Intellectually honest Catholics

Greg Erlandson reminded us in his column how the early Christians haggled over human minutiae (“Acting up,” Spectator, May 23). Human errors have always been made everywhere, including by people within the Church, which incidentally are always seized upon with glee by vindictive ex-Catholics, self-styled “intellectuals” and political opportunists. 

But what we really need to be reminded of is that, of all the organizations that ever existed on earth, the Church is the only one that was directly established by God himself, and if we are intellectually honest, we Catholics must accept the Church as the ultimate source of transcendental truth rather than the ravings of hatemongers, the pandering of politicians or the egoistic discourses of college professors ... some of whom might still call themselves Catholics. 

— Al Kirtz, San Clemente, Calif. 

Law-abiders will be OK

Re “Answering tough questions about immigration” (News Analysis, May 16). 

I am a law-abiding Caucasian U.S. citizen of many years, but if I am stopped for anything, I’d better have my identification and insurance card readily available. If I go to another country, I must carry identification. How can it be beneficial for anyone if the state ends up bankrupt, without adequate police protection, depleted health care facilities and an overburdened school system? 

— C. Bampton, Wentzville, Mo.

Cover issues 

The May 2 cover page presented two apparently distinct stories. At the top of the page was a reference to contraception reading, “50 Years of the Pill.” Below was an unrelated feature about immigration, whose name echoed a letter from the bishops, “Welcoming the Stranger.” The two articles offer commentary on our present culture here in the United States and offer insights that reveal the deficiencies of prevailing values. 

In the article on immigration, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez sees in immigration “the great civil rights test of our generation.” Many would disagree with him, and reasonably so by claiming that the right to life in the womb would be the great civil rights test for our generation. Certainly, one has to see the light of day before one can consider other civil rights like mobility. 

Of course, within the Catholic community it has become quite apparent that with the situation of such hostility toward life in the womb (about a quarter of pregnancies in the United States being intentionally terminated) the battleground of the effort has to address the intention against life already present in artificial contraception.  

So, the juxtaposition of these two articles, though not explicitly related, happens to present two great civil rights tests of our generation that are, in fact, culturally grounded in the same attitude toward life. 

— Father Ken Mikulcik, Mayfield, Ky.

Rehabilitation 'Rule' 

I have a prison ministry at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins where I am teaching approximately 13 men the Rule of Benedict. I have been doing so for three years or more. The group continues to grow, and they are learning to read the Liturgy of the Hours presently. The article “The Penitential Path” (In Focus, May 23) is a wonderful article that states exactly what I see every year within this and many other prisons.

The men here are not treated as though they can or would even want to repent of their wrongdoings, except by a few. Little, if any, rehabilitation is being done. 

And, as it is with so many programs, there are catch-22 situations. It becomes very frustrating and does little to help those who really are trying to learn from their mistakes and improve their lives. They are being punished twofold and threefold.  

Many of them are hurting souls, looking to receive mercy from anyone that really means it, and would love nothing more than to be forgiven and to be able to spend the rest of their days doing what is right by others, their families and friends. The Benedictine Rule has helped tremendously in helping these men learn from their mistakes, and to be closer to God, to obtain mercy from him and to reconnect with themselves, and their families. 

— Karen Lebeda, via email

Second chances 

I read and enjoy OSV every week, but Scott Alessi’s article “The Penitential Path” (In Focus, May 23) was quite incomplete and disturbing, and lacked any comment on protection of the innocent. “When you are kind to the cruel, you will end up being cruel to the kind.” 

Being in favor of the death penalty is not evidence of a desire for vengeance and wanting people to suffer. It is evidence of the value society places on innocent human life and the need for justice in the face of premeditated murder and brutality. 

Second chances for prisoners often mean second victims.

Prison ministry is a valuable service to those whose crimes are less egregious, and I pray that many will ask forgiveness, better their lives and be released to find God’s will for their lives. Many are unsalvageable and unsafe for release. 

Redemption, getting right with God, may have to be found while remaining in prison, and public safety is the higher priority. 

— Phyllis Ross, Fountain Valley, Calif.