May 29, 2009

Letters to the Editor

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Let us pray that spouses be open to God’s plan for their family

Millions of women all over the world and in the United States use oral contraceptives.

Sadly, many of these women who would never even consider a surgical abortion are, in fact, causing “silent abortions” in their wombs.

The pill is an abortifacient, that is, a drug that causes an abortion.

According to Dr. John Wilks, an Australian pharmacist who also has earned a Ph.D., the pill retards monthly thickening of the womb’s lining. When the lining is too thin, as with pill users, implantation of the fertilized egg will be unsuccessful.

Some researchers, using very conservative figures, have calculated that the pill directly causes between 1.53 million and 4.15 million chemical abortions per year in the U.S. (“The Facts of Life,” Human Life International).

Since the beginning of its inception, the Catholic Church has taught that the practice of birth control to render procreation impossible is “intrinsically evil” (Cathechism of the Catholic Church, #2370).

Committing such an evil is a mortal sin. Until the 1930s, all Christian Churches taught that the practice of birth control was intrinsically evil. Because the Catholic Church is divine, it cannot change or revoke this teaching.

The Church does, however, allow spouses to space the births of their children through Natural Family Planning or NFP.

According to Dr. Sean P. Tierney, “The success of NFP is in the 98 percent range, and those couples who actively practice it have a 3 percent divorce rate.” This figure is considerably low as compared to the current U.S. divorce rate of 48 percent.

Let us pray that spouses be open to life and to God’s plan for their family.

Let us also pray that God gives the graces needed, through his Blessed Mother, to single people and homosexuals to remain chaste and to resist temptations against purity.

- Rhonda Branham, Bloomington

Program provides powerful tools to help Catholic congregations

The April 17 article by Sean Gallagher (“Survey says … Gallup programs geared to strengthen parishioner engagement”) was a wonderful treatment of a successful program for promoting engagement and leadership within many parishes of the archdiocese.

The Clifton StrengthsFinder surveys and the Discover Your Strengths books and resources are powerful tools that are available through the Gallup Faith Practice division to help Catholic congregations discover their innate strengths and unique gifts.

In fact, coinciding with the article’s appearance, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Indianapolis received word that our Leadership Excellence program had been funded in part through the Indianapolis-based Center for Congregations.

Like the parishes cited in the article, Sacred Heart worked very closely with the Marian College Center for Catholic Stewardship and the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship Education to apply for the funding support for the Gallup resources.

Unlike the other parishes, however, Sacred Heart included a component to promote youth leadership development.

Working with Saint Meinrad School of Theology’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Formation, we are enrolling five of our high school youths in Saint Meinrad’s acclaimed “One Bread, One Cup” Youth Liturgical Leadership Conference.

Additionally, our leadership team, which will include the youth graduates of the “One Bread, One Cup” program, will be conducting a retreat at the Saint Meinrad Guesthouse.

We believe strongly that the Holy Spirit is pointing the way to an exciting horizon for Sacred Heart and its members. We believe as well that we are being called to respond positively and urgently to discern that horizon and to begin to act.

These important tools, along with the resources provided by the Center for Congregations, the Marian College Center for Catholic Stewardship, the Office of Stewardship Education and Saint Meinrad School of Theology, will equip us as a community to respond to the call of the Spirit.

- Fr. Frank Kordek, O.F.M., Pastor, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Indianapolis

Notre Dame graduate: Alma mater is true to mission of Catholic Church

Overcome with a tremendous feeling of joy and a profound sense of inner peace, I celebrated my graduation from the University of Notre Dame the weekend of May 16-17.

With exuberance, I joined my classmates in naming Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins our senior class fellow and in welcoming President Barack Obama as our commencement speaker.

I could not be more proud of my senior class for the level of respect and courtesy they demonstrated toward each other and toward the campus community, even amidst upsetting protests and frenzied media coverage steps beyond our cherished university.

The atmosphere on campus throughout the weekend was not one of discord or division, but was instead wrapped together in the message of that Sunday’s Gospel: “Love one another as I love you” (Jn 15:12).

Father Jenkins turned our attention to these words of Christ first at the commencement liturgy, and President Obama continued this theme in his address to the graduates.

If we are truly to be one human family, we must not channel our energy into words and actions that merely glorify our own positions, tear others down, and refuse to engage in conversion with those who think and act differently.

My formation at Notre Dame and in this archdiocese has only affirmed that as Christians we must always seek to reach out to others with “hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love” (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue).

On May 17, the president named this as our common call as Christians: “The call to treat one another as we wish to be treated. The call to love. The call to serve. To do what we can to make a difference in the lives of those with whom we share the same brief moment on this Earth.”

The external obsession on demonizing messages and jeers aimed at our nation’s president and the school that I am pleased now to call my alma mater could not be any further from the very simple Gospel directive to love as Christ has loved us. That was not and never will be Notre Dame.

Welcoming the stranger as Christ himself, openly sharing the faith with humility and compassion, and celebrating common ground amidst dissimilarity—this is Notre Dame, and I daresay the mission of the Catholic Church.

- Geoffrey Mooney, New Albany, Notre Dame Class of 2009

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