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 April 25, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 8Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Insensitive to abuse survivors
The Church teaches that we should forgive those who hurt us and I would really like to do this. However, no one who injured me has ever asked for my forgiveness. On top of that, the Church repeatedly does inappropriate things that continue to hurt survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families.

For example, Cardinal Law saying Mass for our late pope was extremely hurtful to survivors, and I am hurt by this affront to my personal dignity. This action is a slap in the face of all survivors.

It’s getting harder and harder to know who to forgive. I have forgiven those who molested and raped me because they are sick men, and they never had help or support from the Church either. I forgave those who aided in covering up their sickness because that was a different time and these priests’ superiors had little knowledge about what to do for these sick men.

But just whom do I forgive for the insensitivity and cruelty of today’s Church?
If someone can tell me who is responsible for Cardinal Law saying our late pope’s Mass, then maybe I would know whom to forgive.

How long are survivors to overlook the insensitivity and cruelty of the Church by saying, “Oh, they just don’t understand.” How long do I have to reach out to a Church that hurts me over and over again?

We are fortunate to be in the Oakland Diocese which is more enlightened and progressive than most. If you need help understanding how to help hurting survivors, then ask your parish priest.

If he isn’t helpful, call the diocesan offices for information or do research on the Internet.

Please do not become part of the problem with apathy. Please choose to be part of the solution.
Judy Anguella

Stop military recruiting
I am writing to voice my concern about military recruiting in our public schools. While I support the troops and the rights of a volunteer military, I do not support institutionalizing involuntary recruitment practices.

The No Child Left Behind Legislation automatically gives the military the right to take any student’s private information without any form of parental permission or notification!

This snooping into students’ private school information needs to stop! There is an opt-out provision in the legislation, but rarely are students or parents informed of it.

I encourage students and parents all over our state to send a letter to their school’s administrators asking them to keep their information private! A sample form can be found at http://www.militaryfreezone.org/opt_out.
EJ Koenig

False and misleading
It is embarrassing that military recruiters use misleading tactics to recruit students, especially at a time when so many of our troops are in danger in Iraq. The promise of $70,000 for college is just factually wrong. If you study the GI Bill, you will learn that hardly any veterans qualify for the amounts that recruiters and advertisements quote.

Under No Child Left Behind, the government is allowed to use public school students information to recruit soldiers. As a student at Convent of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco, I am exempt from this; however, it is unfair that my peers are recruited with information they give in order to be allowed an education.

The U.S. government needs to understand today’s students are smart and can read the fine print about how much money they will actually receive for education in return for military service. The amounts typically received aren’t even close to the ever-increasing costs of a college education.

We need to work together to end these misleading ad campaigns that entice young people to enlist by offering false hope and empty promises. Surely America can do better than that! Enlisting when you are told the truth and have the facts you need to make an informed decision is one thing, but enlisting when you are given misleading or false information is just plain wrong.
Bailey Douglass
Mill Valley

John Paul’s alleluias
I made my first trip to Poland during the time of Communism, when Catholicism was officially forbidden, but flourished fiercely nonetheless.

And what an astonishing champion the downtrodden Polish Catholics had — the bishop of the entire Catholic world was one of their own!

Many people had know him as a young priest in the Krakow area, and some had known him, or at least knew of him, as an even younger man, the enthusiastic hiker, and, yes, stage actor.

Everyone knew of his brilliant intellect and his amazing capacity for acquiring languages.

I saw him once up close, in the summer of 1983. Our Polish music group from Boston was invited for a private audience at the open air shrine in the back of the Vatican.

He said Mass, along with other Polish priests, and afterwards we gave a short performance of Polish folk dance and music.

I was disappointed, but understood, when it was decided the younger children would play while he was watching. I was able to stand beside him and kiss his ring, something I will never forget. All of us had that feeling of being in the presence of a truly holy man - it was not the only or even first time I had felt that, but it was different: this was my holy man.

Although it took awhile to sink in completely, my conversion back to Catholicism began on that trip.

I now attend Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley where on the day after Pope John Paul’s death, it was baptism Sunday. Of course, mention was made of the passing of the leader of the Church, but the tone was joyful.

We are in the Easter season after all. And it was so life affirming to see all the babies and their families.

Yet I left feeling I had unfinished business. So I drove to the Polish church in San Jose where Mass was about to end. I saw photographs of the Holy Father, people crying, people who, I knew, felt about him as I did.

I saw a friend; we talked a bit, cried a bit, exchanged stories about him. As I left, I was smiling. I felt like singing for the first time in three days. Shortly before his passing, the pope had told his staff he was happy, and they should be, too. I was finally ready for the Alleluia.
Susan Worland

A life-time experience
I was blessed to have an audience with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in the first year of his reign.

He made some very helpful suggestions that were invaluable on some programs that I was promoting. He possessed great insight and his suggestions were instrumental in their successful implementation.

Pope John Paul II’s tremendous compassion and love for mankind was evident in all of his actions. He was a very humble, kind man with such presence. He was open, approachable and easy to talk to.

The Holy Father told me that perhaps more than any other period in history, the time was right for women to be involved in the good works of the Church. He felt that the sensitivity, perception and understanding that women have for their fellow human beings was much needed in our world.

We also had an opportunity to discuss several theologians in the different continents. I was happy to hear his assessments and pleased that we shared many of the same viewpoints.

When our visit came to an end, I fully realized the Holy Father expected me to do all I could for the good of all people. To work in God’s vineyard, to grow in prayer with our Lord, contributing generously in the support of the Church, in holiness, unity and peace, to be a messenger of justice and love.

What a great honor and special privilege —- what a great responsibility – to accept and try to live up to the challenge and follow his example. My visit was truly a life-time experience that I will never forget.
Mary Kay Horsell

Include women’s wisdom
Pope John Paul II was a good man whose powerful faith was inspiration to millions. I believe, however, that despite his devotion to Mary, he failed living women to the detriment of the Church.

We know from the Gospels that Jesus saw fit to announce the Good News of his resurrection first of all to women, instructing them to take this news to the male disciples. He announced to the Samaritan woman at the well that he was the Messiah, something his disciples had wished to hear definitively from him. In these, and in numerous other ways, he indicated that women were integral to the mission of the Church along with men.

In his final instructions before his death, Jesus stated that the Holy Spirit would in the future give the disciples insights and answers to many issues for which they were not ready at that time (John 16: 12-14).

Missing the benefit of the consultative presence of women is one way that the Roman Catholic Church is held back from the bold, inspired decisions Jesus expected of his disciples in every age.

Indeed, if the Holy Spirit truly were to be listened to, many other issues of our day could be resolved in the same miraculous way that St. Paul led the other disciples to realize that circumcision was no longer required (Acts 15). Issues we grapple with today could have the same light shone on them, with a similar happy outcome.
Eartha Newsong

Common sense directives
I, and I am sure many others, thank the Catholic Voice for printing in the April 11 Voice the common sense Catholic directives from the U.S. bishops on this recently contentious subject of life-sustaining medical treatment.

Too many individuals, organizations and governing bodies have made impassioned demands concerning the fate of the unfortunate woman in Florida, Terri Schiavo.
And too many of these statements have apparently been driven by emotion, or other objectives, with little factual knowledge of the state of the woman’s body.

Many, if not most, of us will at some time in our lives be faced with the same kind of decision that was in front of Terri Schiavo’s husband and parents. We should all read again, and understand, how the Church intends to lead us when we are faced with this decision.
Jacque L. Kildare

Save ‘Joan of Arcadia’
“Joan of Arcadia” is the only show on TV on which God is a recurring character. As religious Americans, you’d think that would garner our support: we’d hold Joan-watching parties, serve Joan-shaped appetizers, and talk it up to our friends.

Instead, “Joan” languishes “on the bubble”: it’s going to get cancelled if the numbers don’t pick up. “Joan” airs all-new episodes starting Friday, April 1, and we need to get behind the show and what it stands for, or guess what? It’ll be gone – replaced by who knows what.

Now, some Christian critics have been troubled that the show isn’t biblically accurate enough in its depiction of God. I empathize.

But I also know that, for television networks, the choice is not between “A biblically inaccurate show about God” and “A biblically accurate show about God”.
It’s between “Joan of Arcadia” and yet another reality show about girls competing and humiliating themselves to be America’s next underwear model. Mainstream shows about God are a hard sell, and frankly, considering what else is out there, I’ll take what I can get.

I’d like to ask you for two things:

First, tell your friends about the show; we need to get people watching.
Second, give “Joan” another chance! It very well might surprise you. Take a look at the non-denominational study guides put out by the Presbyterian church, at: http://www.pcusa.org/today/joan/.

In closing, I’d like to quote a gentleman with the Salem radio network I was speaking with earlier: “You may not love ‘Joan of Arcadia,’ but you’re sure not going to love the alternative.”
Elana Frink
Grace Hill Media
Studio City, CA

Act for EWTN
In Hayward, San Leandro and San Lorenzo, EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) can only be received on a higher numbered channel which means switching to the Digital TV service. This requires paying for a new package, including rental of a digital box. All of this is beyond the means of many of the very people to whom EWTN is most important, i.e. the elderly and homebound.

East Bay Area Comcast V.P. Hank Fore said if enough people want it, they will listen to the customers. (Comcast has a slogan “Think customer first!”)
I urge all who want the channel returned to regular cable in this area to write to: Hank Fore, Comcast, 2333 Nissen Drive, Livermore CA 94550.
Sheila Bickerton
San Leandro

(Editor’s note: EWTN remains available on Comcast Channel 30 for Alameda residents only. Alameda Power also airs EWTN on Channel 19. EWTN is available on Comcast Digital Channel 229, DISH Satellite Channel 261 and DirecTV Channel 422.)

A serious rebuff
Some years ago, I was blessed with an unexpected financial gift and wished to share my good fortune with the diocese. It wasn’t much in the large scheme of things, but it was a lot to me.

I received an acknowledgement of the gift with an envelope for a further donation. I wasn’t expecting that. I understood the logic behind it, but I couldn’t help feeling that I’d been slapped in the face.

Not only did it feel like my gift had been overlooked, it felt like a serious rebuff — “Thanks, but you can do more.”

I cannot fathom sending a thank-you note to anyone with an envelope to ask for more.

That isn’t “thank you” at all, no matter what the justification.

I think it is rude and it still bothers me anytime I’m asked to support the diocese or any other charity that uses that tactic.

It is the reason I have not sent a donation to the new cathedral which I favor and am dragging my feet to respond to the Bishop’s Appeal which I also believe in. I guess it’s my problem, but there it is.
Name withheld upon request

The opinions expressed in letters to Reader's Forum are the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Voice or the Oakland Diocese.

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