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August 16, 2007 Edition

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Death penalty: Catholic teaching

A reader called the Catholic Herald office to discuss a Catholic News Service (CNS) article on the death penalty published in the August 2 issue. The article examined increasing public doubts about capital punishment.

The caller said the article did not include information on Catholic teaching on the death penalty. She complained that we often hear what the church teaches on the abortion issue, but we don't hear as much about church opposition to capital punishment.

I agree that we need to tell people what the Catholic Church teaches about the death penalty. The CNS article could have included a brief paragraph quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Section 2267 says that if "non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person."

But I disagree that the Catholic Herald has not included information about the death penalty in our paper. Last year during the Wisconsin debate on the state-wide referendum on capital punishment, we published many articles on this topic. I wrote an editorial opposing the death penalty, as I have for many other years.

Catholic social teaching emphasizes the importance of protecting human life from conception to natural death. Although Catholics are allowed to defend themselves against an attacker, we also know that nonviolent means should be used whenever possible. And as Pope John Paul II frequently said, society can be protected from dangerous criminals by putting them in prison for life - still leaving them the opportunity to repent their sins.

Catholics should be able to apply the basic principle of respect for human life to public policy decisions across the board. The death penalty is one of these issues where Catholic teaching is clear.

Mary C. Uhler

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We reserve the right to edit or reject letters. Limit letters to 200 words or less. All letters must be signed. Please include your city or town of residence.

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Madison, WI 53719-3522

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Present Catholic Church's complete stands on issues

To the editor:

The handling of complaints to this newspaper about printing a letter "offensive" to women (May 17 mailbag) is only partially addressed. Monsignor Connors' letter of that same date states there is "ongoing pandering to the far right" and the need for "truth." I agree.

For example, when the pope and the American bishops call for a new policy and end to the Iraq "slaughter" (Pope Benedict's Easter message) the Catholic Herald continues to print the column of George Weigel who purports that the Iraq conflict IS somehow justified. The majority of faithful Catholics believe it or are confused because the pope's and bishops' opinions are not presented.

Another example of disinformation is the letters written and published that abortion causes breast cancer. Yet there is no medical data to prove this and the faithful believe it! Invalid information such as this does not need to be distributed as truth, especially when deep down most of us are pro-life!

If there was honesty in presentation, there would be no need for dividing American Catholics into "right" or "left." Give us all the Truth, including the Catholic Church's stand on an issue, and we can make up our own minds.

John Murphy, MD, Madison

Welcome Latin Mass decision

To the editor:

I welcome Pope Benedict XVI's decision to loosen restrictions on the use of the Latin Mass. Vatican II, in fact, never called for the elimination of Latin. The pope's decision, therefore, is meant to foster a more comprehensive and profound understanding of the Church's liturgy.

Latin is the official language of the Catholic Church. It is a "dead" language that prevents people from translating words into the vernacular using ambiguous terms that undermine church doctrine.

The universality of Latin makes it conducive to all believers experiencing more fully the mystery of the Mass. It imbues a heightened reverence and sense of the sacred. It compliments well the Latin rite's traditional Gregorian Chant with its moving meditative cadence.

A wider implementation of the Latin Mass will no doubt be an effective means of both preserving the Church's faith and identity while at the same time allowing her to carry out her mission of evangelization. I hope the pope's new directive will encourage bishops to actively and aggressively promote the Latin Mass throughout their dioceses and beyond.

Paul Kokoski, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices and mailing address: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719
Phone: 608-821-3070     Fax: 608-821-3071     E-Mail: info@madisoncatholicherald.org