LETTERS

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April 28, 2005

Letters to the Editor

Barney Keller's Article

In response to Barney Keller's article of 4/25 ("The Pope's Election and His Views Are Archaic"), I don't think that the ludicrous assertion, that no one takes the Pope's ideas seriously, even merits a response. However, Keller should recognize that his own statistic of "more than 1.1 billion Catholics," presumably all self-proclaimed, would clearly refute it. I think most people who call themselves Roman Catholic take the Pope seriously, or at least say they do.

Keller has also offhandedly insulted at least hundreds of his fellow U of C students who do take the Pope (i.e., the Defender of the Church's teachings) very seriously, a good number of whom agree wholeheartedly with the Church's every teaching, although it may seem impossible to Keller. I'm not sure to whom his column was directed, but the only people who should be concerned are Catholics—nobody else has to follow the Pope's (the Church's) decrees. Thus nobody else should feel offended at the Church's teachings, such as the condemnation of contraception—they aren't Catholic and, as you state later, don't need or want to understand or obey such teachings.

As for those Catholics who disagree with the bulk of the Church's teachings, they don't have to stay in the Church. The majority of Catholics, who are not fair-weather Catholics, understand that abortion, gay marriage, and contraception go against the same morality that condemns murder, premarital sex, and sexual abuse. It seems to me that while Keller and those who agree with him attack the Pope, they really intend to attack the Church. I don't understand what Keller is criticizing in the Church's attitude towards Latin America and Africa; in case anyone missed it, the other leading candidates for the papacy were from both of those regions.

Keller fails to understand that the Roman Catholic Church of today is not the Republican party or a similar political organization. It is not intended to be political; it is "not of this world" and does not need to pander to the views of the populace, and just because it exists alongside political institutions or other religions does not mean it needs to change itself to complement or to relate better to these other associations.

And FYI—the Pope-mobile was instituted for protection, not for luxury, after the near-assassination of John Paul II by a KGB (Bulgarian satellite) hired gun.

Veronica Mayer

Second-year in the College

Media coverage, from the decline and death of Pope John Paul II to the ascension of Pope Benedict XVI, has, frankly, been appalling. Those journalists covering these historic events seem to neither understand the nature of the Church nor its institutions. Benedict XVI, the 264th successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, steward of the Earthly City of God, is a great and holy man chosen by the Holy Spirit to lead man on and to the Way. His views cannot be properly aligned with our political jargon as the Church transcends such classification. The truth—the natural law—does not change, though it is practical. It is improper to say that championing human dignity and moral right is "archaic." The truth can never be outdated. The Catholic Church is the single oldest and greatest champion of liberty and justice. Who, ever, has done more for reconciliation and peace? Who, ever, has done more to help the needy? Who, ever, has done more to praise God? The funeral Mass of John Paul II showed the universality and influence of the Church—it is not archaic, it is not regressive or reactionary, it is not "annoying." You claim be a conservative, but everything said in the article attacked the core moral base of the conservative movement. But I understand that attacking is easier than believing.

Ben Potts

As one of 1.1 billion Catholics worldwide, I was extremely miffed and disappointed with Barney Keller's recent comments in his article. I do not know of Mr. Keller's personal religious views, and nor do I care. He is entitled to his own opinions regarding "homosexuality, rock music, freedom of speech, gender roles, and abortion," which as his article makes clear are quite different from those of newly elected Pope Benedict XVI. But, I do question Keller's authority to declare that "everyone" disagrees with the Pope because "no one here takes what (he) says seriously anymore," and that Catholicism is a "religion that many people neither understand nor want to understand." I could rant for pages on this subject, but I think one number proves Keller's statements utterly incorrect and baseless: 1.1 billion. Catholicism is currently the largest religion worldwide, and while not every Catholic agrees with the Pope or cardinals on every issue, it is fair to say that my religion certainly is one that people not only "want to understand," but actually believe in. Before making a groundless blanket characterization of 1.1 billion people, Keller would be wise to learn a little something about the Catholic community. Our doors are always open

Steve Brusatte

Third-year in the

I am writing to dispel several myths perpetuated by Barney Keller's article. First off, Keller asserts that in addition to continuing its opposition to condoms, the Vatican will not send aid to Africa to combat the AIDS epidemic. The assumption here is that the Vatican has the power to intervene but refuses. The Vatican's annual operating budget is approximately $260 million (National Catholic Reporter, 2004.) In short, the Vatican is financially incapable of aiding the AIDS fight. In addition, the Vatican's abstinence teachings, if followed, would have a more profound effect on the AIDS fight than any condom program.

Second, Keller propagates another oft-repeated myth, namely that the Church's selection of Benedict XVI is a slap in the face to Latin American and African Catholics. Benedict has a number of staunch supporters in Africa, where there is deep support for traditional values. In fact, Nigerian seminarians have said they would consider leaving the priesthood if priests were allowed to marry (Washington Post, April 17, 2005.) While a third-world pope may have been a more dramatic statement of unity with the growing regions of the church, the selection of Benedict XVI only really alienates the liberalistic Catholics of Europe and America.

When Keller writes that "everyone" disagrees with Benedict's positions on "homosexuality, rock music, . . . gender roles, and abortion" he does so with great arrogance, assuming that all intelligent people have forsaken these "archaic" teachings. Keller, I for one believe that homosexuality is a sin, that abortion is wrong, that condoms aren't a substitute for waiting until marriage, that men and women should have different roles in life and in the church, and even that rock and roll music leads the flock astray. And I resent the implication that I'm less enlightened for believing so.

Mark Desmarais

Third-year in the College