Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: July-August 1999

July-August 1999

Shaw Should Be Glad

Russell Shaw, in his article “Responding to the Crisis of the Church,” (March), criticizes me (not by name) for an article I published on the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago.

My article was little more than a summary of what Cardinal Bernardin’s admirers said about him, comments which make it quite difficult to see him as a firm defender of Catholic teaching. To cite just one example, the Publisher of the National Catholic Reporter says that Cardinal Bernardin confidentially offered him strong encouragement for his activities.

In faulting me for not mentioning the abortion issue in the 1976 presidential election, Shaw is being disingenuous, and he should be glad that I did not allude to it. As he notes, during that election the leadership of the hierarchy, including Archbishop Bernardin, expressed rather mild optimism about President Gerald Ford’s position on abortion but expressed “disappointment” over that of Jimmy Carter. Shaw also notes that this produced a firestorm of criticism of the bishops, and the bishops were forced to make a “humiliating retreat.”

Shaw notes that among the critics were “some prominent members of the bishops’ national staff.” He does not mention that he was himself a member of that staff (presumably not among those who, as The New York Times reported, were threatening to resign in protest).

According to Shaw, no prominent “conservative Catholic” supported the bishops’ effort at the time. On the contrary, I published a good deal on the subject that year, and one article (“Abortion in the Election of 1976”) is reprinted in my book Years of Crisis. Shaw would have been much more just if he had written, “No Church employee, such as myself, publicly came to the bishops’ defense.”

What Shaw also does not say, although he is undoubtedly aware of it, is that Cardinal Bernardin’s theory of the “consistent ethic of life” was largely developed to placate those same Church bureaucrats, who regard it as a moral duty for Catholics always to vote Democratic.

While Cardinal Bernardin’s theory was not the sole cause, the political strength of the prolife movement has declined precipitously since his theory came into common use, as politicians and voters have been provided with ample excuse for not supporting prolife positions.

Prof. James Hitchcock

Saint Louis University

St. Louis, Missouri

Mindless Conformists

Because you cut through the poop and, with candor and evidence, tell it as it is, I’m cutting back on my subscriptions to certain other Catholic periodicals. I’ve met members of the politically-correct Legionaries of Christ, the order that controls the National Catholic Register, which has banned your trademark ads. The Legionaries are unctuous, mindless conformists whose “orthodoxy” happens to be the current policy of their superiors. As with the Jesuits of thirty years ago, that policy could change at any moment, and if and when that happens the rank-and-file Legionaries would change overnight.

Fr. Michael Mickelson

Holy Trinity Church

Fort Lee, New Jersey

The Columbine Abortion

Why didn’t the media prevent the nation’s emotional trauma over the Columbine High School massacre by simply applying the proven techniques used in denying the Abortion Holocaust — ban photos of the shattered bodies of the victims and disseminate statements by selected doctors that adolescence is merely a potentially human stage of life and that the victims felt no real pain when they were slaughtered?

Alfred E. Reilly

422 Hawthorne Ave.

Waltham, Massachusetts

Man the Barricades!

Wal-Mart has decided to refuse to dispense Preven, a “morning-after” abortion pill, in its numerous pharmacies. Planned Parenthood is pressuring Wal-Mart to abandon its unusual and heroic policy. I urge readers to contact Wal-Mart and implore that company to stick with its policy. Call 800-WAL-MART or send an e-mail to letters@wal-mart.com.

Mary Jane Shortall

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

The Common Cup: Not to Worry

Regarding the ongoing controversy in your pages about the common cup at Communion and public health: According to the Rev. Frank Senn in his newly published book, A Stewardship of the Mysteries (Paulist, 1999), three studies have been done in this century on the transmission of diseases via the common cup. The first in 1948 concluded that there was virtually no transmission of disease-carrying bacteria. The latter two concluded that bacteria could persist from communicant to communicant, but that the risk of disease transmission was insignificant, because pathogens tend not to be very plentiful on the lips (especially for the most dangerous diseases). Pathogens are much more likely to be found on the hands, so shaking hands is more of a risk than sharing the common cup! What’s more, there have been no known epidemics as a result of common cup usage. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control affirmed this with their statement that “the practice is not gravely hazardous.”

Two other interesting tidbits: One, a community of people tends to build up immunities to diseases common in that community (for example, no matter how healthy an individual is, he needs to get a battery of immunizations prior to traveling to many foreign countries); and, two, even individual cups, unless they are cleaned with very hot water and handled carefully, can also transmit diseases.

And after all, why did Jesus choose the common cup, and follow with the command “Do this”? Didn’t He, who knew how to cure a leper instantly, understand the basics of hygiene?

Don Hansen

Upland, California

The Common Cup & AIDS

Your May issue was exceptional. I would like to add to the letter from John Coughlin, M.D., on the dangers of the common cup. Although I realize that prior NORs have covered the subject, the emerging phenomenon of diocesan-approved Masses for active homosexuals casts a more ominous shadow on the issue.

Here in northern California — the East Bay and the Sacramento area — special Masses and services for homosexuals (always referred to as “gays and lesbians”) abound. Virtually all of them are in tune with the Call to Action mentality of tolerance, total acceptance, and “sharing the bread and wine.”

Here in Sacramento, for example, during years of bishop-approved “Dignity” Masses, the cup was always shared, and even those with AIDS partook. The token swipe of a cloth on the rim of the cup (usually a glass goblet) probably picked up some of the germs and viruses, but probably smeared them back on when used again.

Well, we don’t have “Dignity” anymore. The Masses for homosexuals have been mainstreamed. Scores of “gays and lesbians” attend what are known as “gay-friendly” Masses. They usually sit in the same section, and virtually all receive Holy Communion under both species (including those who are “partnered,” and with their adopted or alternatively conceived children). The modern artificial Catholic Church has all but conceded to the sodomite movement to the point where active sodomites and lesbians proudly receive Our Lord as their right, and shamelessly march up the aisle for everyone to see.

Can any reasonable person believe that the AIDS virus cannot be carried from the mouth of an infected person, one with open sores in his mouth, to the cup? Can any reasonable person believe that the AIDS virus would not be available on the rim of a cup to wind up in someone else’s mouth? Do the priests who allow this care?

I urge your readers to be wary of receiving the Precious Blood at any public Mass, but most assuredly not to partake at any of the “gay-friendly” churches in their area. I would guess, however, that your readers wouldn’t be likely to attend churches of that type anyway. On the other hand, it might be a good awakening to seek one out and see how far the artificial Catholic Church has taken over and how far the pro-homosexualist clergy and religious have taken hold. It might shock them into action.

Laurette Elsberry

Sacramento, California

Trampling on Our Lord

The article by Fr. David Watt on Communion in the hand vs. Communion on the tongue (June) was well done. My own view of the matter is based on my experience of the past six years serving Mass as an acolyte at a very traditional parish (Holy Rosary) in Houston. I don’t imagine you see a 53-year-old man like me dressed in a traditional cassock serving Mass in many parishes. Well, I feel like I did when I was a young boy serving Mass — close to God on the altar. My observation, as a grown-up “altar boy” holding a paten for those receiving Communion, is that presently about half the people receive on the tongue, half in the hand. But each year more seem to be receiving in the hand, even the older people.

The paten I hold often catches fragments, from tiny to good-sized, of consecrated Host. If I can see so many fragments on the paten, how many more must there be dropped from hands and falling on the floor? Especially when there is no acolyte holding a paten. I think of the message Our Lord is said to have given to a seer, “You are trampling Me underfoot.” The words always puzzled me, but now I see the meaning. Sadly, Communion in the hand seems to make them literally true. Moreover, Communion in the hand is not just a harmless option. It has caused loss of reverence and loss of belief in the Real Presence. The Church showed great wisdom in doing away with Communion in the hand the first time, and I think we should do away with it again.

Don Vinklarek

Houston, Texas

"Hello, Loving Person Bill"

Donald Dwight Hook’s article “Making the Holy Mass a Generic Worship Service…” (June) struck a painful chord. My parish is a cloistered convent whose chapel does not now have its own resident chaplain, so a roster of priests, many from the downtown university, says daily Mass.

On Mondays often comes Fr. Bill Anonymous, who refuses to acknowledge Almighty God, the First Person of the Blessed Trinity, as “Father.” He consistently edits the Eucharistic Prayers, substituting other terms such as “Loving God” and “Gracious God.” He also omits “your Son,” so that he says, “the body and blood of […] Our Lord Jesus Christ.” He thus slights both the Trinitarian Fatherhood and Sonship.

So if he objects to “Father” and “Son,” one must wonder what this priest/editor would himself care to be called. If we were introduced, should I say, “Good morning, Gracious Anonymous”? Or perhaps, “Hello, Loving Person Bill”? Far be it from me to offend him by respectfully addressing him as “Father”!

P.J. Smithfield

Seattle, Washington

Golf Shirts & Sugar Bread

Let me describe a Mass I attended recently. The church’s otherwise plain walls held only some big gold and white banners — and one small crucifix. The “altar” was a small table. On the wall behind this table was a large television screen on which changing displays of happy-looking people were shown during the liturgy of the Word and the Canon of the Mass. The words to the songs also appeared on this screen, so there were no missals or songbooks in the pews. The “word ministers” were women, children, and men wearing golf shirts. The Creed was not recited. Instead the Our Father was sung to guitar music while everybody held hands.

This Mass was a special event, a Confirmation in fact. No bishop was present, but the priest confirmed the candidates himself. He asked the assembly to come forward and lay their hands on the candidates, and afterward he asked us to applaud. At the offertory there was a line to the table to drop a gift of money into a basket on the floor. During the Eucharistic Prayer there was no kneeling. At Communion the ministers distributed crumbs of sugar bread. I think I was the only one who received Our Lord on the tongue, and the woman minister acted as if she didn’t know what to do.

Where is my Catholic Church?

Karen F. Kulak

Mosinee, Wisconsin

I'm Back, but...

I’ve read about the controversy surrounding your ads. To those who don’t like them, let me say that it was because of those clever ads that I began my subscription to the NOR and made my way back to the Catholic Church.

However, I don’t like the Mass as rendered in English. I want a Latin Mass. How can I find information on Latin Masses in my area?

Margie Tiritilli

Montebello, California

Ed. Note: For complete and up-to-date information on where papally approved Tridentine Latin Masses are available, contact the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, P.O. Box 2071, Glenview IL 60025 (phone 847-724-7151). For papally approved Novus Ordo Latin Masses, as well as papally approved Tridentine Latin Masses, contact the Latin Liturgy Association, 740 Carriage Way, Baton Rouge LA 70808 (e-mail ScottCalta@aol.com).


Can any of your readers recommend a good, solid Catholic parish in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, area?

Colleen McCarrier

So. Milwaukee WI 53172


W.S.K. Cameron, in his glowing review of Rachel Goossen’s Women Against the Good War (Aprib| extols the wives of conscientious objectors to World War II as “brave” women. But their bravery doesn’t begin to compare with that of the wives who lost their husbands in battle. The only reason those conscientious objectors and their wives lived safely during wartime is that other people were out there dying to make it possible for them to do so.

Walter G. Perry

Hudson, Wisconsin

Not 'the Home of the Brave'

An abortion clinic is almost always called a “Women’s Health Clinic.” Are we therefore supposed to believe that pregnancy is a disease that threatens the health of any pregnant woman who goes to such a place? Actually, the woman who goes there will be eliminating the health — the very life — of her baby. In America we now call death “health.”

Also, abortions enjoy coverage under very many insurance company policies, yet the reversal of a sterilization is usually not covered. Notice the discrepancy!

In America pregnancy is largely viewed in negative terms. No one can honestly call America “the home of the brave” anymore.

Katherine Dobay

Sulphur, Louisiana

That's Precisely the Problem

Regarding Rexford Davis’s letter (June) headed “Only in Self-Defense? Phooey”: His last paragraph paradoxically sums up the motivation behind traditional thinking on the just-war doctrine. He is correct: The days when armed disputes were settled in someone’s pasture are long gone; “the airplane brought total war, when whole populaces were involved…” (italics mine). That is precisely the problem. It is the way in which modern war wreaks inevitable and irreparable injury upon civilians that makes it wrong. If we cannot go back, as Davis says, then maybe we need to stop, to quit. In any event, carrying war directly to civilian targets is, always has been, and always will be wrong. Unfortunately, we, the “good guys” in the Second World War, did precisely that at Dresden, Cologne, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, to name a few. Under Davis’s theory, the fact that the bad guys pillage gives us the right to do the same thing. If the murder of, say, ten chosen “enemy” civilians would stop a war and save countless combatant lives on both sides, could it ever be justified?

Another problem with his argument in favor of the U.S.’s role in the Second World War is that a credible argument can be made that Germany and Russia, left to themselves, would have worn themselves out fighting each other. True, those caught in the middle would have suffered — and did in any event. Did we relieve any suffering by our intervention, or simply spread it? Did our involvement mitigate the Holocaust or the murder of countless Christians of various nationalities? Would Europe have been better or worse off under German as opposed to Soviet rule? Had we not been so helpful to our Soviet “allies” during the war, would we have had to deal with Korea, or for that matter Vietnam, in the aftermath? Even relying on Pearl Harbor as justification for war has a significant weakness when one recognizes that the Roosevelt Administration deliberately set us up for the attack. (This is hardly some sort of right-wing conspiracy theory. His apologists praise him for it.)

Unfortunately, the “gods of war,” as Alan Keyes recently pointed out, develop a life and a momentum of their own. So do the myths when the wars are “over.” As we enter the seventh decade since the commencement of the Second World War, let us ask ourselves: What of lasting value did all that expenditure of blood and suffering and treasure buy us? Peace? Or more war?

Mario de Solenni

Crescent City, California

In his letter Rexford Davis says he’s worried “if one man [namely, Pope John Paul II] has the power to tell people what to think on every topic. Recall Lord Acton’s famous saying: ‘Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'”

In fact, the Pope’s authority doesn’t apply to “every topic,” only to matters of faith and morals. More could be said about this, but I’m astounded that Davis could believe the Pope has absolute power. Earlier in this century, a pope challenged Joseph Stalin about something, and Stalin’s famously derisive response was, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” Since Davis prides himself on being informed about Realpolitik, perhaps he can tell me how a pope can have absolute power without the military force to enforce that power.

If the pope has power, it doesn’t derive from the big guns that generally impress people like Mr. Davis. Still, the pope does have power. That same Stalin, who sneered at the pope for not having any divisions, later died screaming about wolves, and his Soviet Union was eventually brought down, without bloodshed, due in large measure to the efforts of a Polish pope. The pope does have power, but it doesn’t come from tanks. The pope’s power is obviously from God, since it works good. Power that rests on weaponry corrupts absolutely; power that rests on God’s favor does not.

It’s rather hilarious that Davis, an Anglican, would bring up Lord Acton’s famous dictum, since Acton was an Englishman and he made his statement about his own countrymen at the height of the British Empire. He was referring to English rulers, who had made themselves both Head of State and Head of the (Anglican) Church. They had both big guns and, according to their understanding, spiritual power. Talk about absolute power!

Davis criticizes Catholic Archbishop Edwin O’Brien for saying that “members of the military are not exempt from making conscientious decisions when confronted with possibly immoral orders” — that is, for telling soldiers to think before they follow orders. Davis admits that warfare has been “screwed up” by our military leaders, and yet he apparently wants soldiers to blindly follow the orders of those leaders. Why doesn’t Lord Acton’s dictum apply to our military leaders? Has Davis forgotten about the Nuremberg Trials? The point of those trials was that some orders must not be followed.

That soldiers should consult their consciences before following orders is the position, not only of the Catholic Church, but of the American Nuremberg trials. Davis should have no beef with an archbishop who says to American soldiers what Americans said to German military personnel, unless Davis actually believes Americans, by virtue of being American, are exempt from Nuremberg’s standards. If he believes that, he should take another look at Lord Acton’s dictum.

Percy Talbert

Ironton, Ohio

Being Anti-Government Doesn't Make One a Libertarian

I find much to agree with in Thomas Storck’s article, “Neither Statism nor Individualism” (June). However, I have a problem with his blanket rejection of the position of those Christians among whom “the government, particularly the U.S. federal government, is considered an enemy.” He basically tars all Christians who see things this way with the brush of individualism or libertarianism, and he cites the teaching of the Catholic Church that government is good in itself.

But it is quite possible, without any logical inconsistency, to see government in general as good in itself, while rejecting a particular regime as evil. Presumably, the Church’s teaching refers to legitimate governments, those having lawful authority to govern. The fact that government is good in itself certainly does not mean that Christians had an obligation to obey the Nazi regime in Germany or the Stalinist regime in Russia. The Church also takes a very positive view of sex, but this does not mean that she has no problem with the sexual chaos of the modern world. The very fact that government is good in itself makes the abuse of its power all the more heinous, and if that abuse is serious enough, Christians may well be justified in concluding that a particular regime is not legitimate and no longer has lawful authority.

Such a case could be made against the U.S. federal government today. Because the state gets its authority from God, that authority is not unlimited, but is limited precisely by the law of God, in particular by the natural law. The state cannot place the arbitrary human will of its officials over the law of God and still receive authority from God. A state like our present federal government, which wars more and more actively and openly against the law of God, clearly does not get authority from God and thus does not have legitimate authority. It does not embody the rule of law so much as institutionalized lawlessness.

The U.S. federal government, in a secondary sense peculiar to this nation, also derives (or once derived) legitimacy from having been granted power by a compact of the several states which make it up. The compact took place when those states ratified the Constitution. Since that compact is the source, after God, of its legitimacy, the federal government cannot legitimately exercise any powers other than those granted to it under the terms spelled out in the Constitution. Now, in fact, our present central government (it is not really the federal government established by the original compact) routinely exercises powers not granted to it by the constitutional compact, powers it has usurped and has no right to exercise. Hence it is an illegal government, having no lawful claim on our obedience. It has de facto, but not de jure, sovereignty. Furthermore, it uses its usurped powers to promote a program of anti-Christian, anti-human social engineering which is clearly totalitarian in its implications. Unless the American people do something to rid themselves of this evil central government, totalitarianism is in our future. It is just sober realism to acknowledge that the Evil Empire has relocated its capital from Moscow to Washington, D.C.

About situations like ours, St. Thomas Aquinas has this to say: “A tyrannical government is not just…. Consequently, there is no sedition in disturbing a government of this kind, unless indeed the tyrant’s rule be disturbed so inordinately that his subjects suffer greater harm from the consequent disturbance than from the tyrant’s government. Indeed, it is the tyrant rather that is guilty of sedition…” (Summa Theologica, Q. 42, Art. 2, Pt. II).

A couple of other comments are also in order. Storck remarks that “the modern state has grown large and burdensome in part because the powerful mediating institutions which once existed have been destroyed. These mediating institutions once did much of the work that today we assign to the state.” This makes it sound like the modern state has merely responded to the vacuum created by the breakdown of these institutions, whereas the state has played a major role (though not the sole role) in destroying them. The other major player in this process has, of course, been industrialism, fueled by the ideologies of libertarianism and progress.

When we speak of the conflict between statism on the one hand and unfettered industrial and economic growth on the other, we forget that very often these two are in fact accomplices rather than rivals. Russell Kirk has aptly spoken of “the unholy alliance between big government and big business.” Look at the destruction of our cities. Again and again, urban neighborhoods have been destroyed by poorly thought out urban renewal projects promoted and paid for by the federal government in response to lobbying by private industry. Local residents and local businesses are forced out, and when the project is finished, the properties are sold or rented at values that the original residents could never afford. So stable urban neighborhoods are taken over by the elites as the result of collusion between government and business. In fact, big business today for the most part has no real problem with big government. The costs of government regulation are easily borne by major corporations, but can destroy small businesses. Basically, both big business and big government today are eager to promote the kind of extreme centralization of power that destroys the meditating institutions and communities. The conflict between big government “liberalism” and big business “conservatism” is largely an illusion. One of my favorite examples is CNN. There is probably no broadcast medium, with the possible exception of National Public Radio, more consistently ultra-liberal and statist in its presentation of the news than CNN. (With Ted Turner and Jane Fonda behind it, what would you expect?) In Europe, I am told, it is commonly referred to as “Clinton’s News Network.” Yet if you look at the advertising on CNN, you notice that almost all of it is obviously directed either at people who already have lots of money and want to keep it, or people who are on the way up and into making money in a big way. Greed and lust for power are constantly appealed to. A very large number of the commercials are for people who want to invest your money for you — brokerages, mutual funds, etc. Luxury carmakers are also major advertisers. Does this sound like the kind of mentality which is very anxious to moderate the excesses of big-business capitalism?

It is certainly true that something has to be done to bring a runaway industrial revolution under control so that genuine community life can be restored. But trying to use our present central government to do this is like trying to use Satan to cast out demons. This is where I find very helpful Storck’s suggestions for rebuilding nongovernmental institutions to deal with many of these problems. No, government as such is not evil, but the one that has its foot firmly planted on our necks right now certainly is. Acknowledging this reality does not make one an individualist or a libertarian.

George A. Kendall

Grand Marais, Michigan

Taxing Situation

Thanks to Rupert Ederer for the excellent article on women in the workforce (May). I would add that excessive taxation helps keep married women in the workforce. Depending on their income bracket and where they live, up to 50 percent of a couple’s income can be taken through federal, state, and local taxes. Something is very wrong when most of one spouse’s income goes to the government to pay the couple’s taxes.

Vincent Salvia

Appleton, Wisconsin


In his article “The Bishops’ New Statement on Abortion” (May), Raymond Marcin gives an excellent analysis of why Catholic politicians do not seem to take Church admonitions against abortion seriously. When the message on the immorality of abortion is accompanied by other issues, the starkness of the killing of innocent people fades.

In addition, how often do we hear sermons by bishops or priests on abortion? If it is never mentioned from the pulpit, how can Church leaders expect the people and the politicians to take this issue seriously? At times it seems that the written comments by some Church officials about the immorality of abortion are merely done to pacify their consciences, not to convince people of the seriousness of the matter.

Joseph Moylan

Omaha, Nebraska

Raymond Marcin is correct about the bishops: Their statement expresses the right values but lacks something essential. Imagine that Mom and Dad issue a statement: Teenage Bobby must be home no later than midnight. Bobby staggers in about 3 a.m. Mom says, “I am very disappointed.” And that’s the end of it. What will the future bring? Won’t Bobby most likely continue breaking the rule?

So it is with the bishops’ new statement. It has no teeth. I read it and said, “So what?” (By the way, did many Catholics actually see it, much less read it?)

Our Blessed Lord taught that His teachings must be obeyed or we will suffer dire consequences. He always taught with consequences. The bishops gave none. So the abortionists win again.

The Church gives bishops a powerful tool to help her children live Christian lives. It is excommunication. Why are our bishops so afraid to use it? Are they afraid that they might lose some members? They certainly have not been afraid of losing the support of many of their strongest practicing Catholics because of their weak stands.

Our bishops should take their cue from Jesus Christ. He took such a strong stand that it got Him put to death, a stand that resulted in martyrdom for many saints since, but a stand that also resulted in a growth of His Church!

John Peacock

Fremont, California

Raymond Marcin discusses one of the saddest afflictions of the Catholic Church — the lack of true shepherds with their priorities straight. Why don’t the American bishops understand that they must fight hard for the lives of those who are not yet born? They cannot look the other way while so-called Catholic politicians stump for the continued right to murder babies and promote the contraception mentality. Do the bishops need to be admired by politicians, to please feminists, to avoid “church/state” accusations, or simply to be welcome on the golf course?

Here in Sacramento we have a priest who stood up for life in a major event this past January. Invited by a pro-abortion rabbi to attend an “inter-faith prayer service” in honor of the inauguration of the most pro-abortion governor we have ever elected (the avowedly pro-abortion and nominally Catholic Gray Davis), Msgr. Edward J. Kavanagh energized true Catholics when he rejected the invitation in a widely circulated letter and pointed out that Davis had brought upon himself an automatic excommunication. He emphasized his remarks on local TV, and joined over 75 other Catholics in picketing the prayer service at the Sacramento Convention Center. Just imagine what the fight for God’s precious infants would be like if we had a dozen bishops like Msgr. Kavanagh at the forefront of the movement.

Msgr. Kavanagh’s letter can be found on the Internet at “www.prolife.com,” where additional information is provided on the circumstances of the event.

Nell Caver Keim

Sacramento, California

Brandishing the NOR

One does not expect to be greeted at the door of the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception by a group of New Oxford Review readers brandishing the latest issue (June) and saying how much they enjoyed the article on the London Carthusians by yours truly. But that is exactly what happened as I got out of the taxi to participate in the National Rosary Congress at the Shrine in Washington, D.C.

The scene repeated itself several times during the Congress and set people talking about the splendid witness of the London Carthusians and their loyalty to the Holy Father in the face of so severe a challenge to their faith. There were also many laudatory remarks about the NOR in general.

Fr. Barry Bossa, S.A.C.

Yonkers, New York

Varieties of Anglicanism

I enjoyed William Tighe’s review of Anglicans and Tradition and the Ordination of Women by H.R. McAdoo (May) and found it generally illuminating (and accurate). In one respect, however, Tighe is misinformed. He writes: “Certainly, neither the Episcopal Church in the U.S. nor any other Anglican church outside of England is an established church. However, in America and elsewhere a certain practical or social Erastianism marks official Anglicanism. By this I mean that these churches do not make decisions about doctrine and practice on the basis of the Bible as interpreted by their own tradition — much less the Tradition (with a capital T) that Catholic and Orthodox churches regard as authoritative.”

Tighe’s suggestion that there are no traditionalist Anglican churches in the U.S. is simply false. Since 1978, hundreds of formerly Episcopal parishes have separated themselves from the Episcopal Church and have formed over a dozen new traditionalist denominations. These denominations believe in apostolic succession, are credal, forbid the ordination of women, and (in the U.S.) continue to follow the 1928 version of the Book of Common Prayer. These Anglican Catholics certainly do “make decisions about doctrine and practice on the basis of the Bible as interpreted by their own tradition” — as well as Tradition with a capital T.

Tighe is correct to point out the secular drift of the Episcopal Church — that is the very reason so many of us have retained our ties to God and the Tradition by simply refusing to bend our faith to the demands of political correctness and have joined “Continuing Church” denominations.

Donald E. deKieffer

Washington, D.C.

Ed. Note: Mr. Tighe is well aware of the continuing Anglican denominations, and was not suggesting there aren’t any. His reference to “official” Anglicanism obviously would exclude them from his commentary. Nonetheless, if the continuing Anglican denominations did fully follow the Tradition as understood by the Catholic Church, they would have no reason to remain aloof from Rome. (We won’t presume to speak of Eastern Orthodoxy, though we suspect that the same principle applies.)

Although I thoroughly enjoyed Tighe’s critique of McAdoo’s book rationalizing the ordination of women by Anglicans, I was surprised by Tighe’s statement that the logic used to justify priestesses could in the future lead Anglicans to endorse polygamy. It is my understanding that the endorsement of polygamy has already been given — at the Lambeth Conference of 1988, the same Lambeth Conference that endorsed terrorism (except by the Irish).

John Serth

Clifton Park, New York

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