Letters • November 30, 2020


What Church needs to do to grow, be healthy

I have heard the question raised: “With people not attending Mass during the pandemic, will they all return when the pandemic is over?”

The Church has already been losing members in recent decades, and a further loss because of the pandemic could be devastating. To keep the Church healthy and growing, three things would be needed.

First, be honest to Jesus’ call to the kingdom of God on earth, a kingdom of peace, justice and love. We need to bring the presence of Jesus to the world and discover the presence of Jesus anew in those in need, according to Matthew 25.

Then we bring that Jesus we have discovered in the world to Mass with us so that there is a mutual discovery of Jesus in the Eucharist and in the world.

Another area the Church will need to grow in after the pandemic is over is to be more inclusive. With the Black Lives Matter movement, the women’s movement and the movement for gender equality, the Church must be more inclusive. Not to be inclusive could be turning away the presence of Jesus.

Third, the Church needs to take very seriously the environmental issue if the Church and world are to survive. We need to follow the teachings of Popes St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis, especially “Laudato Si’.”

We need to be people of faith and realize how essential it is for us to be good stewards of the creation God has placed in our hands. We need to work hard at preserving creation for ourselves and generations to come. – Father Louis R. Benoit, Roanoke

Pope, bishops premature in congratulating Biden

Why did the pope and U.S. bishops decide to publicly offer congratulations to Joe Biden while the outcome remains undecided and probably will for some time?

There is no urgent need that called for these congratulations now. We have a president and functioning government. This fact will not change regardless of who is president on Jan. 20, 2021.

No reasonable person disagrees with prayers for all Americans in this time of uncertainty nor argues against peace and unity for these United States and the world. This should most surely follow a true and complete accounting and audit of the vote thereby delivering a right and just certification to the elected president, whomever he may be.

Natural, common sense should have prevailed on the leaders of the Catholic Church to withhold congratulations so as not to insert themselves in the political processes of a nation.

Perhaps if they relied more on supernatural grace and wisdom and exercised prudence, they would inspire the nation to calm and peaceful patience while pursuing the truth and eschewing all fraud and falsity, and demand it of our media and government.

Far more importantly, where is our bishops’ concern for the immortal souls of all those who support and promote objective sin and evil, abortion, contraception, sinful sexuality, socialism and more? Why is there no call to a deep and true repentance and absolute and total conversion to Jesus Christ by our bishops?

I am reminded of Ezekiel 3:18-21, and I paraphrase, “if you warn the wicked man and the righteous man not to sin, you will have saved your life.” – Dave Tezza, Virginia Beach

Right to worship needs Church support in court

Since April, there has been a new trend among the predominantly Catholic families I meet. The average is a dozen a week. We catch up on changes since the last meeting or get to know each other if it’s the first to understand the family’s goals and needs.

Often, the conversation includes elements of our faith. The ability to incorporate my faith into my work is a significant reason I became a field agent with the Knights of Columbus.

Our conversations often included the impact of the pandemic. Everyone missed celebrating Mass with our community and partaking of the Eucharist. Interestingly, a frequent theme was the disappointment in our Catholic Church.

More specifically, disappointment in how the Church, especially in America, seemed to so easily surrender our First Amendment rights. They would ask me rhetorically, “How can we so easily relinquish those freedoms our Christian predecessors had to fight and often be martyred for to establish our Church?”

They feel the Church is more fearful of litigation due to recent events regarding abuses but don’t feel that is a justification.

Maybe this isn’t prevalent in other parts of the country. I serve in one of the densest populations of active duty and retired military families. They know intimately what it is to sacrifice. I asked other agents, Catholic friends and family in other states. They experienced the same.

What inspired me to write this letter was news that the Brooklyn Diocese filed suit against the state of New York for its draconian edicts. Maybe it’s time for other dioceses “to follow suit”? – Ben Salazar, Norfolk

Keep churches open

I can sit next to a complete stranger for three-plus hours on an airplane at 100% capacity to an earthly destination, but I must sit 6 feet away from a brother or sister in the faith in a church at less than 50% capacity as we strive for a heavenly destination.

During lockdown, Home Depot and liquor stores stayed open as essential and didn’t even serve earthly food, but churches were shuttered from giving the true food of the Body of Christ through which all who eat shall have eternal life.

Governors control whether our churches are open, and if open we’re muzzled and can’t sing; but St. Peter said, “We ought to obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:29), and Jesus told us, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Lk 19:40).

Millions hope in a manmade vaccine to protect against dying from COVID, but the faithful were/are denied the sacraments that provide grace to prevent eternal damnation and bring us to everlasting life.

Our lives have completely changed for a contagion that has been the sole cause of death for just over 10,000 people (CDC’s updated numbers), Kyrie Eleison; but abortion is the sole cause of death for 3,000 babies every day and over 860,000 babies every year, Christe Eleison.

The sheep know the True Shepherd’s voice. For Church leadership: keep our churches open; feed us, your sheep, the sacraments and regain the sacredness of life. – Bob Boyer, Virginia Beach

Uncover the secret of America’s original sin

On Nov. 14, a diverse group of Catholics from Hampton Roads and Richmond’s Sowers of Justice opened their hearts and minds to empathetically experience the walk taken by frightened, sick and confused Africans as they were delivered from Benin, Africa, to the James River dock in Manchester.

It is one thing to be white with a lifestyle of privilege in America and another to try, for a brief afternoon, to walk in the footsteps of God’s children with dark skin, who were treated as property to be sold for free labor.

We prayerfully reflected on their experiences of dehumanization while also recalling our own backgrounds of racial bias that we carry with us from childhood. Deacon Charles Williams, director of the diocesan Office for Black Catholics, asked us to pair up as we walked and to share our memories of family racial discussions during our younger years.

The Richmond Slave Trail, which can also be self-guided, goes through a hidden-away area of Richmond that is easy to completely overlook unless you are seeking to uncover the secret of America’s original sin.

I, along with my fellow walkers, was deeply transfixed by the experience, and we highly recommend the walk as a prayerful activity during which you can allow the Spirit to speak to your soul about openness and reconciliation. – Maureen Marroni, Norfolk

Pray for president-elect

Re: “After election, Catholic leaders pray for healing, unity,” (Catholic Virginian, Nov. 16), the bishop of the Delaware Catholic diocese, the CEO of the Catholic Health Association and the cardinal of Chicago were all quoted.

Their comments were outstanding, however, I was greatly dismayed and disappointed that there was not one mention of praying for the innocent unborn and the sanctity of life at all stages. That is especially important because the United States is going from the most pro-life administration to a pro-abortion administration. What makes it even more egregious is that the president-elect is supposedly a “devout Catholic.”

I had to read the article several times to ensure that I did not miss some comments about protecting life at all stages — with a special focus on the pre-born.

I urge prayers for the president-elect to guide him in his decisions so that he can truly be a “devout Catholic.” – Ted Cors, Williamsburg

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