Critic Explains Letters Stand ...On the same date – October 31, 1972 – two letters in opposition to Rosenberger's original letter were published:
It would seem that my criticism of the prayer vigil held at St. Joseph The Worker Church has stirred a tornado in a thimble; it has also brought a response which indicates that some people are not too well informed about their own faith, other than believing the official propaganda with which they have been brain-washed. I refer to Mr. Thomas F. Mahoney of Buffalo Grove, who, with typical crystal ball logic, has the "ability" to read hidden meanings in apparently any letter!
What Mr. Mahoney seems to forget is that religious freedom also means the option NOT to believe in "traditional" religion, the freedom to express one's opinion, and the legal and moral right to denounce what one considers ignorance and/or injustice, whether one be a deist, an agnostic, an atheist, a humanist or a rationalist!
If the "community" and one's "neighbors" would deny any person this freedom of choice, then the community and one's neighbors would be indulging in hypocrisy and ignoring the Christian concepts of justice in which they profess to believe.
If I were so narrow as to indulge in Mr. Mahoney's kind of reasoning, I would suggest that he's advocating "when in Rome do as the natives do"! Believe as everybody else believes, don't have an opinion, and for God's sake (no pun intended) don't rock the holy boat! I can only wonder: if Mr. M. had lived in Nazi Germany, would he have bleated "HEIL" with the rest of the sheep, simply to avoid "offending the community"? Would he have advocated the hanging of "witches," had he lived in Salem, Mass. in 1692?
As for my "patent ignorance of the positive emphasis" of Catholic education, I am more than familiar with this so-called emphasis, so much so that, as a professional author, I've written books both on Roman Catholic sexual philosophy and Roman Catholic education – and all from the Catholic viewpoint, too. Writing these books was simply another job, and I was well paid for the task.
I personally fall to find any "positive emphasis" in a moral credo that, among other things, would turn a woman into a baby-making machine by subjecting her to the rhythm system, which is considered a joke among medical men, who refer to it as "Vatican Roulette!" And woe to any RC wife who refuses to play the game. She is excommunicated latae sententiae – Canon Law 2350. This is the kind of "positive" teaching that evolved and was updated from the same "wisdom" that once taught, in the Middle Ages the craziness that a male fetus acquired a soul in 40 days and a female fetus in 80 days. St. Augustine said so, and this dictum was followed by the Church for three centuries. I can also assure the "community" that this is fact, since Jesuit friends of mine, teaching at Louis University, a Catholic institution, have told me so. Needless to say, they also considered it a joke!
Mr. Mahoney also indulges in the old fashioned Christian tactic used by Apologists: That of the false analogy. In this case, since I disagree with him, there must be something wrong with me. I must have a "peculiar problem." I would suggest Mr. M. acquire a good college logic (and a Roman Catholic Encyclopedia). Then again, perhaps he has read a few lay books on psychology and fancies himself a kind of "expert" in human nature. . .
Sorry, Mr. Mahoney, but I don't have any "peculiar problem" – financially, emotionally, or otherwise. In fact, I'm quite content and happy. I don't even have the problem of being bothered by narrow-minded people who don't even know the facts about their own religious heritage. But I don't complain, anymore than I become annoyed because a baboon has no appreciation of beauty, or because an aborigine is not conversant with the finer shades of courtesy or self-sacrifice. On the galactic scale, the human race is still young, and the limitations of the contending religious systems may be but the growing pains of humanity on its spiritual pilgrimage.
Buffalo Grove, Illinois
... And A Catholic Criticizes HimAnd:
I am offering my rebuttal to Mr. Joseph R. Rosenberger's article entitled: "Catholic Sex Ed Needed" in our Catholic schools. I really pity your bigotry, especially since it comes from one of the "chosen people." I'm sure you don't speak for the rest.
Yes, Mr. Rosenberger, Roman Catholic authorities and Roman Catholic parents should be allowed to teach the Catholic faith to members of our church and to our children, and without any interference from an outsider. No, Mr. Rosenberger, we are not "demanding public funds to teach our faith." It's amazing how one reads into each debate on this issue only what one chooses to. Of the hundreds of subjects taught in parochial schools, whether that school be Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish, religion is ONE subject. We only appeal for aid on busing, which the public school children have; we request aid for the purchase of secular, I repeat SECULAR, books, which public school children have; we request aid for the purchase of secular science and lab materials, secular gym equipment, etc. etc., which public school children enjoy.
How can you call our church "ostrich-headed" in its attitudes on modern sex education. You have no idea whatever what goes on in our private schools. Our sex education program can match any similar program put out by the public schools. If you wish your children to know everything there is to know and then some, go ahead and teach them; no one is stopping you. You think you're qualified in so many other facets, you certainly should be capable of teaching them the facts of life. I suggest you pull YOUR HEAD out of the sand, stop over at St. Mary's, speak to Father Duffy. He will be more than happy to give you the material we use from grades 1 through 8, relating to sex education. Then, after you have read this material. see if you still call us "ostrich-headed."
Soon our schools will be in danger of over-educating our children in matters of sex and drugs. Soon our schools, both public and private, will employ so many techniques, in over-education, that our country will lead the world in unmarried pregnant girls; we will lead the world in hard-line narcotic users. Education along these lines is of great benefit WHEN applied wisely. Certain ages and levels of maturity are capable of learning in certain stages. The parents, not the schools, know which of our children are capable of learning what things. But it sounds like you wish to push the pendulum so far the other way we will over educate. And Mr. Rosenberger, there is such a thing as OVER EDUCATION. Don't show the child the dangers of drugs, but even show them how to prepare an injection of heroin on film, so in case that child wasn't sure how to do it, after the film he will be! So the children who had no interest in drugs before the film, now had the interest perked up.
Mr. Rosenberger, the GREAT AUTHORITY on prayer! You must know something beyond us. How are you so sure prayer is a joke and does NOT help. Prayer and faith have sustained countless of generations before you were born, and it will continue to sustain countless of generations long after your passing. Don't sell the power of prayer so short! It is people such as you who make fun of prayer, that are the first ones to invoke God's name during a tragedy.
Then, your "prayer" is usually the old "gimme-and-I'll-give-ya" type, such as "Oh God, if you let Billy pull through, I'll do such and such." This "prayer" is invoked in the emotion of the moment, and the barter is usually broken as soon as Bill pulls through. I'm not saying that this type of prayer is wrong. Sometimes it takes tragedy for us to find our way to God again. But I am saying that prayer can also be: "Thank you God for my life; thank you God for my parents; thank you God for my health; thank you God for my children; thank you God for this beautiful earth." And a prayer for you, Mr. Rosenberger, "thank you, God, for the ability to be in a free nation that allows me the right to write in a newspaper expounding my bigotry."
You remind me of the little boy standing outside the candy store window, wishing he were inside with the rest of us. Well, Mr. Rosenberger, come on in – we won't charge you.
P.S. What a giant step backward you and I have token from ecumenical goats. Shame on us!
Sex Ed LetterRosenberger's letter of October 31, 1972, prompted two more replies, which appeared on November 10. The first, from the aforementioned Thomas Mahoney:
I would like to support Thomas Mahoney in his reply to Mr. Rosenberger's letter on sex education, and go one step further.
Should the Rosenberger letter have been printed in the first place? This is the second time in recent weeks that the Fence Post has published letters that had no other apparent purpose than to hold the beliefs and practices of a particular religious group (interestingly in both cases, Catholics) up to scorn and ridicule. That was the case in Mr. Rosenberger's letter and that a few weeks ago, quoting scripture texts out of context to question what the author believed were Catholic practices, which he objected to.
This is hardly fair comment on current events!
In these days when concerned people everywhere are trying to build bridges, letters which tend to divide or accent differences, particularly religious differences are out of order, especially on the editorial page of your (our) newspaper.
Harry J. Walsh
Rosenberger's Stand Is AssailedGypo Nolan is the title character of Liam O'Flaherty's 1925 novel, The Informer, which was also made into a movie by John Ford in 1935.
Mr. Joseph Rosenberger of Buffalo Grove apparently discerns in my criticism of his attack upon Catholic moral teachings implications of a constitutional dimension. In no sense, however, do I question his legal right to expound his ideas, however puerile. Rather, I point only to his lack of civility. The question is one merely of manners, not of First Amendment freedoms.
Mr. Rosenberger conjectures regarding my conduct had I been In Nazi Germany. Not having been there, I cannot satisfy his curiosity. In posing the question, however, Mr. Rosenberger appears to be suggesting an equation between his own potty-spirited attack upon a prayer vigil at St. Joseph the Worker Church and high-minded resistance to Nazi tyranny. Which nonsense suggests that Walter Mitty is alive and well, and living in Buffalo Grove.
I accept at face value Mr. Rosenberger's assertion that he has written at length on the subject of Catholic moral teaching. The fact remains nonetheless that his letters on the topic disclose only gross ignorance, both social and theological. In this field, as in others, writing varies considerably in quality. It is possible that bits and snatches of Mr. Rosenberger's prose rise above incompetence and achieve mediocrity; but I doubt it. Nor is it very important; the real point at issue here is Mr. Rosenberger's bad taste.
Mr. Rosenberger describes himself as a "professional author." How then explain his reliance upon infantile invective in lieu of reasoned discourse? The answer lies perhaps in the very looseness of the phrase, encompassing as it does root only skilled craftsmen but also hacks who churn out junk ranging from third rate advertising copy to pornographic novels. In any event a more precise appellation for Mr. Rosenberger is at hand. He states he has been "well paid" for advocating a philosophical point of view, which he personally deems detrimental to the intellectual development of his audience. This by definition is literary prostitution.
Charity, as I have previously indicated, compels sympathy for such a man. Surely we can rejoice with him, not only that he has learned acquaintances in academia, but that – and more importantly, since it clearly occupies such an exalted place in his personal hierarchy of values – he has been financially successful in life. But most importantly, in the aforementioned spirit of charity, we ought, like Gypo Nolan, to tell him we are sorry for his troubles.
Thomas F. Mahoney
Joyce McCabe adds her thoughts:
Local Sex Ed Controversy Continues
I am writing in response to Mr. Joseph R. Rosenberger's letter regarding the need for sex education in the Catholic school. As long as Mr. Rosenberger is liberal enough to believe that Roman Catholic authorities can teach the Catholic faith, it's a shame Mr. Rosenberger does not take advantage of the open house at St. Mary's once a year. If he did he would be aware of how advanced St. Mary's is. He would also be aware that not only do we teach sex education but also the responsibility which goes along with sex.
Mr. Rosenberger makes the statement, "How can two priests who never had children or had to worry about paying bills impart any advice regarding the sexual function." I can speak only for our priests who have 765 children, 1,300 families and more bills in a month than Mr. Rosenberger sees in a year. If this qualifies one to impart os [?] the sexual function, then our priests are qualified.
Mr. Rosenberger also feels that prayer will not produce a normal healthy sexual urge. I think that these children who are being taught sex education along with prayer and Christian life will put a much higher price and respect for the human body than those taught strictly just the physical function of the human body.
It appears Mr. Rosenberger speaks from ignorance when he states that the church neglects the needy. He should know the functions of Catholic Charities, Bishop's Relief Fund and individual needs churches provide for needy people. It has always been the policy of the Catholic schools never to deny a child a Catholic education because of lack of funds.
Maybe Mr. Rosenberger should accept people for what they are instead of a label. We do not wish to impose our religion on anyone.