Letters 04.15.18

Readers respond to Register stories.

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Silence and Ambiguity

Relative to your coverage of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.’s guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation:

In Paragraph 84 of Familiaris Consortio Pope John Paul II wrote: “However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried.”

He wrote with clarity, fidelity and conviction, as a religious leader should.

As a lifelong Catholic, I cannot understand why our present Pope and bishops, including Cardinal Wuerl, cannot address this question directly, but resort to silence or ambiguity.

In a militant secular culture such as ours, the Church will be smothered into irrelevance (à la liberal Protestantism) if its leaders lack the strength and courage to proclaim and live its truth, however unpopular it may be.

         Frances Brown

         Newburgh, Indiana


Verbal Gymnastics

I find the wording by two theologians referenced in the CNA/EWTN article “Cardinal Cupich Launches Amoris Laetitia Seminars” (Nation, March 4 issue) disconcerting.

For example, Natalia Imperatori-Lee, one of the presenters at the Amoris Laetitia seminars, declares that laypersons are “infantilized” when pastors act as “gatekeepers, offering permission for sacraments, rather than as counselors who accompany laypersons on their sacramental journeys.”

Although counseling is one of their functions, pastors, like the shepherds from whom they derive their titles, are primarily responsible for leading their flocks home; in a pastor’s case, that means home to God.

By challenging parishioners to live up to the teachings of the Church, pastors reflect their belief that they are dealing with mature adults capable of doing so, and not with immature children or infants, as Imperatori-Lee asserts.

Equally perplexing is Msgr. Jack Alesandro’s comment concerning Amoris Laetitia.

He claims this document “as a whole supports the idea that, as time passes, sacramental marriages become more sacramental and therefore more indissoluble.”

This statement is confusing both theologically and linguistically.

Theologically, the graces attached to a valid sacramental marriage are there from the beginning.

Couples may draw more readily on those graces as time goes on, but the sacramentality of the marriage does not change.

Linguistically, a valid marriage is either indissoluble or it is not.

The word means “impossible to break or undo, binding (as in a legal contract) ... incapable of being dissolved.”

It is all of this from the beginning or it isn’t this at all.

Since theologians are often upheld as experts in their fields, it is especially important for them to use clear and precise phrasing when expressing the teachings of the Church and giving examples of their applications.

Failing to do so may easily foster misunderstandings concerning the teachings and practices of the Church.

         Jane Gilroy, Ph.D.

         professor emerita, English

         Molloy College

         Rockville Centre, New York



Preach the Gospel

Church leadership has expended a great deal of study, thought and prayer on causes of declines both in vocations and Mass attendance.

I have no answer.

But I can suggest a significant factor, one exemplified by the article “Cardinal Marx Discusses Blessings for Same-Sex Couples” (Vatican, Feb. 18-March 3 issue).

There was a time when people like John the Baptist, Thomas More and John Fisher gave their lives for principles such as the sanctity of marriage. Now we are told that pastoral concern for individual cases is the guiding principle because we have no set of rules.

This seems a great deal like situational ethics and an attempt to gut the words of Jesus.

I have to ask whether perspective novices, seminarians and baptism candidates will dedicate lives, fortune and sacred honor to a nebulous set of feel-good propositions.

Is it more likely that such sacrifice comes only when the objectives are comprehensible and crystal clear?

Of course this is yet another reason why it is so important for us to pray for the leadership of the Church, that they will have what they need to preach the Gospel with clarity.

         Mike Kerner

         Lisle, Illinois



Building Dialogue

Believe it or not, most individuals who identify as “pro-choice” are not cold-blooded baby-killers seeking to advance a culture of death.

And guess what?

Most individuals who identify as “pro-life” are not religious bigots and misogynists hell-bent on oppressing women.

Indeed, people of goodwill are on both sides of this critical issue.

After more than 40 years of emotional rhetoric and demeaning euphemisms, abortion remains one of  the — if not the — most divisive issues in our nation.

Both sides of the debate demonize and dehumanize the other.

We prefer to label rather than listen.

We prefer to condemn rather than converse.

Pope Francis often talks about “tearing down walls” and “building bridges.”

Perhaps it is time for pro-choice and pro-life advocates to tear down the wall of derision and build a bridge of dialogue; to tear down the wall of contempt and build a bridge of civility; to tear down the wall of hate and build a bridge of love.

Jesus’ command to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us” is not some sappy slogan or pious platitude.

It is a radical mandate to change our hearts; for only in changing our own hearts can we ever hope to change the hearts of others.

         Keith G. Kondrich

         Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania