American Catholics should get back to basics

“Shaw assesses the dangers of assimilation for American Catholics” (Faith, June 30).

U.S. Catholics have become so influenced by the negative things in our society to the point of being completely desensitized by everything evil.

I think that the best we can do is to practice our religion the way it was meant to be — frequent confession, frequent Mass attendance and reception of the Eucharist, and paying more attention to the Ten Commandments; those rules have worked since the beginning of recorded human history! “The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against our Holy Mother Church!”

Marina Lopez, via online comment

Chilling, indeed

Re: “No reason for fear” (Letters to the Editor, June 23), on the IRS audits of organizations.

Has the IRS reported any questionable tax filings?

Apparently, their “financial house[s] are in order.” The “chilling” effect is the long delays in approval and the interminable additional questions and paperwork asked of the applicants. Seems that a year or more in granting approvals would be chilling.

Louis Bearer, Bartlesville, Okla.

Power of IRS

Susan Iyan’s comment that “Why should any person or group who is honest and has their financial house in order feel a chilling effect ...” is naive. I was an IRS agent for 30 years. The power that an agent has is enormous. He has the power to make anyone’s life miserable (if he chooses to do so) or not as he sees fit.

Keep in mind that while for many agents it is just a job, there are enough agents who do not check their biases at the door. Also, it is union dominated, and the union (The National Treasury Employees Union) is, like all other unions, a huge contributor to the Democratic Party. Every election the union would send out fliers detailing the local political races with thumbnails of which of the candidates are “friends” of the union, and which are not.

Also, management reviews your cases at submission, and if a manager disagrees with your conclusions, you will be told to change them, so even if you are not biased, you have to do what the manager tells you or suffer the “does not work well with others” consequences on your annual evaluation.

In my 30 years, the service became more and more political (i.e.: politically correct), and the result is what you see occurring now with the scandal.

By its very nature, it creates a “chilling effect” on honest people, even without the current state of affairs.

Dennis P. Skea, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Getting right with God

Re: “Gravity of missing Mass” (Letters to the Editor, May 26).

How we think and what we believe about God is more important than anything else. It does not mean that missing Mass is a greater sin than murder. It does mean that our hearts first have to be in the right place with God before we can ever be in the right place with anyone or anything else. 

Arguing about which is the greater sin is like arguing about who is closer to God. We are all of us so far away from God that saying someone is closer to him than another is not saying much. And since we are all sinners, saying one sin is greater than another is not saying much.

Carrie Bowler, Springfield, Mass.

Which commandment?

Re: “Avoiding high taxes” (Pastoral Answers, June 9).

Msgr. Charles Pope’s column indicates avoiding taxes by buying stuff across state lines is against the fourth commandment. We were taught the fourth commandment was to honor your father and mother.

Are your commandments numbered differently? Is this a typo? I don’t understand the connection.

Larry Beier, Topeka, Kan.

Editor’s note: As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, the fourth commandment extends beyond our relationship with our parents:

“This commandment is expressed in positive terms of duties to be fulfilled. It introduces the subsequent commandments which are concerned with particular respect for life, marriage, earthly goods, and speech. It constitutes one of the foundations of the social doctrine of the Church.

“The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it” (Nos. 2198-2199).

Modesty is beautiful

Re: “Fashion choices should reflect dignity, beauty” (News Analysis, June 16).

To be sexy is “cool,” and anyone who says otherwise is condemned, chastised and labeled. Wake up ladies, you all have natural beauty, and can still attract attention by dressing modestly to suit the occasion.

Personally, I admire ladies whose dress code is modest yet attractive and eye-catching.

Bruce B., via online comment