Letters to the Editor: September 2002
Answering "Christian Identity"
It is amazing how groups like “Christian Identity” (Hal Turner’s letter, June), who claim to get their doctrine from the Bible, so often ignore or contradict what it actually says.
Turner’s first question was, “Why does the Bible…differentiate between ‘human beings’ and ‘man’?” (in Gen. 1:26 and Gen. 2:7). The answer is simple: It doesn’t, although some faulty translations might give that appearance. Turner should get himself a Douay-Rheims (Catholic!) Bible and reread Genesis 1-2. In Genesis 1:26, God made “man” (Hebrew adam), the same word as is used in Genesis 2:7. So the arguments presented by “Christian Identity” collapse right from the beginning.
The Hebrew word adam does not mean “turn red or blush” (the word for that is hit’addem); it means “mankind.” It is related to the words for “ground” (adamah) and “red” (adom), so if it had been meant as a description of skin color, the color in question should be red, not white!
All the races of mankind on earth today descended from Noah (see Gen. 10:32), the 10th descendant of Adam. The descendants of Cain must all have been destroyed in Noah’s flood (only Noah and his family survived), so whatever the mark of Cain might have been (the Bible doesn’t say), no one alive today could have it. In any case, the Bible says nothing about Cain’s descendants inheriting his mark.
The Jews, by the way, are descendants of Adam through Seth, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob (also named Israebp— see 1 Chronicles (1 Paralipomenon), chapters 1-3. King David was a Jew; Jesus, as the promised Messiah, son of David, is also a Jew. Note, too, how meticulously Jesus’ parents fulfilled Jewish law — circumcising Him on the eighth day, presenting Him in the temple on the 40th day, with His Mother obeying Jewish purification requirements (Lk. 2:21-24). When Jesus accuses the Pharisees of having the devil for their father, He is referring to a spiritual kinship or likeness, not a biological one.
The “forbidden fruit” of Genesis 3 (actually the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evibpcannot have been sex, since God wanted man to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). According to Catholic teaching, Adam’s sin was disobedience, resulting from pride (the desire to “be as God, knowing good and evil” — Gen. 3:5).
I urge Mr. Turner to pray to God to strengthen his faith. Make an act of faith: “O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I believe Thy Divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.” Learn about Catholic teaching from approved sources — especially works written at least 50 years ago that have an imprimatur and a nihil obstat. Pray the Rosary. Receive the Sacraments regularly. And remember that Jesus commands us to love even our enemies.
Hal Turner’s questions about the Bible show that he wants to understand God’s Word better, and that’s always a good thing. But the Christian Identity’s use of the Bible is another matter.
Take his first question, “Why does the Bible, and why did God, differentiate between ‘human beings’ and ‘man’?” The answer is simple: it, and He, doesn’t. The word is ‘Adam in both verses (as standard Protestant reference works, such as Strong’s Concordance, explain), and translations that came out before the 1970s used “man” to translate ‘Adam in both verses. Turner’s confusion is just another example of how the feminist bowdlerization of the Bible only makes the Bible harder to understand, and why the Vatican’s insistence on accuracy in translation (in Liturgiam Authenticam) is vital.
As for the rest of his questions, the easiest way to find out how the Church views a passage in the Bible is to consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism, quoting Acts 17:26, states that “Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for ‘from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth'” (no. 360). Number 791 quotes Galatians 3:27-28: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
More specifically, the Bible doesn’t mention Eve sharing the “forbidden fruit” with the serpent, only with Adam. It states that Cain is Adam’s, not the serpent’s, son (see Gen. 4:1). And besides, the only family to survive the Flood was that of Noah, who was Adam’s descendant through Seth, not Cain (see Gen. 5).
The Sacred Author may not have intended the stories in the beginning of Genesis to be taken as a literal history of the human race, and as Catholics we may hold that position (see nos. 109-114 of the Catechism). But even if the Author did, neither Genesis nor the New Testament allow for the Christian Identity movement’s interpretation.
If Turner read Genesis himself, he would find that the Bible does not say that the mark on Cain was a hooked nose; Scripture does not state what the mark was. In Genesis 4:15 (NAB), the Lord says: “If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold.” The verse goes on to read: “So the LORD put a mark on Cain lest anyone should kill him at sight.” No one knows for sure what the mark was, but a footnote in the New American Bible states: “A mark: probably a tattoo. The use of tattooing for tribal marks has always been common among the nomads of the Near Eastern deserts.”
Married Clergy Are Also Truly Dedicated
G. Thomas Fitzpatrick’s splendid article, “Understanding the Pedophilia Crisis in the Boston Priesthood” (June), has one serious flaw. He states: “The traditional objection to a married priesthood remains unrefuted. It produces a less dedicated priesthood.”
I would ask him, then where else is our Blessed Lord wrong? After all, the most Holy Trinity established a married priesthood, namely, St. Peter, et al. Our Lord, of course, makes provisions for the holy calling of celibacy — some men will become eunuchs for the Kingdom (Mt. 19:12).
As one ordained in the Anglican Communion 50 years ago, and the Roman Church 20 years ago, and being blessed as a married priest for 45 years, I can assure Fitzpatrick there are dedicated married clergy among Jewish, Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican, and Eastern Rite Catholics. Honesty demands that we not judge one ministry better than another when we speak of married and unmarried priests. Each has its distinct and God-given vocation. If we are going to say Jesus is wrong, and establish a new and different unmarried priesthood (the Lateran Councils of 1123 and 1139), we are dealing with a Christological issue. After all, the basic reason the Catholic Church does not have women priests is because Jesus established a male priesthood.
As is demonstrated by the survival of the Church under the horrors of Marxist persecution in Russia, a married priesthood can give the pastoral care and example to preserve the Church and extend her mission. To bring the Gospel to the world, to give the Eucharist to the people of God should be the stress of our pastoral care, not a primary concern that priests be unmarried.
Fr. Peter F. Dally
The Problem Is Celibacy
We who are on the outside watch the drama unfold — with dismay. We see Rome squirm and the media revel. Rome applies Band-Aids, and illiterates in the media speak of “sexual abuse” without defining the term. Unscrupulous lawyers, tired of asbestos and tobacco suits, have found a new set of deep pockets — you RC lay people. What hurts one body in the holy catholic church affects us all.
Despite your statements to the contrary, it all started in the 12th century, when Rome forced all clerics to be celibate. It was and is a cheapskate operation, designed to save money. No pastor’s wives and kids to support — get a lot more work out of the guy than 40 hours a week. Rome knew it was a calculated risk. Rome knew that the demand of celibacy (not shared by the Eastern church or the 16th-century Reformers) would be a wholesale invitation to sex deviants to head for the priesthood. Rome knew that laying on of hands and ecclesiastical castration would not remove God-given, normal, natural sexual desires.
God told the departing couple from Eden, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Rome said, “Don’t you dare.” God gave man the uncontrollable desire to penetrate the woman and plant his seed. He gave woman the same sort of consummate desire to receive the man’s seed, become pregnant, and bear and suckle children. That’s God’s plan. Rome says, “Don’t you dare.”
Rome figured that bishops would be able to cover up all scandals and move troublemaking priests around. That system has worked for eight centuries and works elsewhere now. Here in the good old U.S.A. we have unscrupulous lawyers. They scour the countryside for RC parents who have been lucky enough to have altar boys in the family who have been fondled by a priest. These parents figure that they have a deal better than the state lottery and Indian casinos — a million bucks for junior’s adventure in the sacristy.
“Sexual abuse” can be something as simple as wandering hands or it can be a priest holding a gun at the temple of an altar boy telling him to drop his pants. I’m guessing that 99 percent of the “sexual abuse” we hear and read about are the former. I had a high school teacher reach for my zipper — and a boss too. I just bopped their hands and said, “cut it out.” That was it. Should that now be worth a million bucks? Come now!
Here in Milwaukee we had Archbishop Weakland. He found a guy and they had some sort of romantic involvement. Then the guy made trouble. The Archbishop reached into the till for a half million bucks to keep the guy’s trap shut. But the guy blabbed. If, as accused, Weakland made a pass at him, the guy could have bopped Weakland and slammed the door behind him. Girls do it all the time.
Don’t believe for a moment that wandering priests’ hands wound altar boys’ psyches for life. No more physical and mental harm done than falling off a bicycle. Oddly enough, politically correct people who have canonized homosexuality are now aghast at priests who act out their homo role in life.
I like the way a Notre Dame prof puts it. He says it is malarkey on the part of Rome to say, while adjusting the halo, that priests are “married to God and the Church” and should not be bothered by a wife and family. He says if that’s the case, then presidents of the U.S. should be celibate and “married to the people,” and CEOs should be celibate and “married to the stockholders.”
Your cheapskate celibacy thing has gotten you Catholics in trouble. Get rid of the ungodly practice. Had good John XXIII lived a little longer, he might have done it. He brought Rome around to the practices of the 16th-century Reformers in matters of the vernacular and congregational participation in the Mass. Had John lived a little longer, he might have un-excommunicated Martin Luther. Had John laid the Church’s funds in lay hands, he would have prevented Weakland’s dipping into the till. Protestants also have sex problems with their clerics, so the repeal of the celibacy rule is not a cure-all. Don’t expect it to be.
St. Paul was celibate and bragged about it and recommended it. For those in the priesthood who want to choose Paul’s advice, fine. But Rome should not force it on its pastoral servants. The repeal of celibacy will happen because now the priesthood is not a desirable vocation for young straight men and the Church desperately needs priests. But Rome, unfortunately, moves at glacial speed. Start with second-career married priests and take it from there.
I like the orthodox positions you take. Stick with it. But you’re wrong about celibacy.
The Bishops Have Themselves to Blame
Regarding the priestly sex scandals: The April issue of Inside the Vatican printed an article titled “The Truth Comes Out,” wherein it was noted that the Holy See attributes today’s scandals to the U.S. bishops’ failure to enforce the 1961 decree presented to them by the Sacred Congregation for Religious, which states: “Those affected by the perverse inclination to homosexuality or pederasty should be excluded from religious vows and ordination.”
This document was given to the U.S. bishops at a time when homosexuals were still mostly in the closet. The document clearly demonstrates that our Lord is truly with His Church, just as He promised, because the decree demonstrates foresight about things to come. The document was prophetic, because it was, in my judgment, given precisely to prevent the scandals that confront us today.
But obviously the bishops (at least many of them) did not heed Rome, given that it is reported that between 30 and 60 percent of our priests have homosexual inclinations, of whom some are bishops. The scandals wouldn’t have happened if the bishops had listened to Rome.
Reyes C. Rodriguez
Hobbs, New Mexico
The June bishops’ conference in Dallas has come and gone. With all due respect, the bishops have only just begun. While I applaud their hard work to address the sexual abuse of minors, this only treats the symptom. Our bishops must also address the disease that has infected the American Church — the root of the problem. There is a cancer growing in the Church, and our leaders need to do more than to merely slap on a Band-Aid. The truth is that the Church has many more victims than just the kind who addressed the conference. The bishops have failed our children, not just by not protecting them from sexual predators in the priesthood, but also for failing to see to it that the Church instructs them properly about sexual morality.
Our society has become morally corrupt in sexual matters. Sadly, it appears that our priesthood has also become corrupted by a subculture of active homosexual priests. Our bishops need to promptly address the negative impact this has had on the Church, and how they intend to clean house. They need to act as true leaders and address their own accountability in these scandals, and especially the cancer they have allowed to spread throughout the Church. Many of our seminaries have become a breeding ground for this infection, attracting even more members for this homosexual subculture, while causing good candidates for the priesthood to leave. Even when a good seminarian finds the courage to remain, his instruction for the priesthood is at best watered-down Catholic theology — at worst not even “Catholic.” This, in turn, has influenced what is being passed off to the laity as the “teachings” of the Church.
Jesus calls those who receive Holy Orders to feed His sheep. He said it not once, but three times! Yet the American Catholic Church has virtually starved her members when it comes to the Church’s teachings on sexual morality. She has remained silent on homosexuality. While it’s true that most of our clergy are good men, the majority of them have participated in this code of silence. Considering the severe moral crisis in our culture, this has truly been negligence on the part of the leaders of the Church.
Making matters worse is the indoctrination of our youth to accept and “celebrate” homosexuality. Many school districts have initiated “tolerance programs” which are taught “value free” to address school violence. These programs have been an avenue for homosexual activists to advance their agenda among our children. Couple that with the so-called comprehensive sex education programs that for years have been indoctrinating our children in homosexual propaganda, and it doesn’t take a genius to see that our children are at risk. So why hasn’t the Church been as outspoken about homosexuality as she has about abortion? Why doesn’t she counter the cultural message with the truth?
I wrote to the Bishops Conference in D.C., requesting that they give this matter their utmost attention in March 2001 — a year before the Church scandals broke. In my letter I also begged them not to ignore the active homosexuals who had infiltrated the clergy. The Church’s silence on these grave matters is a direct result of the homosexual subculture in the priesthood. The wolves of our permissive culture are attacking and scattering the flock, and our shepherds are cowering and refusing to come out and gather us back into the fold.
It’s time our bishops woke up to the fact that a code of silence has permeated the Church. When I spoke to our parish’s religious-ed director about the need to instruct the older children (Confirmation candidates) on the Church’s teaching on homosexuality to help counter the cultural message, she responded, “You can’t do that! Someone might get offended!” Isn’t it more offensive to allow someone to be misled and to go astray than it is to teach the truth? Did not our Lord offend many when He spoke against sin? When did the Church allow the fear of offending someone to take priority over saving souls?
This subject need not be that difficult to address. Homosexuality can be compared to alcoholism, and we know society does not go around “bashing” alcoholics. Many people today have been touched by alcoholism through their family or friends. They understand the distinction between loving the alcoholic yet not condoning his drinking. They understand the importance not to “enable” the alcoholic to drink. Medical science today suggests that there may be a genetic predisposition toward alcoholism, yet society still does not excuse this inappropriate behavior. This is a far more loving attitude that the “tolerance” mantra that society preaches today. Yet we have confused Catholics who believe they are being kind and understanding by allowing a homosexual relative to bring his “partner” to weddings and other family events. Would we invite the alcoholic family member to bring his bottle of Jack Daniels to our baby’s Christening?
Our clergy is not meeting the spiritual needs of the people. In turn many of those who are running religious-ed programs, Catholic schools, and youth ministries are not equipped to meet the needs of our children. Our youth today should live by the Golden Rule and treat others with respect, but they also need to know that they should not “tolerate” every kind of human behavior. They must be taught discernment. They must be equipped with the knowledge of what is sinful in order to avoid sin. How many of the laity understand that we are called to love the sinner but to hate the sin? How many understand the distinction between treating others respectfully and enabling them to continue in their life of sin? Would we consider it loving and kind not to confront a loved one about his drug abuse? Is it a sign of caring to treat sinners with “tolerance” and allow them to continue in their self-destructive ways? Scripture teaches: “My brothers, the case may arise among you of someone straying from the truth, and of another bringing him back. Remember this: the person who brings a sinner back from his way will save his soul from death and cancel a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:19-20).
This code of silence, which many interpret as acceptance of homosexuality, is creating far more victims than just those that addressed the recent conference. This is not meant to minimize the horrendous abuse and pain of those victims, but merely to call attention to the fact that there are many forms of abuse. The Holy See’s “Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,” dated October 1, 1986, states: “we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral” (emphasis mine).
Jesus warned, “it would be better for anyone who leads astray one of these little ones who believe in me, to be drowned by a millstone around his neck, in the depths of the sea” (Mt. 18:6). How will our Lord judge our bishops if they remain silent while our youth is being misled about sexual morality? Let us pray that our bishops will quickly schedule another conference to address this very real cancer in the Church. And let us hope that they will recognize all the victims of sexual immorality, not just those who have been physically violated, but also those who are being mentally and spiritually misled as well.
Scotch Plains, New Jersey
A homosexual convention was held in Rome during the Jubilee Year 2000. The Vatican denounced its timing, its location, and homosexuality itself as against the Natural Law. The cynical “gay” response was, “gay sex is a natural loving expression.” The Catechism defines Natural Law as the light of understanding placed in us by God. It is established by reason.
A comparison between similar Natural Law violations may add some light. Is it reasonable for a girl, who is bulimic, to eat food only to vomit it back, leading to possible death? Is it reasonable for homosexual men to risk death from AIDS by placing their external organ and life-giving seeds within another man’s exit, who in turn expels the seed with you-know-what? Of course not! I am sure homosexuals find the first “lifestyle” sickening, yet they celebrate their own sickening and evil “lifestyle.” They have inverted reason.
Again apply reason and understanding to the next comparison. Suppose a “gay” couple’s entire food supply is dependent on their farm. Things appear to be going well. The corn and bean plants are eight feet tall and appear healthy. The tomato and squash plants are leafy and fully-grown. But upon closer look, there is a serious problem. All the plants on the entire farm have no vegetables, no fruits — no offspring. For whatever reason the farm cannot naturally reproduce. Why can’t the “gay” couple understand that a plant incapable of producing fruit has a vital “sex” dysfunction, and then transfer that insight to their own vital sex dysfunction?
Bradford D. Joyce
A Prerequisite for Homosexually-Inclined Seminarians
Since reparative therapy is in many cases effective for changing a man’s orientation from homosexual to heterosexual, it would seem that said therapy should be made a prerequisite for entrance into seminary or a religious order for homosexually-inclined men. The absence of such a policy has produced the shameful scandals we see all around us in the media.
Fr. Jerome F. Treacy, S.J.
When Human Life Exists
As a physician who has maintained his knowledge of embryology, here is what I think about abortion:
With the completion of fertilization (it can last a few minutes), the entire human chromosomal (gene) requirements are in place. At the same instant, the necessary material is present to begin the formation of an adult human. Therefore, also at the same instant, the producer of the human design acts to insert the design — the soul — into the material.
At the moment of fertilization, then, a human being exists, and exists with the adult (mature) design within it. It will take about 35 years for the adult male to develop, 30 years (maybe less) for the female to develop. Then downhill we go because of entropy — the wearing out process in material things.
Nothing can happen without a purpose — an end (telos in Greek). Just as an airplane does not move until the flight plan — the goal or end or destination — is established and the pilot takes off, so also nothing can happen — develop — until the design is present in the fertilized egg, the zygote, or first cell stage of a human being.
The zygote, embryo, or fetus controls the entire process of development, even suspending the mother’s menstrual cycle for nine months while developing the placenta, the umbilical cord, and all the organs while at the same time nourishing itself for nine months.
To intentionally kill a zygote or any subsequent human is homicide.
John C. Morris, M.D.
I was most dismayed in reading the letter titled “Recruiting Priests on MTV” (May). I believe publishing such a letter lacks charity and prudence, bordering even on irresponsibility. That letter, by Bradford Lefoley, a student at the Catholic high school from which I graduated in June 2001, is foolishly inaccurate in content and nearly laughable in tone. It is unnecessary to refute his claims one by one, as they are not minor factual errors but, instead, part of a fundamental misunderstanding of the high school, its chaplain, and, perhaps, even the faith itself.
The chaplain about whom he speaks is in fact tremendously orthodox, part of the new breed of priests totally and unambiguously committed to the Church and Magisterium. Just last year, Fr. Marcel Taillon, who serves as chaplain to my alma mater, Bishop Hendricken High School, and as Vocations Recruiter for the Diocese of Providence, wrote an op-ed piece in our largest statewide publication, the Providence Journal, defending priestly celibacy. In the essay, he touched upon topics including abortion, contraception, homosexuality, marriage, and the Eucharist. The charge that he is anything but totally committed to the Church and her teachings is both ridiculous and libelous.
Eucharistic adoration, novenas to the Blessed Mother, and sacramental Confession are common practices of the school community. These devotions, along with a passionate commitment to the defense of the unborn, have been the work of Fr. Taillon. A great many students at Bishop Hendricken, myself as much as any, have truly been brought closer to Christ by Fr. Taillon and so many other members of the Hendricken faculty (some of whom were so viciously attacked in the student’s letter).
Besides being angry at the falsity of the claims, I am greatly disturbed at the motivation for printing such an attack. Is it the publication’s policy to simply print any letter that has some semblance of orthodox Catholic leaning? My humble belief is that those orthodox Catholics genuinely obsessed with proving their orthodoxy over someone else’s are more often than not simply upset that their method has not been all that effective.
Orthodox Catholics, like Fr. Taillon, and the Holy Father for that matter, are often given grief for engaging the culture. The attitude reflected in the letter, and perhaps the publication itself, is an anger that faithful Catholicism can win people to the faith. I often get the feeling that some on the “far Right” like the fact that they are a small bunch. Catholicism based in anger and a genuinely Pharisaic mindset wins no one to the faith. Orthodox Catholicism, totally committed to the teachings of the Church and the Holy Father, based utterly in love, however, is a strong voice in the modern world that is sure to win people to the faith.
As the Holy Father has said, we are in the midst of “a new springtime.” Whether some like it or not, that springtime is coming at Bishop Hendricken, in the Diocese of Providence, and in the Church Universal. Orthodox Catholicism, conceived in faith and manifest in love, has brought it forth. Outrageous letters to the contrary should be called just that.
Riverside, Rhode Island
You May Also Enjoy
The nation's largest organization of administrators of women's religious orders is also being investigated by the Vatican.
Review of Arianism and Other Heresies
Reviews of Bright Promise, Failed Community: Catholics and the American Public Order by Joseph Varacalli... A Mind's Matter: An Intellectual Autobiography by Stanley L. Jaki, O.S.B... God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger