Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Letters to the Editor
(From the Aug. 19, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)
The Inland Register welcomes letters to the editor. Letters must be signed, and include a phone number and address should we need to contact the writer. Names may be withheld upon request; letters may be edited for length and style. Please remember to be charitable.
Send letters to:
Editor, Inland Register
Re: Ruling on Communion for pro-abortion Catholics.
This is not a political matter but a moral problem. It is sad that it has taken so many years for the Vatican to finally remind our Catholic people that abortion is a mortal sin. When Roe vs. Wade was first proclaimed the “law of the land” by the U.S. Supreme Court our bishops should have instituted this ban on any politician receiving Communion who supported abortion. Offering Holy Communion to anyone who believes in the right to abortion is a mortal sin both for the bishop, the priest who does so and the person receiving the Host.
We have been taught that receiving Holy Communion while in the state of mortal sin only compounds that sin. Refusing to give Holy Communion to pro-abortion candidates does not mean that anyone has to vote for President Bush or any other candidate. By refusing to give the Host to these people gives them a chance to truly think through the calamity of more than 40 million babies who would now be growing up to the betterment of the United States of America and of the world. Forty million people are far more than all the deaths of all the soldiers, sailors and Marines in the whole 20th and young 21st centuries.
It should be clearly understood that the pope is not promoting the Republican Party, he is reminding the bishops, the priests and our Catholic people of their duty to obey the Lord’s Commandments which have come down to us through the Old and New Testaments. It should have been done many years ago!
L. Andrea Cocco, Spokane
I am a Catholic. I am also an educator. I teach moral theology in a Catholic school. At the junior high level, we may call it “religion,” but the topic is moral theology. I have extensive studies in this field, from before I began teaching in 1965 to the present. I am afraid my religion and my faith are being inaccurately portrayed and misunderstood. As a well-educated Catholic adult, pursuing a PhD and active in the Church, I can no longer be silent.
Catholics are a globally varied lot grounded by a common faith. Dogmatic theology contains the tenants of that faith, that which we believe. Moral theology guides our living of that faith as individuals, but, more importantly, as social beings living in society. As Catholics, our conscience is our moral rudder, that which guides our actions. We believe that no one, absolutely no one, can make us act against our conscience in the sight of God. However, we have two very serious obligations as a result: we must act on an informed conscience, an educated conscience, and in educating ourselves, we must take into serious consideration the moral teachings of our Church.
In 1999, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a very clear statement of seven principles on which Catholic social teaching is grounded. To understand a “Catholic” as active in today’s society, it is important to understand these principles. As Catholics, we are required to measure every policy, every institution, every action according to these principles. What are these seven principles?
1) The Life and Dignity of the Human Person. This encompasses our famous “respect for life” issue: that as Catholics we believe that all human life, from the moment of conception to natural death, is inviolable. Yes, that means that abortion is wrong. It also means that anything that terminates a life is wrong: euthanasia, the death penalty (if society can be protected in another way, which in the U.S. it can), unjust wars (those fought before diplomacy is exhausted, fought for wrong causes, or that violate the sovereignty of another country), and so forth. The foundation of this principle is that every single person, as a human being, is precious in the sight of God and worthy of being treated with dignity. Every person. No exceptions.
2) The Call to Family, Community, and Participation. Every person is sacred and every person is social. We have an obligation to organize our society in a way that enables each individual to grow in community. Every person has a right and a duty to participate in society to seek the common good: a right and a duty to act for the common good.
3) Rights and Responsibilities. Human rights must be protected by society. Every person in society has a right to those things required for human decency. This means that there is a personal responsibility and a societal responsibility to provide these things. Both are necessary.
4) Option for the Poor and Vulnerable. As Catholics, our deep obligation is to provide for the needs of the poor and the vulnerable first, not last, but first. This is an individual obligation; it is a societal obligation.
5) The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers. In the workplace, it is not the bottom line that takes precedence, but the rights of the workers: the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and join unions, to private property, to economic incentive.
6) Solidarity. Loving our neighbor is a global issue. We have an obligation to act responsibly for the common good of all societies. World peace is truly world peace. We have an obligation to work for that peace for the benefit of every human on earth.
7) Care for God’s Creation. Consistent care for the earth is a moral requirement of our faith. We are required to be stewards of all creation.
These are all serious issues and serious moral obligations. To understand these principles is to understand why Catholics, who must interiorize these principles in the forming of their conscience and then act in society accordingly, cannot be forced into one political group or another. In voting in society, no one politician lines up with every single issue. I am not a Democrat nor am I a Republican. I am not conservative nor am I liberal. I am a Catholic. Please do not pigeonhole me into anyone one group – every vote of mine needs to be a vote of conscience, not on one issue alone, but on many.
Charlotte Lamp, Spokane
(Editor’s note: The principles also can be found on the U.S. bishops' web site.)
In the last issue of the IR, several letter writers took issue with my suggestion that Washington state bishops be obedient to Cannon 915 and deny the Eucharist to our pro-abortion U. S. senators.
One writer suggested that “…many other issues are equal to, if not worse...” (than abortion) With over 40 million pre-born fellow citizens killed through abortion since Roe vs. Wade. I find that attitude troubling.
The late Cardinal Bernardin, who first articulated the “Seamless Garment” philosophy, which states all life issues are connected, had this to say: “Surely we can all agree that taking human life is not the same as failing to protect human dignity against hunger.” In other words, all life issues are not equal. All human rights are built upon the most fundamental right which is to life itself.
To erroneously make the claim that employing cannon 915 is a political statement is wrong headed. The Church has an obligation to fraternally correct the sinner and to save the Eucharist from sacrilege through this type of discipline.
The easy route is to succumb to the dominant culture. The courageous act is to emphatically proclaim the “Culture of Life.”
Bob Runkle, Spokane
In the July 29 edition (of the Inland Register), there’s a spate of anti-war, anti-Bush letters. None of them mentions Saddam, the so-called insurgents, al-Qaieda or even 9-11.
Perhaps some of their writers are misinformed. Others may be using a propaganda tool, the half-truth.
Martin J. Owens, Walla Walla
I am saddened to hear of the many Catholics in this area who will refuse to stand up for one of our church’s most basic teachiings: respect for human life. In this teaching, we come to understand that the practice of abortion is wrong in all instances. There can be no wavering here. Abortion is wrong, period, and Catholics are called to oppose all forms of abortion.
Far too often, this issue is charged to be partisan. It’s not about being Republican or Democrat – all Catholics, regardless of political affiliation are called by our Church to stand up for those who simply cannot defend themselves. We need to come together and unite behind this issue. I call upon our priests and our bishop to continue to advocate for an end to abortion in all of its forms.
Paul Schafer, Spokane