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 May 23, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 11Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Interpretations of truth
George Weigel says that “[S]ecular modernity . . . is a lifestyle choice with no critical relationship to the truth of things” (May 9 Voice). Perhaps, but it might also be that, when it comes to “eternal truth,” there may be different interpretations of such truth that demand attention.

For example, the continuing controversy over the AIDS crisis in Africa. The Church says married couples may not use contraceptives even if one of the partners is HIV-positive. This then turns marriage into an “in name only” affair, or it leads to the probable death of one of the partners. It’s understandable why reasonable people would question the “eternal truth” that contraception is intrinsically sinful.
I don’t mean to imply that all interpretations of an eternal truth have equal merit.
But I do think that we must be willing to examine interpretations other than the “infallible” one.

Yes, we must have a set of beliefs to which we can hold firm; this will enable us to establish an identity as Roman Catholic. I am very much for that. But I’m not enthusiastic about claiming that interpretations of truth aren’t subject to change over the course of time. That belief violates common sense.
Thomas F. Mader
Walnut Creek


Emphasis on the Holy Spirit
While I have no quarrel with George Weigel’s commentary (May 9 Voice) on the meaning of the election of Benedict XVI, I would have emphasized the guidance of the Holy Spirit upon the cardinals, rather than an election, in the selection of Cardinal Ratzinger as Bishop of Rome.

In concluding, I would have recognized the love as well as the mercy of God in the critical task of showing the world the face of Christ.

I would have to admit that Daniel Henninger’s ” Wonder Land” commentary, “You have to Love a Pope Who Loves St. Augustine,” was more stimulating, exciting and challenging to read. It was on the April 8 editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.
Wm. F. Brusher
Oakland

‘Smashing triumph’
George Weigel, in “Election of Benedict XVI Means End to Doctrinal Accommodation,” (May 9 Voice) puts forward a provocative thesis. The papacy of Benedict XVI signals the end of a period in which some Catholics, the media, and others, have expected the Church to accommodate to the secular world.

The election of our new Holy Father comprises the “smashing triumph” of those opposed to such accommodation. Indeed, it has grown increasingly clear that religious communities with porous boundaries “wither and die.”

In the light of this thesis, however, I’m puzzled by the football metaphor that Weigel uses to end his piece. The new pope “will not play to avoid the interception,” we’re told; “he’ll play for the touchdown.”

But isn’t comparing the new pope to a quarterback a rather secular accommodation in itself? Even more to the point, isn’t the description of Benedict XVI’s election as a “smashing triumph” rather far removed from the Scriptures, in

Perhaps “withering and dying” is more doctrinally pure than Weigel comprehends.
Marian Ronan
Berkeley
(Marian Ronan is associate professor of contemporary theology and religion at American Baptist Seminary of the West.)

Shape of the new cathedral
Only one comment need be said about the shape of the new cathedral that Bishop Cummins approved — it looks like the all-seeing eye. If it is the shape of things to come, then it is immersed in the new age movement. The aerial view will not depict the faith of the Roman Catholic Church but that of the Freemasons or that of New Age believers.

All one needs to do is look at the photo of the proposed layout to understand it will never represent heaven and it will forever anchor us to the earth.

Our thoughts and outlooks will not be drawn up to God for glass only reflects back to us the image that is in front of it. This cathedral design is so man-centered that God will be second to last to ourselves and the world, if we even get that far in our thought process.

I feel that Bishop Cummins and the Cathedral Committee have done the Catholic Church an injustice by putting so much money into this symbol of “Enlightenment”.
Naomi Miller
Brentwood

Fundraising by charities
I read the letter in the April 25 Voice which you entitled, “A serious rebuff,” and I understand the writer’s feelings.

I have sent contributions to causes which are obviously worthy of support from Food for the Poor to The Sierra Club, and many others including National Organization of Women and San Francisco AIDS Foundation. I am sure many of them must employ a full-time staff sending solicitations for more donations.

I have gone so far as to phone in my complaints and the reason one gave is that they do it because it works.

Here’s how I have resolved part of the problem. I joined the outreach committee at St. Perpetua Parish. This group appoints a committee member to represent us to each of the many charities we help so we learn a great deal about their operations, how many people they help, their cost of operation, if they need volunteers, plus cost of fund raising.

We do limit help to those here in our area and take into consideration those that receive a great deal of funding from other sources, particularly large national support.
Annabelle Farrell
Lafayette

Absent from the calendar
Each month, Bishop Vigneron has been visiting one or two parishes to apologize for sexual abuses inflicted upon young people by priests in the diocese.
I note that these events are conspicuously absent from The Voice’s calendar section.

Apparently golf tournaments and salad luncheons are more important than the acknowledgement of survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.
Greg Bullough
Via e-mail

Relativism’s tyranny ends
The tyranny of relativism ends! Long live Pope Benedict XVI !

He will make sure it stays that way. I am not qualified to list religious reasons for this, but my study of psychology led me to the conclusion that relativism appeals to the irrational aspects in all of us and, if it is not under strict, personal, discipline, will lead to more ambiguity and relativism that may even lead to bi-polar insanity.

The choice is between a coherent set of faith-based moral views, principles, or whatever guides our views and life, and the popular decisions that form incoherent views that further confuse and, the entanglement of neuron links.

Alzheimer’s is noted by a calcium layer over these links and will remain fixed. It is not yet proven, but it may explain the cantankerous, closed-minded, irrational elderly you and I have met and you and I may become unless we have views that are consistent with our faith and principles.

Inconsistency and voluntary irrationality ought to be a venial sin, a lighthouse to help us avoid insanity.

Like my catechism teacher correctly said, “Sin causes suffering.” Of course, she did not say some would be for Alzheimer’s and caregivers; it was so long ago, I don’t remember when.
Michael F. Sarabia
Bay Point

The last German pope
In the April 25 Voice, it is stated that Adrian VI was the last German pope. Adrian VI was born in Utrecht, Holland, not Germany. The last German pope was Victor II, who reigned 1055 to 1057.
Charles Gannon
Via e-mail
(Editor’s note: When Adrian VI was born, Utretcht was a low-German-speaking part of the Holy Roman Empire. It is now part of the Netherlands. In Adrian’s time, the inhabitants considered themselves to be part of the German nation. Therefore, Adrian is considered to have been both Dutch and German. He was the last pope to have come from outside Italy until the election of Pope John Paul II of Poland. He ruled from Jan. 9, 1522 until his death on Sept. 14, 1523.)


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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