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Not Embarrassing

As a discerning media consumer, I reject Russell Shaw’s opinions that 1) “papal rhetoric” on the media by Popes Gregory XVI and Pius IX should be regarded as an “embarrassment,” and 2) that Pope John XXIII’s views “stand in marked contrast” to those of earlier popes (“Read All About It: Why Catholics Should Care About the News Media Crisis,” Oct. 2007).

According to Mr. Shaw, Pope John XXIII endorsed “a right to freedom in investigating the truth” exercised “within the limits of the moral order and the common good.” In other words, Pope John XXIII stated very directly what the earlier popes only assumed: that freedom in media is a good thing when it is used to promote truth and good. He also implied what the earlier popes said directly: Media promotion of lies and evil is an abuse of freedom that is not to be tolerated. Consequently, any “marked contrast” in the teaching of these popes is merely in style and emphasis, not in substance. Furthermore, the ever-increasing filth, violence and misinformation purveyed by the modem secular media make the condemnations issued by Popes Gregory XVI and Pius IX all the more relevant in the 21st century and I am not a bit embarrassed to say so.

— Deloris Gross
Coon Rapids, Minnesota

Russell Shaw replies: It isn’t “according to Mr. Shaw.” Pope John said it, that’s all. As to the shift in papal attitudes toward news media from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, it’s obvious to anyone who reads what the popes said. As I was at pains to point out, the views expressed by Pope Gregory and Pope Pius can be understood in light of the circumstances of their times; the same is true of the views expressed by Pope John. That a significant change took place, however, is so clear that it isn’t worth arguing about.

Cristeros Live


Thank you for the article by Christopher Check on the Cristeros (“¡Viva Cristo Rey!,” Sept. 2007). I have been studying the Cristeros for many years. Your readers may want to visit my Web site,, for video interviews with surviving Cristeros (in Spanish with English subtitles). 

— Ruben Quezada
Via e-mail

Ends Justify Means


“An Inquisition Primer” by Robert P. Lockwood (Truth be Told, Sept. 2007) was a well-written exposé of an era when Catholics believed and practiced what they were taught by pious priests and nuns. These were not afraid to offend anybody by preaching the faith and dogma of the Church, e.g. the immortality of the soul and the reality of hell. If impious reprobates gave scandal or taught heresy to [Catholics] then the inquisition was necessary, although it, along with the Crusades, also is an example of unscrupulous means to achieve noble ends.

— Kevin J. McNamara
Somers, Connecticut

A True Mama’s Boy


I would like to address Mr. Schrauzer’s article “Let Your Face Shine on Us” (Eyes to See, Sept. 2007). He presents a valid point: that nobody knows what Jesus actually looked like. Thus, as Mother Theresa said: He is in disguise as our next-door neighbor.

I would like to offer a complementary thought. As “enlightened” Catholics, we may turn to what science has to teach us. We know that Jesus was fully human. This tells us that he had DNA. The blood which he shed for us on the cross had a certain blood type. After his Resurrection, Jesus was primarily recognized by his disciples in his mannerisms and speech. These are all very human characteristics.

As rational Christians, we know that science is limited to testing that which is only observable matter, so we can see the cause and effect. When a baby is born we exclaim, “He has Uncle Larry’s chin.”

Jesus has a divine Father who is pure spirit. God has no physical DNA or blood type. Therefore Jesus has only one perfect match should he have ever needed a bone marrow or kidney transplant. Mary, who also had heart problems, would be the only human match for the man-God.

It stands to reason that Jesus also obtained his physical mannerisms and characteristics from Mary since she is the only human to provide the needed biological material which formed our Lord and Savior. Christ, along with the Father and Holy Spirit, chose this designer DNA from the start of time. Jesus chose to have Mary’s eyes, Auntie Elizabeth’s chin, or Granny Anne’s curly hair.

Christ even echoes his mom’s mannerisms and speech. Compare Mary’s Magnificat and her Son’s first public sermon. The poor shall be rich and inherit the world; the mighty shall be pulled down. It is obvious to all who have the eyes to see that Jesus was very much the “mama’s boy.”

So in answer to the question of what Jesus would look like, I would reply with the same answer given by the Fathers: “Look into the face of Mary. There you will find the Son. It is impossible to conceive of the Son without the mother.”

This begs the question: “What does Mary look like?” Perhaps Mr. Schrauzer will grace us with another article to discuss that question.

— John Ballentine
Jarratt, Virginia

Beauty and Truth


It is high time that your readers thank you for the marvelous “face lift” you have given to This Rock. In some subtle and mysterious fashion, beauty also belongs to apologetics! No other magazine can compete with its front page. Thank you.

— Alice von Hildebrand
Via e-mail

Eyes Opened


I really like Eyes to See, particularly “Time and Eternity in the Balance” (Oct. 2007). The author’s attention to detail and his interpretation of the meaning of the paintings is eye-opening and spiritually inspiring. It teaches us much that we would not have observed or appreciated without his explanation. The column is a creative addition to your magazine.

— Marguerite Sproule
Via e-mail

Lewis the Anti-Catholic?

In the article “The Great Divorce” (April 2007), Christopher Check says C.S. Lewis is an anti-Catholic. I have read some of Lewis’ work—namely Mere Christianity—and I saw not a hint of anti-Catholicism. I have also heard him referred to very positively by Catholics and Protestants alike.

So what gives with Christopher’s comment—am I missing something here or is he?

— Patrick Buschur
Via Catholic Answers Forums

Christopher Check replies: C.S. Lewis made many worthy contributions in the field of ethics; his children’s stories are a delight; his so-called science fiction trilogy even better. His work as a medievalist is not very well known, I wager, among his many fans, nor is his explicit condemnation of artificial contraception. Nonetheless, his “mere Christianity,” ignoring, for example, ecclesiology and the Blessed Virgin, is really mere Protestantism, and one that never escapes the prejudices of the bitterly anti-Catholic world of Belfast in which he was formed. His attitude toward the Roman Catholic Church is matter of public record and has been at least since Christopher Derrick’s fine book,
C.S. Lewis and the Church of Rome (Ignatius Press). It has more recently been carefully and charitably explored by my good friend Joseph Pearce in his C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church (Ignatius Press). Both books help us understand why a man whose theological thought was so heavily influenced by Chesterton and Tolkien could still say that he “didn’t much like” the fact that the second edition of Pilgrim’s Regress, published by Sheed and Ward, was “brought out by a papist publisher.” To Lewis, it was a cheap effort “to make Dublin riff-raff read the book.”

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