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Dear Editor,

After reading Mary Kochan’s article on George W. Bush I would suggest that you consider changing the name of your web site to Republican Exchange. I log on to CE daily for there are many interesting articles about the Catholic faith on it. However Kochan’s article is an unabashed pep talk for all Republican candidates. She appears to be furious at the episcopate for not openly endorsing the Republican Party. Well I have some news for her. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are worthy of endorsement by the Catholic Church. Both parties have serious deficiencies in their moral, political, and economic philosophies.

Yes, the Republicans have, on the whole, taken a strong position against abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia. They also favor wider application of the death penalty, a pro-business anti-labor economic policy, and tend to be hostile to immigration legal and illegal. The Democrats have an abysmal policy on abortion and other human life issues. They often downplay the need for a strong military defense. Additionally they have totally caved in to the homosexual rights movement. They do support wider access to health care for all Americans, policies that protect the environment for future generations, and a legal system that metes out justice not blind vengeance.

I am greatly disturbed by Kochan’s blanket endorsement of George W. Bush and the Republican’s war platform. This is certainly not consistent with the Holy Father’s position on the Iraqi crisis. In conclusion let me state that there are moral and patriotic people in both political parties. There are also scoundrels in both parties. The Catholic Church cannot endorse carte blanche one party over the other. As Catholics we should bear true witness to our faith and not the platform of a political party.

Jim Hicks

Manhattan, Kansas

Dear Mr. Hicks,

I agree that there are problems with both parties. And I see that you have detailed some of the most significant differences. However, you have done so in a way that is very biased toward Democrats, which might explain your perception that we are biased toward Republicans. Allow me to provide you with a few examples.

We should distinguish between legal and illegal immigration by defining immigration as the assimilation into our country of foreigners who desire to assimilate. That permits us to formulate reasonable policies. Without assimilation, even legal immigration can become an invasion that unravels the fabric of our society and endangers all of us assimilated foreigners who make up this melting pot society. Republicans are not against all immigration as you claim. We are for the assimilation of legal immigrants and protection of our borders, the necessity for which should be painfully obvious to every American.

You failed to distinguish between “access to health care” and socialized medicine (what many Democrats are really aiming for) which is long on promises of access and short on delivery, as observation of those countries which have it demonstrates. Look north to Canada and see. Republicans are not against “access to health care”, but understand that if you want access to health care, you need doctors. Put doctors out of business and guess what? Access to health care decreases. This is not a problem with any easy answers, but Democrat policies thus far have resulted in the wholesale abandonment of the medical profession, decreasing, not increasing, access to health care. Slogans won't fix this problem. Pro-abortion judges are starting to interpret the law so that hospitals cannot operate without providing abortions. I ask you to consider whether access to health care will be increased if this rabid pro-abortion agenda closes down Catholic hospitals.

There is actually no disharmony between the pope's desire for peace and America's insistence on disarming Iraq. Peace in the Catholic understanding is not merely the absence of war, but the presence of a particular kind of order. That the maintenance of that order may require the prudential application of force is also recognized by Catholic teaching. The burden of proof is upon those who oppose the use of force to provide evidence that they have a viable alternative that will accomplish the attainment of such order. Meanwhile we ought certainly pray that war may be averted and this order attained by other means. Leading us in such prayer is the role of the pope. Leading us in insistence upon Iraq's compliance with UN resolutions is the role of the president.

You characterize Republicans as wanting “blind vengeance” and Democrats as wanting “a legal system that metes out justice.” This hypocrisy must not go unanswered. The most unjust actions in our society right now are:

• Abortion, the taking of purely innocent human life in the most barbaric fashion.

• Euthanasia, a dire moral failure to care for the disabled and aged and ill.

• Stem cell research, the creation of human life for experimentation, which would be compounded many times by cloning.

All these things are being supported by Democrats. By your own admission the Republican position on these issues is right. In fact, important legislation on all these issues is currently being blocked by Democrats including: banning partial-birth abortion, banning cloning, exempting Catholic hospitals from being required to offer abortion services. These things have been passed by the House but are being blocked right now in the Senate. Why don't you know this? Why have the bishops not made Catholics aware of the crossroads we are at with these issues. Don't you want this legislation passed? Don't you want an end to the blocking of pro-life judges?

The idea that Democrats want to protect the environment and Republicans don't is ridiculous. Everyone wants a cleaner environment. The question is how do we get it. A clean environment is a luxury in an industrialized world. This is why the dirtiest environments in the world are in poorer countries and former Soviet countries. It takes a certain level of economic advancement before people can afford cleaner technologies. The best thing for the environment is vibrant economy.

But even if it were true that Democrats were more interested in protecting the environment, we fail to see the point for a Catholic. Let's see… one party wants to save trees, the other party wants to save babies. Trees … babies. Trees … babies. Are you trying to say this is a hard decision for a Catholic?

I do not expect the Church to endorse any party. You seem to have missed the point. Abortion stands in a unique position, next to it only euthanasia and cloning are even close in importance. It is Catholic ignorance of that fact that I lay at the feet of some bishops. Who else do you think is responsible?

So recognizing the primacy of these issues, we can count on you to vote for a Republican in the Senate if you have the opportunity, right? What you do with regard to other races will not have such a bearing on the course of our country with regard to abortion in the future. However, every vote for a Democrat strengthens the party in this country that has a pro-abortion platform, and a lot of us have come to the conclusion that making the pro-abortion and radical homosexual agenda party stronger is a bad idea. The few anti-abortion Democrats are completely shut out of decision making in their own party's platform.

We contend that for the sake of the unborn we should band together to put the pro-life party in charge of the Senate. Especially now, considering the grave issues they currently have to consider. As for us being the “Republican Exchange” is concerned: I assure you, if it was reversed and the Democratic party platform was pro-life, I'd being saying the same thing about them.


Mary Kochan

Contributing Editor

Catholic Exchange

Bishops' Movie Reviews Under Fire Once Again

Dear Catholic Exchange:

I followed the link on your site to the Movie Reviews section. I did a search on the USCCB site for the fairly new movie, Amelie. Below is my letter to them concerning this movie, which should be deeply offensive to ALL Catholics. I thought you should be aware that apparently their screening system doesn't see fit to label this movie as (O) morally objectionable. But it most assuredly is. Perhaps the service you provide by linking to their site needs further examination.

Sincerely Yours,

Stephen M Danielowich

To the person responsible for the following review:

Amelie — French romantic comedy with fantasy aspects in which a timid Parisienne waitress (Audrey Tautou) secretly interferes in the lives of those around her, mostly for the better, while shying away from the young man (Mathieu Kassovitz) who is most interested in her. Jean-Pierre Jeunet directs an airy valentine to Paris that romanticizes its quirky characters with gorgeous visuals that manage to gloss over any moral considerations. Subtitles. Fleeting violence involving a suicide and comic treatment of sex including several instances of brief nudity and a few crude visual jokes. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted.(2001 )

I simply CANNOT BELIEVE that you, as a Catholic representing the U.S. Bishops, would be able to view this piece of filth and write that the “gorgeous visuals … manage to gloss over any moral considerations…” Did you miss the portion that defiles the image of Our Blessed Mother by stating CLEARLY that the character in question “HATES the phrase 'fruit of thy womb,'” while at the same time interspersing pictures of the uterus, for effect? Is this kind of irreverence (comparable to the statue defilement in The Exorcist) something you do not find 'Morally Objectionable' enough to give the 'O' rating? Am I missing something here?

If that were not enough, does the USCCB view the promotion of premarital sex as in line with Church teaching these days? Is pornography, contrary to the Catechism, now to be 'glossed over' if it is in a movie with nice scenery? I'm sorry to have rented this movie, which I assumed from secular reviews to be an 'uplifting flick.' I'm even more sorry after doing a Search on it and reading your pitiful review. May Mary have pity on you and the others of your organization, who have no consideration for her.

I await your reply,

Stephen M Danielowich

Dear Mr. Danielowich,

Thanks for your letter. This is not the first time that an outrageous movie recommendation on the USCCB site has been brought to our attention. On another occasion the offending review was removed after we expressed our displeasure.

We are aware of their excesses and are watching the situation closely. Rather than dropping the link entirely we are inclined (at least at this point) to advocate for a more enlightened and informed Catholic approach on the part of the USCCB. Please let us know if and how they respond to your inquiry.

In Christ,

Tom Allen

Editor, CE

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