Slathered in Sarcasm

Bishop William Lori, instead of offering reasoned opposition to what he believes was a misguided editorial (“Policy, Not Liberty,” 3/5), slathers his response (“Letters,” 3/19) with sarcasm. He has served neither himself nor his cause well. Lathering sarcasm is no substitute for saying what focused and good-faith efforts are being made to work out the issue.

Nor does what he “feels” substitute for reasoned argument. The claim that inclusion of coverage for vasectomies “feels...an awful lot like infringement on religious liberty” does not make it infringement. The bishops have yet to offer reasoned logic supporting that oft-repeated claim. The most egregious assertion the bishop makes is: “If the editorial is to be believed, bishops should regard it not as a matter of religious liberty but merely policy that as providers they teach one thing but as employers they are made to teach something else.”


With all due respect, this is sheer nonsense. At no time and in no way has the Department of Health and Human Services mandate “made” the church teach anything. The very thing the bishops demand, their religious liberty, permits them to preach and teach loudly and clearly.

Rita Hessley

Cincinnati, Ohio

Supreme Decisions

With regard to the Health and Human Services mandate and its “accommodation,” the debate is bifurcated (“Policy, Not Liberty,” 3/5). One aspect deals with the policy of the U.S. government versus the policy of the Catholic Church. Do women have a right to receive contraceptive services the church pays for? Should the Catholic Church, and others who share its moral compunctions, be forced by our government to pay for such services through the insurance premiums they pay? These are questions of policy. They are not questions that inhere in the constitutional issue raised by the administration’s mandate.

The constitutional questions are of a separate nature and of a higher order of magnitude, a fact that has generally been overlooked. Those questions will not be answered by the chattering class in their opinion columns. They will be certainly and inevitably decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

(Rev.) Charles E. Irvin, J.D.

DeWitt, Mich.

Right to Interfere?

In your editorial “Policy, Not Liberty” (3/5), you alluded to the recent struggle between our church and our government to more clearly define their respective roles in our society. Unfortunately, the church has picked the wrong cause with which to repel what it deems to be government intervention.

The Catholic Church has long since abdicated the moral high ground to condemn “artificial” contraception and forbid Catholics from availing themselves of it. It happened over 60 years ago. In permitting “natural” birth control, which is anything but natural and very unreliable, the church has validated the principle that a married couple may deliberately interfere with the procreative process for the express purpose of preventing the conception of a child. Having this right acknowledged by the church, the issue of method should be simply a matter of personal choice.

Randy Velez

Cooperstown, N.Y.

Trust Mystery

The column by John P. Schlegel, S.J., (Of Many Things, 3/19) was a great reflection on finding God in all places, people and things. I loved his contrast of the expansive view of nature in Omaha with the restricted view of red brick walls in New York City. Yes, our lives have periods of expansion and constriction, or maybe it just seems that way. Your article assisted me in my quest to accept change and transition in my life now and in the future with grace and trust in the divine mystery. Thank you.

Nancy Walton-House

Snoqualmie, Wash.

Ministering Angels

Thank you for “My Sister’s Demons,” by the pseudonymous Jan Monaghan (3/19), a story that describes so clearly and succinctly how addiction to mind-altering drugs (including alcohol) can hurt more people than the addict alone. It can contaminate the mind and spirit, including sometimes even the physical health, of family and friends. It can possess them worse than any demon.

It is good to know there is a way out—detach with love from the addict. That’s easier said than done.

It is also good to know that there is an organization where family and friends of addicts can come together and share their experience, strength and hope with each other. There they can learn a better way of life, to live happy and productive lives, whether the addict continues to use drugs or not. They are angels ministering to one another.

Joseph Quigley

Tomakin, New South Wales, Australia

Detach With Love

“My Sister’s Demons,” by Jan Monaghan (3/19), brought tears to my eyes. Al Anon taught me over 30 years ago how to detach with love. Alcoholics Anonymous helped me to deal with my own addiction to alcohol for 20 years. My heart breaks for people who don’t have the gift of sobriety.

The author’s words remind me that it is a gift not to be taken for granted. I do think that many people who suffer with addiction also suffer from other issues, like depression, that further complicate recovery. Those of us who do not know depression have no idea of the depths of despair of this disease. Yes, depression is a disease, and it is fatal, as is addiction to drugs. My sympathies are with you, Jan, as are my prayers. Your sister is finally resting in peace, and my wish for you and your family is that you find peace.

Barbara Lofquist

St. Augustine, Fla.

Pitiful and Sinful

Re “Montessori Ministry,” by Kyle T. Kramer (3/19): Unfortunately there are many “Hannah” stories in the church today. Some of the details may be different, but pastors and bishops often fail to invite and welcome partners in ministry. The trend is to deny that the Second Vatican Council happened and head back to the future: more Latin, more distance, more men and boys! It is pitiful and sinful to reject the gifts of so many people who are willing to share their call through baptism and the Spirit.

Denise Gilmore

Kansas City, Mo.

Identity Crisis

In “Occupy the Future” (3/12), Gary Dorrien mentioned that the question of what kind of country we should be is framed by two alternatives: unrestrictive liberty or economic democracy. Of course, when you frame the question in these parameters you are leading the answer. It seems to me the kind of country we should be was established by our Constitution, and that is a representative form of government. Perhaps the question of alternatives should be revised to: maintain our basic identity or radically alter our identity. Under this scenario, the contrast between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street is seen in the proper context.

All institutions strive to maintain their identity and mission through time. If transformation is too radical, however, there may be a point when that identity and mission cannot be preserved.

John Mayo

San Diego, Calif.

A Final Edit

Thank you for the Rev. Robert E. Lauder’s article “His Catholic Conscience: Sin and Grace in the work of Martin Scorsese” (2/27). I read it with great interest.

I would, however, like to point out one inaccuracy in the article. It concerns the remark, “too much Good Friday, not enough Easter Sunday.” It was made by our parish priest, the Rev. Francis Principe, not my teacher at New York University, Haig Manoogian.

This remark has often been repeated, but seeing it once again in print in America, I remembered Father Principe’s exact words to me, and I would like to take this opportunity to correct the record.

It was after a small screening of my movie “Taxi Driver” in 1976. My then publicist had invited a small group of friends to the Plaza Hotel afterward, including Father Principe. His response to the movie after the screening was, “I’m glad you ended it on Easter Sunday and not on Good Friday.”

This was a personal remark to me, as he knew me well. But over the years it has often been quoted in a shorter version, which has quite a different meaning.

Martin Scorsese

New York, N.Y.


John A. Coleman, S.J., reports incorrrectly that Catholic Relief Services was denied a contract by the Department of Health and Human Services (“One Nation Under God,” 3/12). It was in fact the Department of Migration and Refugees Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that was denied the grant regarding victims of human trafficking.

Patrick Markey

Executive Director, Office of

National Collections, U.S.C.C.B.

Washington, D.C.

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