Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: September 2018

September 2018

A World without Fathers

Kenneth Colston’s article “Clerics & Curates: Who Needs Them?” (June) is a timely reminder of what a world without fathers looks like. It looks like the world we live in.

Protestants often chide Catholics for calling their priests father, citing Matthew 23:9: “Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.” Of course, even Protestants call their own fathers father, and all of us call good people good, despite our Lord’s similar admonition: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (Lk. 18:19). In both cases, Jesus insists that the source of fatherly authority and goodness is God, and that our own paternal authority and righteousness are a participation in the paternal authority and goodness of the Father.

But we have abdicated both — we have given up being fathers and being good — and the spiritual vacuum shows up everywhere.

And, as Colston points out, this cultural shift is visible even in our literature: He compares the clerical culture of Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed with the radically Protestant and even “post-Christian” culture of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, in which the lack of any clerical authority serving as a father figure, guiding Christians, and admonishing them (as true priests and fathers should do) enables the flourishing of dysfunction and chaos among the families living on the wild moor. In Wuthering Heights there is no clerical father to impose and interpret the Gospel, no clerical gardener to prune the family’s weeds to keep them from choking out life.

Meanwhile, we hear about “accompaniment.” Our Holy Father in Rome seems to be calling for clergy to serve as weak and yielding little brothers, sitting by, smiling pleasantly, and holding hands with sinners in the midst of their sins, and not as strong, definite, and distinct fathers who do what fathers should do, what our Father in Heaven does: show us (with force and anger, if need be) the definite shape of reality, including the reality of sin and virtue.

It has always struck me, as a teacher of young people, that leading young men and leading young women are two very different things. A group of guys, gathered without women, almost automatically begins to tease, chide, and harass one another. This form of needling, mockery, and jovial criticism is what young men seem to like. It shows them that our role as men includes a kind of pugilism — even in sport, and even in our casual get-togethers. It stops when women come into the group. For one thing, females don’t understand it (in the same way they don’t understand, say, the violent humor of the Three Stooges). For another, there’s something almost sacred about this male bonding, including mutual hazing, which mothers or potential mothers cannot fathom. It’s the rod, the sparing of which spoils the child. It’s men learning what it means to be firm, to be brave, to stand alone, if need be, even in our “accompaniment” of those we love.

This abdication of fatherhood, both in the Church and in our secular culture, cannot continue. Colston’s literary criticism makes that clear.

Kevin O'Brien, President

Theater of the Word Incorporated

St. Louis, Missouri

I have hosted Kenneth Colston many times to lecture to my students, and I never pass up an opportunity to read what he has to say. His latest article reminds us all, but priests especially, that what it means to be a man is, ultimately, to be a father, and what it means to be a father is to imitate our Lord in laying down our lives in chivalrous service and life-giving love.

At a time when the beauty of “male and female” is marred, when the unique strength of manhood is so often misused, and when the figure of the father is popularly captured by such dolts as Homer Simpson or Darth Vader (or even worse, when a Roman Catholic “father” makes the headlines), Colston’s article teaches that without strong fathers, our culture decays rapidly. For culture comes from the Latin verb “to worship,” and without a true Father to worship, we not only dismiss God, we lose our truest identity as His beloved sons and daughters.

Oremus pro invicem.

David Vincent Meconi, S.J.

Professor of Theology, Director of the Catholic Studies Centre, Saint Louis University

St. Louis, Missouri

Kenneth Colston’s article was fascinating. His contrasting of Fr. Abbondio and Fra Cristoforo and Cardinal Borromeo in The Betrothed brought to mind something I read in Paul Gabel’s And God Created Lenin: Marxism vs. Religion in Russia, 1917-1929 (2005). Gabel writes of anti-religious speakers who were sent to villages by the Soviet government. “One propagandist,” he recounts, “described his frustration in an anti-religious magazine. He had given the village an eloquent description of the unworthiness of priests and then accepted questions from the audience. One woman wanted to know more details of priestly failings, and the speaker gladly obliged. When he was finished the woman thanked the speaker and added, ‘Now we know better how many difficulties and temptations hinder their work, and we’ll pray more warmly to God to pardon and help our pastors.'”

Just maybe, if, in the spirit of that woman, we pray more warmly to God for the Fr. Abbondios we know, it will help them be more like Fra Cristoforo or Cardinal Borromeo.

Albert Alioto

Sacred Heart Parish

San Francisco, California

An Anxiety Agitated

Fr. John A. Perricone is an old and dear friend of mine. He and I are one and the same in our thoughts on Holy Mother Church. In our early years in seminary we struggled to preserve our Catholic identity in the midst of radical change.

The pontificates of the great St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI gave us a new hope that we had survived the dark days of chaos, and that a blessed normalcy was returning to our beloved Church. The reign of our present Holy Father has dampened that hope and returned us to a position of fearful anxiety as to “what’s next.” The Holy Father’s team players, like Blase Cardinal Cupich, agitate this anxiety with a confusion of speech, making us wonder what’s right or wrong.

Fr. Perricone, in his unique eloquence, gives us a clear view in his article “Cardinal Cupich’s Uncertain Trumpet” (Apribpof the dangers to the faithful of the new and alarming “mis-theology” of the present reign of the man who occupies the Throne of St. Peter. Cherished beliefs are questioned by the Church’s highest authorities. In the end, this can only bring confusion and a weakening of the faith to God’s holy people.

With all due respect to Cardinal Cupich, Fr. Perricone challenges any attempt to further weaken the faith of so many at a time when the Church is desperate for strong voices to lead a fallen flock back to orthodox pastures and the ancient beliefs of our faith.

Thank you, Fr. Perricone, for your guiding voice and sound of alarm in the face of grave challenges to our beloved Catholic Church!

Fr. John T. Connolly, Pastor

St. John the Baptist, Catholic Church

Clifton, New Jersey

Fr. Perricone dissected Cardinal Cupich’s 2017 Murnion Lecture with succinct, surgical precision. We would all be fortunate if such dissonant lip service from the highest offices of the Church would simply end there. Messages like that of His Eminence have become increasingly more difficult for the average Catholic to ignore.

Cardinal Cupich used millennialist buzzwords like revolution and re-imagine to connect with a specific demographic, a group more sophisticated than those running the Vatican’s spin-machine realize. Essentially, he is trying to replicate the “Sanders effect” that nearly seduced a generation two years ago. Revolution is a fitting word for that benighted movement, but it is unbecoming of a Catholic one, unless it is one that is tearing Holy Mother Church apart from the inside out.

The Catholic Church in the U.S. does not need activists; she needs saints. Cardinals, bishops, priests, and laymen who prefer to “accompany” others on a journey to social justice, rather than follow Christ on the road to Calvary, do grave harm to their souls and cause scandal to others.

Michael Wisniewski

Jersey City, New Jersey


Michael Wisniewski casts a welcome supernatural light over the whole Pandora’s Box opened by Cardinal’s Cupich’s “new paradigm” or “revolution.” Like a man trying to slake his thirst with salt water, the Cupich strategy is to drink the brackish water of secularity, which only leaves the Church’s critical condition worse than it was before.

Mr. Wisniewski correctly summons Catholics to be saints — the only remedy that will restore glory to our beleaguered Church. That prescription entails long and deep draughts of the Church’s irreformable Magisterium and the glorious tradition of her saints. Anyone who suggests anything less is a poseur, at best, or, in a more inflammatory construal, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” I know that sounds terribly intemperate, but it boasts quite a trustworthy pedigree.

Hope for Nonbelievers

Your New Oxford Note “Are There Atheists in Heaven?” (June) discusses Pope Francis’s conversation with Emanuele, a little Italian boy whose nonbelieving father had recently died. You point out the contradiction between Francis’s statement that “God is the one who says who goes to heaven” and his implication that Emanuele’s father is there, as he was a good man and had his children baptized.

You appear to assume that Emanuele’s father was aware of the meaning of baptism when he rejected it for himself: “He denied himself the very chance at salvation he sought for his children.” This must be the reason you rule out the question of invincible ignorance in this case. Yet it is not clear why the father had his children baptized and why he did not seek it for himself.

There is reason for Emanuele to have hope for his father based on two grounds. The first is that “he who finds himself outside [the Church] without fault of his own, and who lives a good life, can be saved by the love called charity, which unites unto God, and in a spiritual way also to the Church, that is, to the soul of the Church” (Pope St. Pius X, Catechism of Christian Doctrine). This teaching has a basis in Scripture: admission to Heaven of those who performed the corporal works of mercy (Mt. 25:31-40) and the teaching of St. Paul about the salvation of Gentiles who follow the natural law (Rom. 2:12-16). The second reason to have hope for nonbelievers is that no one can know the dispositions of a soul in the final moments of life, when God offers all the grace the soul is willing to receive.

Inez Fitzgerald Storck

Westerville, Ohio

Are there atheists in Heaven? If there are, then they are no longer atheists as they are standing before the Beatific Vision. But the question remains: Can an atheist be admitted to Heaven? According to Vatican II, the answer seems to be yes: “Nor does divine providence deny the helps necessary for salvation for those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with his grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found among them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel” (Lumen Gentium, no. 16).

I would remind you that Lumen Gentium is a dogmatic constitution, and it is, therefore, binding on all Catholics that they give their full assent to it.

Deacon Jim McFadden

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church

Folsom, California

Ed. Note: According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the salvation of those who are not baptized is only a “possibility,” not a reality (Summa Theologiae, III, q.8, a.3, ad 1). We cannot count on it, nor can we discount it. We simply don’t know. This is why that passage in Lumen Gentium is immediately followed by this clarification: “But very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and served the world rather than the Creator (cf. Rom. 1:21 and 25). Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.” This seems to be a warning of what can happen to “good” nonbelievers when they don’t assent to the Gospel that was “prepared” for them.

You state that Pope Francis’s reply to Emanuele’s question, “Is my father in heaven?” must have pleased the boy very much. I would add that the Pope’s compassionate reply pleased God as well. We read in Hosea that God says, “I will deliver them out of the hand of death. I will redeem them from death. O death, I will be thy death; O hell, I will be thy bite” (13:14). And as St. Paul said, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26). The Pope spoke from these unassailable words.

We could never hear the last thoughts of Emanuele’s father, but God did. Little Emanuele spread his child’s body across the abyss so that his beloved father could cross over.

Michael Suozzi

San Diego, California

Ed. Note: That’s a consoling thought. But just as we can’t know Emanuele’s father’s last thoughts, neither can Pope Francis. As we wrote, “The Church does not consign him [Emanuele’s father] to Hell, but neither can she admit him to Heaven.” We can only commend his soul to the mercy of God.

Pope Francis did an outstanding job of accurately presenting the Catholic faith and an understanding of God to a small child in distress. Yet you criticize him for not repeating isolated theological statements and drawing non-infallible conclusions from those statements. You seem disturbed that the Pope did not parrot the fact to this young child that “the Church ‘is necessary for salvation,’ as the Catechism teaches (no. 846).” You could have provided a clearer expression of this truth by quoting this preceding sentence: “Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his body.” That is why “outside the Church there is no salvation.”

In jumping to an erroneous conclusion of the meaning and intent of this doctrine, you ignored another vital fact: “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation” (no. 847).

Finally, you outdid yourself with your next bit of legerdemain. First you write of Pope Francis saying that “only God can say who goes to heaven,” which is an indisputably true statement for any faithful Catholic. But then you excessively emphasize another Catholic belief that God isn’t the only one who can say who is in Heaven. Do notice that crucial difference in what these two statements assert. In the lengthy and rare process of canonization, the pope merely confirms that God has chosen to reveal to the Church that a person who led a heroically holy life here on earth is indeed in Heaven. And an essential part of that revelation is the confirming witness of miracles provided by God through the intercession of that person. Rare? Yes! Fewer than one in a million people have been formally declared to be saints.

Note too that Francis did not say that the boy’s father is in Heaven. He merely made the accurate statement that the boy’s father “is not ‘far from’ God.” That is an obviously true statement of the father’s decision to have the boy baptized, which is the factual datum at the core of this issue.

James J. Harris

San Diego, California

One loose unifying factor in the two New Oxford Notes in the June issue is that they both use an everyday encounter of Pope Francis’s to raise innuendoes about his orthodoxy. The first, “Are There Atheists in Heaven?” is about his visit with a group of parish children. One of the unscripted questions asked of him was from a young boy: “A little while ago my father passed away. He was a nonbeliever, but he had all four of his children baptized. He was a good man. Is dad in heaven?” The child never uses the term atheist, but you consistently describe his father that way. Without cross-examining the child, it is impossible to know what he meant by nonbeliever — whether one who hates all religion, or the more common occurrence, even in nominally Catholic countries, where it is the function of the mother to go to Mass with the children while the father does other stuff.

A brilliant theologian (and Francis is not one!) would have had difficulty giving an answer that was both understandable and helpful to his young audience. Yes, as you state, Francis could have said, “I don’t know,” and left it at that. But he reached out in love and consequently made a muddle of it. What Francis said was nowhere near heresy (you mention three possible heresies); it was barely understandable — to adult or child.

We go from the very young to the very old in the second New Oxford Note, “Scalfari Strikes Again” — another muddle. Scalfari is a 93-year-old journalist and atheist who has “chats” with Francis and considers the Pope a “friend.” Scalfari does not take notes, admits that he makes “mistakes,” and writes about his impressions of what Francis said. Scalfari seems to feel that the Pope welcomes him and cares about him. You do not credit Scalfari’s impressions of his latest meeting with Francis but you worry nonetheless that the heresy of annihilationism might be lurking in Francis’s Vatican. Your one clear complaint is: How dare Francis meet with Scalfari multiple times! But this 93-year-old is nearing the end of his days with his immortal soul in peril if he truly is an atheist. I am grateful that the Holy Father reaches out to children and sinners even at the risk of being misunderstood or vilified by some observers.

Maybe you, with your fears of papal heresy, are in a muddle too.

Janice Hicks

Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Ed. Note: There’s nothing wrong with Francis having repeated chats with an atheist nonagenarian who is “nearing the end of his days.” In fact, it’s admirable of him. The problem is that Francis does so knowing full well that Scalfari will write up his recollection of their conversation for public consumption and unnecessarily stir up controversy about what the Pope really believes. Why can’t Francis simply tell Scalfari that their chats are “off the record”? The same disregard for his larger audience is at play in the episode with Emanuele. As we wrote, “Nobody expects the Pope to crush a little boy’s spirit by confirming his fears about the precariousness of his atheist father’s eternal destination. That would be cruel and possibly a stumbling block to the child’s faith.” But whenever Francis speaks into a microphone, “he is addressing not only those present but the whole world, in his capacity as leader of the Catholic Church. Therefore, his words are open to scrutiny.” As with so many of Francis’s utterances, his words lead to widely varying interpretations, as seen in the letters above.

A Clear Compendium

Seldom can one read a compendium of 24 liberating and historical truths about the biblical foundations of the Catholic Church as clear and succinct as that found in Frederick W. Marks’s article “Which Church Is the Real ‘Bible Church’?” (June). Fortunately for us, Marks has immersed himself in scholarship, research, and practical evangelization — and it shows!

The NOR has again made our lives more worthwhile because there is a great need for apologetics today for personal, family, and community use. And Marks has shown us a warm and charitable way to bring about better understanding.

Bravo, Frederick Marks, and thank you, NOR!

Edward J. Kasouf

Alexandria, Virginia

It is important to keep pointing out that the teachings of the Catholic Church are based firmly on the Bible. Our Lord’s words and actions while He was on earth are the guarantee of our faith. Sacred Tradition has preserved the authentic meaning of the written words of the Bible, but the words of the Bible form the foundation. Frederick W. Marks has provided a wonderful reminder of this fact and an excellent summary of some of the connections between specific biblical accounts and the teachings of the Catholic Church. The 24 instances he lists provide an accessible resource for Catholics and can be helpful in discussions with Protestants. Especially cogent were Marks’s accounts of the sinfulness of artificial birth control and the rightness of Marian devotion.

Marks also indicates how the meaning of the doctrines written down in the Bible has been faithfully transmitted to us by sacred Tradition. I would add that the Bible itself affirms Tradition as a valid basis for belief. St. Paul writes, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess. 2:15).

Of course, the coherence of Catholic teaching and Scripture cannot be exhausted by 24 specific instances. It would have been well to mention Paul’s clear condemnation of sodomy (Rom. 1:26-32). Especially relevant is what he says of this and other terrible sins: “Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.” This is the scourge of our time: approval of sins by many Catholics, even within the clerical state.

Piroska Molnár Haywood

West Lafayette, Indiana

Frederick W. Marks gives 24 apologetic arguments why the Catholic Church is “the Bible Church par excellence” and completely demolishes the case favoring any other. But more than half the time he comes across as if he’s giving a proof for a theorem in geometry rather than presenting something important for people’s lives.

I’m tempted to ask, “So, what?” On these issues, the Church is still fighting a rear-guard action against evangelicals, but the real threat to both of us comes from secularism, and, of the two of us, the Catholic Church is suffering the bigger losses.

Acknowledging that Marks’s purpose here has nothing to do with secularism, two of his points — 16, on artificial birth control, and 22, on divorce — deal with issues that are broader than proving which Church has the real biblical base. But his arguments from Scripture, valid as they are against evangelicals, carry no weight against those who refuse to accept any reasons derived from God, in whom they do not believe.

Apologetic arguments are strictly intellectual and will always be necessary, but our emphasis must now shift to presenting the practical case for taking action. Combating secularism requires that we show Jesus Christ bringing His otherworldly presence into our world as the solution to the emptiness to which we have brought ourselves. To do this, we must show Him in action in the Gospels, the biblical record of His words and works, and His suffering for our salvation.

I would look for Marks to turn his considerable biblical expertise in that direction.

Don Murray

New York, New York

Frederick W. Marks’s article reminded me why I am grateful to be a Protestant. Typically, a Protestant will look for two marks, or notes, of the true Church: the preaching of the Gospel and the correct administration of the sacraments. Some would add as a third mark the proper application of Church discipline. Marks, however, has compiled a list of 24 notes of the “real ‘Bible Church.'” Evidently, he considers these notes to be essential; in his second paragraph, he calls them “the imperatives of Scripture.”

In the 16th century Robert Cardinal Bellarmine determined that the notes of the true Church were 15 in number. If you were to take the 24 notes compiled by Marks, add the 15 compiled by Cardinal Bellarmine, then back out five notes common to both lists, you would arrive at a list of 34 notes of a true biblical Church!

The great English Puritan John Owen, in his Biblical Theology, refuted Bellarmine simply by showing how each of his 15 notes was identical to those used by ancient paganism to buttress their claim to truth. Antiquity, unity, miracles, the light of prophecy, and all the rest confirm the truth of paganism as well as they do the Catholic Church. What about the 24 notes Marks presents? Well, we wonder if they are complete. Based on the sample he has given — belief in relics, pilgrimages, kneeling during Mass, etc. — it is clear he could have extended his list a hundredfold.

Conspicuously absent from both the above lists is the preaching of the Gospel, something that to us Protestants is pretty important, being, as it is, the power of God unto salvation. It is also important to the nonbeliever who is considering the call of Christ but is faced with the claims of various churches, all professing to be the true body of Christ. Our nonbeliever will evaluate these claims using his private judgment (for no man seriously concerned for his soul is going to accept a church’s claim to truth on its bare word alone). The Catholic Church tells him, “We are the true Church. Here are 34 notes that will prove it — provided you are well read in history, especially the early Fathers.” How does a Protestant instruct our seeker? “We are divided,” he will tell him, “on the question of the deuterocanonical books; on the rest of the books we are agreed, which we have not upon the tradition of any one sect (not even upon the Roman sect) but upon universal tradition, and found there, among other sayings of Christ, is this: ‘This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent,’ and again, ‘Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God.'”

Forty years ago I was that nonbeliever. I am quite sure that had I been presented with a list of 34 “imperatives,” I would be yet in my sins. Thank God for the Gospel of Christ. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

David Landon

Warners, New York


Many thanks to Piroska Haywood and Edward Kasouf for their spirited support and encouragement.

Mrs. Haywood is spot-on when she suggests that my list of 24 instances in which Catholicism conforms to biblical blueprint is incomplete. Romans 1 on sodomy and 2 Thessalonians 2 on Tradition are wonderful add-ons.

Don Murray credits me with the demolition of Protestant claims and then says, “So, what?” How important is this, he wonders, for people’s lives? Any Bible-savvy evangelical convert to the Catholic Church who has sought the fullness of the truth with a sincere heart will answer this question in the affirmative: It is indeed important. As for Murray’s lament that I didn’t address the issues of secularism and atheism, I’m sorry that I have given him an apple instead of indulging his taste for oranges and bananas.

David Landon’s insistence on faith alone as a criterion for salvation leaves much to be desired. I could cite a large number of proof texts indicating that we will be judged on the basis of our works. Jesus Himself says so: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments” (Mt. 19:17; see also Mt. 16:27). One finds the same train of thought in Peter (1 Pet. 1:17) and Paul (2 Tim. 4:14; Rom. 2:6). On Paul’s list of sins that shut a soul out of Heaven, faithlessness is nowhere to be found (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

The phrase faith alone occurs only once in the Bible, and when it does, it vindicates the Catholic position that salvation depends on both faith and works: “By works a man is justified and not by faith alone” (Jas. 2:24). In my recently published book Confessions of a Catholic Street Evangelist, I devote several pages to the issue of faith vs. works. One can cherry-pick the New Testament all one wants for “faith” passages, but Catholic teaching is a delight because it accommodates Scripture in its totality, eliminating any thought of contradiction in the Word of God.

One last word. Mr. Landon believes that, as a Protestant, he is blessed with superior “preaching of the Gospel.” Maybe yes; maybe no. I never felt anything lacking in the preaching of Fulton Sheen or Mother Angelica. But even if Landon has a point, he must still come to terms with the Catholic interpretation of John 6 (on the Eucharist) and John 20 (on Confession). If the Eucharist is what we believe it to be, it overshadows any and all forensic deficiencies. Likewise, if the Sacrament of Reconciliation is what we believe it to be, we are in possession of another priceless jewel.

Blurred Borders

Fr. David C. Paternostro, in his review of my and Adrian J. Remer’s book Karol Wojty?a’s Personalist Philosophy (June), is very objective in his evaluation of Wojty?a’s purpose in his 1976 book Person and Act. Nowadays, we need to recover the question of Man because we are living in a world in which the borders between good and evil have become blurred. If we do not know what a human being is, how can we know how to act in consequence?

Wojty?a suffered the atrocities of the Second World War, and, when he taught ethics at Lublin University in Poland, he realized that teaching ethics is not sufficient if students do not first understand what and who is a human being. This means we must study philosophical anthropology (not only the philosophy of human nature) before studying ethics.

In many high schools and universities, the academic plan includes only the study of ethics. But ethics without the knowledge of human beings becomes only a set of rules about what we ought and ought not to do. Knowing the whys, the reason of things (philosophy), gives us the opportunity to live in real freedom and avoid propaganda and manipulation. It also helps us reinforce our faith, for “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth” (Fides et Ratio). We need to integrate mind and heart; this was a clear idea in Wojty?a’s thinking. Our book tries to open a path in this direction.

Miguel Acosta

Asst. Professor of Philosophy, Universidad CEU San Pablo

Madrid, Spain


I was appalled by your treatment of Roy Tinder (ed. reply to letter, June), who attempted to defend President Trump against his slanderers. You said that Trump has “sparked a mania among his detractors, a visceral antipathy that expresses itself in unfocused rage, even among otherwise calm, rational people. Those so afflicted find his very existence odious; they’re angered by virtually everything he says and does, and they’re against everything he stands for — or might stand for.” Those detractors you so accurately describe are the power-hungry politicians who see power slowly slipping from their grasp (all too slowly). Sure, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and all the other Obama clones act as “calm, rational people.” When? When everything is going according to their plans. Trump is not responsible for other peoples’ opinions of him. It is completely ridiculous to assert that he is. What happens between one’s ears is what one permits to happen.

I’m amazed that you are so rigidly prejudiced and biased. You took Mr. Tinder’s letter apart and smeared it in the mud, nitpicking it and insulting his phraseology and presentation, instead of acting like a “calm, rational” person. Where are your Christian charity, patience, and forbearance? You must be sparked by the same mania these maniacal detractors decry. There’s a theory that something in the California air turns people into vicious maniacs. Your diatribe against Tinder is worthy of any liberal newspaper’s op-ed page. Be careful! Sparks can catch on and raze whole edifices to the ground.

Strike one: Cancel my subscription. Strike two: Expect no further donations from me.

Thomas Grail

Garland, Texas

I am shocked about your being a liberal Democrat. You must have voted for Hillary (a lesbian) and backed Obama (a homo). A friend of mine told me about Hillary, and a male prostitute about Obama more than once. You would not know about these things since you’ve lived a Catholic life, going to church every Sunday and having a good family. I, on the other hand, lived a tough life on the streets, dealing with fast women, prostitutes, alcohol, and gambling, before returning to the Church. I was in the know about people like Hillary and Obama. Do your research about them.

Yes, Trump did a lot of things when he was young, but now he is the best president we can have. He was young with a lot of money. I was young with less money. But I changed after 40 years. He can change too.

Mel Goins

Cullman, Alabama


Mr. Tinder did more than merely defend Trump against his slanderers. He called Trump “a very saintly man” who is “performing more acts of Christian charity than any other person in the world, including the present ‘pope.'” Yet Mr. Grail calls us “rigidly prejudiced” and “vicious maniacs” for pointing out the patent absurdity of such statements. Talk about a lack of Christian charity and forbearance!

Mr. Grail doesn’t seem to realize that, with our mention of the “visceral antipathy” among Trump’s detractors, we were describing a phenomenon — what others have called Trump Derangement Syndrome — not assigning blame. But that, we suppose, is par for the course. For, as we noted in our reply to Tinder, there is a flipside to the mania characteristic of Trump’s detractors, one that afflicts Trump’s followers, those who “go to great lengths to defend Trump against any and all criticism, abandoning rational discussion by demanding Trump-centered ideological purity…. You’re either all in with Trump or you’re an enemy, a hater.”

Messrs. Grail and Goins both label us as liberals, which is a laughable accusation. Sorry, we don’t buy into the apocalyptic us-vs.-them fantasies peddled on either end of the political spectrum. Being critical of one side doesn’t automatically make you a supporter of the other.

As for Mr. Grail’s incendiary warning: We hardly believe that because we choose not to march in lockstep with the Trump Brigade, the NOR offices are going to burn to the ground.


I am truly baffled by the numerous letters from subscribers like Clarke N. Ellis (“Corrosive to My Faith,” June) who have been reading the NOR for years and now want to cancel their subscriptions because they are offended that you dare “criticize” Pope Francis. It seems that they don’t want you to point out the crises and divisions this Pope causes with his lack of clarity and seeming approval of the “novelties and paradigms” proposed by Western cardinals and bishops. So, after apparently being fed by true orthodoxy in the NOR for years, now they want to retreat to their “safe spaces.” Instead of canceling, why not give a concise argument challenging the NOR’s assertions?

I would suggest to the complainers that they transfer the remainder of their subscriptions to the NOR’s scholarship program for prisoners. Judging by the prisoners’ letters, they always appreciate receiving the NOR and pass their copies along to fellow inmates to learn about the true faith. I look forward every month to my NOR, and then I pass it on to my pastor, who needs words of encouragement.

Patti Brown

Grand Junction, Colorado

Enclosed is a check for the price of a subscription. Please use it to help your Scholarship Fund for prisoners. It was motivated by Clarke N. Ellis’s letter, in which he accused the NOR of having a “corrosive effect” on his faith. I understand Mr. Ellis’s concern; this letter is not meant as a criticism of him. Many of us loyal Catholics are in anguish over what is going on in the Vatican and the Church. How should we respond? Some Catholic publications ignore it and talk fluff. Some actually like it. Others, like the NOR, try to keep us up to date. But it is indeed depressing to witness one outrage after another.

I thank God that we have the Scriptures and the Catechism to help us stay grounded in truth when many shepherds, including the Pope, are fostering confusion. I also thank God for the NOR for having the courage to tell it like it is. We learn from St. James: “Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (1:19). The NOR is doing its part to help us in the hearing process. May our response include respect, lest we be accused of striking the Lord’s anointed as King David warned us not to do (1 Sam. 26:23). Let us instead pray for Pope Francis and all our bishops and priests.

Harry J. Booth

So. Dartmouth, Massachusetts

Ed. Note: We encourage readers who are interested in learning more about our Scholarship Fund, through which prisoners and others of limited financial means receive free subscriptions to the NOR, to turn to the notice on page 43 of this issue.

Clarke N. Ellis and Roy Tinder (letters, June), grow up! You are acting like the fragile snowflakes on the Left. Trump’s morals are questionable at best, and I would object vociferously if he wanted to marry my daughter. Yet I’m a “yuge” Trump supporter and will vote for him again because he is so much better than anti-Catholic bigots like Hillary and Obama. Conversely, Pope Francis is a much better man than Trump, though I disagree with the Holy Father’s global-warming hysteria and his misleading and confusing statements regarding Catholic theology.

Both Trump and Francis need to be held to account — the Pope more so because we hold him to a much higher standard (at least should). We are to put our trust in Christ and His Church, not in men. Thank God the NOR holds both men to account.

Stop canceling your subscriptions and act like grown men. I will pay for both of your subscriptions for the next year if you want me to.

Francisco Javier Alberti

Parker, Colorado

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