Practical and theoretical issues of same-sex marriage

Re: “10 rebuttals to same-sex marriage” (In Focus, Jan. 13). 

With all due respect to the very sound reasoning by Brandon Vogt and Robert George on the flawed arguments for same-sex marriage, it is my impression that the advocates desire change for would-be practical, not definitional, reasons. They are interested in Social Security benefits, income tax filings, insurance, inheritance, visitation and similar worldly concerns, the legal security net that the law provides to married people. Should not the practical matters be acknowledged and addressed so that the issue can be seen more fully? 

Traditional marriage is about the practical matter of children, but the advocates of change place children in a theoretical context and instead focus on their personal concerns. It would be well if our defense of marriage joined the practical and theoretical issues. In this manner might we not strengthen our case? 

Jack Schrems, Wayne, Pa.

Body and soul

Re “A balanced approach to 2013” (In Focus, Jan. 6). 

While I sympathize with Mary DeTurris Poust’s seeking a balance between body, mind and spirit, and reminding us that we are both body and soul and live in an incarnational Church, it would seem quite dangerous to indicate any direct correlation between health of body and health of soul. Saying, “if it’s good for my body, it’s good for my soul,” can easily lead to heretical conclusions, for what is good for the body is not always good for the soul and vice versa. The martyrs and our Savior being pummeled, torn to shreds and pierced with nails was not particularly good for their bodies, but it was very good for their souls (in the Lord’s case leading to our salvation and helping martyrs like Stephen along that way). 

I wonder why these Catholic theorems do not found themselves on the Lord’s own words, particularly his pronouncement of the first of all commandments: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Heart, soul, mind, body. And as for the manner in which they should be viewed, please note that one is exhorted to love God with all of each of the four, not to achieve the health of the four. Give all yourself to God, even if it leads to ill health, even death. This is the Gospel. This is what the saints show us. 

The Catechism invokes a certain wisdom by encouraging us to “take reasonable care of our bodies,” but it does not equate the health of the body with that of the soul. Though Poust does well to remind us body and soul are not opposed to one another, that we are enfleshed souls, there seems to be a tendency to oversimplify their interworking. 

James Kurt, Sarasota, Fla.

Absence of courage

Re: “Coping after the Sandy Hook shootings” (News Analysis, Jan. 6). 

Where is God? How could God allow this to happen? These are questions writer Brian Fraga asks in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings. In answer to Fraga’s questions, I must point out that God allowed nothing to happen — we did. Deacon Norman Roos of St. Rose of Lima Parish said: “Evil is not a physical thing. It only exists in an absence.” Indeed. Evil exists in the absence of moral courage. It exists in the pusillanimous platitudes of educators and elected officials who believe that they can placate evil’s intent with signs that proclaim our defenselessness. Evil triumphed in Newtown, Conn., because good men stood by and did nothing. 

Philip J. Clarke, Denver, Colo.

In-depth reading

I read the coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s book “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives” (“Pontiff takes thoughtful look at Christ’s origins” and “Taking a look at pope’s new book on Jesus’ infancy,” Dec. 23). A book of this depth requires more than one reading. I am now reading it a second time. 

Our Holy Father writes as a learned man who is loyal to the Church. I pray that others will read these books and draw others to know and follow Jesus. 

Sister Dismas Scharinger, Manitowoc, Wis.

Tribunal worries

Re: “Trusting tribunals” (God Lives, Dec. 30). 

The subtitle of Msgr. Owen F. Campion’s column stated: “Decisions of diocesan tribunals are based on facts and the Church’s teaching on sacramental marriage.” Though he did not specifically say so, Msgr. Campion seemed to be responding to perceptions that the dramatic increase in declarations of marital nullity (at least in the United States) has legitimized Catholic divorce and remarriage. This is a perception that merits much more serious attention! 

In his quarter century of annual addresses to the Roman Rota, Pope John Paul II evidenced growing dis-ease about possible misuse of marriage tribunals; this triggered the Vatican’s 2005 Dignitas Connubii.  

In his own addresses to the Roman Rota, Pope Benedict XVI has continued in the same vein. 

Though Msgr. Campion’s article seemed to have a “Don’t worry — all is well” tone, the last two popes appear to have evidenced deep concern about goings-on at tribunals. I look forward to reading Pope Benedict XVI’s 2013 address to the Roman Rota. 

Joseph Tevington, Morrisville, Pa.