Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: July-August 2016

July-August 2016

Who Are You Writing For?

Jason M. Morgan’s article “The Canticles of Genderspirit” (May) is Exhibit A in why my wife and I will eventually cease to subscribe to the NOR. While I have no particular problem with Morgan’s position on the subject, the language he uses is nearly unreadable. My wife and I are both college grads and reasonably well read, but we find that this article reflects an unappealing trend in the NOR. If the vocabulary and structure of a piece are so “intellectual” as to be unreadable, who are you writing for? Not us.

John D. Hanshaw

Director of Religious Education, Queen of Angels & St. Joseph Parishes

Clifton Park, New York


I thank Mr. Hanshaw for his fraternal correction, but I ask that he reconsider canceling his subscription. If I speak with a foreign accent, it is because I have spent many years deep behind the lines, learning the enemies’ ways and planning their undoing.

And those ways are doozies. Consider, for example, the following sentence (and I use the word sentence in the penal sense) by gender panjandrum Judith Butler: “The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.”

Is it any wonder that my writing is so bad?

So, please don’t go, Mr. Hanshaw — at least not on my account. NOR readers are a special band who will be among the very few present for the reading of the Law after our long modern exile in gender Babylon.

Anthony Esolen


Providence, Rhode Island

Ed. Note: As we said in our June editorial (“A Soft Iconoclasm”), we want to raise the overall IQ of Catholics. That’s why we occasionally publish challenging material — material like Jason M. Morgan’s article, which requires careful reading and which, we hoped, would stimulate research into the ideas of people with whom NOR readers might not be wholly familiar. Although Dr. Morgan’s article was at times jocose, it derived, as does most material that appears in the NOR, from serious scholarship. Serious scholarship sometimes requires complex grammatical formulations (though hopefully not so complex as to be unintelligible). We thought he had something important to say and that he said it in a way that would be mostly understood by those who have recourse to a dictionary and encyclopedia — or Google and Wikipedia, as the case may be. Perhaps we were mistaken about that last point. Alas, we’ve been wrong before. And though we will probably err again in the future, please bear with us. We think it will be worth your while.

James V. Schall, S.J.

Keen Mountain Correctional Center

Los Gatos, California

Marketing Catholicism

Randall B. Smith’s article “Is the ‘New Evangelization’ No More Than a Marketing Slogan?” (May) is brilliant. I agree with him entirely that the new evangelization is now primarily focused on “pitching the message, getting consumers in the door.”

Even modern politics is little more than advertising, and the first person whom the seller of the 120-proof nostrum against all maladies persuades is himself. Politicians are both better and worse than liars. On some level, they actually do believe what they say, as insane as it may be. Republicans actually do believe that all Democrats are fools, and Democrats actually do believe that all Republicans are villains; and it never occurs to them to wonder whether the whole pack of them are knaves and fools to boot. But where there’s a great degree of self-deception and deliberate ignoring of your own failings, people eventually catch on to it.

Evangelization, then, can no more be like advertising than Christian marriage can be like going to a whorehouse. We must be different — I would say, human.

Mike Acheson

Taylor Correctional Institution

Providence, Rhode Island

Randall B. Smith’s article on the new evangelization is very good. The real problem with the new or old evangelization is that there is no one we are allowed to talk to or evangelize — either it is against the spirit of ecumenism, an offense against tolerance, or against the law. Anything we might say or suggest could violate someone’s “rights” and make us guilty of hate speech — and possibly be the occasion for another Obama regulation, alas.

Tom Thornton

Walker State Prison

Carlsbad, California

Randall B. Smith’s article detailing the “whats” of the new evangelization was one of the more succinct and informative articles I have read in your magazine. It was not over the top or nuanced or philosophical — it merely touched on a subject that has been, and still is, swimming around parishes across the globe for a couple of decades now.

As a convert, I’ve always believed the “new evangelization” to mean speaking and sharing one’s faith, something previous generations of Catholics really didn’t do. A generation or two ago, Catholics were taught, and in turn believed, that one’s faith is “private.” This is what I’ve heard from many a cradle Catholic. Essentially though, many of these Catholics who grew up keeping their Catholic faith private really couldn’t explain in so many words what their faith actually was, or is.

The new evangelization, as I understand it, is rooted in a combination of apologetics and a belief in a real relationship with God, in which speaking of and defending the faith come naturally. Let’s face it: In today’s Church, we must speak of and defend our faith. Yes, many aspects of our faith are private, as it should be; but we can’t, as a Church, let others do the talking for us.

Let God be God; allow the Holy Spirit to work through you, and that will naturally lead to some type of evangelizing, whether you think you’re ready or not.

Charles G.V. Coutinho

New York, New York

A Lack of Decorum Leads to a Loss of Belief

I read with interest Terence J. Hughes’s letter (“Christ’s Vomitus,” May) on the extreme loss of belief in the Real Presence. It was quite a surprise. I would attribute this loss to the lack of decorum in religious ceremony. For example, everyone in the sanctuary should be suitably robed, perhaps in long white gowns, and those attending Mass should at least be respectfully dressed (a real problem here in southern California). We could also eliminate the talking, handshaking, and general lack of respect before, during, and after Mass, which would enable us to avoid being desensitized to the presence of God as the center of the Mass — and not the Christian community, which we have mistakenly come to believe.

Placing the tabernacle front and center, adding Latin to the liturgy, and replacing banal, secularized music with Gregorian chant would also help emphasize the mystery of transubstantiation and help avoid the dangers described by Hughes.

Susan Conner

South Jordan, Utah

1641: Errata Corrected

In her otherwise interesting and indeed illuminating review of John Gibney’s Shadow of a Year: The 1641 Rebellion in Irish History and Memory (May), Anne Barbeau Gardiner commits some errata that require correction. Specifically:

1. Per contra to her statement that the rebellion in Ulster was the work of a “mob” of Irish Catholics who were concerned to right the wrongs (which did indeed exist) of their dispossession of land by Scottish and English settlers, the rebellion was carefully planned by two leading Irish Catholic landowners in Ulster: Baron Connor Maguire and Sir Phelim O’Neill. These men were quite Anglicized, and their goals were political in nature and not aimed at addressing the plantation scheme that had introduced a large number of Protestant settlers into Ulster.

2. It was impossible that the “Big Lie” (Gardiner’s term for the legend that Irish Catholic rebels massacred hundreds of thousands of Protestants) was “spread in this country by John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments.” Foxe’s book was first published in 1563 and Foxe died in 1587, more than 50 years prior to the outbreak of the rebellion.

3. At no point in her review does Prof. Gardiner hazard a guess at, or state, what most modern historians believe to be the true number of Protestant victims in the rebellion. As per Timothy Harris, a British émigré historian at Brown University, in his book Rebellion: Britain’s First Stuart Kings (2014), which deals with more than merely the Irish rebellion, the number of Protestants killed by the rebels was between 3,000 and 4,000, although “thousands were left to die after they had been stripped of their possessions and driven from their habitations in winter.” Surely this is a bit of information Gardiner owes the readers of the NOR?

(Name Withheld)

United Kingdom


As for John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments, this work was published many times in our country under the title Book of Martyrs, with additional anti-Catholic material postdating Foxe’s death, as for example, Foxe’s An Abridgment of the Book of Martyrs…to which is added…the massacre in the Irish rebellion in the year 1641 (Troy, New York, 1839).

As for the number of Protestants killed in 1641, I have always agreed with Roger Palmer, Earl of Castlemaine, a Catholic convert who writes on this topic in The Catholique Apology (1674, pp. 52-65). He gives the number of English Protestants killed in 1641 as 3,000, “which is a pretty difference from 3 hundred thousand, the usual computation as I said; for as to the slaughter done elsewhere, it was not comparable to what happened in the province” of Ulster. Castlemaine speaks of the “wild computation” and “false reports” of those who claim that 200,000 or 300,000 English Protestants were slain in 1641, numbers that were “absolutely impossible.” He had learned from “knowing” Protestants that there were no more than 1.3 million people in Ireland at the time, and of these, no more than 120,000 were English Protestants. In Ulster, English Protestants numbered only around 24,000, and many of them found refuge in walled cities like Londonderry, Colraine, and Eniskilling, while others fled to Dublin. Needless for me to add, the Catholic Irish had no walled cities to run to and were slaughtered in large numbers.

Castlemaine explains why the Irish mob exploded: “As for the old Irish, it being the nature of all subjugated people to rise, I more wonder that they had it in their power, than that they proceeded as they did.” He refers us to William Camden’s Britannia, which recounts a similar bloody insurrection “by our own good countrymen” against the Danes. He also reminds us of the Sicilian Vespers against the French.

As for the plot, ironically, it was inspired by the Scottish Protestant rebellion that triggered the English Civil War! According to Castlemaine, Owen O’Connolly (who betrayed O’Neill and Maguire) told the Lord Justices that the conspirators acted “to imitate Scotland, which got a privilege by that course; and this also his Majesty [Charles I] confirms in his aforesaid Treatise [his autobiography, Eikon Basilike] saying, ‘I would to God the Irish had nothing to allege for their imitation.'”

J. Allen

Chillicothe, Ohio

Die, Papolators!

I’ve cherished the NOR for many years; your articles have been faith-enhancing beyond measure. For this, I thank you.

I must now express my profound disappointment with John Médaille’s cheesy diatribe in your May issue (“The Remnant Crosses the Rubicon”). Surely the editorial board of the NOR must recognize the tragedy of the Bergoglian papacy, which has become crystalline with the Pope’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. He has enshrined situational ethics, and his sycophants, such as Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle of Manila and Blase Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, will expedite the loss of souls to Hell.

Our shepherds, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan; Walter Cardinal Brandmüller (retired); and, to a lesser extent, Gerhard Cardinal Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, are the only ones demonstrating any meaningful opposition.

Until I read an apology from the NOR for publishing Mr. Médaille’s tripe, I will consider myself to have outgrown your publication. May you indeed wither and die because you no longer serve the truth but are papolators.

Dominick Taylor

Parker, Colorado

I’ve always liked the NOR; I started reading it when I was an Anglo-Catholic, and it was a small part of my life throughout my conversion. I have made a few donations as a subscriber.

The one thing that has always concerned me is the NOR’s general pro-Vatican II tenor — or, at least your unwillingness to go too far in criticizing the Council. However, your general defense of and apology for Bergoglio is just too much; you cannot possibly be a defender of traditional Catholicism and turn a blind eye to the lasting and far-reaching damage he is doing. No person who says the things he says can be Pope. I understand that you wanted at first to give him the benefit of the doubt; but, at this point, your blindness toward the nature of this papacy seems willful.

I hope and pray that the NOR wakes up to see how things really are. In the meantime, I have a moral obligation to refuse to donate to a magazine that refuses to see the profound evil emanating from the current occupant of St. Peter’s throne.

May God bless you always.

Francisco Alberti

Portsmouth, Rhode Island

I was deeply shocked by your excoriation of Fr. Nicholas Gruner (ed. reply to Stevens and Haas letters, May), as, I am sure, were many others. Your apologia for this was very confusing — we must respect the statements of the Pope and hierarchy as God-given yet at the same time be highly critical of some of them. Surely, the correct attitude for a Catholic is to respect the institution of the papacy as the proper channel for sound teaching and on no account acknowledge any self-appointed person or body that presumes to set itself up as a substitute.

You apparently believe that the consecration of Russia has been done because the hierarchy says so. Or do you? I cannot tell. Our Lady prescribed precise instructions for this consecration, which have been manifestly not carried out. Fr. Gruner risked all to proclaim this fact, and you accuse him and, by implication, all courageous whistleblowers of deliberate schism. We are only required to believe de fide, without demur, statements from Rome when they are issued under the flag of infallibility. In the case of the consecration of Russia, there has been no question of invoking this charism.

The position of the Catholic is to believe in the teachings of an infallible papacy (our 40 English martyrs died rather than deny this) but at the same time reserve the right to be critical, sometimes highly so, if necessary, when the actual occupant is not doing his job properly, as the present Pontiff is not, to put it mildly. How can one possibly be in “full union” with him? Owing as we do to the papacy our “respect, loyalty and obedience,” imagine the distress and confusion of the ordinary laity when an individual pope proves misleading and so unworthy.

Pope Francis is going to attend a Lutheran-sponsored celebration of 500 years of Protestantism, where he will undoubtedly be the most publicized guest, to the delight of the enemies of the Church. Outrageous!

I see that you regard the canonization of John Paul II as valid because Rome says so. But he believed that the Old Covenant of the Jews is still salvific for them, and he went into a mosque to kiss the book that has diverted millions from hearing the Christian Gospel — the first a major heresy and the second the stuff of horrible nightmares for all popes before John XXIII. John Paul II was a man with great qualities, yes; but a saint, no.

You claim that The Remnant has “crossed the Rubicon” (guest column, John Médaille, May) and is encouraging its readers to suspect schism so as to increase sales — the sensationalism of the gutter press! This shocking accusation needs a public apology, no less.

Nevertheless, I shall continue to take the NOR for the usual excellence of its content.

Victor J. Camron

Southampton, New Jersey

The NOR should be called the Neo-Catholic Orthodox Review. You try to portray traditionalists as brainless sentimentalists and/or rigid reactionaries. You call us Protestants by claiming that we exercise private judgment (“Traditionalist & Progressive Totalitarians in the Church” by Richard Upsher Smith Jr., Aprib~ This is laughable on numerous accounts, especially considering how you Novus Ordoists are the ones who really espouse Protestant beliefs. You’re the ones who have no problem with participating in ecumenical prayer services with our “separated brethren” (heretics that they are). We traditionalists are the ones who still adhere to the teaching that it is forbidden to do so. We likewise reject such novelties as ecumenism, the natural “right” to religious liberty, collegiality, and a “new” Mass nearly identical to an Anglican service, indeed formulated by Protestants. We don’t exercise private judgment, as you accuse us of doing. We have 2,000 years of solid Catholic teaching that clearly articulates what is to be believed — a tradition that cannot be seduced by lying novelties. You have a mere 50 years of watered-down, ambiguous documents that intentionally provide no definitions of doctrine or solemn judgments.

You claim that we don’t want to debate the issues (ed. reply to E.J. Speciale, June), but you know that is a blatant lie. John Salza, John Vennari, Christopher Ferrara, Michael Matt, Michael Davies (R.I.P.), Fr. Gruner (R.I.P.), and scores of other traditionalists constantly debate and shred you neo-Catholic sycophants. NOR readers simply need to look it up.

Your lack of journalistic integrity is evident in your publishing “The Remnant Crosses the Rubicon,” in which John Médaille attacks Michael Matt of The Remnant for posting an article on his newspaper’s website in which a writer was especially critical of Pope Francis and likened him to the Antichrist. You then tied the opinion of this writer to the editors of The Remnant. If you actually bothered to read The Remnant, you would know that they believe no such thing. By this practice, we can assume that you hold every liberal, heterodox, and heretical view that people write in your pages, right?

You cannot attack the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) on doctrinal issues, so you fall back on the charge of “disobedience.” As if obedience were not to be guided by prudence. As if obedience were not a moral virtue that hinges on the cardinal virtue of justice, which is subservient to the theological virtue of faith. St. Thomas Aquinas, Torquemada, Cajetan, Suarez, St. Robert Bellarmine, and countless others tell us that we not only have the right but the duty to resist a pope who abuses his mandate and causes the Church serious harm. True obedience does not force us to accept papal errors, nor does it allow us to refuse the authority even of bad popes. True obedience consists in accepting the authority of the pope as pope, praying for him, and respecting him while resisting the bad orientations he is bringing into the Church. We accept with divine and Catholic faith anything that comes out of the Extraordinary or Ordinary Universal Magisterium. Such is the attitude of the SSPX. Schism is a rejection in principle of the pope’s authority and not a simple act of disobedience.

I don’t understand your constant attacks on a group of Catholics who simply want to keep the faith whole and inviolate. I have news for you: Our Church did not start either in reality or in practice in 1962. This world will either be Catholic or it will be nothing at all. I speak of actual Catholicism, not this watered-down, feel-good version of neo-Catholicism that you espouse.

We are the Church Militant! Christus Imperat! Christus Vincit! Christus Regnant!

Joseph E. Staskewicz

Oakwood, Virginia

We Need You, But You Need to Grow Up

Dear SSPXers:

We love you and need you in the Church, but you need to grow up. The Church is the Body of Christ, and you come to her on her terms, not your own.

You cannot appoint your own bishops like the Chinese communists try to do (whom the Church rightly rejects). You don’t get to vote on “truth” like so many Protestant denominations do, and you don’t get to decide which Mass is “better.” So the Mass isn’t exactly like you want it? So what! The Church is not a democracy, and thank God for that. Besides, you can’t demand any change in ecclesiastics if you’re not actually in the Church.

If you prefer a more traditional Mass, then attend a parish that hosts the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, as I do.

I too am not always happy with some of the things Pope Francis says, but I am under his authority and the authority of the local bishop. Even a very conservative man like me can love and respect him because he is the Vicar of Christ. And precisely because he has the charism of infallibility, he cannot and will not teach error in matters of faith and morals. Ask yourselves: Is there anything in the deposit of faith that has been taught ex cathedra by any pope that is not truth? Of course not. The Church has never been wrong in matters of faith and morals, and never will be, because she embodies the truth of Jesus Christ.

Any, finally, please stop threatening the NOR with canceling your subscription. If you only want to read things you agree with, then read your own diary. We need you in the Church, and we need you to support the NOR, the greatest Catholic publication left in the U.S.

Mark Blain

Perry, Florida


As a longtime subscriber to the NOR, I am mystified by the ongoing, contentious debate concerning the SSPX. From the beginning of its formation, the SSPX would not accept certain aspects of documents of Vatican II or the Novus Ordo Mass. Yet Vatican II was a pastoral council, not a dogmatic one, and therefore Catholics are under no binding obligation to accept any of its documents. Recently, the Vatican told Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, that his group’s objections to Vatican II do not present a barrier to reconciliation with the Church. Pope Francis is eager to reconcile the SSPX, who have always recognized every pope as the Vicar of Christ, including Francis.

Perhaps we can eliminate the subjective, contentious debate in the NOR concerning the SSPX as it is counterproductive.

Donald Clumm

Rock Spring, Georgia

Ed. Note: We have to agree: Unfortunately, the “reasoned debate” on the SSPX that we called for in our July-August 2015 issue (ed. reply to Kruger and Drippe letters) has lost any semblance of the “charity and good will” we hoped would characterize it. It has devolved in the past couple issues into ranting, accusations, name-calling, anger, and hurt feelings. It has indeed become counterproductive and not a little tiresome (as we’ve heard from readers who have no dog in this fight), and therefore it’s time to move on to other things.

James Norton

Murderous Barbarians Meet a Fragile Faith

Robert F. Patterson (letter, May) writes that “if the faith of Europe is so fragile that the mere presence of Muslims is a threat, then something is rotten somewhere.” Mr. Patterson appears to be a man of compassion. But, as with most actions in life, compassion has two sides. I loved and was compassionate in the rearing of my children, but as a father, I had the responsibility to make difficult adult decisions and sometimes discipline and deny them activities that would harm them and, eventually, their future. Mr. Patterson is correct: The faith of Europe is “fragile,” and may I add, so is that of the United States. 

When my grandparents came through Ellis Island, they kissed the ground; their dream was for their families to become Americans. They did not ask for any special treatment, and God knows, they received none. Yes, our country is flawed and has numerous problems, but do we need to invite additional difficulties from people who refuse to recognize our laws and our traditions, and who are not content when they arrive here? The key word here is assimilation, or the refusal to do so. There are numerous answers to the Muslim situation, two of which are the creation of safe zones in their part of the world and the opening of borders in Muslim countries that up to now have refused to accept their fellow Muslims as refugees. 

Remember, Mr. Patterson, under Sharia law you and I would not have the freedom to correspond in an amazing publication such as the NOR. In fact, the NOR would not be allowed to exist. As far as your having taught Catholic doctrine for 70 years, that too would be illegal under Sharia law. When someone finally ascertains how to separate the terrorists and madmen from the refugees, and how we are to keep those who are already here from becoming radicalized, it will be a great day. Until that time, let us conduct ourselves with some common sense and protect our people and country from the barbarians of the ilk who murdered thousands of innocent Americans on 9/11.

More Meaningful Material

Thank you for the free subscription provided via the NOR’s Scholarship Fund. I am most grateful to all the generous readers whose donations make such a thing possible. May you all receive blessings from our Father. Amen.

I have been thrilled by, and avidly engaged in, the moving articles, as well as the exchanges in the letters section. Among us Christians here, the NOR provides more meaningful material for conversation than the daily prison “banter” (that’s putting it mildly, of course). Also, we are able to use such exceptional topics as meaningful subjects for prayer.

Each issue of the NOR I receive finds its way into the hands of other faithful believers and is preserved for future readings, as much as it is possible within my (limited) powers.

If anyone wishes to correspond with me (as a pen pab| I would be most grateful to hear from you. You can get my address by contacting the NOR.

I want to let you know how much I appreciate receiving the NOR each month. I had a setback in that I was transferred from an institution that had a large Catholic community to one that has only a handful of Catholics. I went from being able to attend Mass every Sunday to going twice a month on Wednesdays. But I thank God for even that.

Needless to say, the number of people who read my copy of the NOR has gone down since my transfer, but I still spread each issue around. Your magazine is the only reliable source for Catholic news that we have.

I am currently 10 years into a 30-year sentence. I’m 58 years old and have outlived all of my family. So your magazine is one of the only pieces of mail I receive. The court is considering lowering my sentence. Please keep my case in your prayers. If any NOR readers on the outside would like to correspond with me, please contact the NOR.

Walker State Prison’s Faith and Character-Based Initiative is the only program in the Georgia prison system in which the entire population is composed of inmates who have pledged to focus their lives on accountability, responsibility, integrity, and faith. Other prisons have Faith and Character dorms, but Walker’s initiative includes the whole prison. We live in an environment with no cell phones, drugs, tobacco, locks or lockers, or violence. The only thing missing is a strong Catholic presence.

When I arrived in 2013, there were a mere eight Catholics who attended Mass regularly. Now there are 24. Just like churches on the outside, we have a range of parishioners, from those who follow the faith lukewarmly to those who follow it very ascetically. We have an awesome priest and a few loyal volunteers who bring us the Eucharist from St. Gerard Majella Catholic Church in nearby Fort Oglethorpe every Sunday evening. But our greatest need is for volunteers and mentors.

The Protestant faiths “rule the roost” here because more people from their churches mentor inmates, hold concerts and events, and give both time and money to their prison ministries. It is my hope to help change this status quo. I know there are Catholics out there who would love to contribute to Catholic prison ministries. Here at Walker, we have a few books and DVDs from Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic Institute, Jeff Cavins, John Wood, and Allen Hunt (Dr. Hunt recently contributed to our Feast of Pentecost meab~ However, we have had no Catholic speakers, musicians, or mentors. The Kairos Prison Ministry of Georgia has only two or three Catholic members. This is not meant to be a complaint, for I realize we are blessed beyond merit (myself, at least), but a sincere exhortation to my free Catholic brothers and sisters to help us improve Walker beyond its foreseen expectations.

If anyone wishes to help, monetary assistance may be sent to:

St. Gerard Majella Catholic Church
Attn: Ron Homans
3049 Lafayette Rd.
Fort Oglethorpe, GA 30742

Checks may be made payable to St. Gerard Majella Catholic Church. Be sure to indicate that your donation is for the parish’s prison ministry.

Thank you for your time and for indulging me for a few moments. May God bless you.

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