Your Suffering Is Deserved
I see from your January editorial that the new millennium is not getting off to a great start for you.
The NEW OXFORD REVIEW is suffering for two reasons. First, your approach is partisan — the opposite of Catholic. A Catholic does not distinguish between friend and foe. It is not the right answers that are important: Everything is a matter of the heart. I’m sure the cutting sarcasm directed at “Father Bozo” in your ads has not helped him. Moreover, your ads have alienated the National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor (your allies), and because those papers won’t print your ads you’ve lost lots of revenue.
The second reason you’re suffering is because you judge, when Scripture teaches us not to. Every individual and group you criticize is probably operating according to the dictates of conscience — which is in perfect accord with the doctrine of the Church.
Steffen F. Richards
In reading your January editorial, I could not believe my eyes. You say that because of “the revolution in the Church….tremendous damage is being done to the Church and to countless souls,” and that “the truly shocking thing is that [this] erosion of faith among Catholics has come on the watch of Pope John Paul II….” Please! It is the accursed teaching of John Paul II that Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory are not places but states. Apparently, then, Jesus Christ ascended, not into a place called Heaven with His body, but into some heavenly state — and the Virgin Mary was not assumed bodily into Heaven, but into some state. Bodies require places.
Also, John Paul claims that God does not cast people into Hell, for they freely choose to go there. But this contradicts many passages in the Bible — e.g., the words of Jesus, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But…fear Him who…has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Lk. 12:4-5).
New York, New York
Better a Real Nobody Than a Fake Catholic?
An irresistible postscript to Fr. Bernard Coughlin’s article “Oh, I’m Nobody” (Jan.) is Tom Ripley’s spooky motto, “Better a fake somebody than a real nobody.” Ripley’s quote has direct application to those Catholics-in-name-only who falsely claim the Catholic label in order to achieve celebrity status via the media. Without the Catholic label, dissenting and feminist theologians, bishops, priests, and sisters would be unquotable nobodies. The liberal media love to use these phony Catholic “spokespersons” as battering rams against the Church. However, the media would find these “Catholics” useless if they were to be honest and convert to some non-Catholic faith.
St. Louis, Missouri
Be Open to the Opinions of Others
I’m struck by your recurring need to put others down in order to build yourselves up, as seen, for example, in your revisiting the book, The Good Enough Catholic by Paul Wilkes (“The Not Quite Good Enough Catholic,” New Oxford Notes, Jan.). That item of yours prompted me to consult the 1999 Catholic Almanac regarding conscience. It states: “A person is obliged: (1) to obey a certain and correct conscience; (2) to obey a certain conscience even if it is inculpably erroneous; (3) not to obey, but to correct, a conscience known to be erroneous or lax; (4) to rectify a scrupulous conscience by following the advice of a confessor and by other measures; (5) to resolve doubts of conscience before acting.”
I think dialogue among groups within the Catholic Church is healthy. We should be open to the opinions of others. I once asked a priest in confession, “When are we passing judgment on someone else?” He replied that it was when we have to have the last word on something and we’re not open to someone else’s opinions.
Patricia A. Gunn
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