Many faithful will be lost because of military chaplain shortage

As a retired Catholic Air Force chaplain, I couldn’t have said it better (“Plea for chaplains to serve Catholic soldiers,” Dec. 26). The need for chaplains is great, and the demographic is just the one the Church must reach and upon which the universal Church has put a lot of emphasis — young adults. If there is no priest there, many will be lost to the Church either by dropping out or adopting the faith of the chaplains who are there and are very willing to “evangelize” them. 

While I realize the shortage of priests is great, our bishops are making a grave mistake in not sacrificing a priest or two. Short-term gains in the diocese in terms of personnel will mean long-term losses in vocations and dedicated Catholic laity flowing out of military service. These people tend to be disciplined, altruistic and dedicated individuals — pillars upon which the Church of the future can be built. 

I can’t help but think that lack of contact with the military has hurt many of our bishops’ view of the need out there. In any case, we ignore this issue at our folly. 

— Father Rudolph Koser, Glen Campbell, Pa.

Marriage counseling 

After reading a letter by JoAnn Fuir arguing that married priests would make better marriage counselors, I felt duty-bound to respond (Letters to the Editor, Jan. 2). 

While it is true that married people have unique insights into married life that only experience in marriage can bring, Fuir failed to recognize the incredible depth of unique understanding that celibate priests bring to married couples. Married couples are only really experts in THEIR OWN marriages, whereas celibate priests, because of the hours spent in the confessional and in marriage counseling listening to the struggles of married couples, become experts in marriage in a unique way, and the celibate state of the priest makes this possible because celibacy fosters, I believe, an openness from others that does not generally happen with non-celibates. There is the sense in the faithful that the celibate is for them and for them alone.  

In addition, many of the struggles that married people face are in the realm of chastity. A false understanding is that the celibate priest really cannot have anything to say in this area. However, in reality, it is just the opposite for the celibate is called on especially, with the help of grace, to be master of his sexuality, and the celibate who lives celibacy well is a wellspring of knowledge, insight, wisdom, and example for those who struggle with chastity personally and in their marriage. 

— Father Mark A. Gurtner, South Bend, Ind.

Confusing issue 

Much as I hate to comment on anything Pope Benedict XVI says, I fear that his recent comment on condoms was ill-advised (In Focus, Dec. 5). There are too few who will analyze his comments in the manner that recent commentators have in OSV and other publications. Our faith’s critics are in their “glory” to have another issue to attack. To have the “common” Catholic try to defend his statement is asking too much ... a lot of the pew sitters are having problems just dealing with the Real Presence. Why add another issue? 

Guy De Gagne, Pismo Beach, Calif.

Challenging remarks 

The interview of John Norton with Father Martin Rhonheimer regarding the pope’s remarks about the use of condoms by male prostitutes reminds me of why I subscribe to Our Sunday Visitor “Ethicist: Pope intended condom use/AIDS reflection,” Dec. 19). This article was very helpful in understanding what the pope meant. In addition, one can see why he said it even though he knew there would be a firestorm of reaction. The pope is not unlike a college or seminary professor who is not afraid to challenge his students. Thanks, OSV. 

— Gerald P. McAfee, Gresham, Ore.

Bad timing of article 

I don’t want read about AIDS and condoms during Christmas. Also, I will ask OSV what I asked lay news outlets. Pope Benedict XVI wrote a book “Light of the World” and the media chose to highlight one or two sentences from the book and run with that for days.  

What else is in the pope’s new book? Isn’t there anything else in it worth mentioning besides condoms being useful for HIV-infected people? 

— Helen Corey, Nashville, Tenn. 

Editor’s note: OSV published an entire In Focus dedicated to “Light of the World” (“Quiet strength,” Dec. 5) that included several excerpts from the book. 

Troubling letter 

Re: “Translation is Flawed” (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 19). With regard to Father R.G. Tamminga’s letter, I thought about it, and there came to mind two problems, and they are severely problematic: the first is intellectual pride and the second bloom is rebellion. They are dangerous for anyone, but especially for priests and the flock he influences. I’ve been concerned for 20 years about a possible schism in the Church, but it hits me hard and hurts to the point of tears that the Body of Christ is already being torn apart by arguments on the beautiful liturgical changes coming next Advent.  

Let us all start praying more for religious. I like the old prayer “Jesus, Mary I Love You, save souls, especially the souls of priests.” I say it many times a day, and let’s pray hard to our Mother for the Church. 

— Bill Henzey, St. Louis, Mo.