An agent is someone who chooses to do or not do something by an act of the will. In philosophy, law and everyday common situations, we call it an intention. Corporate entities, through their governing bodies, also broker choices as agents. 

In the case of President Obama’s “accommodation” with the Roman Catholic Church regarding health insurance payment for abortion, sterilization and contraception, we have two agents: the Church and the health insurance industry. In his usual manner, President Obama is attempting to confuse the issue by shifting all agency from the Church to the insurance industry, thereby, cutting moral agency from the Church and assigning it all to the health insurance industry. 

Hold on! No one buys this, except possibly the head of the Catholic Health Association. What we have here are two agents linked together. Let’s say Holy Spirit Catholic Church has a school. Holy Spirit hires Joe’s Insurance Agency to provide health insurance that covers abortion, sterilization and contraception. The first agent is Holy Spirit; the second is the insurance agency. The two are linked and co-responsible for the act, not separated as President Obama would have us think. 

In law, if you hire a hit man to kill someone, you cannot use the defense, “Well, the hit man did it, not me.” The two of you are bound together as agents. Even “The Sopranos” get that. 

James M. Stedman, San Antonio, Texas

Individuals must act

Re: “Individualism as the root cause of the global economic crisis” (Openers, Jan. 29). 

You are absolutely right — “selfishness is the root of social evil.” However, the pope is saying this to the individual and NOT to the state! 

This is a very important distinction. The state cannot be selfish. The state cannot be generous. Only individuals can be selfish or generous. I believe the Catholic Church has not been clear on its teaching concerning this. The government, by taxing the rich and giving to the poor, is not being generous. Jesus never advocated the redistribution of wealth by government. He required charity from the one whom he was teaching! Thus Jesus said, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and give unto God which is his”! 

Larry Reichert, Hays, Kans.

History lesson

The ongoing dispute between the Catholic Church and President Obama on the birth-control issue clearly shows that Obama doesn’t respect the right of the Roman Catholic faith to be free of federal “intrusion” into their religious faith. 

Back in 1804, President Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to the French Ursuline nuns from New Orleans, wrote that they would be free to govern themselves by their own rules. He concluded that it would be done “without interference from the civil authorities.” 

President Obama made a similar promise during a speech at the University of Notre Dame a few years back. He has thus far failed to emulate President Jefferson’s promise, evident by Obama’s deafening silence to date concerning his unconstitutional assault against the Catholic Church! 

Thomas E. Dennelly, Sayville, N.Y.

Reform of reform

“What if Catholics were as consistent, committed and as on message as Planned Parenthood?” (Spectator, Feb. 19). 

The answer is, of course, that the forces of darkness would be routed. We have not been a united, informed and motivated body since the muted reception given to Humanae Vitae, when so many priests, bishops and theologians defiantly rejected it. This response gave birth to the cafeteria Catholic, who gives primacy to freedom of conscience rather than submission to Church teaching. This was followed by several decades of catechism lite and an American Church on balance seemingly more interested in fitting in with contemporary society than teaching the faith in and out of season. 

Vatican II may look good on paper, but it has been followed by a self-destruction of our Church and a catastrophic decline in its influence in our society. We truly need a reform of the reform and a new evangelization that is confident, assertive and faithful to the Deposit of Faith. Only then will the Church be able to level the playing field with Planned Parenthood. 

Arthur E. Lavis, Montvale, N.J.