In elections, religious freedom should be a priority

Re: “Election 2016: The Catholic factor” (In Focus, Jan. 3).

As suggested by Our Sunday Visitor, I read the “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” document, and, for me, it has one overriding flaw. While the bishops properly express the importance of applying Catholic teaching to major issues, in the course of citing particular challenges and issues, they simply blend in the challenges to religious freedom amidst the other issues, giving it no particular enhanced weighting. I see this as an error since the Church’s ability to teach about any issue in the U.S. flows forth under a dynamic of religious freedom and, thus, religious freedom should rest at the “top of the pyramid,” so to speak. As this freedom erodes, so does the Church’s ability to teach and serve.

Philip Creider, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Political divide

It is disconcerting that Mark Gray is more interested in not offending than in delivering truth. His article goes to great lengths to find middle ground, and in doing so, he acquiesces to those who literally choose to “split the baby in half.”

While it is fine to have disagreements in areas of prudential judgment, such as the proper stewardship of the earth’s resources, or the best ways to raise people out of poverty, there is no place for dissent on the binding issues of abortion, euthanasia and conscience protection. The Democrat party is on the wrong side of all these issues, and Catholics are not at liberty to cooperate with such evil. Catholics need to hear the truth. Rather than pretend that there are issues “where Catholics lean Democrat,” please call it what it is: “Issues where Democrats are in direct conflict with Catholic teachings, yet choose party loyalty over the requirements of the Faith.”

Stephen G. Kenny, Spring Lake, New Jersey

Faith in marriage

Re: “Is divorce the root of disbelief among rising ‘nones’?” (Family Matters, Dec. 27).

Both of us have gone through the divorce and annulment process with our first spouses. It was not easy or something that either of us wanted; we both tried extensively to preserve our marriages. Neither of our previous spouses were willing to embrace and live by the teachings of the Church, which led to constant conflict and complete lack of respect within the home. Dr. Popcak wrote: “in an intact family, religious rituals help bind the family together.” This is true in healthy, functional families, but in families where either the Faith is not being practiced or is an area of constant conflict, it divides rather than unites. This in turn causes the children to leave the Faith whether or not the family is intact or divorced.

My own children, who were younger, have been able to witness and live in a healthier environment, one in which people are treated with love and respect and the teachings of the Church upheld, and have embraced and retained their faith.

Divorce is a tragedy, but in this Year of Mercy, rather than judging those who have gone through it, we need to follow Pope Francis’ example of love in reaching out in compassion to them. It is only by both spouses striving to live the Faith fully that the families can stay intact and the children will then learn the Faith.

Mark and Kate Marie O’Brien, via email

Right to life

Re: “Duty to defend life” (God Lives, Jan. 10).

I agree with Msgr. Owen Campion’s analysis of the “right”-to-abortion problem and the difficulty of shifting the conversation to the right to life of the unborn. But a majority or near-majority of people who self-identify as Catholics support abortion under some circumstances. I suggest there is a need for catechesis that focuses on why Church teaching on the subject is correct as a matter of objective truth. It seems to me this must come from every possible source, including the pulpit, which is the only venue that can effectively reach large numbers of practicing Catholics.

Tom Strassburg, Earlysville, Virginia
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