Letters to the Editor: July-August 2006
Moral Relativism & Personal Freedom
Secular progressives in Europe (also in America) have initiated the end of Western civilization by glorifying moral relativism and personal freedom. They sanctify recreational sex, with no unwanted children.
Societies depend on people for their existence, but by contracepting, aborting, and homosexing, they will lead civilization into oblivion. The population of Europe will be replaced by Muslims anxious to fill the vacuum, while Europeans will not have the needed children to replace themselves. The future belongs to the fertile.
Rodolf W. Velicky
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
On Air America, the liberal talk-show station, the talk-show host said that rape is “absolutely wrong.” No moral relativism there.
We imagine that there are other things that secular liberals consider absolutely wrong (although they don’t like to put it that way): sexism, homophobia, anti-choice, etc. It could be that we’re engaged in a battle of absolutes — contrary absolutes.
Imagine if there had been 98 percent support for Humanae Vitae in 1968, and the same percentage of bishops had resolutely opposed Roe v. Wade in 1973. How different things would be in our beloved USA!
Mr. & Mrs. Dean Isom
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Don't Let the Devil in Through the Back Door
I have just read that the Vatican is authorizing a study of the question of the use of condoms by married couples in which one spouse has AIDS. The whole world will be watching.
Hasn’t the Vatican learned anything? It was exactly this kind of imbecility on the part of Pope Paul VI that led to his appointing a commission to review the question of contraception. While he dithered for years before coming out with Humanae Vitae, untold numbers of clergy and laity assumed that the Church was going to change her teaching on contraception.
The man who has caught AIDS from a whore does not have a right to intercourse with a wife.
The Church is still suffering from the effects of the sexual revolution. If Catholics had not accepted recreational sex, we would not have abortion on demand, a catastrophic breakdown of family life, and the influx of homosexuals into the clergy or the present push for “gay marriage.” It all began with the acceptance of contraception. Please don’t let the devil in again through the back door.
Juan J. Ryan
New Providence, New Jersey
A Discussion Group
It is heartening to learn that many of your readers (such as Carmelo Fallace in New York; letters, May) are anxious to get in touch with other readers, so that they can discuss many of the fascinating articles appearing in the NOR. If any of your readers living in Broward County, Florida, are interested in forming such a discussion group, they may contact me at: email@example.com.
The Rev. F.J. Nietfeld
Carmelo Fallace has taken the initiative in organizing local New Oxford Reading Clubs in parts of the country where two or more readers are interested in meeting to discuss the topics raised in the NOR. For more information, see the box item on page 39 of this issue, or e-mail Mr. Fallace at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope for Georgetown
As a sophomore at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., I must notify you of inaccuracies in Tom Bethell’s Last Things column, “Is Georgetown Still Catholic?” (May). It is true that Georgetown has often fallen far short of its duties as a Catholic institution. I have been unfortunate enough to sit through some Masses here that would horrify most readers of this magazine. Though I do in fact agree with Bethell’s basic premise, I think he has misunderstood a couple things relating to the culture of Georgetown. First, the school is by no means “rolling in money.” Georgetown has always had serious financial problems — $750 million is in fact an extremely modest endowment, especially when compared to Yale’s $15.2 billion or Harvard’s $22.6 billion. In response to another of Bethell’s qualms, as a result of a federal funding issue, one building on campus is indeed lacking in crucifixes (which is an abomination), but they are present in most other classrooms.
Though not apparent from the outside, there are many students and faculty who are dedicated to restoring Georgetown’s Catholic heritage. Latin Masses are offered, as well as Eucharistic adorations and processions through campus. Groups such as the Georgetown Chapter of the Knights of Columbus, which consists of some extremely dedicated and motivated Catholic students (many of whom are considering the priesthood), have worked hard to counter movements away from our Catholic heritage. Outside pressure has, in the past, succeeded in changing Georgetown policy — as when the University was forced to revoke its official recognition of a pro-abortion student group.
The Mandatum Is A Joke
Regarding “Is Georgetown Still Catholic” by Tom Bethell (May): Faithful and assenting Catholics need to understand that the enforcement of the mandatum for theology instructors is a joke. As in the case of Theodore Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, D.C., it’s not just a matter of professors refusing to get certified simply because they’re liberal. Ex Corde Ecclesiae states (or at least implies) that theology faculty themselves are to approach the local ordinary to get approved (based on their orthodox presentation of the Faith).
In my home diocese, the former Auxiliary Bishop (and Vicar of Education) did it backwards: He approached all theology faculty on his own, and granted them each the mandatum — including the liberal ones! This Bishop then declared to the media that all faculty in the diocese are certifiably “in compliance” with Catholic teaching. Mind you, when the enforcement of Ex Corde was approved by the American bishops, there was an outcry from several of these same faculty. This bishop simply avoided confrontation and controversy by going to them, handing them the approval, and essentially declaring that whatever they taught was authentic. So now, the two Catholic colleges in my diocese were among the few “in compliance” with Ex Corde. This is yet another pathetic example of Rome abdicating its authority, deferring to the American bishops to enforce Church law according to their individual whim. Then, clericalist right-wing lay groups such as Catholics United for the Faith, Regnum Christi (and scores of others) are duped into believing that the implementation of the mandatum is pure, and will send their kids to these colleges.
Perhaps it is some of the professors who openly refuse to seek the mandatum who are actually being honest here. They are forthright in saying they don’t teach real Catholicism. Many others either declare it a private “personnel” matter (so you don’t know where they stand) or, as in the example of my diocese, obtain it under dubious circumstances.
Jeffrey R. Jackson
E. Greenwich, Rhode Island
The Legionaries of Christ
Regarding your New Oxford Note on the Legionaries of Christ (May): The Legionaries have some problems, but they are good wheat (Mt. 13:24-43). You say the Legionaries are rich, but when did the rich become evil?
Michael J. Eisbrener
Yes, the Legionaries are rich. One problem is that the Legionaries’ founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, enjoys a lavish lifestyle.
A few years ago, I met a young woman who was once a fledgling member of Regnum Christi, the Legionaries’ lay affiliate. She was living as a “consecrated woman” in a large historical estate near Detroit, owned by the Legionaries. While carrying out fundraising for the Legionaries, she and her housemates were told to “dumpster dive” for their food. They would go to the dumpsters in the rear of the local supermarkets and root around for thrown-out food. These women also were not allowed to use electricity in the mansion.
Michael S. Rose
Regarding Fr. Marcial Maciel of the Legionaries of Christ: Keep up the great work you do of informing us about the enormous work that must be done to clean the “filth” (Pope Benedict’s word) out of the Church.
Madison, New Jersey
We will comment on the Holy See’s disciplining of Fr. Maciel in our September issue.
Is EWTN Truly Orthodox?
I would like to know if the Eternal Word Television Network is truly orthodox. Does Fr. Benedict Groeschel, whom I enjoy, slip into indifferentism?
Jan K. Michalski
We welcome responses from our readers.
So Many Cancelation Letters
I have never seen a magazine get so many letters stating that they are canceling their subscriptions as does the NOR. Any magazine that I cared enough to subscribe to in the first place, I would never cancel just because it disagreed with me.
I think that Vatican II made an agnostic of me and the only contact I have had with the Church has been through The Wanderer for as long as I can remember, and the NOR for a few years. I like to say that I did not leave the Church, but that the Church left me. Nevertheless, I have had nothing but respect for the last two Popes, although, as you point out, both have a blind spot for homosexuality.
Actually, they have another blind spot, the Iraq War. Because of the mass media, nobody would expect the Popes to know of the long and complex history of U.S.-Iraqi relations. However, if the Popes did know, I’m sure they would understand and change their minds.
As for the NOR, just because you have the last word does not mean you are always right. You are not going to change anyone’s mind whose belief is well grounded in facts.
As long as you keep lambasting abortion and homosexuality, I can overlook your naïveté on the Iraq War.
George R. Frerich, Jr.
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
Most Catholic publications don’t want people to know why subscribers cancel. Case in point: When Crisis magazine tried to trash Michael S. Rose’s Goodbye, Good Men with two articles, we knew there were many cancelations. But no letters of cancelation appeared in Crisis magazine. When Deal Hudson, the Publisher of Crisis, was caught with his pants down, there were many more cancelations. Again, no letters of cancelation appeared in Crisis.
The NOR does tell you why people cancel. We think that makes for a lively letters section. The only other Catholic publications we can think of that tell why people cancel on a regular basis are The Remnant and Jim Holman’s samizdat papers (San Diego News Notes, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, and San Francisco Faith).
Take a Softer Approach
You claim that people are canceling their subscriptions and not renewing because of your opposition to the war in Iraq. I’m sure some of that is true. I also disagree with your opposition to the war. I have no objection to your right to take that position. However, I find it irritating that it goes on and on, month after month. Now I’m accused of being a pick-and-choose Catholic (Editorial, May).
The NOR reacts to disagreement in a disagreeable way. You might get more people to agree with you if you used a softer approach. A kinder retort to those who disagree with you would lessen the cancelations.
George J. Nick
Highland Park, New Jersey
The NOR’s wit, acerbic humor, and satire cuts like a sharp knife, reducing your foes to shreds. Your fond readers break out in broad, sly grins, and sometimes in bouts of uproarious laughter. May your inkwells be overflowing, and your swords always be keen.
Marc J. Ratusz
Blind Liberal Obedience
Our parish bulletin recently has published your order that we may no longer kneel at the Ecce Agnus Dei (“This is the Lamb of God…”) or upon returning to the pew after receiving Communion. It seems that another cherished and permissible custom of the people, of long and continuous practice, has been eliminated. The publication of the notice included no mention of Cardinal Arinze’s Responsum of June 5, 2003. You provided no supporting documentation, based on the authoritative teachings of the Church, as to why it is a better thing to eliminate the continuous custom of kneeling at these times.
We must not kneel at our accustomed times, but other parishes are permitted to celebrate Mass without kneeling at all. In at least one parish the precious Body and Blood is passed from person to person at Communion, and in other parishes the words of Consecration are tampered with. You know this, and you also know that nobody is publishing explicit directives to stop these practices.
In our parish, the use of chalice veils and communion plates is banned. Priests refuse to genuflect at the Consecration and leave the sanctuary for the Kiss of Peace. Unapproved liturgical texts are continuously used. The people have been told not to make the Sign of the Cross at the end of the Penitential Rite. The Gloria can be chanted only once a month, and then only on the first Sunday of the month at 11 A.M. Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist appear at every Mass. The sacred vessels are rarely, if ever, purified by the celebrant. Except for an uprising of the people, the altar bells would have been eliminated some years ago.
The Sacrament of Confirmation has been a real trial for us. Through approving remarks and explicit directions, you and your Office of Divine Worship, in co-operation with diocesan-trained catechists, have taught our children that they should not genuflect before the Real Presence (bowing is the current fad), but rock ‘n’ roll and rap music, modified liturgical texts, and clapping and whistling are all appropriate to the Sacrament of Confirmation. You refuse to meet with concerned parents to discuss the matter. Even as many of you near the end of your active ministries, you, your Office of Divine Worship, and your priests have the audacity to place yourselves between our children and their parents. You actively pursue the destruction of the last vestiges of the customs and spirituality that our families have handed down from generation to generation.
You taught us that with the advent of Vatican II, the dark veil of rigid authoritarianism, blind obedience, and silly, guilt-inducing rules had finally been lifted from the Church. We would all experience a great age of enlightened spirituality and unity based on freedom, diversity, and respect for local customs. No more medieval European chains would bind us. No more fish on Friday!
And what of your legacy? Diversity is a cover for disobedience. Tolerance does not extend to those of a traditional mind, who only ask some space in the diocese. But space has been given to “gender identities.” You and your priests use your status in the Church to induce obedience to silly rules disconnected from tradition and reason. In the end, you leave us with the one thing that your generation claimed to hate most — blind obedience, supported by guilt. Except for blind obedience and the guilt associated with not following your directives, how else can we stand when our hearts and souls tell us to kneel?
In time, a new bishop will come to our diocese. If he comes to our parish, he may see everyone standing at the times you have mandated. But there are things he will not see: He will not see that some are standing because they don’t believe in the Real Presence, some stand so as not be ostracized as troublemakers, and others are standing for no particular reason other than the fact that everybody else is.
The new bishop will not see something else. He will not see the parishioners who are in the neighboring diocese at an Indult Tridentine Latin Mass, or those who tragically have gone to independent chapels, or who have simply given up and go nowhere at all.
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