Singing ‘his’ praises

Three days before Christmas I received my copy of Our Sunday Visitor in the mail. I started from the back of the paper, and I foolishly expected in this season to see an editorial in a Catholic newspaper that had at least a passing reference to the Prince of Peace (“The eight-year war,” Dec. 27). It wasn’t there, unless the editorial board (without a single dissenting voice) has found a new prince. Not a single mention of Christ. Rather, I found an unmitigated panegyric singing the praises of Barack Obama. The single column mentioned President Obama 10 times, either by name or by personal pronoun. In fact the term “his” was used so often that anyone without a knowledge of history would believe that the “just war” concept was an invention of Obama; I certainly did not see any mention of Thomas Aquinas or other Catholic thinkers.

No intelligent person — Catholic or non-Catholic, Democrat or Republican — disagrees with the criteria for a just war. The criteria are simple common sense. It is the application that is difficult, even for the Vatican. Why does one call for armed intervention because of genocide in Bosnia and not use the same rationale for Saddam Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds in Iraq and his unprovoked attack out of sheer greed against a peaceful neighboring country? Because European human life is more precious? That is not principled decision making.

Obama is all things to all people (particularly the liberal press). I expect it is only a matter of time before OSV is rewarded with a personal interview in the White House so they can do another “fluff” piece for the president.

— Jan Hicks, Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The Church will survive

“One wonders about its [the Catholic Church’s] future survivability in a democratic and well-educated society,” writes Richard B. Luthin in his recent letter to OSV (“Letters to the Editor,” Jan. 3).

I believe Luthin is being unduly pessimistic. Jesus himself said, “I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). We have our Lord’s guarantee that the Church will survive. And as for the decentralization of the Church that Luthin seems to suggest, one has only to look at the Episcopal Church to see the results of decentralization.

— Jack Wolock, Columbus, Ohio

Lower priest standards 

Greg Erlandson’s column (“Tomorrow’s challenge,” Dec. 27) gave some choices for coping with the coming priest shortage. I believe that lowering the standards for admittance to the priesthood would be one of the best and most productive choices. A possible way to make good use of this option is to create a two-tier system for the priesthood. Do all priests really need an excellent memory and numerous classes in theology?

— Name withheld,  Wanatah, Ind.

Eastern example

I just read Msgr. M. Francis Mannion’s column about confirming children in danger of death (“Confirming youngsters,” Dec. 27). This may be one area where the Eastern Church can also shed some light. A few weeks ago I attended the Sacraments of Initiation for my friend’s child. He and his wife belong to a Melkite Greek-Catholic parish. In one glorious swoop, their three-month-old daughter received the graces of baptism, Chrismation (confirmation) and first Communion! Eastern practice indicates confirmation is not merely a form of adult baptism, where a candidate assents to the faith which he or she knows well. The candidate does offer him or herself completely to God, but that offering can be performed by the parents in the East. Fundamentally, though, confirmation is God bestowing the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the Christian and joining him or her to the Body of Christ as a full member. Considering the graces involved, it makes one wonder why we wait so long in the West!

— Andrew Sefranek, Silver Spring, Md.

Change of heart

I had been contemplating not renewing my subscription to OSV and other Catholic magazines because they seem to lose their focus and do not seem to address my needs. But after reading John Norton’s “A New Year’s cure for hardened hearts, gloomy thoughts,” (Openers, Dec. 27) I changed my mind.

Our Catholic newspapers, through their articles, might touch upon only one thought each week worth remembering, but that thought can be enough.

As the article states, “The pollution of the spirit makes us smile less, makes us gloomier, less likely to greet one another, or look into each other’s face.” Thanks for the reminder to live our faith properly.

— Craig Galik, Duquesne, Pa.


The article “10 stories to watch for in 2010” (News Analysis, Jan. 3) incorrectly stated a figure in its section on the 2010 congressional elections. The story said that to take control of the Senate in 2010, Republicans would have to hold onto all their 18 Senate seats at stake “and win all of the 19 Democratic ones.” Actually, 34 seats are up for election in 2010 (18 Republican and 16 Democratic). As they hold 40 seats now, Republicans would have to hold onto their own and win 11 of the 16 Democratic seats (or win a net gain of 11 by some other combination) to get a majority.