Letters • February 22, 2021


Sprinkled ashes an outward sign of faith

In a letter (Catholic Virginian, Feb. 8), a reader expressed contempt for the proposal that ashes on Ash Wednesday were to be sprinkled on our heads rather than the usual cross on the forehead.

Many countries, including the Vatican and Italy, have traditionally sprinkled ashes, so in a way this was more of a return to tradition and was still an outward sign of our faith.

Secondly, consider Matthew 4:7: “Jesus answered him, ‘Again it is written, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”’”

Yes, we should love and fear the Lord with all of our hearts, but a global pandemic means we must make sacrifices in our Christian charity. God gifted humanity with reason, scientific intrigue and free will so that we could find ways to protect and improve ourselves, not as a test against our faith.

We have a duty to protect our priests and other parishioners from a deadly disease. This is an outward sign of our faith. God asks us to fear, but also to love. So please, wear a mask, wash your hands and accept the sprinkling of ashes you received. – Mary Elizabeth Larson, Charlottesville

Catholic politicians can’t be devout, pro-abortion

Re: “Bishop warns against the Weaponization of Eucharist” (Catholic Virginian, Feb. 8) in which Bishop Robert W. McElroy argues against denying the Eucharist to President Biden and other Catholic political leaders based upon their abortion stance. “Weaponization” has become worn out political hyperbole used to elicit an adverse emotional reaction void of critical thinking.

Jesus said, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely” (Lk 20:45-47).

These politicians are hypocrites and destroying our nation’s moral integrity. They want to obfuscate and normalize abortion to gain Catholic votes while remaining subservient to the altar of the abortion lobby. Case in point is President Biden’s reversal on supporting the Hyde Amendment.

The Church’s pro-life stance is unambiguous and does not provide for abortion lite. What common ground should be surrendered to permit this evil? How can you be a devout Catholic and implement policies that promote the deaths of millions of innocent babies? These public figures are influential and manipulative and seek to devalue the Church’s prolife position for their own political gain.

By not standing on moral principle in depriving the Eucharist to these politicians who are publicly unrepentant and brazenly disobeying the Church’s stance on abortion, the Church runs the risk of being perceived as fostering a double standard. – Carmine Largo, New Kent

Remembering a humble servant

During this pandemic, so many millions of people are remembering beloved family members and close friends. Only a few weeks ago, I learned that a person I knew died of complications from COVID.

A good number of people might remember Robert Quirin. Bob was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Richmond in 1957, and would serve in a variety of ways until he left the priesthood in 1988.

Not long after his ordination, Vatican Council II was convened, and Bob would embrace the vision and teachings of the council and then implement the vision and teachings in the several parishes where he served as pastor.

He also served as the first director of ministry to the priests of our diocese, having been chosen and appointed by Bishop Walter Sullivan.

Bob had a very hearty passion and commitment for efforts to bring about peace and social justice in our world and our Church. He was also actively involved in the efforts for ecumenism, desiring a fuller Christian unity with our brothers and sisters of different faith traditions.

Robert Quirin was a good and humble priestly servant of the Lord. Perhaps at the end of a good life, the Risen Lord may have said, “Robert, good and humble servant, come join all of my holy sons and daughters at the eternal banquet table!” – Msgr. Bob Perkins, Newport News

Denuclearization can’t be done unilaterally

The commentary by Steve Baggarly (Catholic Virginian, Jan. 25) draws attention to an issue that should concern us all. However, some of his comments inaccurately portray the “facts” and do not recognize the progress that has been made in denuclearizing the two main superpowers — Russia and the United States.

We should be encouraged by the worldwide reduction in the nuclear weapon stockpile. In the 1980s, there were approximately 70,000 nuclear warheads in existence. As a result of much effort and laborious negotiations, that number has been reduced to 14,500.

I acknowledge that more work needs to be done, but that is significant progress toward the goal to “complete nuclear disarmament ‘at any early date.’” The U.S. has not conducted a nuclear test since the early 1990s, further showing resolve to reduce, and hopefully one day eliminate, all nuclear weapons. Denuclearization is a desirable goal, but it cannot be done unilaterally.

Any discussion about the ineffectiveness of “nuclear deterrence” seems to be negated by the very fact that the last nuclear weapon fired in anger occurred in 1945. Several articles point out that nations, including India and Pakistan, possessing nuclear weapons are quite cognizant of the moral, ethical and political reasons to not fire the first shot.

In spite of the claims of the long ago debunked nuclear winter scenarios originally posed by Carl Sagan, a limited nuclear exchange would likely not cause dramatic climate effects that “would kill millions of people … threatening 2 billion people with starvation.” – Ed Merz, Moneta

‘I will wear a mask’

I would willingly wear a mask, dear Lord,

If you asked me yourself, you see.

“My will resides in the bishop,” he said.

“Whoever hears him, hears me.” – Antoinette Cleary, Chesterfield

Nowhere to hide

Catholic politicians have often rationalized their support for anti- Catholic positions on issues by saying their personal and private beliefs are different from what they must support for their constituents.

But in the case of President Biden’s executive orders there is nowhere to hide. These are not initiated by others; the positions they contain originate with him alone.

His memorandum of Jan. 28, 2021 laid the groundwork to undo Title X restrictions on family planning and abortion, revoked the Mexico City Policy, which blocks U.S. funding for abortion services; resumed funding to the U.N. Population Fund; and withdrew the U.S. from the Geneva Consensus Declaration, which restricts abortion access.

As a professed Catholic, these pro-abortion positions are scandalous. That the Church has not condemned his actions is equally scandalous. Will President Biden be denied Communion? Will President Biden be excommunicated? – Charles Ruhl, Fincastle

Editor’s note: Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington has already said he will not deny the Eucharist to President Biden.

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