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July 25, 2011 | Volume 86, Number 20

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– Necrology

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LETTERS

Reader questions point of church surveys

Regarding Dr. Roger L. Bourguignon’s letter in the July 11 edition, the doctor raises an excellent point. With all of the surveys the Church through its parishes take, they fail to ask the real probing questions about the “Question of faith.”

In the years past, I have witnessed our church dragged through the mud with scandals of pedophilia, clergy having a secret family, and robbing the church of millions in funds to live a lavish, unchaste life style.

In addition, we the faithful must contend with being consolidated with other parishes into what is a “Cluster parish” with one or, if we are lucky, two priests to meet needs of the “cluster.”

Why are we inviting Anglican bishops and priests to become Catholic and then ordain them into our church, bringing along their families, and not allow Catholic married men to join holy orders?

I have failed to get a clear cogent response to this issue.

Can you enlighten me?

(Editor: The Vatican, which sets policy for ordination of priests, has declared that only celibate men can be ordained to the Catholic priesthood. The rationale is that since Jesus was an unmarried male, those who are to be priests must have that same status. Pope John Paul II called priestly celibacy a discipline of the Church, not a doctrine.

Priests as sacramental ministers act “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ).

Pope Benedict XVI has provided a new ordinariate in which married Anglican clergy can become Catholic priests but not bishops. He issued the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus” in November 2009.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington was appointed by the Vatican in September 2010 to guide the incorporation of Anglican groups into the Catholic Church in the United States. At a news conference during the spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June, Cardinal Wuerl said he “would not be surprised” if the Vatican were to establish a U.S. ordinariate for Anglican clergy by the end of 2011.

He said he had already received numerous inquiries from Anglican priests who wished to become Catholic and then be ordained Catholic priests.)

read the letter »

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Helping the poor debate continues

These are my thoughts generated by three letters (July 11 issue), responding to the 6/27 letter by Rev. Mr. Curtis Hornstra. My disappointment and frustration is with the tug of war over who is selfish and who really cares about the poor, and the glaringly missing point — Are we really helping the poor?

Mr. Hornstra is criticized because he objects to the way we go about it.

Mr. Couchman mentions how the rich have grown richer by 20 percent since “the housing, banking, insurance fraud.” He ignores the fact that this chaos began with strict government requirements that banks provide mortgages to those who did not need to show they could afford them, with the intention of helping lower income families.

He mentions “the super rich pay a tad over half the tax rate as working people.” Actually, 5 percent at the top income level pay about 60 percent of all taxes, and 40-50 percent of the population pay no taxes.

Of these, some still receive tax rebates. Mr. Couchman states that social justice is a “weightier matter” than social virtues of honesty, prudence, and thrift. (Where would be the incentive for the latter?) He asks why taxes would be “against the worker’s will?”

Could it be that while needing to support a family, or keep a business going, or paying employees, or trying to keep a home, “the worker” objects to the waste and abuse of his tax money by government?

While we gladly pay taxes for the services we cannot provide for ourselves as individuals, excessive, wasted and corrupt use of our tax dollars, without respect for us, whom the government is there to serve, or respect for those whose votes they buy, is immoral, and does not help the poor but exploits them.

Mr. Ronan states “the tone sounds like political punditry.”

Mr. Fordney asks “How do we assist the poor and vulnerable among us?” Instead of protecting the status quo of the poor, and hurting everyone, (probably Mr. Hornstra’s main point), wouldn’t it be more compassionate to demand a reform in the government welfare program that would encourage marriage instead of single motherhood, and does not terminate benefits when a father comes into the home?

Mr. Fordney states how taxing the rich “would add billions of dollars to the treasury.” (A drop in the bucket of the sea of debt.) What about the struggling middle class, some without jobs for more than a year, and those who have lost homes or businesses?

They desperately need growth in our economy, and not more downward pressure by increasing taxes on those who can invest, and create jobs. How does this help the poor?

The Circle of Protection principle #5 states: “A fundamental task is to create jobs and spur economic growth. Decent jobs at decent wages, are the best path out of poverty, and restoring growth is a powerful way to reduce deficits. “

read the Hornstra letter »

read letters in response to Hornstra letter »

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Who’s right, who’s wrong is endless debate

I’m Right, You’re Wrong!

Wow! Talk about slapping the chicken coop!

I was surprised to read the attacks on Deacon (Curtis) Hornstra for the letter he wrote to The Catholic Virginian (6/27 issue) as responders argued their “we’re right, he’s wrong” belief.

One needs to look no further for examples of intolerance and lack of respect for the views of others than the replies (tone and content) published in the 7/11 Catholic Virginian.

What do statements such as “a self-serving whine of the privileged” accomplish? How can one justify saying “I’m glad to pay taxes and support how they are used” while denying others the opposite view?

What makes Hornstra’s statements “double-speak” or “buzz phrases” or “the sound of political punditry” or “not-so-veiled code words” and the statements of his attackers “truths?” How does listing the members or key principles of “a Circle of Protection” prove that Hornstra’s belief that forcing others to help is wrong?

Why is it OK for someone to say “inadequacy of private charities justifies government intervention” while denying another’s right to say that it doesn’t?

Presenting their thoughts in an objective, respectful way would have been far more effective.

read letters in response to Hornstra letter »

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‘Circle of Protection’ has Biblical roots

In reading recent letters regarding the statement “A Circle of Protection,” I am truly astounded at the attacks against this statement and the false witness that it is somehow about “taking assets from one group of people against their will (Taxes), and redistributing them to another group of people” and about “class warfare . . creating a nanny state.”

Are these the words of Jesus Christ? I have only to open my Bible and see that it is not so.

graphic: rules for sending letter to editorWe have become inured to the statistics and political mudslinging back and forth, but there are facts that cannot be denied. Social Security and Medicare have lifted one in every three elderly Americans out of poverty.

Can we truly look our elders in the face and say we can’t afford you?

Americans eat 815 billion calories of food each day, 200 billion more than recommended dietary guidelines, which would be enough to feed 80 million of the starving people of the world. Eighty million people starve to death, while we engage in the sin of gluttony.

Is this what God means by Free Will?

With 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. consumes 25 percent of the world’s available energy resources.

We’ve all heard this before, but do we fully reflect on the fact that we can afford the shirt on our back because it is made by someone whose entire weekly paycheck couldn’t pay for it?

Do you realize the cell phone, computer and other electronics that you use each day are made with capacitors made from a mineral called coltan, which is mined in Africa by companies using child labor and militias to enforce inhumane working conditions?

Does God not want our Asian and African brothers and sisters to prosper too?

I am reminded, in the end, of the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

We cannot call ourselves Christians and then say it is “class warfare” to simply make a statement that balancing the budget should not be done on the backs of those who can least afford it.

As the old hymn goes, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”

read the Hornstra letter »

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Faith and reason are linked with freedom

The July 11 editorial, “Declaration of Independence” is a fine reminder of our freedoms. The Declaration’s acknowledgement of a Creator from whom our freedoms directly flow, leads to an important conclusion: religion cannot be legitimately excluded from the public square.

If the relationship between the government and the governed is defined and limited by rights bestowed by a Creator, then the conduct of our public life demands an understanding of the Creator, formed by our religious faith and the “self-evident” principles that can be known by reason.

Abortion, capital punishment, universal health care, the decision to wage war, same-sex “marriage” and immigration reform are merely a few examples of current issues about which religiously-informed opinions are not only germane but essential.

Our Founding Fathers were products of the Enlightenment, but they refused to sacrifice religious faith upon the altar of reason. They correctly acknowledged the ultimate, divine source of our individual rights.

Perhaps they saw, as did Pope John Paul II, that “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.”

read the commentary »

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Declaration of Independence had Catholic signer

Wonderful commentary by Steve Neill about the Declaration of Independence (July 11 issue). If I may, I’d like to add a footnote or two to the article.

There was only one Catholic who signed the document – Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland. Life for Catholics in Maryland was not pleasant at that time in history.

Catholics could not vote, hold elective office or own property – except for a few who had special authority from the state. Charles Carroll was one. He was the first to sign and the last of the original group of signers to die.

Actually only John Hancock and Charles Thompson signed on the fourth of July 1776. On the 19th of July Congress passed a resolution directing that a copy be made on parchment to which the signatures of members of Congress should be appended.

On August 2 a copy of the document as finally adopted by Congress on July 4 was brought into the hall for signature. John Hancock asked Charles Carroll if he would have any objection to signing. He said, “Not in the least. Where shall I sign?”

By the end of that day 35 members had signed. By Sept. 15 all had signed except two. One of those signed in December and John Dickenson of Pennsylvania declined to sign.

Often quoted as his last words, is this impressive statement:

I have lived to my ninety-sixth year; I have enjoyed continued health. I have been blessed with great wealth, prosperity, and most of the good things which the world can bestow — public approbation, esteem, applause; but what I now look back on with the greatest satisfaction to myself is that I have practiced the duties of my religion.

We were blessed with great men at that time in history who led the United States to independence. Charles Carroll of Carrollton stands out as an early Catholic patriot who risked all he had for our freedom.

read the commentary »

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