Register editor responds to columns; A new pro-life Web site; A seminarian and condoms

Matt C. Abbott
December 2, 2008
Reproduced with Permission
RenewAmerica

Tom Hoopes, executive editor of the National Catholic Register, sent me the following e-mail in response to my Dec. 1 and Nov. 30 columns.

'I've been inundated all day with people upset by the Register's embrace of Obama. Except that we didn't embrace him, of course.

'I've updated the original Our President'' post to make my point clearer. It was clear the day after the election, because we had been hammering at Obama's pro-abortion positions relentlessly. It is less clear in a different context nearly a month later.

'It was an attempt to calm nerves and tell people: Going forward, the way to win is to be clever. Many people who are pro-life voted for Obama because his position wasn't explained to them, or because what was at stake wasn't clear to them. The way to win them back is to agree with what we can agree on, and convince where we can't.

'Please help me get the word out. Our only goal is to elect pro-life candidates. People should read the rest of the posts on the site, and the Register's pre- and post-election coverage to see for themselves.

'The Register's plan is to be relentlessly, uncompromisingly pro-life. And to try to bring as many people along with us as possible.'

Father James Farfaglia wanted the opportunity to respond to the Register's updated editorial:

'I am very happy to see that my commentary has sparked a lot of reaction to Tom Hoopes' original editorial in the National Catholic Register. Although the election is over with and the culture of death has won, I believe it is important to raise serious concerns regarding Catholics who have been mesmerized by the president-elect.

'The principle point of my concern and where the Hoopes' editorial falls apart can be found in his own words: '...and though we disagree on much, I, for one, always liked Obama. He is a civil, decent man.' In light of the Church's Magisterium on life issues, this affirmation cannot be sustained by a faithful Catholic. The issue at hand for Catholics who find Obama to be exciting is the fact that we can never separate the issue of abortion from the issue of Obama. Here is where I think lies the deceptive error of Mr. Hoopes' argumentation.

How can the editor of a very respected and revered Catholic publication affirm that the paper is pro-life (which it is) and then come out and say that Obama is a 'civil, decent man.' Obama is not a civil and decent man. He supports and condones the wholesale killing of innocent babies. He is the most pro-abortion candidate ever to be elected to the White House. Abortion is the issue. No Catholic could vote for Obama, due to his pro-abortion stance. Bishop Emeritus Rene H. Gracida of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, and a few other courageous bishops around the country, made this point clearly.

Mr. Hoopes tries to correct himself with these words:

'My only point in this post, nearly a month ago, was that many pro-life voters voted for Obama and are excited by him. Those are our voters, and we should win them back. We can't win them back if we are polarized by rage.'

'First of all, I am not polarized by rage. Secondly, Mr. Hoopes is nave. Let's get real. Mr. Hoopes seems to think that we can work with Obama on those issues with which we may agree. He seems to think that we can find some kind of common ground with this man. I disagree.

'Some of you may think I'm being radical, but I submit that rather than trying to reach out to Obama and his associates in Washington, the Catholic Church needs to be organizing a resistance movement such as what the Church did in Poland when it was terribly persecuted by the Nazis and later by the Communists.

'We need to be working against the new regime, not trying to hold hands with the man as if we were all a bunch of girl scouts at some campout. Whatever happened to the Church militant?

'Remember the opening of the movie 'Patton.' If the Church in America was like General Patton, there would be no abortion in America. That's right we need to kick them in the rear-end. Resistance: We need to seek every legal means to stop abortion.

'Finally, Mr. Hoopes has stated: 'Our job now is to watch the Obama administration and relentlessly oppose what we must, and in the meanwhile shore up the pro-life and pro-family majorities in America.'

'I agree. But what can be done when we have the most pro-abortion candidate as our next president supported by a Democratic Congress? Mr. Hoopes needs to understand that pro-life Catholics have been totally crushed by the election of Obama. They find nothing exciting in his election at all. Moreover, hard-working, common people are extremely afraid of the future. Mr. Hoopes should have said something totally different in his editorial. He has alienated anyone who is a serious pro-life Catholic.

'But, like I said in my original commentary, I was once told by a Legion of Christ superior that 'We are just going to go down the middle.' Here is the problem: 'compassionate truth.' Compassionate truth is a code word for compromise. We must resist evil. We must fight. There is no way that the pro-life movement will be able to achieve anything with Obama. Don't you guys get it? We have been taken over. The radical movement that started in 1968 has won. The U.S. as we know it is over with. This is not doom and gloom; this is reality. Let's resist, not hold hands with the enemy.

'A final word on John McCain: I am not a registered Republican. The Republican Party died when Ronald Reagan left the White House. Those days are over with. I vote for the one candidate who will do all he can to stop abortion. I resent Mr. Hoopes' assertion that McCain is no pro-life hero. Yes, it is true that he supports federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. However, we needed to try and get what we could.

'This past election was a classic example of voting for the lesser of the two evils. All Catholics had to do was to read John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae. If McCain would have chosen Giuliani, Lieberman or Ridge as his running mate, I probably would not have voted for a presidential candidate this time around. However, he picked Sarah Palin. It took tremendous fortitude on the part of McCain to pick a pro-life running mate. It took tremendous fortitude for him to stick by her while she was relentlessly under fire.

'Sarah Palin was vilified by the culture of death precisely because the enemies of life knew that she was the true Christian and the true pro-life candidate in the entire mix. She was the greatest threat to the culture of death and that is why they hate her.

'Moreover, when I saw a news item of John McCain before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, I knew Our Lady could reach him. McCain was our best hope of getting pro-life justices on the Supreme Court, and that's a fact. All of that hope is now dashed.

'Frankly, Tom, I don't find anything exciting about Obama or what is going on in the Church or in our country. I am on the front lines, in the trenches, day in and day out in parish life, dealing with real issues and real people. I highly recommend that you get out of your office and find out what is really going with the people who have trusted your newspaper. Enough is enough. And while we are at it, you can take Father Jonathan Morris back to the dirt roads of Mexico, too.'


The United States Coalition for Life has a new Web site. Check it out.


Susan Gorski recently wrote:

'Over the summer, it was my privilege to have tutored for nine weeks a seminarian from Mundelein in the subject of Latin. During this time, there was an article published in one of the Chicago papers by an ex-priest named Robert McClory, who wrote about Humanae Vitae and artificial birth control. In his article, he stated that Paul VI had it all wrong, that condoms should be allowed. The example he gave was of a poor man in one of the African tribal villages who had AIDS but did not wish to infect his wife with it, because she was not infected. Shouldn't he be allowed to have safe relations with his wife, was McClory's question.

'The seminarian I tutored apparently read the article and brought up the subject, stating he thought the Church was wrong, at least, in this instance. He never said he read the article, but because I read it myself and sent a response to McClory, I knew he had also read it. He declared he was certain that the Church was wrong. I asked this one question: In African tribal villages, blood transfusions are rare, so how did the man get AIDS in the first place? He realized I was referring to sin. You see, I told him, condoms only address the symptoms; they do not address the problem. The problem is the sin of immorality.

'An approval of condoms by the Church for this purpose would be to condone that sin. The Church would never be able to do that. I reminded the seminarian that the cause of most of our miseries is immoral behavior. Things like artificial birth control and abortion only address the symptoms, not the cause, compounding one sin with another. To that end, as a priest, he would be responsible for teaching and upholding the Church's moral teaches.

'It would be his responsibility to shepherd his assigned flock, since the primary function of the priest is the salvation of souls. He must do this by means of the sacraments, preaching, good example, and sometimes admonishment. If he is to do the work for which he was meant, with temperance and compassion, he must do these things for the sake of the souls of the flock entrusted to his care. This must be lived by the priest. He agreed, and admitted he had not yet delved very deeply into that aspect, but promised he would.

'Please pray for the seminarian that he do the Will of God, whether he is ordained in the future, or not.'

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