Letters • October 19, 2020


Let prudence, charity guide our discussions

Lately, the world — and even Catholic communities — have been divided by issues such as racial injustice and the coronavirus. Lest dialogue dissolve into shouting matches, we need prudence and charity.

Prudence is an often- forgotten virtue that helps direct our decisions. Prudence — aware of God, creation, society and ourselves — applies the universal truths of justice to particular situations.

There is no intrinsically correct answer to whether or not to take down certain statues, conduct a particular political march or implement a specific public health policy. We must weigh the pros and cons and, within the bounds of justice, find solutions that work best.

Adhering to principles of Church teaching, we use prudence to come to conclusions — but not always the same conclusions as our neighbor.

That is why we need charity. Perhaps people are ignoring the very real problems of racism in our country, have made an idol of social activism or are forgetting to love others as God loves us.

Perhaps our neighbors are callous to the very real suffering — physical, emotional and financial — that the pandemic has inflicted.

Perhaps. But until we really know otherwise, we must assume that they, like us, are acting with the best of intentions, based on their understanding of justice and the situations we face. We always have the choice to respond with charity, even when we disagree.

Will you join us in renewing these virtues as we discern current events, discuss them together and go to the polls? – Caitlin Bootsma, Richmond, and Aaron Linderman, Ruckersville

What advice will Church provide?

As the general election approaches, I am wondering what advice or direction we will be given from the Church regarding voting. At the last election, we were advised to have a “well-formed conscience” regarding the candidates and issues, but to keep in mind that abortion was the sole issue upon which our decisions should be made.

I’d like to pose the following thought question. Suppose Adolf Hitler was running for office, and solely to attract a certain portion of the electorate, added an anti-abortion plank to his platform. Given all that is known about Hitler, and understanding full well that “anti-abortion” is not synonymous with “pro-life,” would the Church still tacitly compel us to vote for Hitler on the basis of a specious abortion stance? I hope the answer would be “no.”

I further hope this example illustrates that when voting there are at times deeply profound aspects to consider regarding a candidate besides their ostensible position on any single issue.

Let me state for the record that I am an ardent, “seamless garment,” prolife Catholic who views the U. S. government as failing substantially on most if not all life issues, independent of political party, for the past 50 years. – Dr. Martin Mlynczak, Yorktown

Concerned about articles’ ‘slanting’

Another election season, and so another flurry of articles about how the Catholic Church does not tell anyone how to vote. These articles tend to have a recitation of a laundry list of Catholic moral teachings with little to no reference to their relative importance, and silence on the way that the changing morality reflected in our laws and court decisions is affecting the freedom to practice our religion.

This leaves plenty of opportunity for articles to assert that it doesn’t matter who you vote for while subtly guiding you to one side or the other. The article “Catholics have plenty to consider before Election Day” (Catholic Virginian, Sept. 21) with its contrasting nasty “…special interest groups such as Catholics for Truth…” with virtuous “…600 social justice leaders, scholars and others under the umbrella of Faith in Public Life…“ is a good example of that slanting.

May I suggest that you could better inform your readers with respect to the moral issues at stake in this election by simply printing the entire presidential candidate comparison of the Virginia Catholic Conference. – George Gounley, Newport News

Editor’s note: The Virginia Catholic Conference presidential candidate comparison appears on Pages 8-9.

Clergy should preach about evils of abortion

It pleased me to read several letters in the Oct. 5 issue on the subject of abortion. As we approach another important election, why do we not hear from our priests and bishops on the evil of abortion? In my 80-plus years, I have only heard an occasional mention of the subject from the pulpit.

We have many politicians who, as Democrats, must support their party’s stance on public funding of abortion on demand. As long as our Church hierarchy fails to speak out against this travesty, these politicians will continue to support abortion and tax-payer funding of Planned Parenthood — a major provider of abortion. – Margaret Mayer, North Chesterfield

Bring peace, freedom to all Americans

In his “Christ Our Hope” column (Catholic Virginian, Oct. 5), Bishop Knestout said, “Let your words and actions reflect the peace of Christ.” He referenced how “we watch and read reports about the effects of unrest in our cities and conflicts in different parts of the world.”

I experienced a peaceful and encouraging response to this at Fort Monroe, the historical site of the 1619 landing of 20 odd captive Africans in America. On Sept. 26, a large crowd of people of many faiths, mostly Catholic, gathered by the invitation of the Sowers of Justice and the Catholic Workers. We reflected on the preciousness of the gift of life we all enjoyed and how our forefathers, black and white, were also given this land to stand on.

Speakers recounted the history of our country with both sides being recognized. The oppression and the efforts toward freedom were recalled.

The pilgrim group moved from the Fort Monroe seawall to the Emancipation Tree where they continued to reflect on the present calls to action regarding voting, reparations and changing laws that, as in the past, condoned unjust treatment of people of color.

Nathan Richardson, as Frederick Douglas, spoke and said, “This is an American interracial marriage we have, and it cannot be annulled.” The call to action we were left with was to “stay awake, agitate” and help make legislative change bring true peace and freedom to all Americans of all genders, faiths and skin tones. – Maureen Marroni, Norfolk

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