Letters – September 4, 2023


Harsh reality of hell

I think the Catechism of the Catholic Church could use some revision.

Too many saints (and not a few who admitted they were given a second chance) describe hell as far more than an absence from God. The descriptors are quite graphic and describe the pain as unbearable.

Purgatory, while temporary, isn’t a rest stop on the way to heaven, either.Maybe people need a better understanding of the devil – where he comes from and what his role is in all this – along with the knowledge that mortal sin doesn’t just separate you from heaven and God, but condemns you to eternal damnation and pain.

We are given a conscious choice to choose God and, even in our sin, a chance to ask forgiveness.

It seems to me the problem isn’t whether a loving God loves us – that’s a given – it’s whether we love him back and ask for his forgiveness, knowing without it we’ve no chance to spend eternity with him.

He waits, we choose. – Steve Restaino, Chesapeake


What ‘war on religion’? 

Some of the examples Rick Kurek gives of the so-called “War on Religion” (The Catholic Virginian, May 29) confuse me:

  • Is Bud Light using a transgender spokesperson a “War on Religion,” or a beer pitch to a secular audience?
  • While the attack on Riley Gaines was deplorable, she was speaking to a secular crowd about the physical inequality of allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sports; she was not talking about religion.
  • The Catholic Church itself hasn’t promoted religious accommodations for COVID-19 shots.  Pope Francis himself, as well as six cardinals and archbishops from North and South America, have said it is “an act of love” to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

One might conclude from these specific examples, in addition to the fact that Mr. Kurek suggests that we rate politicians only “on their actions pertaining to abortion and homosexuality” that the “War on Religion” might be code for a “War on Far-Right Politics.”

Yes, we need to be concerned about the sanctity of human life, but in all its forms.  If we really want to strengthen the influence of faith in our society, perhaps the best way to “fight back” is to respect “human personhood … with a reverence that is religious. When we deal with each other, we should do so with the sense of awe that arises in the presence of something holy and sacred. For that is what human beings are: we are created in the image of God (Gn 1:27)” (USCCB, Economic Justice for All, 28). – Mark F. Hoggard, Hampton


FBI targets Catholics
The FBI issued a memo to target Catholics as domestic terrorists. The memo originated from a 2019 New Yorker article and was prompted by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The FBI’s plan was to find new opportunities to “mitigate” domestic terrorists by utilizing undercover agents to infiltrate and desensitize congregations to the warning signs of radicalization and then enlisting church groups to be on the lookout for terrorists within their own organization in the hopes of identifying anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideologies.

Rep. Jim Jordan of the House Judiciary Committee confronted Director Christopher Wray who claimed the memo was a “one-off” from the Richmond, VA field office, but that was proven false. This memo was distributed around the United States…with multiple offices adopting it, and the Committee refuted the director’s claim by showing that it was being used in at least two other field offices…Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA.

The singling out of a specific religious denomination for infiltration and intelligence gathering is not the conduct one should expect from a nation that enshrines religious liberty in its foundational document. What has our government and law enforcement become? Don’t just take my word for this, research it yourself (an article was printed in August in the Wall Street Journal) or contact Rep. Jim Jordan’s office for more information. – Michael Cericola, Bristol

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