Letters • June 15, 2020


Save immortal souls

To date the U.S. Catholic bishops’ response to the coronavirus and all things related has been proactive, aggressive and unrelenting.

The Diocese of Richmond has led the way in all matters pertaining to protecting Catholics from the virus: closed churches and schools, suspended Mass and the sacraments, and on reopening has followed every dictate: restricted capacity, social distancing, mandatory wearing of masks to enter buildings and participate at Mass. No government guideline or prescription unmet. All enforced with great rigor.

All this effort to protect Virginia Catholics from the threat of the virus and the possibility of physical death, however remote and unlikely death from COVID-19 truly is.

But I cannot say that I have seen or heard anything from our Catholic leadership to the equivalent level of effort for the eradication of sin in our lives to prevent the real death of our immortal souls!

Where is the loud and incessant call for all people to social distance, mask ourselves, continuously wash, cleanse, purify ourselves from “…the works of the flesh…: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like” (Gal. 5:19–21)?

Or “…that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9–10)?

Where is the clarion call to holiness for the sake of our immortal lives? -Dave Tezza, Virginia Beach

Misguided assertion

I recently attended a Mass where, during a homily on inclusiveness, an example was given about a hypothetical gay couple coming to church holding hands and kissing. It was implied that such behavior was OK because “God made them that way.”

I have always believed that God made all of us, and that God loves all of us, even in spite of the fact that there are times in our lives that we do not necessarily return that love to him.

But it is also the teaching of the Church that God gives each one of us free will, and that we are always responsible for our actions. It is not possible that a just and loving God would make people such that they cannot control their actions.

God did not make bank robbers, alcoholics, pedophiles, murders, etc. However, when he made us, each person was given their specific cross to carry, and each person was given different and specific ‘tendencies’ toward various behaviors and lifestyles.

These gifts and crosses were given so that each person, using their own free will, might achieve the highest place in heaven that they are willing to work to attain. No person is ever given a cross too large, such that they cannot bear it and are thus dammed by God.

Since the Church’s teaching is that the active gay lifestyle is not compatible with the will of God, it is not conceivable that God would “make a person that way.” This is not meant in any way to detract from the intrinsic rights and dignity due to each and every human being as a child of God, regardless of their actions at a specific time in their life. -Marvin Weniger, Virginia Beach

Don’t publish letters with racist views

I am writing to urge The Catholic Virginian to exercise its editorial authority in a responsible way and stop publishing letters that give voice to and effectively normalize racist views, all of which are inconsistent with Catholic and Christian doctrine as a whole. Put simply, words that clearly undermine the teachings of our savior Jesus Christ should not be published.

I won’t repeat the words here, but anyone can go online and read the archived letters from the Oct. 7, 2019 and March 23, 2020 issues; each contains a particularly nasty and false characterization of African Americans.

The writers of these letters need serious help in the form of prayers, education and the sacrament of reconciliation, rather than a big megaphone to spew their misguided and even vicious words to the entire diocese.

I wrote in response to the October letter, but mine was not published. Others did the same and some of those letters were, thankfully, published. The fact that this happened twice in less than a six-month period suggests that The Catholic Virginian is oblivious to the hurt it is causing members of the Body of Christ.

In the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death and the ensuing protests and nationwide conversation that is finally happening, is The Catholic Virginian listening? I sure hope so. I believe an apology to African American Catholics is long overdue. – Monica Carley-Spencer, Charlottesville

All Catholics must work for racial justice

In light of the murder of George Floyd and the awareness of racial issues that has come with it, I am calling on all Catholics to take action for racial justice. For far too long, the Church in the United States has been quiet on this issue.

Racial justice is a pro-life issue, and until the Church roots out the evils of racism within it, our black brothers and sisters will never be fully welcomed as members of the Body of Christ. Not being racist isn’t enough. We must be anti-racist.

The Church must repent. The Diocese of Richmond must acknowledge its participation in racial injustice. From siding with the Confederacy in the Civil War to closing black churches during desegregation, the diocese has actively harmed its black members and must make amends for that.

We must listen to our black brothers and sisters. We must hear their stories and amplify their voices. Every church in the diocese should have persons of color on their parish council.

We must educate. Churches need to host events on white privilege and racial justice. Every Catholic school and faith formation program must have an anti-racism curriculum. Celebrating black saints during February isn’t enough. We must teach our children to fight racism daily.

We must act. We must attend rallies. We must fight for legislation that supports racial justice. We must join interfaith groups, such as Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities (RISC) that work for change in education, housing and gun violence where some black communities are negatively impacted.

Finally, we must pray for justice, healing and change. – Denise Letendre, Richmond

Is inspired by bishop’s writing

Bishop Knestout is an inspiration to me. He’s different. Ever since he came on the scene more than two years ago, he has been delivering messages and writing in The Catholic Virginian.

You have carried many pictures of him. One heart-rending image has been his prostration as a sign of repentance and asking forgiveness. Too, he has been tireless, visiting parishes and talking to people, young and old. His “Christ Our Hope” column is food for thought. Thank you for the latest Catholic Virginian. – Joe D’Silva, Suffolk

Concerned about reopening churches

I know the importance and grace of attending Mass and receiving the sacraments. I trust that people still receive the grace of the sacraments through desire. Not to be able to attend is a sacrifice.

Many priests and laity are in the high-risk category, and it is likely the elderly will choose to attend. I may be wrong, but I don’t believe the priests have been given a choice.

Our close brothers and sisters in Christ, the Episcopalians, have this to say about reopening. First Corinthians 10:23:24, states: “All things are lawful but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful but not all build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.”

This regathering which occurs under very specific detached conditions is lawful but not beneficial for the whole population. The priest may be compelled to celebrate by order of the diocese. The elderly parishioners are the ones most likely to attend.

The loss of one life due to this reopening is too much. Churches in other states have reopened with spread of COVID-19 and death. Could we not choose to protect our clergy and ourselves until we can all worship safely? – Linda Tucciarone, Glen Allen

If you can, donate stimulus check

By now many of us have received our government stimulus checks. To many it will be welcome to help pay bills or necessary expenses. But for a number of us, in whole or part, it is not needed. My wife and I blessedly fall into that number.

What better way to show our gratitude to God than by donating our stimulus money to help those suffering from a shortage of food due to conditions created by the COVID-19 crisis.

We gave our entire amount of $1,500 to organizations such as World Central Kitchen, No Kid Hungry, the Food Bank and the diocesan St. Joseph Fund, among others.

We exhort our fellow Catholics to do likewise. We are sure that God will be well pleased. – Rebecca and Mario Mazzarella, Newport News

Praying for more pro-life counselors

Re: “Few mentions of ‘abortion’ in sermons” (Catholic Virginian, May 4): As a pro-life sidewalk counselor in Norfolk, I appreciate any attention given to the abortion issue. I am not sure, however, what was the purpose of this article. Anyone who attends Sunday Mass already knows this topic is not addressed in the sermons. The question should be, “Why not?”

We witness between 30 to 40 abortions each day with approximately two to three sidewalk counselors praying for these mothers in crisis and their babies. We are desperate for our Church to actively promote our ministry and pray that God will send us more pro-life counselors to witness to life.

Regardless, all two or three of us will be on the sidewalk, guiding and comforting these women in need while I will continue to contemplate the question of why the Church so rarely mentions the evil of abortion during Sunday homilies. – Kathleen Dawson, Chesapeake

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