The Fifth Commandment and misunderstanding ‘rights’

Re: “Health care debate draws Catholic voices” (News Analysis), “Why Catholics care” (Editorial, April 2-8).

In the April 2-8 edition, both Brian Fraga’s article and your editorial about health care contain quotations and other references about “rights” and “inalienable rights to life.” I contend that, like the unicorn, there is no such animal.

Each human being has only one absolutely inalienable right, if it can be so called, and that is the right to die! All other so-called rights are negotiable benefits that we receive through others fulfilling the “obligation” to respect in charity the lives and freedom of their fellow beings. The Fifth Commandment does not say that I have a right to life. Rather, it commands that you have an obligation not to kill me. If you choose to disregard that obligation, where is my right? I cannot be deprived of something that I never had. You may deprive me of life but not of a right.

The great danger in “rights” thinking is that it tends to mislead us into thinking that they exist. It causes within us false feelings of entitlement that destroy human focus on the fact that, since Adam and Eve blew everything, we must survive by the sweat of our brows, the aches in our joints and the hollow feelings in our bellies unless we find ways, or someone or something happens, to alleviate them. That alleviation is our duty but not a recipient’s right.

Edward A. Rohde, St. Louis

Health insurance

Re: “Health care debate draws Catholic voices” (News Analysis, April 2-8).

A young office worker in his early 30s said that he pays a $550 premium every month for his expensive health care insurance, and he also has to pay a $7,000 deductible for his health coverage.

That’s $13,600 of his money going toward health care in any year before receiving a single dollar’s worth of benefits from his health insurance.

The United States continues marching toward government control.

Capitalism is the only way through competition to reduce cost.

Jerry Mohr, Valrico, Florida

Editorial content

Re: “Enduring simplicity” (Editorial), “The Ten Commandments” (In Focus, March 26-April 1).

Your editorial in the March 26 issue is wonderful!

Everyone everywhere should see it. How about sending it to everyone in the government?

Our elected officials need a blast of truth!

The article on The Ten Commandments, in that same issue, is well done, too.

Thank you so much, and God bless all of you.

Rita Misero, Coatesville, Pennsylvania

Death penalty

Re: “Church speaks out as death penalty returns” (News Analysis, April 2-8).

The article on the death penalty by Patti Maguire Armstrong needs some comments.

The original version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (published in 1992) states:

“Preserving the common good of society requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm. For this reason the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty” (No. 2266).

The current system is not perfect, to be sure, but “innocent” life, such as the unborn, the sick and aged, and victims of crime, should be given precedence in our concerns.

After the problems of abortion and euthanasia are solved, then we can work on justice for criminals.

Sandra Fischer, Broadview Heights, Ohio

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