort Pierre, South Dakota
The Supreme Court's Full-Nudal Effrontery
W. Patrick Cunningham’s article reinforces a suspicion I’ve had for some time concerning the six Catholics on the Supreme Court and how they vote, especially Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy.
We all know that a Democratic president will nominate only judges who are mindlessly pro-abortion and therefore impervious to legal arguments. Republican presidents prefer judges who interpret the U.S. Constitution strictly, and they have appointed six of the nine justices now on the Court. So why is the Court not only pro-abortion since 1973 but also now pro-sodomy?
Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, all Catholics nominated by Republican presidents, support jurisprudence based on the natural law as taught by the Catholic Church for millennia and which guided Thomas Jefferson when he penned the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration is listed first in the U.S. Code of Federal Statutory Law, and our Constitution was drafted to protect it.
Sonia Sotomayor, a Catholic nominated by Barack Obama, is openly pro-abortion. She joined Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan, all pro-abortion Jews nominated by pro-abortion Democratic presidents. These nominations exposed the Court to four-to-four tie votes on moral issues, leaving one justice to cast the tie-breaking vote.
When it comes to moral issues, the latter four justices embrace a jurisprudence based on the creed of liberal (“Anything we say goes!”) progressive (“Ban the Bible!”) Darwinism (“Survival of the fittest: us!”), which proclaims “convenience” as the only basis for jurisprudence, especially rulings legalizing abortion and sodomy that attack life and the family. They have abandoned the Ten Commandments and the Eight Beatitudes, so they no longer distinguish right from wrong.
To accomplish this transformation, Roberts and Kennedy have become a tag team. As Catholics nominated by Republican presidents, they take turns providing the fifth vote that sides with the four justices who routinely advance the culture of death. With Kennedy it began with Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which upheld the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton rulings (1973) that legalized abortion. Writing for the majority, Kennedy upheld these murderous rulings, saying, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Never mind that abortion snuffs out human life, so the human victims can’t define liberty or anything else.
Next it was Roberts’s turn to provide the decisive fifth vote in National Association of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius (2012). Writing for the majority, Roberts claimed that Obama’s Affordable Care Act was a tax, and Congress has the right to impose taxes. Never mind that Obama and his lawyers insisted it wasn’t a tax. Roberts knew that Obamacare forced members of his own Catholic Church to pay for contraceptives, abortions, and sterilizations, beginning with the Little Sisters of the Poor, who take care of elderly infirm people and are now being prosecuted by the Obama administration.
When Kennedy and Roberts really want to make a statement reaffirming the culture of death, they vote together to get a six-to-three vote, as they did in upholding Obamacare in King v. Burwell (2015), endorsing all its anti-life and anti-Catholic regulations that were being illegally imposed by the Obama administration (in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution).
Roberts tagged Kennedy to do the next dirty work, giving homosexual sodomy the same legal standing as conjugal marriage with a five-to-four ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). Lower courts had already made similar rulings and were using them to persecute Christians who didn’t want to provide services for same-sex weddings. Also targeted was Kim Davis, a county official in Kentucky who objected as a Christian to signing marriage licenses for homosexuals.
Lawyers for Obama’s Justice Department said that all government employees, as well as Christian institutions, private businesses, and all their employees, could expect similar treatment. This included all Catholic parishes, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, and charitable organizations if they “discriminated” against hiring homosexuals.
These rulings promoting abortion and sodomy have two things in common. First, far fewer children are born, saddling the drastically depleted next generation with crushing debt and gigantic medical costs, including caring for aging and infirm parents who have aborted 58 million of their brothers and sisters. Second, the institutions of marriage and the family are rendered meaningless. This leaves only state power in control of our lives. Both have long-term consequences that ultimately destroy society and our nation.
The Roberts-Kennedy tag team is responsible for this. They think that, by taking turns providing the tie-breaking vote that advances the culture of death, they have a fig leaf that hides their full-nudal effrontery and keeps them in good standing with the Catholic Church.
It doesn’t matter to them that their anti-Catholic/anti-life/anti-family bigotry spills over onto every Christian who holds traditional views regarding the evils of abortion and sodomy, and the virtues of marriage and family.
I know this sounds extreme, but what other explanation is there? Look around. The zealots promoting abortion and sodomy are top-heavy with disgruntled “Catholics” who have a personal axe to grind with the Church. We see them in Congress, the media, academia, entertainment, everywhere, even within the Church. They include cardinal archbishops who were very active in the Synod on the Family. They wanted to subvert Church teachings on marriage, the family, sodomy, and abortion, telling us they are “nicer than Jesus” and deserve our support. Bl. Pope Paul VI was truly prophetic a half-century ago when he said the “smoke of Satan” had entered the Church.
Gaylord Memorial Library
Opting Out of Civil Marriage
Your New Oxford Note “Action Speaks Louder” (Sept.) addresses the basic question of how the U.S. bishops should respond to the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage. “Are words enough?” you ask. “How effective are high-minded articulations in our image- and soundbite-oriented society?” The rest of the Note discusses the “great exorcism” of Mexico performed by the bishops of that nation, offering it as one of the “other means” besides words at the disposal of the U.S. bishops. I certainly hope that our bishops consider chasing this evil from our society, but there are other ways to lead the flock away from this treachery.
Ever since the State of Maryland bought into this redefinition of marriage, my wife and I have discussed the idea of getting a civil divorce. Marriage as it is defined today is not the same marriage as it was defined 40 years ago when we wed. Why don’t our bishops put their collective foot down and refuse to comply with the requirement of a state license for a couple to receive one of the seven sacraments (matrimony)? I know of one Protestant minister who will not marry a couple in possession of a marriage license.
Why don’t our bishops spend Church resources to enable faithful married couples like us to flee this civil sham? None of the other sacraments requires a license from the state.
Actions do speak louder than words, and we must pray for action from our leaders.
Richard E. Gallagher, M.D.
Valhalla, New York
Ed. Note: We argued in favor of the Church uncoupling the sacrament of matrimony from civil marriage in “The Future of Marriage in America” (New Oxford Note, April 2012). Again using Mexico as a salutary example, we wrote that the U.S. Church must “safeguard the sacrament from any stain of association with its creaky, croaking secular counterpart,” and mere words aren’t sufficient to get this done. We suggested that if the Church were to “follow the Mexican model and require couples to seek a civil marriage [not a marriage license] before they are allowed an ecclesiastical wedding,” it might have the effect of distinguishing the permanent spiritual nature of Christian matrimony from the temporal legal aspects of civil marriage, especially among “the current generation of uncatechized American Catholics” who are of marrying age.
The Devil Is in the Distinctions
I’d like to add a few clarifying comments to the editor’s wise reply to Gerald Benton’s letter (“Measuring Possession,” Oct.) about my article “True & False Possessions, Revisited” (May). I commend Mr. Benton’s thoughtfulness and courage in speaking out about the faith during his prison term. From his vantage there, he offers many sound observations and reflections about human evil and evildoers. It remains important, however, to draw a few sharp distinctions, long stressed by theologians and experts in this tricky area.
“Possession” should not be too easily “diagnosed,” officially or not. Over-ascribing its presence carries many dangers, as history well attests, especially among fundamentalists. There are many evil people in the world, some spectacularly so, not a trivial number of whom even turn to the Devil for worship or putative assistance. As Catholics, we certainly believe in the possibility, even inevitability, of demonic influence upon such people, but that does not mean they are “possessed.” The condition of formal possession implies at a minimum that a demon has a strong enough hold on a person to override his free will, at least at times, and even to submerge his consciousness. Much evil, even great depravity, comes from the misuse of an individual’s free will and does not necessitate positing a “demonic” cause (the dubious argument that “the devil made me do it”).
The traditional criteria, so often mentioned in scholarly treatments of the subject, and noted in the venerable Roman Ritual, are helpful, but in themselves are partial and suggestive. Levitation itself, not specifically mentioned in the Ritual, is extremely rare indeed, and has even been exhibited by saints! As a criterion by itself, it is obvious, therefore, that it (and many other single signs) would be unhelpful as a proof or even a prime indicator of a possession. In fact, no single set of the highly varied signs — even speaking in foreign languages, for instance, though not uncommon in true possessions — suffices for the diagnosis; the overall pattern is what is critical.
There are possessions in which demons will “lay low” in some instances (the oft-labeled “hidden type”), at least until challenged. Rare, too, are the so-called perfect possessions, as the editor notes, which occur without much in the way of obvious signs or “traditional” features. These are often hard (or even impossible) to discern, and we cannot just freely assign these states to evil individuals without caution and theologically sound criteria, too, again to avoid the unfortunate excesses in this area over the millennia.
Finally, as the editor concludes, the safest course is to “tread carefully when we attribute demonic activity to others,” as the Church strongly advises. It is with good reason that official manuals recommend great prudence, extensive knowledge, and sobriety in attempting to discern a real possession, and only after conducting a careful evaluation (with medical input, if needed). The Gospel examples are not very detailed (and discerned by our Lord Himself!), but we do know that down the centuries the wisest churchmen have always tried to observe careful criteria in their assessments, however difficult or variegated these often are.
San Gabriel, California
A Sick Inversion
Regarding your New Oxford Note “What Goes on Inside the Clinic” (Oct.): Those who are searching for the influence of Satan in the world don’t have far to look now, thanks to the undercover work of the Center for Medical Progress of exposing the underbelly of Planned Parenthood. The Center’s series of investigative videos show Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of aborted babies’ body parts. While fronting a face touting “women’s’ health,” Planned Parenthood “clinics” go about the grizzly work of the Evil One, becoming chop-shops hawking human remains.
When an apologist for Planned Parenthood was interviewed recently, she was repeatedly asked if it would be alright for her to abort a child one day before her due date. This front woman for the abortion giant kept repeating the mantra over and over, “It is my body.” Here the Devil shows his hand, for with a sick inversion he mocks the words of Christ, “This is My Body.” Indeed, inversion of the holy and beautiful into the perverted and filthy is Satan’s calling card; just look at what he did with the rainbow.
As Dr. Alice von Hildebrand declared, “Abortion is Satan’s greatest victory since original sin” (letter reply, May). Rest assured, Satan won’t give up his gains easily, for he is coiled around many in the highest levels of our government.
Every person who has a human heart should join the fray and do everything possible to bring about the demise of this evil organization. The rock covering Planned Parenthood has been turned over. The foul stench wafting up from the pit of Hell is overpowering, and all manner of filthy vermin being exposed to the light are scurrying for the darkness once more.
Mary Hyde Saunders
Flushing, New York
Live & Let Live: It's as Simple as That
Thanks to the readers who responded (letters, Oct.) to my letter (“Are Christians Really Marginalized?” Jul.-Aug.). While none of the responses contained a satisfactory answer to my original question, all raised interesting points.
First, to the several writers who cited instances of businesses harassed and hassled because their owners refuse to cater to or provide services for same-sex marriages: I agree with you completely that this is wrong. In my view, any business should have the absolute right to serve or not serve whomever it pleases, for any reason.
But long ago we as a nation accepted and agreed that businesses serving the public cannot arbitrarily discriminate against any segment of that public. (Remember the “lunch counter” wars of the civil-rights movement?) So if a Christian florist refuses to provide flowers for a lesbian wedding, that is his absolute right. I would hope, however, that all of you who cited such instances would agree that, say, a homosexual caterer would be equally justified in refusing to serve a Christian wedding, or for that matter, that a white supremacist florist could refuse to provide services for an African-American wedding.
Walter LaCon writes that “Christians’ freedom to practice their faith is being abrogated by government authorities.” Mr. LaCon, has any member of the government told you that you may not go to church, participate in prayer meetings, hold such activities in your house, meet with other believers, or any other such action? You are free to practice your faith, Mr. LaCon. What you cannot do is use that faith as an excuse for discriminatory actions in the conduct of your business with the public.
A reader who asks that his name be withheld, after going through the same litany of businesses being told not to discriminate against the LGBT community, argues that Christians do not seek to impose their unique views on everyone else. Really? What about all the laws that (used to) ban contraceptives, prohibit abortion, censor magazines and books, criminalize sodomy, restrict divorce, establish age of consent, and prohibit cohabitation, stigmatizing “out-of-wedlock” children? (We could go on for a long time here but I think the point is made.) Each of those laws was or is the result of Christians imposing their beliefs on the rest of us.
Donald Schenk writes that there is a “war on religion.” No, Mr. Schenk, there is no war on religion. You, like everyone else, are totally free to believe or not believe whatever you want. But there is a war against your ability to use your private beliefs to control my ability to live my life as I see fit.
Pamela Ahearn asks if I have ever been told by a Catholic or other Christian that I “must join their faith or they will behead [me], burn [me] alive, or drown [me] in a cage.” No, Ms. Ahearn, I have not. And neither have you or any other Christian. Again, the point is that you and I are (or should be) totally free to believe whatever we like. It is when people who have similar beliefs as you structure the civil law to reflect your private beliefs (again, see contraception, abortion, divorce, polygamy, etc.) that we part company, and that is why I say that Christians have imposed their beliefs on the rest of us.
Richard Giovanoni recommends that I read The Last Superstition by Edward Feser. I have, and I disagree with it entirely. Mr. Giovanoni, your use of the terms “evil” and “legalize error” just reinforce my point. Natural law and morality are beliefs, not truths. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, live your life your way, and stay out of mine!
Mike Acheson writes that it is almost impossible to explain belief to someone who doesn’t already believe in God. This proves my point. I do not believe in God — in any God — nor do I believe in the concept of sin. So while I don’t doubt Mr. Acheson’s sincerity, his beliefs are not a prescription for my conduct.
Noel Augustyn and James Harris both seem obsessed with homosexuality. Mr. Augustyn says that homosexuals do not extend the same tolerance to those who disapprove of their activities that they wish extended to themselves. Maybe so, but I have never heard of a homosexual business owner declining to serve straights, and none of the gay persons I know personally has ever harassed me because I am married to a woman. And finally, to Mr. Harris, I say, times have changed. People do have sex outside of marriage, and fewer than 50 percent of marriages result in a “lasting bond.”
The question that began this conversation is still unanswered: How have any of you had your freedom to practice your Christian faith abrogated by anyone else? It is only when you choose to use your faith as an excuse to influence or intervene in the lives of others that conflict arises. Live your lives your way, and extend to others the same right. It’s that simple.
David A. Devito
I was surprised to see that you actually printed three — three! — letters from readers announcing that they are canceling their subscriptions in response to what they call your “attacks” on Marcel Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X (“More than Disturbed,” Oct.). What an unusual thing to do!
I was so surprised that I decided that I, too, wanted to do something odd. Although my subscription does not expire until next year, I’ve enclosed a check extending my subscription for another two years.
Too much paper is delivered here, including too many fine publications to which I had subscribed. I must cut down, so I’ve let two subscriptions expire permanently — but not yours.
Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
Shameful & Evil
In response to the editor’s comparison of the excommunicated Marcel Lefebvre to the heretical Martin Luther (letter reply, Jul.-Aug.): Martin Luther’s theology is summed up in one of his axioms: tolle missam, tolle ecclesiam (take away the Mass, take away the Church). Martin Luther hated the Mass and the papacy. He declared the pope to be the Antichrist. His theology brought about wars and unrest in Europe that continue to this day. Millions of souls have been lost and continue to be lost throughout the world thanks to him. Martin Luther’s legacy is one of the true disasters of mankind. He was not a Christian; he was a populist whose ego has been the downfall of many.
Marcel Lefebvre was an archbishop who led Christ’s Church in darkest Africa for 20 years and was responsible for evangelization and the salvation of millions of souls. Thanks in part to his work, Africa has become one of the world’s strongest and most faithful bulwarks against the liberal establishment in Holy Mother Church. At no time did Lefebvre write or say anything against the papal office or any of our Holy Fathers. His differences developed out of the misuse of papal authority and the badly interpreted theology of Vatican II.
Marcel Lefebvre’s labors of love have been to preserve the faith of our fathers against reformers like Martin Luther. To place the names of the heretic Luther and the good priest Lefebvre under the same interdiction is both shameful and evil. The only thing these men have in common is their initials.
Col. Tilford W. Harp,
Bernalillo, New Mexico
As a fallen-away and returned Catholic, the editor’s labeling as schismatics those of us who attend the Masses of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) caused me considerable mental consternation. Marcel Lefebvre acted out of grave necessity for the salvation of souls (suprema lex salus animarum) when he consecrated bishops without papal approval. He did not abandon the Church; the Church abandoned him. The Vatican’s position vis-à-vis the SSPX boils down to a sad joke.
One Sunday while traveling, I was unable to find a Latin Mass, so I attended a Novus Ordo service (it doesn’t deserve the dignity of the word Mass). I observed several differences between the two rites: genuflections before entering a pew versus curt bows. Reverent silence with most people kneeling versus back-and-forth chitchat with most people sitting. Sacred music versus American bandstand. Lots of young couples with children versus a sea of grey-haired folks. Parishioners dressed in their best attire versus those dressed for a sporting event (with some women in shorts!). The sacrifice versus a meal. Solemnity with regard to the Host versus a host of “extraordinary eucharistic ministers.” Concluding prayers before the altar versus mass exodus.
As I reflected on these differences, Christ’s words came to me: “By their fruits you shall know them.” I feel that when I attend Mass in an SSPX chapel I am truly in God’s House, but when I attended the Novus Ordo shindig I was in God’s outhouse!
If any Catholics are schismatics, it is those poor souls who have fallen prey to the Novus Ordo. I’ll never waste my time at a Protestant-style service again!
Christine Quigley, Director
South Hadley, Massachusetts
Ed. Note: To be clear, we never stated that those who attend SSPX Masses are schismatics, or that the SSPX is currently in schism. We stated that Marcel Lefebvre’s illicit consecration of four bishops without papal approval constituted a schismatic act, that it was an “act of formal schism, according to official, verifiable Church sources” — sources that are readily available to the public. And we quoted Gerhard Cardinal Müller that though the “canonical excommunication for the illicit ordinations has been lifted from the bishops,” the “sacramental de facto excommunication for schism remains.” Who would know better than Cardinal Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?
Mr. Matteucci’s “excommunication” of the vast majority of mainstream Catholics, whom he calls “schismatics” for attending the Novus Ordo Mass (yes, it is in fact a Mass), sufficiently demonstrates why the radical traditionalist movement will never find resonance with the Church at large. Catholic means universal, and the Church has successfully integrated, and continues to integrate rites into her communion, most recently the Anglican Ordinariates. But the SSPX tends toward an exclusivity and elitism that are inimical to the nature and history of the Church.
Fascinating & Accurate
Stanley T. Grip Jr.’s article “The Story of MAC 68-218” (Oct.) is the most well-written and most accurate account I have ever read of the crash of the first sortie of Operation Babylift. Reading the article, even I was mesmerized by what would happen! It was truly a great read.
Ed. Note: Col. Harp was a co-pilot on the plane that crashed while carrying Vietnamese orphans out of the warzone to families waiting to adopt them.
Thanks to Stanley T. Grip Jr. for a well-written, fascinating account of the tragic flight of MAC 68-218. His sensitive treatment of the personal stories and reflections on the bravery and sacrifice of those involved made for a moving tribute to those who lost their lives.
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