Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: February 2005

February 2005

"You'll Never Get to Heaven With All That Money"

I was much surprised by Andrew Messaros’s article on Tom Monaghan (Sept.), as it was so self-serving and, also, contrary to all I have come to expect of your seriously and traditionally Catholic publication. If memory serves, a few years ago the politicians in Ypsilanti, Mich., refused permission for Ave Maria College to expand. Could that be one of the reasons Monaghan decided to move the college to Naples, Fla. — a more friendly environment? Clearly, Monaghan did not achieve such success in the business world by being a wimp who could be bowled over by a bunch of (perhaps anti-Catholic) politicians.

The same rationale would prevail with regard to Monaghan’s intent to insure that his investment to provide a truly Catholic alternative did not get taken over by such liberal “educators” as have destroyed almost all of the some 234 Catholic colleges in our country. Messaros’s insistence that Monaghan should just give away his money and allow those of Messaros’s persuasion to use it to their own ends has certainly contributed to the demise of Catholic education. A good Catholic neighbor of mine gave some $8 million to a Catholic college without knowing it had been subverted. I read my son’s theology textbook from that college after his graduation and came up with 43 citations of heresy, such as that there is virtually no such thing as mortal sin, casting doubt on the Resurrection, that witchcraft is good because it enhances women’s lib. My good friend and a co-worker of Fr. John Hardon’s in Eternal Life told me that Fr. Hardon, who sometimes accompanied Monaghan on his corporate jet, once told Monaghan, “Tom, you’ll never get to Heaven with all that money.” With or without such encouragement, Monaghan is clearly motivated to use his considerable resources to oppose the paganization of our society and to promote the salvation of souls by providing a Catholic alternative to the Modernist claptrap now generally sold to unsuspecting parents as Catholic education.

Howard V. Walsh

St. Anthony Parish

New Haven, Kentucky

Impatient With the Debate Over Ave Maria University

As the parents of eight children, we have read with growing impatience the debate in these pages between the critics and the advocates of Ave Maria University, because neither of them address what we see to be the real crisis in Catholic education: namely, young families’ fear of being unable to pay for their children’s college tuition.

If orthodox Catholic universities are seeking to form persons whose ideal is a Catholic family life, then their graduates will probably have large families, and the wives will probably want to stay at home. These families are not going to be in a position to pay outright for the college tuitions of their above-average number of children, even at the comparatively lower rates of Ave Maria University, Christendom College, Thomas Aquinas College, and the like. For example, Ave Maria’s website touts its annual college cost of about $17,000 as being lower than other universities, which it is, but that is still about $70,000 for four years. Assuming tuition increases seven percent a year, as it has recently, in 18 years the cost for a child born today will be in excess of $250,000. Multiply that by four, five, or more children, and you’ve got a huge economic incentive for a young married couple not to have a large family.

The traditional means of payment, such as need-based scholarships or college loans, are not options that encourage the formation of the individuals that these Catholic universities hope to produce. Need-based scholarships will not be available for the families who, by thrift and work, lift themselves into the middle class. Individuals who graduate with large college debt burdens will start their families at such a financial disadvantage that they will be tempted to limit the number of their children because of their concern over education costs.

It is a fundamental tenet of economics (and of childrearing!) that if you want to encourage behavior, you reward it. Therefore, if Ave Maria and the other orthodox Catholic colleges truly want to encourage Catholic families to be open to life, they should provide reduced tuition for large families. For example, the first and second children in a family could be charged the full rate, with sliding scale tuition reductions for succeeding children. This is similar to the old parochial school practice of charging reduced fees for subsequent children in a family, with one difference — the subsequent child tuition reduction should be available to a child regardless of where his older siblings went to college.

The advantages of such a system are many: First, of course, you reward and encourage those families who strive to follow the Church’s teaching on openness to life, and you have an effortless recruiting tool to bring them to your institution. Second, such a practice should be an asset when seeking donations from wealthy older Catholics, many of whom either came from large families or had large families themselves. Third, there should not be a huge financial burden on the universities, since, sadly, the number of families who would fall into such a category are likely to be few.

The number one comment we get from people when they hear of the number of children we have is, “But what about college?” If we could tell them that many good Catholic colleges offer significantly reduced tuition for families that have more than two or three children, maybe some of them would decide to have more children themselves.

When we first heard of Ave Maria University, we wrote to Fr. Joseph Fessio to express our concerns about the burdens of college tuitions on large families, but we never received a reply. Perhaps he and some of the Catholic college administrators who read this magazine can develop tuition programs to assist those families who are seeking to live the Catholic ideal, but who are economically disadvantaged compared to those of similar incomes who limit their childbearing. Without help from these institutions, their married graduates are unlikely to lead the abundant life they hope for them.

Tom & Jackie Lee

Dumpster School of Art

Vero Beach, Florida

The Funeral for Syncretistic Ecumenism

Regarding your New Oxford Note, “‘A Striking Rejection of Magisterial Teaching’?” (Jul.-Aug.): Thank you for conducting the funeral for syncretistic ecumenism. And thank you for pointing out that Pope John Paul II, in his Redemptor Hominis (1979), warned of the danger of following this route — i.e., the danger of indifferentism and confusion.

The Catholic movement is a one-on-one search for lost sheep. The prayer for a properly Catholic ecumenism is the traditional “Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” From this prayer we are inspired with sincere sorrow for all those good-hearted Protestants who are probably innocently deprived of the Sacraments that Jesus intends for them.

Receiving these Sacraments, we Catholics should be so much better than we are. Then our separated brethren would be attracted to the Manna of the New and Eternal Testament.

Fr. Terence M. Tobin, OFM Conv.

Mwinillinga, Zambia

A "Nice" Priest or A "Good" Priest?

Mitchell Kalpakgian, in his article “The Fault of Being Nice” (Dec.), has done a great service to Catholics by warning us about the insidious deception of “niceness.” I have seen too many people blindly follow priests and Church bureaucrats who peddle heresy, lies, and New Age twaddle because they thought that the priest or chancery-drone was “nice.” Here’s a “niceness” test that will reveal the true colors of such churchfolk: The next time you notice a deviation in the liturgy or hear dissent from the pulpit, politely mention it to the priest. See how “nicely” he responds. Better yet, the next time you see your bishop face to face at, say, a Confirmation ceremony, ask him to grant an indult Mass for your diocese. When he politely dismisses your request, remind him that the Pope has asked the bishops to be generous with the indult and that tradition is not to be just tolerated, but warmly accepted. He’ll lose his cool in public, guaranteed.

It is impossible to be a practicing Catholic in an age of abortion “rights,” homosexual appeasement, and clerical pederasty while being “nice” all the time. It’s easy to understand how Catholics have been so easily sold on “niceness” as the ultimate virtue, since priests no longer believe in spiritual combat. After all, struggling against sin is such a dirty business, when it would be so much “nicer” to co-operate with the Tempter. If we were “nicer” to abortion doctors, there would be no arrests in front of clinics. If we were nicer to homosexuals, they could have Catholic “weddings” too. If we were nicer to the pervert priests, we could have a more “inclusive” liturgy and our teenage sons would be readily available to satiate the desires of these poor, misunderstood clerics. I miss the days when we talked about a “good” priest rather than a “nice” priest. If anything raises my suspicions about a priest, it’s this red-flag phrase: “He’s so nice.”

Robert Kumpel

Valdosta, Georgia

Mitchell Kalpakgian’s article “The Fault of Being Nice” serves as an excellent examination of conscience! I’m saving it to remind myself that I am here to bring souls to Christ — including my own — and not to make other people comfortable and feel good about myself.

Marie LeClair

Charlotte, North Carolina

The Iraq War

Regarding the Editor’s Reply to the letter from the Army National Guardsman (Name Withheld) titled “The Radical Muslims Want to Destroy the Western World” (Dec.): Although a Bush supporter, I have come to feel that the Iraq venture was a mistake. How much of it was due to the conservative tendency to favor Israel, the Evangelical tendency to feel that Israel is fulfilling biblical prophecy (these people have no idea that the Church is the New Israeb| or to other factors, I don’t know.

Middle Eastern politics is highly ethnic and religious. The Christians in Iraq were pro-Saddam because he cultivated them (needing their support against the Kurds and the Shiites). So, prescinding from Just War theory, the Pope would be pre-disposed toward the views of the Catholics in Iraq. As in Iraq, the Baath Party in Syria allowed Antiochian Christians to set up shop in their country after having been run out of Turkey. In Lebanon, the Catholics (Maronites) are pro-Israeli while the Orthodox are pro-Palestinian.

Wally Spaulding

McLean, Virginia

As for your advice to the Army National Guardsman, you say: “If you’re so worried about the Muslims, go to them as a missionary. Convert them, don’t kill them.” But, sadly, the Vatican II Church no longer seeks converts. So what you wrote is out of date.

Edward L. Pugh

National City, California

Regarding your reply to the Army National Guardsman: I don’t know how old the Editor is, but I bet he is not 75 years old. I am. He says we Americans killed “innocent school children in our fire bombing of Dresden, our atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in Vietnam.” He is sadly mistaken. All history must be put into context. Our enemies were deliberately cruel beyond belief. As an American and a patriot, I must insist that these acts were necessary because they were the only way the aggressors could understand the horror they put upon the world.

I was in combat during the Korean conflict. Should we follow the teachings of the Master to turn the other cheek? I don’t think so. “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord,” and so it was.

George W. Bush is the most Christian president we have ever had. I back him to the hilt. In the Iraq war, we are not pawns of Israel and Sharon; rather, we are helping Israel find its rightful place in the world. The Jews are not perfect; there are extremists among them as there are in any group, but they do have an excuse, considering the Holocaust. On the other hand, Arab extremists are asking for it, and they are going to get it.

So what if we do expend blood for oil? What would happen to the economy of this country if we ran out of oil?

We need better Catholics. If a man fights for his country, and if he is an American, he is doing God’s work, because that is what Americans do.

J.W. McKernan

Carolina Shores, North Carolina

You are living proof that among those who profess orthodox Catholicism there are some who haven’t the brains God gave a fruit fly. In your reply to the Army National Guardsman, you have over-demonstrated your ignorance of American military history and revealed your private preference for attempting to entangle fiction with fact.

Yes, it is true that civilians are killed in war (duh!). If you weren’t such a flaming anal aperture you would realize that, unlike today’s war on terrorism, the Second World War was a declared war. As far as Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki are concerned, you might contrast those bombings with the London blitz or the rape of Nanking — if that isn’t too much of a strain for one of your limited capacity. You also state that “innocent civilians were intentionally targeted” in Vietnam. How did you come to believe that? Were you there? Were you then a member of the NSC or on the MACU Planning Staff, or were you an intern with Jane Fonda’s staff — or are you just the sorry, stupid son of a b- – -h you seem to be?

It’s unfortunate that public flogging is no longer in vogue because you would be a prime candidate for same. As it stands now, the best I (and a great number of us who were there) can hope for is to outlive you so that one day we might all go and piss on your grave.

Cancel my subscription.

John A.B. Riddiford, Lt. Col.,USA Ret.

State College, Pennsylvania

Your anti-American tirade in reply to the Army National Guardsman is the reason I will not be renewing my subscription. I will also be convincing as many others as I am able not to renew. I am also sending copies of this letter to the advertisers you have.

Thomas J. Flynn

Nutley, New Jersey

This is in response to the Editor’s Reply to the Army National Guardsman. In your reply, you said, “let’s tell the unvarnished truth — even as we are well aware that many of our readers don’t want to hear it.” You then proceed to outline the basis for your contention that the primary beneficiary of America’s war on Iraq is Israel, or more particularly Ariel Sharon and his Likud Party. Your reply was insightful, and I concur with your conclusions.

It may be that many NOR readers don’t want to hear the truth about this topic, but speaking for myself, let me assure you that your candor on this critical issue is much appreciated. I will continue to subscribe to the NOR for as long as the NOR continues to print the unvarnished truth.

[Name Withheld]

Manassas, Virginia

Your reply to the Army National Guardsman was a diatribe. It was disgusting and completely unwarranted. Cancel my subscription.

Capt. Mark G. Tremaine, USN Ret.

David City, Nebraska

I want to thank you for your splendid reply to the Army National Guardsman. You will probably get a bunch of cancelations and nasty letters. I’m sorry to say that a great many people, even orthodox Catholics, don’t want to hear the truth.

Albert C. Walsh

Peoria, Illinois


To Mr. Walsh: Yes, we have gotten cancelations because of our opposition to the war on Iraq as expressed in the December issue, several more than the normal amount. One who canceled (by phone) said he was writing the NOR out of his will (we trust he’ll also write the Pope out of his will, for the Pope has done vastly more to thwart Bush’s war of choice than we have).

We do indeed understand why people cancel; it’s a way to exercise some power. On the other hand, it is unfortunate because it signifies a refusal to engage in intellectual give and take. Most cancelations are not accompanied by any reasoned argumentation, as for example the one from Capt. Mark Tremaine. To cancel without a reasoned explanation is to reveal one’s intellectual nakedness. It’s like the radio talk-show host, who, when he knows he can’t defend himself, abruptly cuts you off and hangs up.

Although we can’t print every reasoned or semi-reasoned letter of cancelation, we do like to print them, not only because of intellectual give and take, but because other subscribers then send in donations or gift subscriptions to make up for the lost subscriptions.

We’ve gotten many letters opposing our stance on the Iraq war, but, so far, they’ve been so off-the-wall as to be not worth printing. But to give our readers a sense of what they’re like, we’ve printed the ones by J.W. McKernan and Lt. Col. John A.B. Riddiford.

We’ve also gotten several letters approving our position on the Iraq war, more than are printed here.

Webster, New York

Long-Winded Replies

As a subscriber to the NOR for a decade, I must comment on your recent issue (Dec.). Must every controversial letter to the Editor have a reply from the Editor twice as long?

Carroll Brooks

North Riverside, Illinois


It depends on the letter. The conventional idea is to respond in a cursory (and dismissive) manner, to demonstrate one’s superiority — the equivalent of throwing the letter in the dumpster. We have found cursory responses to be inadequate oftentimes, because one gets more letters (usually not published in other magazines) challenging one’s brief reply. If a letter makes a serious point, it deserves a serious reply, often a lengthy one. Yes, we realize that our reply here is more than twice as long as your letter, but we thought you’d appreciate a full explanation.

Not in This Country!

You, Tom Storck, and many other well-intentioned Catholics continue to confuse the responsibilities and mission of the Catholic Church with that of the Federal government. Our presidents have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the U.S., not the teachings of the Catholic Church. One writer was upset because neither party reflects Catholic values. Guess what! They never will. Not in this country.

The only Catholic president got elected precisely because he promised to uphold the Constitution, and not “take orders from the Pope.”

The government’s role is to provide a safe and orderly environment so that our churches may carry out their commission.

As to the letter from Judie Brown (Dec.), she too has her finger pointed in the wrong direction. If Catholics were serious about the abortion issue, they could shut the industry down in no time. There are many more prominent prolife Protestants than Catholics in the public eye.

As a Catholic, I find myself more closely aligned with Dr. James Dobson than my local pastor or bishop.

Cancel my subscription.

Thomas J. Scott

Could the Almighty Be Sending Us a Message?

You receive some pretty negative letters. Still, you have the courage to print them — and sometimes refute them as well. In my opinion, every item in your pages is fair, honest, logical, and to the point.

The only thing I find annoying is the constant harping on abortion. Wouldn’t it be more productive to teach chastity, abstinence, marriage, and family? Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.

Our free-wheeling, libertine culture is one good reason Islam hates us. If this so-called War on Terror is going to be won, the place to start is right here. Could the Almighty be sending us this scourge to wake us up? Our Blessed Mother must be in tears as she pleads in front of the Heavenly Power to withhold His hand of justice. From the looks of things, we don’t have much time.

Rosemary Kalodimos

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