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April 2, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 11

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THE CATHOLIC  DIOCESE OF  RICHMOND

– Necrology

LETTERS

Free contraception not akin to blood transfusions

John Brady makes a number of logical errors in defending his position that the Catholic Church and its institutions are obligated to conform to the government’s desire to make contraceptives freely available through its employee healthcare insurance policies (Letters, March 19).

For example, Mr. Brady states: “Requiring Catholic hospitals and universities to have insurance covering contraception services for their employees is no more of an overreach of secular power than requiring a Jehovah’s Witness hospital to cover blood transfusions for their employees.”

Does he not realize that while blood transfusions are an expensive procedure needed to treat serious medical conditions and to save lives, contraceptives are inexpensive, readily accessible, and serve the primary purpose of not treating a disease, but to prevent the natural, healthy and predictable consequence of sexual intercourse between healthy, fertile couples?

And how does the mere refusal to participate in the commission of what the Church considers to be a sinful act count as “coercive” as Mr. Brady suggests?

While the government may have a compelling reason to mandate insurance coverage for life-saving medical procedures like blood transfusions, it is difficult to understand how enabling couples to have worry-free sex trumps the fundamental First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

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Natural family planning called ‘a gift’ to married couples

I am writing because of my dismay and shock over a commentary by Father John Catoir in the March 5 edition. Why would you publish an article so obviously unorthodox?

Father Catoir says that Ecclesiastical Law tried to spell out the Divine Command of “As for you, be fruitful, increase in number and multiply.” What does he mean by tried? The Pope with the Bishops in union with him or the Pope alone have an infallible teaching authority on the matters of faith and morals. There is no room for opinion here. He basically states that no one in authority condemns anyone for not following the Church’s teaching on contraception.

Father Catoir is correct in saying that we shouldn’t condemn anyone, but we are in fact called to teach the Truth. The truth is that contraception in any form is intrinsically evil and no Catholic is allowed to use it in good conscience.

Which brings me to another point. Father Catoir quotes one sentence about how no one should be forced to go against their conscience.

However, are we not called as Catholic Christians to form our conscience from the teaching of the Church? If our consciences aren’t formed properly, then how can we know right from wrong?

The only acceptable means of family planning is natural family planning and indeed it is beautiful teaching! If only more of our priests would explain to their congregations the reasons why contraception is wrong and why the Church believes what She does, then maybe more Catholics would know the truth and practice it.

Natural family planning is such a beautiful tool that the Church gives to married couples. Why are so many priests hesitant or afraid to talk about it at Mass where most adults learn their Catholic faith? Let us continue to pray for all Catholics to conform their hearts and minds to the heart and mind of The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Fr. Catoir’s commentary did not appear in the web edition of The Catholic Virginian.

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Universal health care said to be pro-life

Part of being pro-life has to logically include being pro-universal health care, — since life obviously goes on after the child is born.

The United States currently ranks only 34th in infant survival, with seven out of every 1,000 live births ending in death before the age of one. The main reason for this high rate of infant mortality is inadequate healthcare due to lack of insurance.

Pope Benedict XVI has recently declared that it is the “moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.” Supporting pro-life has to include the protection of life in all its phases including life threatened by illness, war, poverty, racism, euthanasia, and capital punishment. To stop this effort after the child is born seems both illogical and immoral.

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Priests seem to question Church

In the March 5 Catholic Virginian section with questions directed to Father Kenneth Doyle, someone asked, “Why does the Catholic Church push so much guilt on us? Why do we have prayers of guilt and repentance in Mass? How many times a day do I have to say ‘I’m sorry’ and why am I ‘unworthy’ to receive Communion?’”

The questions are understandable, and Father Doyle pointed out that “the Eucharist is a prize of infinite value. . . and we should never consider ourselves worthy of such surpassing generosity.”

The bulk of his response then went on to question the theology and prudence of the new translation, saying “perhaps the latest English version of the Confiteor tips the balance too far back in the direction of self-flagellation.”

It is unfortunate that a priest, and particularly one speaking publicly on behalf of the Church, calls into question the prudence of the Church to introduce the new translation. The former translation was, at many points, more of an interpretation than a translation, and the new translation places us within the context of how liturgy was celebrated for centuries.

graphic: rules for sending letter to editor“Self-flagellation?” I don’t think so. Rather, it is a beautiful expression of our utter dependence upon God’s grace and mercy, emphasizing that without it, we are inevitably going to fall into sin. More than being unfortunate, it is very alarming that Father Doyle calls into question the Church’s traditional understanding of sin.

In his book “In the Beginning,” Cardinal Ratzinger stated that “sin has become a suppressed subject, but everywhere we can see that, although it is suppressed, it has nonetheless remained real.”

He further states that making people aware of sin “is not a question of making people’s lives unpleasant and of fettering them with restrictions and negations but rather simply of leading them to the truth and thus healing them. Human beings can be healthy only when they are true.”

As unpleasant as it may be, our life of faith is an ongoing confession to God of our sinfulness, trusting fully in Him who died for us, thus revealing the infinite depth of His love and mercy for us. A sense of sin ought not lead us to discouragement and despair, but rather increase our love of God for the mercy and love he has shown us “while we were yet sinners.” (Rom 5:8)

Fr. Doyle’s commentary does not appear in the web edition of The Catholic Virginian.

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