Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: November 2008

November 2008

Deacons Aren't 'Extremely Rare'

In his excellent article “A Failed Offensive” (Sept.), James F. Csank observes, “Except in extremely rare circumstances, no heterosexual Catholic man in the Latin rite can avail himself of all seven Sacraments, although he can choose between Holy Orders and Matrimony.” Whatever “extremely rare circumstances” Csank had in mind, he clearly forgot about the permanent diaconate. Permanent deacons, the vast majority of whom are married, are ordained by a bishop in the appropriate rites of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Deacon Richard W. Parker

Kenmore, New York

A Policy For Choice

Your New Oxford Note “Enforcing Tolerance” (Sept.) shows that the only way parents can regain control of their children’s education is to change the way public education is funded in the U.S. The laws of the 50 states should simply state, “Each taxpayer will financially support the school(s) of his choice, which includes kindergarten through twelfth grade.” Those who support each school would decide the curriculum for the grades within that school, as well as the other policies governing dress code, disciplinary action, etc.

Under this system, taxpayers would obviously support the schools their children attend. Taxpayers who do not have children or whose children are beyond school age would choose which schools they would support. All taxpayers would no longer have to support a public school system that “enforces tolerance” of beliefs and behaviors that should not be tolerated. The public school system would have a right to compete for educational dollars from parents and other taxpayers on an equal basis with other schools. It would no longer have the right to say, “Support our system, with all its perversions, or we take your private property and home.”

Of course, there are few, if any, politicians who would support such legislation and risk losing the support of those who now control public education. Nevertheless, Catholics and others who believe that parents — and not the state — are the first educators of their children should begin to talk about such a proposal. It may take a lifetime or two, but future generations will reap the benefits of an education that truly opens their minds to the wonder of the universe and the God who created it.

By the way, where in the Constitution is the president or Congress or, for that matter, judges given authority over local schools?

The Rev. Matthew Chadwick

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Institutions of Heretical Propagation

Michael McIntire’s article “The Secularizing of Catholic Universities” (Sept.) is richly documented and provides a concise yet comprehensive account of the decline of the majority of U.S. Catholic universities in terms of their abandonment of numerous orthodox teachings of the Catholic Church. It is not an exaggeration to say that most of these so-called Catholic universities in America — indeed, the world — are now rife with the propagation of heretical teachings by their respective departments of theology.

The betrayal of their institutions’ original mission of imparting knowledge of the true magisterial teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is aptly summed up in the article’s subtitle, “From Orthodoxy to Heresy.”

Francis Goodell

Omaha, Nebraska

From a Letter to the President of Boston College

Dear Fr. William Leahy, S.J.,

Enclosed is an excellently written article by a former Notre Dame Associate Law Professor Michael McIntire, published in the September issue of the New Oxford Review, titled “The Secularizing of Catholic Universities.” Prof. McIntire notes that Boston College was a cosigner of the infamous “Land O’Lakes Statement” in 1967. I have to tell you how perturbed I am as a member of the alumni that such a wonderful institution as Boston College refuses to follow the “conscience” of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. I am ashamed, as I’m sure our sainted founder of the Jesuit order, St. Ignatius, is, in regard to the position of the college in this matter.

I well remember as a student many years ago being required to take four years of philosophy and two years of theology. Those courses grounded me in the faith and have never left me. Current students are no longer required to take these courses.

The colleges and universities that have signed the Land O’Lakes Statement, including Boston College, have fallen under the spell of modernism as defined by Pope St. Pius X.

Anthony Mangini

Waltham, Massachusetts

Not Just Higher Learning

I agree with every word of Michael McIntire’s article “The Secularizing of Catholic Universities.” The modernist poison he points out, however, has also permeated Catholic high schools and elementary schools — from sea to shining sea. Home­school your children!

Stephen J. Sanborn Sr.

Mead, Washington

Divorce: A Mortal Sin?

Nearly every one of my fellow divorced male Catholics resorts to dating without consideration of the gravity of their marital commitment. They are no less married now than before they divorced! I have pleaded this case, including the continuing validity of my own marriage, with some 15 priests (my own pastor among them). Their responses have ranged from “you are arrogant” and “you are vengeful” to “you are evil and malicious” and “take off your ring.” I have reported these reactions to three bishops, including Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, to no effect.

Am I deranged — as these priests have tried to make me out to be — or does divorce no longer qualify as a mortal sin?

Mark Feliz

Colorado Springs, Colorado


Jesus said in reference to divorce, “What God has joined together let no man put asunder” (Mt. 19:6). There is no clearer indication than the word from the mouth of the Lord Himself that divorce is against the will of God.

Dating after divorce is forbidden because, in the eyes of God and the Church, the sacramental marriage vow is indissoluble (cf. Catechism, #1649). One doesn’t “date” while one is still married — even after divorce — without at the very least committing adultery of the heart (cf. Mt. 5:28).

The Catechism calls divorce “immoral” (#2385) and “a grave offense against the natural law” (#2384). Mortal sin, according to the Catechism (#1857), “is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” So yes, divorce is a mortal sin, insofar as no one can get divorced without full knowledge and deliberate consent.

But, the Catechism points out, there are circumstances that alter culpability: “There is considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage…and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage” (#2386). Pope Benedict XVI dwelled on this point in an April 5 address: “The Church’s ethical judgment concerning abortion and divorce is clear and well-known to everyone: they are grave sins which — in various ways and with due evaluation of subjective responsibilities — injure the dignity of the human person, involve a profound injustice in human and social relationships, and offend God Himself, the guarantor of the marital bond and the architect of life.”

Just Too Good

I do not agree with everything you publish in the pages of the NOR. My opinion on the war in Iraq is different from yours. However, unlike some, I would never think to threaten to or actually cancel my subscription as an act of protest or retribution. The NOR is just too darned good. In a world gone mad with relativism, secularism, and neopaganism, the NOR’s forceful witness and unapologetic way of tweaking and deflating the self-important purveyors of social and moral suicide is too good to pass up.

Steady on, NOR. Keep up the fight!

Patrick Valentien

Belmont, North Carolina

Hell Is the Love of God

In response to Carmelo Fallace’s letter (Jul.-Aug.) defending his article “Is God’s Love Unconditional?” (Feb.), I thought this quote from With Eyes of Faith: An Introduction to Eastern Theology (God With Us Publications) was worthy of consideration: “The Fathers teach that hell is in fact the love of God, the same love which illumines and gives joy to the faithful but which torments those who reject it. The presence of God brings life and blessedness to those who desire it, but reproach and condemnation to those who do not. As St. Isaac the Syrian says, ‘It is not right to say that sinners in hell are deprived of the love of God…. But love acts in two ways, as suffering in the reproved and as joy in the blessed’ (Homily 84).”

Patricia Johnson

Morgantown, West Virginia

A Doctor of the Church on the Fate of the Damned

I’ve been considering, in light of the private revelations from God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), the debate in the NOR on whether God loves all men unconditionally. St. Catherine received profound locutions which she, while in ecstasy, dictated to four or five friends (her “secretaries”) who recorded them. She was also unable to eat for a number of years and subsisted only on the Holy Eucharist.

One could conclude from St. Catherine’s messages that because God hates evil, this loathing must extend to the unfortunate souls who end up in Perdition. God tells this great mystic that the hatred of the damned “is so great that they cannot will or desire any good, but continually blaspheme Me…. If they finish their life, dying in hatred with the guilt of mortal sin, their souls, by divine justice, remain for ever bound with the bonds of hatred, and for ever obstinate in that evil…” (The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena; italics added).

Conversely, it’s interesting that God tells this Doctor of the Church that the will of the elect in Heaven “is so united with Mine, that a father or mother seeing their son, or a son seeing his father or mother in Hell, do not trouble themselves, and even are contented to see them punished as My enemies” (italics added).

Lastly, God speaks to St. Cath­erine about the perception of the damned when they are judged and the consoling reality that awaits the blessed who “do not await, with fear, the Divine judgment, but with joy, and the Face of My Son will not seem to them terrible, or full of hatred, because they finished their lives in love and affection for Me, and good-will towards their neighbor. So thou seest then, that the transformation is not in His Face, when He comes to judge with My Divine Majesty, but in the vision of those who will be judged by Him. To the damned He will appear with hatred and justice. And to the saved with love and mer­cy” (italics added). How can eternal enmity with God signify anything but utter contempt for those who willfully reject Him?

Matthew V. Haltom

Lexington, Kentucky

Not Since Nero

After reading Leon Podles’s new book Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (reviewed by Paul Bower, Jul.-Aug.), I think it’s obvious that Satan is attacking the Church with a ferocity unknown since the days of Nero. Some parts of the book were so horrific that I had to reread certain sections as my mind blocked out what I’d read the first time.

Gabriel Espinosa

Monticello, New York

Narcissism & Homosexuality

Thank you for the free subscription to the NOR through your Scholarship Fund. You will be pleased to know that there’s a waiting list of over a dozen folks here looking to read the issue.

Paul Bower’s review (Jul.-Aug.) of Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church makes me think that Leon Podles is onto something with his finding that “the problem” is classic narcissism. The Georgia prison system seems to be overflowing with various child abusers. There is a significant group of abusers that does seem to be genuinely physically attracted to younger children, never more than 11 or 12 years old. That group can be seen crowded in front of TV shows or movies featuring children of their target group. I suspect that these folks are also classic narcissists, which intensifies their behavior.

But the overwhelming majority of child abusers whom I’ve encountered have assaulted teenagers, almost all of them 13 to 15 years old. Virtually all of these folks are hyper-religious (at least while in prison) — they make up the majority of prison-ministry congregations; they fill up the seats in most prison faith-based programs; they’re the ones “preaching” the Bible to other inmates. They’re also the ones who are most likely to try to befriend and “cultivate” younger inmates — they call it “chicken farming.” While members of this group who’ve assaulted teenage girls are clearly predatory, they’re positively conservative when compared to the majority of those who’ve assaulted teenage boys.

Prison has a way of highlighting certain personality traits and behaviors, but I think I can safely state that narcissism and a predatory mentality are integral parts of homosexual behavior. While it’s necessary to point out that abusive priests are classic narcissists, it’s an empty point without following up with homosexual traits and behavior. We don’t need narcissistic priests — but that’s the type of priests we get when homosexuals are ordained. Obviously, the solution for the Church is to have no homosexual priests — and no tolerance for unchaste priests.

(Name Withheld)

Hardwick, Georgia

Needed Encouragement

I commend you on your New Oxford Note “Interview With a Carmelite” (Jul.-Aug.). Not only was it extremely interesting, it was also most encouraging. Between the incidence of sexual abuse by priests in our diocese and having many children and grandchildren who are non-practicing Catholics, I find it all very depressing. Br. Simon Mary’s story of his call to serve God and the existence of a Carmelite monastery in Wyoming devoted to obedience to the Magisterium are a balm for a suffering soul.

Nancy E. Carey

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Toward the Recovery of Traditional Teaching Terms

Thank you for the excellent prison ministry. Your intellectual courage should be emulated by the slick sector of Catholic magazine publishers. I hope you never lose your newsprint format or the extensive attention you give to your correspondence.

Thank you also for your direction in the matter of “intrinsic evil” (The Editor Replies, May). Having now read Veritatis Splendor, I’d like to clarify, from the perspective of simplicity, why the notion of “intrinsic evil” throws up red flags for me.

First, it is necessary to keep in mind the object toward which His Holiness John Paul II writes this encyclical: His aim is to deal with foundations of Catholic moral theology that “are being undermined by certain present day tendencies” (#5). John Paul sees at least two sources of this manifest corruption: from the academic elite, both in and out of the Church, in the form of certain speculative propositions called “conse­quen­tialism” or “proportionalism” (#75), and from “those who live ‘by the flesh’ [and who] experience God’s law as a burden, and indeed as a denial or at least a restriction of their own freedom” (#18). The first class of men, by speculative gymnastics, undermines Catholic moral teaching. The second class of men — that is, the rest of us schmucks — choose to betray God’s law without much fancy talk.

We schmucks understand the word “intrinsic” to mean an inherent quality. For example, wood has inherent qualities that make it wood, not stone. That means that wood is intrinsically wood, and wood is intrinsically good. But “bad” wood that has gotten wet and rotten is, as wood, not intrinsically bad; it has only become less fit for man’s use. Even rotten wood can be used toward some good purpose, such as compost to enrich soil.

But John Paul is engaging a wily enemy of false philosophical doctrine more than he is engaging his sheep. He summarizes acts that are “intrinsically evil” by quoting Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes: “homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat laborers as mere instruments of profit” (#80).

Are these not the sins that were traditionally known as those grave sins that “cry out to Heaven for vengeance”? The Pope, in speaking to those philosophical “experts,” deals with them in terms which they are accustomed to hearing — which is to most of us gobbledygook at the very least, and at worst a potential equivocation which can itself be abused by the very class of men whom the Pope challenges!

The phrase “sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance” is univocal, as well as a poetic analogy referring to severe disorders of the will. The term “intrinsically evil” might be comprehensible to certain philosophers, but based on its potential for misunderstanding and abuse, it would be best for the Church to cling to traditional terms to teach and guide her sheep.

John Quintero

Lovelock, Nevada

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