President's biggest role is judge-making

Bravo to Greg Erlandson for his analysis of "A 'Catholic problem'" (Aug. 24).

Erlandson reports that some pro-life Catholics express discomfort voting Republican because of the dearth of effective pro-life legislation despite the fact that Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress for six of the past eight years.

This argument ignores the fact that, currently, our judicial branch of government has the ability to suspend any legislation deemed "unconstitutional." Pro-life legislation is typically considered unconstitutional to pro-abortion judges. It is underappreciated by the American public that the decisions in Roe v. Wade (and Doe v. Bolton) essentially decriminalized abortion in any stage of pregnancy. This simple fact, or dirty little secret, all too often makes legislating against abortion an exercise in futility.

The Republican Congress did legislate and a Republican president did sign a ban on partial-birth abortion. A prior ban on this procedure was found unconstitutional, but the second ban was reviewed and found acceptable by a different court, one that included two of the Republican president's appointees.

It is extremely likely that the next president will be responsible for appointing more judges to the Supreme Court.

Do Catholics want someone who is as extreme on the abortion issue as Sen. Barack Obama? Keep in mind that Obama, as a state senator, voted against the Born Alive Infants' Protection Act.

-- Brian W. Donnelly, M.D.Gibsonia, Pa.

Enough is not enough

I would strongly suggest that Greg Erlandson is totally off-base in "Enough is enough" (Aug. 10). Just as for the families and the victims of the Holocaust, enough is, and never will be, enough. For the Church, this cancer did not spread overnight but took on a life of its own over centuries. It's a worldwide epidemic and should be treated accordingly. It will never be enough to the victims who live this daily fright night. None of the clergy blew the whistle on this good old boy network.

As a result of this and other cancers, the role of the traditional Catholic is dying. The practicing Catholic only practices his religion on Easter and Christmas out of habit. How else could you close five churches to support one? This is a management problem from the Vatican to the diocesan level. And mea culpas do not work.

-- Kenneth Treger, Lehighton, Pa.

Prayer's no game

Re: the Aug. 17 editorial, "It's not just a game." It bothers me that Catholics, Protestants and other religious sects in China and other places in the world cannot live by and practice their faith without put-downs and persecution. Sometimes, I feel the United States of America is heading in the same direction and that really disturbs me.

It seems,before the Second Vatican Council, we prayed for the conversion of Russia after Mass. Things have improved in Russia, but I don't feel that conversion has taken place. Why did the prayers stop? They are needed now more than ever -- for China, Middle East nations, and other places, including the United States, with its bent toward abortion.

-- Jeanne Meyer, Labadie, Mo.

Mexico's materialists?

As a reader from a state with a large migrant population, I agree with the letter writer from California ("The Church's position on immigration," July 29).

The media flaunts the super lifestyle of Americans with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos, fancy cars and luxurious homes not unattainable to the average citizen in Mexico. But in America, so implies the television, materialism is more important than being with your family. If consumerism, not necessity, is driving many to migrate to the United States, maybe we can begin to understand one of the main forces leading to the financial draining of our border states. As Catholics, we should be addressing the snares of materialism before Mexican families are separated by members coming to the United States.

-- L.M.Mesa, Ariz.

Slavery leadership

Slavery is perhaps the oldest human social institution ("Catholics take a stand in fight against child slavery," Aug. 17).

Modern slavery, however, is perhaps the institution in its most abominable form. While slavery of earlier ages, driven by economic survival, modern slavery is corporate, an organized worldwide web of organized crime cartels that caters to the lowest and basest human impulses.

The record of the Catholic Church as an opponent of slavery, while not absolutely perfect, is far better than most churches, let alone governments.

I am an American and a Catholic, and I applaud the historical record of my country, North and South, to ameliorate and eventually to have abolished the institution. I believe the Church also has earned over the centuries well-merited respect for its defense of natural rights.

-- Matt Terranova, Hackensack, N.J.

Hand up/out

I used to not care about the poor because I thought it was their own fault ("Catholic agencies weather states' budget crises," Aug. 17). Then I went through a week of being homeless myself and Catholic Charities came to help. After that I got a job with an insurance prescription company and I saw how those with various medical conditions, especially the elderly and disabled, were hurt by Medicare Part D, a government plan that was supposed to help them. The answer is not to cut all government programs. In some cases people need a hand out, and in some cases a hand up, and in some cases both.

I left that job and now work for the Internal Revenue Service. I will never forget the lessons I have learned. I believe in the power of prayer combined with action.

-- Adelia Hitt, Via e-mail