Re “VP candidate’s budget plan sparks debate” (News Analysis, Sept. 2). 

Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, said that while he believes [U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan] is “a good guy and a good Catholic,” he takes issue with Ryan’s budget, which Schneck believes would be devastating to the poor. Schneck continued, “We are morally obliged as a civilization to care for people who can’t take care of themselves.” I believe unborn human beings are the most vulnerable of lives to protect. If you don’t sustain life, what else is there? I also believe there is an analogy from when abortion was legalized to the times we live in, promoting the massive increase in violent deaths because the value of life has been so sorely diminished. 

Emily McAuliffe, Gettysburg, Pa.

In line with teaching

The debate about Ryan’s budget plan by some professors and clergy ignores the fact that Catholic social justice teaching pertains to the individual.  

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the responsibility of the state “presupposes sure guarantees of individual freedom and private property, as well as a stable currency and efficient public services. The principle task of the state is to guarantee this security. Another task of the state is that of overseeing and directing the exercise of human rights in the economic sector. However, primary responsibility in this area belongs not to the state but to the individuals and to various groups and associations which make up society” (No. 2431). The next paragraph talks about business responsibility to insure its future and to guarantee employment. While No. 2433 says society should help citizens find work and employment, nowhere does it say forced giving is social justice teaching. 

Ryan’s budget plan uses the time-tried, successful principle of subsidiarity and benefits the poor by growing the economy. Any loss of assistance to the poor in the meantime will be made up by individuals and associations as per Catholic social teaching, since it is a fact that Americans are the most giving people in the world. 

Robert Silliman, Antwerp, Ohio

Brain death doubts

Re “Bioethics of organ donation” (In Focus, Aug. 19). 

Kudos should go to Peter Colosi of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary for calling attention to Pope John Paul II’s August 2000 address to the International Transplantation Society. The pontiff indeed stated that “the criterion adopted in more recent times for ascertaining the fact of death, namely the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity, if rigorously applied, does not seem to conflict with the essential elements of a sound anthropology.” 

Pointing to the monumental significance of the word “seem” in that sentence, Colosi rightly notes that “if further knowledge reveals that brain death does seem to conflict with a sound anthropology, this would remove the moral certainty referred to later in the quotation, and it would follow that vital organ donations should not be done.” 

While Colosi notes that Dr. John Haas believes that “brain dead people (whole brain death) are [indeed] dead,” he acknowledges that two other members of the Pontifical Academy for Life — Dr. Paul Byrne and Josef Seifert — have cast doubt on brain death criteria. I would like to add that at least two additional members of the Pontifical Academy for Life — Judie Brown and Mercedes Arzu Wilson — have shown themselves to share the doubts of Byrne and Seifert.  

Joseph Tevington, Morrisville, Pa.


In “Students turn to community to avoid temptation” (Special section, Sept. 9), University of St. Francis student Stacey Litchfield should have been quoted as saying, “When I make my decisions I have to base it off of truth.”