Expensive papal trips are good stewardship

Given the costs, does a high-profile papal trip to the United Kingdom demonstrate good stewardship of Church resources? (“Pope charms, challenges secular Great Britain,” Oct. 3

September’s four-day apostolic visit by Pope Benedict XVI was budgeted at $29 million. The Vatican paid $13 million for the pastoral aspects of the trip, the British government handled policing costs (as it does with all visiting state dignitaries), and an estimated $16 million in travel and accommodations are being shared by the Catholic Church and British government. 

We can grab pencils to analyze how far the money went. With 42,750,000 Christians in the United Kingdom (72 percent of the population), that works out to $0.68 per person, or the tally is $5.51 each for its 5,300,000 Catholic citizens. We could even amortize that expenditure over the 28 years since Pope John Paul II made a purely pastoral trip to this historically anti-Catholic country. 

Evangelization cannot be measured in mere money. If the Catholic Church ever failed to evangelize we know that there would be high spiritual, emotional and financial costs that are not readily quantified. “Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6). 

God provided our Church with every resource it applied toward evangelizing Great Britain and reinvigorating Catholics through the Holy Father’s visit. My answer is that this money is very well spent, and it serves as a prominent example of good stewardship. 

— Tom Cullinan, Omaha, Neb.

Burning critique 

I have found Msgr. Mannion’s column to be helpful many times, but I must respectfully take issue with his column “Sin and damnation” (Oct. 24), where he describes hell as “loss of heaven — ultimate loss of relationship to God, others and self ... an ultimate positioning of self in darkness, despair and loneliness.” He offers no mention of the fires of hell, even though the letter writer mentions “hellfire.” I believe that this is very misleading, a very serious omission. 

Our Lord mentions “the fires of Gehenna.” Our Lady of Fàtima asked that a certain prayer be said after one says the Rosary containing the sentence, “Save us from the fires of hell.” 

Therefore, it is absolutely certain that the fires of hell do exist. And their existence provides a very strong incentive to avoid mortal (serious) sins. 

— Ralph A. Marson, Center Line, Mich.

No common ground 

I cannot believe you would print an article about finding a common ground on abortion (“Opposing sides seek common ground on abortion issues,” Oct. 31). When is taking a life not murder, and how do you compromise that? 

If the Church and our Church papers would educate their members about the gruesomeness of abortion perhaps we could eliminate it all together without looking for common ground with abortionists. 

— Shirley Byrne, Punta Gorda, Fla.

Tea party has merit 

After reading Scott Alessi’s news analysis “Is the tea party at odds with Catholic teaching” (Oct. 17), I wondered what teaching he was talking about. Some criticisms were, “getting government out of our lives, accuses them of forming a populist movement, immigration, Social Security, government regulation of racial discrimination, and their hesitation to identify itself as pro-life.” Alessi gave no specific examples of alleged conflicts with Catholic doctrine, only vague innuendos.  

The tea party may have hesitated to identify itself as pro-life (although many individual members are). But I can tell you one party that has abortion and euthanasia in its platform. Obama is the staunchest proponent of “abortion rights” and infanticide in American politics. Now this I find at odds with Catholic teaching.

— Earl Hagen, Grand Blanc, Mich.

Zero tolerance injustice 

I appreciate Father Robert Barron’s article, and his concept that the faithful are the “holy remnant” who must cleanse the Church (“The abuse crisis attracting God’s awful avenging warriors?” Oct. 31). But I think we have different ideas of what constitutes “the filth and corruption that defile the Church.” Surely, the sexual abuse of innocence defiles our entire culture, including the Catholic Church, but lumping all the accused together into a draconian “zero tolerance” policy also defiles our Church.  

There is little more unjust than the abuse witch hunt that our zero tolerance policy has wrought within our Church. One 81-year-old Boston priest was recently accused and driven out because of a claim from over 50 years ago, brought with the usual demand for money but no evidence whatsoever. 

To me, and many faithful, one of those “clothed in linen with a writing case at his side” is Father Gordon MacRae, who writes from his prison cell with fidelity to the Church and to the faithful. His recent series, “When Priests are Falsely Accused” should be read by every faithful Catholic, at TheseStoneWalls.com

Let’s be careful cleansing our Church of filth and corruption. Injustice defiles our faith just as much as abuse. 

— Dorothy Stein, Lynn, Mass.