Justice system is far from infallible

Re: “The death penalty” (Pastoral Answers, Dec. 8).

Msgr. Charles Pope’s response to the question was very good. I would just like to add a thought. I know that the death penalty is supported by Scripture. I understand that traditional Church doctrine teaches it is permissible under rare conditions.

I just have one question. Does anyone really believe our judicial system is infallible? If by chance, through that system, we kill even one innocent person, how are we different than the murderers we are trying to stop? Just because we have the power does not mean we have the right to take that chance. How many people have been released in recent years because new technology has proven them innocent?

We have the means to keep society protected from dangerous criminals without killing them. If you support the death penalty, you need to examine your conscience. Is it really about protecting society or is it about vengeance?

— Hazel M. Kliner, Warroad, Minn.

Military sacrifices

Re: “Ills of the military” (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 8).

Why did I have a feeling of outrage after reading Javier Villela’s criticism of OSV for publishing the article “The Price and a Prayer” in its Nov. 10 issue? Does he really believe our military is — to quote him — “the true emissaries of an evil and destructive organization that prides itself on warmongering deeds throughout the world?” How would Villela categorize military chaplains like Father Emil Kapaun and Father Vincent Capodanno, who gave their lives for this country and their fellow soldiers? Better yet, why would Jesus have cured the servant of the centurion (Mt 8: 5-8) knowing full well the man was a “military” commander? And what organization was the very first responder to the recent Philippine typhoon? Right, the “evil” U.S. military!

Having served in the military for 30 years and deployed in two major conflicts, I can assure Villela the very last thing a soldier desires is to go to war.

I commend OSV for publishing Father Eric Albertson’s well-written article on the sacrifices our military and their families endure.

James R. Martin, COL (USA Retired)Wittenberg, Wis.

The right to defend

Javier Villela’s letter characterizes the U.S. military as “an evil and destructive organization.” The religion of peace and love has “the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2310).

Villela is rather selective in his listing of innocent victims. My list would also include the Christians in the Middle East and Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.

As the Marines would say, no one likes to fight, but someone has to know how.

Kenneth Beck, Blackshear, Ga.

Catechism discrepancy

Re: “Questionnaire seeks to assess knowledge of doctrine” (News Analysis, Nov. 24).

As our bishops prepare for the Synod on the Family, there is need to resolve the discrepancy in the translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2366.

In  the first edition, it states: “each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life.” In the second edition, No. 2366 states: “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to procreation of human life.” The first is open to two orders of life: human and divine. The second is ordered to only one order: human. This is critical in marriage and family life.

Pope Paul VI established two meanings in conjugal union: procreative and unitive. He further clarifies this in Humanae Vitae , telling us “there is need to proclaim with humble firmness the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical” (No. 18). Blessed John Paul II tells us there are two sacraments in marriage: the sacrament of creation and the sacrament of redemption.

In the sacrament of creation, transmission of human life and the grace of creation itself can be given to spouses and their family. In the sacrament of redemption, spouses can achieve regulation of birth and “above all,” obtain the grace that is necessary for “the remission of sins,” and to restore a culture of love in our fallen world.

Ruth Kavanaugh, Kalamazoo, Mich.

The good old days

Re: “The new normal” (Catholic Journal, Dec. 1).

Robert Lockwood’s column was great.

There are two stories that come to mind. My hairdresser’s aunt was born at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century and my grandma was born a little before that. His aunt remembered as a child having to put wood planks out on the road before it rained so the horse and wagons could go by and not get stuck in the mud. My grandpa bought my grandma a new gadget called the “Model T.” My grandma ran it into a tree and said, “This thing will never go over, it’s too dangerous.” So she had my grandpa raise a party and they dug a big hole and buried it in front of the house. It’s there today.

Lockwood rounded out his words with the fact that God’s in charge, and he is so right, and so we have nothing to fear.

Winifred Young, Port Monmouth, N.J.