What ‘sets us apart’ as Catholics?

Re: “More than Translation” (Spectator, Dec. 11). 

Greg Erlandson wrote: “For Catholics who still attend Mass weekly, marry in the Church and baptize their children, there is a hunger for something more, something that distinguishes them, that sets them apart.” Do these actions indicate that they are Catholics who are living the Gospel? Do those who do those things do them to distinguish themselves as “good Catholics”? Such was the motive of the self-righteous Pharisee who was proud that he was not like the Publican. 

What should distinguish a true Catholic can be found in Christ’s words: “Love one another as I have loved you” and again in Matthew 25. The early Christians and all the saints distinguished themselves by giving of themselves for the good of others. That’s why others said of them: “Look at those Christians, how they love one another.” 

“A new translation that is loftier, more sacred, more self-consciously different” may be a good thing, but it is not what should “distinguish” us as Catholics and “set us apart.” 

Otto M. Bonahoom, Fort Wayne, Ind. 

Government’s purpose?

Re: “Should Catholics support a flat-tax proposal?” (News Analysis, Dec. 11). 

Before one answers the above question, we have to ask ourselves what is the purpose of government: Is it “social services” or is it personal “freedom”? Our founding fathers said nothing about “social services,” but a lot (in the Constitution) about trying to keep personal “freedom.” 

Currently the IRS says that 1 percent of the taxpayers provide 40 percent of the tax revenue and that 10 percent provide 70 percent of their revenue. If government takes your money, it controls your “freedom.” Who knows how to spend your money better — you or Uncle Sam? 

The motive for federal “social programs” is an illusion created by Congress — it is not “charity” but a means for congressional re-elections via the “goodies.” 

L. Curley, Dearborn, Mich. 

Green thoughts

Pope Benedict XVI correctly taught that environmental concerns are, indeed, Catholic Christian concerns (“A ‘green’ Advent,” Dec. 11). I am much less inclined to believe the pope was telling Americans, on the claims of some left-wing extremist “scientists,” that we must basically return our lifestyles to 19th-century standards of living. Many have chided us for expecting to have “cheap” gasoline. (Europeans pay $7-8 per gallon.) 

We are restricted from drilling for oil and/or natural gas in areas geologists tell us there are available reserves that can provide fuel and heat for decades, if not centuries. We are paying ethanol producers government incentives to provide us with an expensive, inefficient fuel, using feed grains, making both food and fuel artificially expensive. We are using tax dollars to build wind turbines (19th-century technology) place them on land that often is crop-productive, then enforce regulation of their use and power distribution. We recently learned a solar panel producing company claimed bankruptcy after wasting tax money. An electric car company is bankrupt after more than $1 billion tax incentives, without ever building an operating car. 

Catholics should be examples to the world in concerns for our earth and all other provisions of our Creator. We also should use our God-given talents and common sense to effectively and efficiently provide the world with food, water, shelter and freedom. We also should teach the world that God has provided us a magnificent creation to live in. 

Mother Earth and Mother Nature are secular humanism creations that only distract us from what we should be doing — seeking Truth! 

John Schreck, Roseville, Ill. 

Inappropriate picture

Was it really necessary to publish that photo of President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao (Our Take, Dec. 4)? We just had a talk with our niece in California. Her 5-year-old came home from public school and asked, “Is it really OK for a boy to kiss a boy?” 

Needless to say, she was very upset.  

I hope no child would see your picture. You know they say, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” 

Joan Jones, via email 

More on Father Delp

I am pleased to see your Openers about Father Alfred Delp with a little something about his background (“A Jesuit priest’s last Advent reflection from a Nazi prison,” Dec. 11). As great as Pope Benedict XVI’s message was, I wish you had used more of Father Delp’s own words. 

And I wish you had at least mentioned the book: “Advent of the Heart: Seasonal Sermons and Prison Writings, 1941-1944” (Ignatius Press, $14.95). 

The first week of Advent, I took it again, as I always do, to our Scripture study group and asked the leader to announce it to the members, which she does. 

There is a brief biography, then his sermons and writings, divided into four sections, one for each week of Advent, including the Liturgy for that Sunday, as it was between 1941 and 1944, two homilies for each Sunday, selected from those years, then for each week one of the meditations he wrote while in Tegal Prison in December 1944. For the Christmas vigil, there is the Liturgy and a Tegal Prison meditation. 

Theresa Gros Gold, San Antonio, Texas