“Contraception mandate could put Catholics in pinch” (News Analysis, Sept. 4) serves as proof positive that the opponents of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were fully justified in opposing it. 

It is a terrible piece of legislation and never should have been passed in the first place. Now, we Catholics find ourselves in a real pickle. The so-called “religious exemption” clause is nothing but meaningless gibberish. 

There is only one solution to this mess. The president’s health care bill must be repealed in its entirety. We cannot rely on the Supreme Court overturning it. The health care act is beyond redemption and has to go. 

Michael Lane, Fontana, Calif.

Prayer in public square

Prayer has always played an important role in our country’s history. Both the Senate and the House pray at their meetings. Prayers are said at many public events in the United States, including the presidential inauguration.  

So, why ban clergy members from praying at the Sept. 11, 2001, 10th anniversary commemoration (“Faith at ground zero,” Sept. 11)? It certainly seems like a violation of religious freedom to me. 

Ironically, our ancestors came to America to escape religious persecution. Now, Jewish and Christian clergy members are banned from praying in public at ground zero? What is wrong with this picture?  

I can’t help but think of George Orwell’s book “1984.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would do well to read it! 

Joann L. Fuir, Lewisburg, W.Va.

Good answer

First of all I want to thank you for your inspiring, educational and current Church events newspaper articles I look forward to reading weekly. 

As a catechist preparing second-graders for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and first holy Communion, I was happy to read Msgr. M. Francis Mannion’s Pastoral Answers column (“First confession,” Sept. 18) explaining why the Church holds that early-age children must go to confession, not so much for lesser sins, but to educate them in the discipline practice of penance and the mercy of God in the life of a Christian. 

Thank you, Msgr. Mannion, for answering the question of many young parents. 

Virginia Black, Minoa, N.Y.

Now I get it!

Re: “Oh, brother. A Catholic primer on fraternal correction” (Openers, Sept. 18). 

John Norton’s column came on the heels of a sense of surprise I experienced while reading the Sept. 4 Gospel before Mass. I have always taken fraternal correction to mean some sort of “excommunication” myself. Until that Sunday! 

After reading the “checklist” on how to correct one’s fellow believer — “treat him as you would a gentile ...” — it struck me that meant we were to share our faith with this person — with words if necessary — to live and act with this person in such a loving manner that he or she would desire to know Christ personally, leading him or her to SELF correction. 

Any parent can tell you that if the kid doesn’t want to behave, you have no real control. Only a personal desire can effect internal change. Or a personal belief. You have to WANT to do Christ’s work. 

Peggy Rakow, Madison, Wis.

Be thankful for priests

What a contrast! The story about Mary’s Meals (“Providing nourishment to the world’s hungry children,” Sept. 18) and the protesting parishioners at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Berkeley, Calif. (“Parishioners, priest at odds in California parish,” Sept. 18).  

Maybe if the parishioners would take all that extra time they have on their hands to work for Mary’s Meals rather than harass their pastor, some real good could be done.  

They should live in Oklahoma, where we’re just thankful we have a priest to say Mass weekly. We had one of our new priests and a seminarian killed by a driver running a red light just a month ago. Those deaths killed 50 percent of our new priests.  

Ellen Weigant, Pawhuska, Okla.

Way to go 

Re: “Parishioners, priest at odds in California parish” (Sept. 18). 

God bless Father John Direen. He is most welcome to come to any Virginia parish! 

Bruce Jones, Pound, Va.