Re: George Neumayr's God Is My Pilot; Roy Hogue's, Joseph Baum's, and Pete Chagnon's letters (under "Not the Marrying Kind?") in Reader Mail's Orthodox Positions; Vincent Chiarello's letter ("Meaning No Disrespect") in Reader Mail's Audience Participation; and Jeremy Lott's Don't Let Them Marry:
Just a quick word of praise for George Neumayr's article on the new Pope: right on! (oh boy -- dating myself!). I am a fairly strict Calvinist who has watched the American Catholic Church become infected with the dread germ of liberal secularism... the disease that has so sapped my own tradition. The Roman Church's centralized system of governance has staunched the leakage via the godly leadership of JPII. It now looks as if the trend towards orthodoxy just might continue and even thrive (in part due to the work of great missionaries in both of our traditions). God is good! The Gates will not prevail for they are built upon lies as are the false doctrines assailing the church catholic. Keep up the good work.
-- Col. Hugh MacKenzie
Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey
Insofar as I am a "recovered" Catholic, I still have dismay over some of the tenets of classical Roman Catholicism. However, one thing that I had hoped to see remain true in the Catholic church was that it not succumb to post-modernism, and most especially the loathsome doctrine of relativism that accompanies it. The appointment of Cardinal Ratzinger to the papal chair is quite possibly the best thing to happen in my adult life to help combat this slide to the left that many, especially in America, seem to recommend for the Church and her flock.
As a child, I remember vividly the elections that brought to us John Paul I and John Paul II, and even made a scrapbook of John Paul II's visits to America that I eagerly shared with my fellow classmates in Catholic Parochial school. I watched John Paul II take stands on moral absolutes that many have forgotten or rationalized away, and wondered if there would be anyone to take up his banner when he was gone. And now they have found him.
The worldview espoused by Jesus Christ has been forgotten by many of the so-called "faithful" -- Catholic and Protestant alike. My hope and prayer for Benedict XVI's term in office on the seat of Peter is for him to call for a return to that worldview, and to show the planet no one should have to stand in apology for holding this set of timeless and true values.
For the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I give a whole-hearted and resounding AMEN!
-- Sarah R. Palmer
Roy Hogue, in his letter of 4/19, opines that "the celibacy requirement is what made the priesthood so attractive to homosexual men who molested so many young boys." Might I point out to Mr. Hogue that the celibacy requirement is just as binding on homosexuals as it is on heterosexuals, so it's hard to see that as the motivating factor. In fact, if the promise to abstain from licit (i.e., married) sexual intercourse is deemed important enough to encode in a vow, how much more important must it be to abstain from illicit sexual intercourse or contact? The truth of the matter is, what motivated homosexuals to join the modern priesthood was the lax discipline and permissiveness of the post-Vatican II American Church, combined with easy access to young victims once ordained. The celibacy requirement, far from being "attractive" to those who intend to ignore it, has always been considered a troublesome, antique stumbling block by them, which is why they've worked so tirelessly these last decades to destroy it.
-- Jim Newland
Santa Clarita, California
Roy Hogue's statement that the celibacy requirement is what made the priesthood attractive to homosexual men is so mind-blowingly ignorant that I don't know where to start. By his reasoning, homosexual men need a celibacy requirement, to, first, join the priesthood, second, molest little boys?? How, exactly does that work Roy? Do you honestly think that a pedophile would not be a pedophile if the church allowed them to marry? Pedophiles are not interested in adults as sex partners and their vocation in life has nothing to do with their interest in molesting children. Subject two: A celibate priest does not come up with rules for life on marriage, family, children, and sexuality from thin air; it comes from the bible, the word of God. He does not need personal life experience to know what is right and wrong, he only needs his faith in the word of God. By your own requirements that a person must have personal life experience before commenting on a given subject, then you have no right to comment on being a priest or religion, because most likely, you have no experience with either.
-- Jeff Goff
The crisis in the vocations actually shines light on the deeper crisis in the Catholic family. Catholic Tradition always recognizes Our Lady as the First Apostle. It was because of her fiat that Christ entered into History. This humble woman from a forgotten corner of Judea wash chosen as the vessel that brought salvation into the world. Like Mary, mothers of the Christian faith collaborated with God in producing children who populate our convents, monasteries and seminaries. The linkage between the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony (the making of mothers), the hierarchy of the family, and the Church were well known until recently.
It is no surprise that the crisis in vocations began with the decay of the family, and the liberation of sex from God's will. Contraception puts Man's imprimatur on the marriage act, and makes sex a thing-in-itself. In just 3 generations Matrimony has been reduced to a social contract, motherhood has been likened to slavery, and the womb has become downright dangerous. In the old days families used to look to the Holy Family as the ideal to emulate. Desperate Housewives seem to be our ideal these days. It isn't difficult to see the decay of the Catholic family mirror the decay in the vocations.
The Church isn't about to remove celibacy from the priesthood. It cannot allow women into the priesthood anymore than it will allow transgender men into the convents. The catalysts for the vocations were set initially by The Holy Family, and continued through the years imperfectly. When the Church did allow for non-celibate clerics it was met with catastrophe. The Church learned its lessons. If we want to see an increase in vocations it must start in the family. Until Catholics open themselves to life, until they emulate the obedience, and devotion of St. Mary and St. Joseph, we will continue to have parishes without fathers.
-- J.P. Koch
I'd like to follow up on Mr. Chiarello's letter regarding the legacy of JPII, who was a great missionary, writer, and evangelistic, but a poor administrator. He failed to supervise the clergy, leading to the multiple scandals. Only the Pope can remove or transfer corrupt bishops. He didn't do that. He formulated a new (and false) doctrine of opposition to capital punishment, with disastrous results. Pro-abortion 'Catholic' politicians quickly picked up on this. They now claim, "We agree with the Pope on capital punishment, while you conservatives don't." No pro-abortion Catholic politicians have been excommunicated. We are all judged by how we fulfill the duties of our state of life. And Popes, with the tremendous power and responsibility of their office, are judged by a very high standard indeed. Benedict XVI has a huge job ahead.
-- C. Baker
I think the level of discourse would be elevated if Pete Chagnon and others did not throw around cheap shots! Martin Luther did not become a Protestant so that he could marry. He wrote a list of complaints and nailed them to the church door (he PROTESTED, hence the term Protestant); His complaints were against the weird excesses of Vatican I. For example, he abhorred indulgences which allowed the rich to buy their way into heaven, camel going through a needle's eye be damned! The Pope got a very nice cathedral, St. Peter's, with the proceeds. He also became "infallible", something even the future King of England, Charles Windsor, is not; as recently proved by his admission of sins before his wedding audience. Yet future King Charles will be the head of the Anglican Church. I guess feelings of infallibility come easier to some people, but will they get into heaven?
-- Bruce Thompson
In response to Roy Hogue's letter: I must disagree with your premise that unless one has experienced something, they have no credibility. Knowledge does not come from experience alone. It can come from book knowledge. By book knowledge, I mean anything we know, that we ourselves did not create or discover the knowledge. Sometimes knowledge comes from experience, sometimes it come from thinking, or observing or reading. I'll use ND football head coach, Charlie Weis as an example. He never played in college or the pros (no experience). However, he developed Tom Brady into a Super Bowl MVP. It is easy, but not necessarily wise to say -- you don't understand because you haven't done it.
In my job, I constantly hear people say to me that- I don't understand because I don't sell. What they think is so hard to comprehend is not brain surgery. And, when I give a dissertation on their job, and how even the dimmest bulb can understand it with little thought, they seem dumbfounded that I do understand it and I'm not a salesman.
Experience is most important in terms of execution. I can read how to shoot a foul shot. I can only get good at it by experience. Many of the priest are very bright and don't need to experience marriage to have an understanding. Before you close your mind completely to the Catholic Church, think about all the things you know, that you didn't discover and experience on your own.
-- John Sharkey
Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey
In his shameless self-paean, Bill Clinton relates that one of his Jesuit teachers suggested he should be a Catholic. Well, in truth, I suppose he is as much a true Catholic as those sour-faced prelates sitting with the future Pope that day in San Francisco. Likely, they would have preferred Clinton's promotion to the papacy, if such unspeakable prospect were possible. Because Wlady and Bob Tyrrell now infrequently write for the on-line Spectator, I increasingly look each morning for George Neumayr's work.
-- J.R. Wheatley
Harper Woods, Michigan
Reader Joseph Baum hit the nail right on the head in his response to George Neumayr's "From Slob to Snob." I have realized for many years that the shallow liberalism that the Hollywood crowd and the liberal media elite displays for public consumption is no more complicated than the motive of high schoolers across the country -- the desire to be in the popular "in crowd." I have taught my children that doing things that they know are wrong, or saying things that they know to be untrue, just to be popular is the wrong path to happiness. Just look at all of the scandals and broken marriages that Hollywood has to offer! The majority of the Hollywood crowd may be beautiful and rich, but most are also quite miserable.
Trying to be popular might make you appear happier to others, and may even help to take you up the career path in Hollywood or the liberal journalism business, but it will not lead to a happy and fulfilling life. Instead, it eventually leads to a shallow life of moral relativism. Most of the popular kids in high school are already making bad life decisions that are causing hurt, doubt and anger in their lives. I attribute this as the cause of the hate and anger that are boiling out of many liberals today. Deep inside, they know they made the wrong decisions, but they will try to take everyone else down their path to misery, because, as we all know, misery loves company. I used to be upset at the media liberals and Hollywood stars who use their positions to badmouth people who do not live as they do, such as Christians and pro-lifers, but now I only feel pity for them. It is obvious that they are very unhappy people.
I have tried to teach my children that standing up for what is right, such as protecting a bully's victim, or speaking up for someone being verbally trashed by the "in crowd" may not lead to having lots of fake and popular friends, but it will eventually lead to a life that is fulfilling and happy. It takes courage to go against the grain, even for the right reasons. But don't we really want to revolve past high school? The liberal elite media never have, and I use their childish behavior as a teaching tool when I ask my children, "Do you want to grow up to be bitter and hateful like that?" My oldest child is currently a freshman in high school, and he displays more maturity than most of the much older "in crowd" in the media. I am quite proud of him, even if he isn't perfect and struggles every day to avoid the impulsive behavior that could make him popular, but miserable.
-- Mike Spencer
As the daughter, granddaughter, niece, and cousin of three generations of Episcopal priests, I am a very traditional Anglo- Catholic, who has watched with dismay as my church has been taken over by carpetbaggers anxious to climb into the hierarchy that they claim to oppose. But our priests have always been allowed to marry, as have those in the Orthodox Churches, and I think that those that I know (and there are many) are better priests for having families. There's a tendency to think that the requirement of celibacy is in the same realm of theological debate as the ordination women and that one will lead to the other. But there's really no connection between the two and the one does not lead to the other.
What is obvious is that demanding celibacy selects for men, who even as boys, have no interest in, attraction to, or desire for intimacy and marriage to a woman. Clearly, the abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests was an abuse of boys not girls. I am not saying that priests who are allowed to marry don't fall into sin. But in the Episcopal Church it's usually with adults, not young boys.
Further, as a woman, I appreciate and have more confidence in a priest whom I know has had the experience of loving, accepting responsibility, and sharing the joys and burdens of family life. I don't see how someone who's lived alone forever can have any sure understanding of the complexities faced by a married couple. I happen to think that there are real differences between men and women, which you can't really love and appreciate if you've never known the other. The Apostles were married and St. Paul said that it's better to be married, if celibacy will be a burden.
All of that said, I think that the choice of Cardinal Ratzinger to be Pope Benedict XVI was brilliant. It will be great for the whole Catholic Church.
-- V. Pierce
As was the late Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI (nee John Cardinal Ratzinger) is steadfast in his belief that Christ Jesus is the one and only true way to God. Because of that singular fidelity, indeed the new pope is a threat to all non-Christians, as well as those who call themselves Catholics, but wish to follow their own gospels, not the Gospels of Jesus and the Bible.
Jesus said, according the Gospel of John, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."
Therefore, let us who are Christians rejoice that secularists, the "enlightened," the self-anointed elites and the advocacy press hate Pope Benedict XVI. Their disdain is a spiritual badge of honor for him and anyone else who calls himself or herself a disciple of Christ.
The new pope is a terrific choice for Catholics. He'll inspire Protestants, too. It'll be fascinating to see what impact he has on American Catholics, especially those who are politicians -- recall that Catholic John Kerry stood for abortion, homosexual marriage and embryonic-stem-cell research -- and how soon.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia
I read with amusement Mr. Hogue's letter to the editor of 20 April 2005 where he fulminates against a celibate clergy which oppresses the folks out here living real lives. The key to his objections toward the essence of catholic ordained ministry seems to be purely experiential; walk a mile in my moccasins or you don't get my respect. Well, here I am, Mr. Hogue, a licitly married Latin Rite priest (I used to be a Lutheran minister -- then Cardinal Ratzinger granted my bishop's request for ordination in 1987), here to tell you how childish your arguments are to one who has lived out the church's teachings on sexuality within marriage for low these past 32 years. Celibate ministry, properly ordered with healthy individuals, is a gift to the church of complete, giving service (service which my own ministry cannot fully mirror with my other obligations). True, it's hard to find healthy individuals for this calling, but we're trying to overcome all the attitudes that are so ingrained in many in our culture (including, it appears, Mr. Hogue). And here's one priest with a wife and five children (and three grandchildren), who publicly endorses the church's position on contraception and other issues within sexuality; contraception is a plague which turns women into games and men into users, it makes a mockery of true conjugal love in favor of egoistic athletic events between partners. Americans should probably stop whining about how hard their lives are, at least long enough to listen to a man who might help them make sense of their struggles: Benedict XVI.
-- Fr. Gregory J. Lockwood
St. Vincent de Paul Parish
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Love Hurts:
One of the most significant problems with employment claims is the statutory right of every "prevailing" employee to attorney's fees at market or near-market rates. Even a marginal victory often entitles the employee to a fee award intended to encourage meritorious claims and "police" the marketplace. Fee awards often dwarf the money given to the employee.
Courts say that without fee awards, lawyers would be reluctant to battle corporate law firms for employees often making only minimum wage, and there's a measure of truth to that. What may be needed is an "employment law small claims court law" that provides a less formal resolution of claims -- and a fee cap for their lawyers. An employee rejecting the "Small claims court" avenue to unsuccessfully gamble for big bucks gets the same fee cap as they would have received in the small claims venue. Something like that could eliminate the "lotto" mentality that drives much employment litigation today, allowing business to save a bundle and me to go on vacation.
-- Tim Harris
Los Angeles, California
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Life Itself:
Regarding Mr. Homnick's words: "A flower has no utility, only beauty that speaks to the human spirit[.]" Mr. Homnick does not appreciate fruit, vegetables, honey, beer, perfume.
-- Daniel Edward McGurn
New York, New York
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