- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

'Atoms for peace' allowed India's A-bomb

In his Jan. 4 Commentary column, "Unhidden dragon in standoff," Frank Gaffney Jr. argues that China is responsible for the danger of a nuclear war in South Asia because it allegedly fostered Pakistan's nuclear program. Nothing could be further from the truth. India was the first to start a nuclear-weapons program in South Asia, and it was the first to conduct nuclear tests. These facts cannot be obfuscated by shifting the blame to China and Pakistan.

It is common knowledge among U.S. nuclear experts that the plutonium stocks used by India for its 1974 and 1998 nuclear tests were provided by the United States and Canada under the Atoms for Peace project. Victor Gilinsky and Paul Leventhal, in an Op-Ed column published in The Washington Post on June 15, 1998, wrote that if Washington and Ottawa were to hold India to its promise to return the nuclear fuel, "India would lose more than half [its] weapons-grade plutonium."

Moreover, Mr. Gaffney calls Pakistan's nuclear capability "the Islamic bomb" but does not deem it fit to see India's nuclear potential as "a Hindu bomb." Are there any Christian or Jewish bombs in Mr. Gaffney's world as well? Or is his bias reserved only for Muslims?



Campaign against bishops is wrongly conceived

As a Catholic who has lived in the Washington area for more than 50 years, I was interested to see the Jan. 4 letter from Charles N. Davis concerning the Catholics for a Free Choice poster campaign against the so-called "ban" on condoms by Catholic bishops. Mr. Davis believes Catholic bishops speak only for themselves on family, marital or sexual matters and in no way speak for the laity, who, he says, almost certainly do not believe that abstinence or natural family planning are realistic moral choices for increasing spousal love, preventing unwanted pregnancies or restraining AIDS.

I venture to say that Mr. Davis has the whole matter completely backward. God did not poll the human race before issuing the Ten Commandments. Had he done so, he undoubtedly would have heard the same dissident voices to which Mr. Davis listens. God's own son did not change the teaching of His Father, for which He was crucified. Hundreds of thousands of Catholic bishops, priests, religious and laity through the ages were martyred for refusing to deny their faith.

Present-day Catholic bishops do not "pretend" to speak for the laity. They are merely carrying out their moral obligation as representatives of the Catholic Church and as successors of the Apostles to preach and teach and attest to the truth of the Commandments regardless of Gallup polls, voting records or any other means of determining the views of those in the pews. If some members of the laity refuse to follow the bishops' teaching, for whatever reason, that's too bad, but it doesn't relieve the bishops of their obligation to continue to preach and teach the truth about condoms, contraceptives and any other matters that involve moral choices. It avails nothing to argue, as does the letter writer, that the bishops are wrong in their teaching simply because some Catholics disagree with that teaching.



The Jan. 4 letter by Charles N. Davis critiques the Dec. 24 article "Pro-choice poster campaign targets bishops, " saying that Catholic bishops and church teachings, particularly on human sexuality, are out of touch. Yet he misses some basic points.

First, Pope Paul VI didn't ban contraception. Rather, the church has long opposed it because it separates what God has joined: the love-giving and life-giving aspects of the matrimonial act. In his encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), Paul VI merely confirmed this truth, which the church has maintained consistently.

Further, bishops must speak on matters of faith and morals. It is essential in their pastoral mission to pass on the teachings of Christ and his church. The church was established by God to save souls; it is not a democracy. While polls and surveys reflect Catholic practice in this country, they do not reflect church teachings.

Choices are not moral or immoral based solely on the intent of the person, as good as that might be. Rather, objective criteria exist for every behavior, and the end does not justify the means.

Bishops speak on contraception because the issue is of paramount importance to everyone, and our exercise of our sexual gifts can either help or hinder us in our pilgrimage toward God and heaven. As for the accusation that celibacy undermines the bishops' counsel on sexual matters: One does not have to have experienced all diseases to be a good doctor. Likewise, a female doctor can minister to male patients.

Natural family planning (NFP) is indeed a realistic choice for increasing love between spouses and preventing the spread of communicable diseases. My wife and I teach NFP classes, which are attended by couples from most other religions (including Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists). More than 20 organizations teach NFP in this country; four of them are active in the D.C. area alone. Couples who use NFP have less than a 5 percent divorce rate; it's marriage insurance.

Bishops should be more active in reaching out to the laity on these issues. It could save many marriages and souls.



Illegal immigrants didn't deserve unhealthy billing

In response to Michelle Malkin's Jan. 1 Commentary column, "Osama's medical welcome mat," let's get the facts straight regarding undocumented immigrants:

• Undocumented immigrants come to this country primarily for jobs, not health care.

• Undocumented immigrants are only eligible for emergency care, not health care for chronic conditions such as renal dialysis or organ transplants.

• When Miss Malkin cites some ridiculous figure of $31 million for emergency services in North Carolina, she includes services to legal immigrants, who qualify by law for Medicaid.

• Immigrants work at jobs that nobody else wants for long hours at low wages and under dangerous working conditions, which contribute to the need for emergency care.

• Studies show that immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, contribute more in taxes than the costs in services they incur and also are less likely than citizens to seek public benefits.

The bottom line is that very few undocumented immigrants ever receive health care services. They do not expect it and rarely seek it because most are too afraid of being deported; they only seek it for dire emergencies. The services they do receive are minimal usually simply to stabilize them, with no follow-up or ongoing treatment and necessary, if nothing else, for public health reasons.

In a country as wealthy as ours, would Miss Malkin ask us to turn our backs on the migrant worker who enables us to put food on our table or the sweatshop worker who sews the clothes we wear and let those workers die? Let us not forget that we always have been a nation of "immigrants," and that has always been one of greatest strengths.


Staff attorney

National Health Law Program


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