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 September 17, 2007VOL. 43, NO. 4Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Too much extravagance
In the June 6 Voice, there is a photo of a hungry Sudanese child with the caption, “Impending humanitarian disaster.” What a heartbreaking picture.
Then I am reminded of the extreme extravagance displayed by the Catholic Church during the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the election of a new Pope Benedict XVI.

In the May 23 Voice, the front page featured an illustration of the new Cathedral of Christ the Light that will cost $131 million. How can the Church justify such extravagance in light of the millions of people who are starving to death and the many who every day are being murdered in this world?

The Church is supposed to give comfort and aid to those less fortunate, but it appears the unfortunate people are overlooked in favor of building great monuments to priests and bishops.

Do we really need a cathedral of such extravagance? I must admit it is very impressive, but will people pray better in a building that cost $131 million or a church with simple pews and roof?

I was in Spain a few years ago and the tour guide told us, “We don’t build churches in Spain anymore because the Church bled money out of the people to build churches.”

I wonder what the Church is worth in dollars; I would be shocked.
Robert Beaudreau

Innovative cathedral design
I have just read the Voice article on the new Cathedral of Christ the Light. I am impressed with the architectural renderings of the new cathedral center. I find the design innovative and look forward to its completion. My hope is that it will be a welcomed home for our community.
Lori O’Neill
El Cerrito

Disturbing design
In looking at the artist’s rendering of the new cathedral, I could not help but notice that the design replicates a bishop’s miter. Though architecturally beautiful, it is most disturbing and a sad reality check on the hierarchy of the Church today. In the silence of glass and steel, the voice of the bishopric is loud and clear — “It is all about me.”
Brenda Hepler

Cathedral looks Protestant
What I find happening with the architecture for the Cathedral of Christ the Light is the further “Protestantization” of the Catholic religion. It represents that misguided hangover since the Vatican II to see ecumenism as a zero-sum game whereby if we Catholics want to be more ecumenical, we have to appear more Christian and less Catholic, so we “may all be one”.

The cathedral’s architectural style is, consequently, strongly suggestive of Low Church Protestant temples like the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California. On the façade, if one took off the cross (not even a crucifix!) it could be not only a Protestant or even non-Christian temple but, in fact, it could be just about anything from a symphony hall to a museum of contemporary art to a really artsy railroad station.

The post-conciliar Catholic leadership appears to have (mis)understood the Council as having suggested that to blend in more, to fit in more, into the modern world, we must adopt its architectural vernacular vocabulary at the expense of the traditional Catholic architectural lexicon.

To fit in now, Catholics and their church would have to act and look “modern.” If that was so, the erroneous corollary followed, then it must surely mean forsaking the past. How sad.

The result is an architectural structure eloquently mute in its lack of a vocabulary to express its faith, rejecting its past but not quite having found its new present voice, much the same as the Church for which it serves as metaphor. Church, non-denominational “structure”, symphony hall, museum.

So much more could have been done with The Cathedral of Christ the Light to make it more expressive of who we are as moderns and as Catholics. Instead, so much money, time, and effort shall be wasted on an enterprise that is a monument to the undefined and, sadly, not to the Ineffable.
Oscar M. Ramirez

Change editorial priorities
After reading the first couple of pages of the May 23 Voice and learning about only clerical promotions and new building plans, I was about to toss it into the recycling bin when I decided to look for my favorite writer.

On page 11, I found Sharon Abercrombie’s article. It began, “Two thousand years ago, Jesus came into the world as a migrant. . . “ This line captured me and led me to read on; such articles make me continue to read the Voice.

For those of us who hope to be challenged to a deeper grasp of our lived faith by reading our diocesan paper, I thank you for this, and similar articles by Ms. Abercrombie and some of your staff. I suggest that you change the editorial policies: meaty articles about living the Gospel toward the front; promotions and buildings in the back.
Rita Woodward
Castro Valley

Views on Islam
I read with interest Carmen Hartono’s letter (Forum, June 6) promoting the interfaith dialogue/prayer service at Holy Names University that will “focus on our commonality with the three major Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

(Islam is not a true Abrahamic faith – they only profess it).
Her dialogue with Muslims concentrates on our common devotion to Mary (wisely, not Jesus, because Muslims don’t recognize him as the Son of God – that would get sticky), “who is mentioned in the Koran dozens of times,” and her apparitions.
However, the Koran’s narratives about Mary are “mixtures of legends, apocrypha and certain canonical books” according to Daniel Ali, a Muslim convert to Catholicism and founder of the Christian-Islamic Forum. Mary is not presented in an integrated context.

Although the Koran reflects the concerns of Muhammad, he did not write it. Sort of like the Bible, followers wrote it after his death. It is a patchwork of Old Testament tales and some heretical Christian gospels, full of contradictions and is hard to read because its chapters are arranged according to size, not subject or history.

It includes many prophets, including Jesus (merely a prophet to Muslims), all of whom worked miracles, a requirement of being a prophet. Muhammad never worked a miracle, so he didn’t sell well to Jews and Christians who knew their religion. He claimed that his message, delivered by the “Holy Spirit” Gabriel, was his miracle.

There are ramifications to the embrace of Islam that bode not well – its beliefs have serious consequences for human dignity and the societies that are struggling to protect the culture of life.
Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

Remembering Anne Russell
Dominican Sister Anne Russell went to be with her God on May 20. Anne (or “Siz” as some former students used to call her) served as a teacher and campus minister in the Diocese of Oakland for many years.

I first met her in 1973, when I was a freshman at Moreau High School in Hayward. She opened my eyes to a whole new depth of spirituality and level of scholarship in this Church of Rome.

She remained, for decades after, a teacher, a mentor, a guide, and, above all, a friend.

Anne represented the best of what this world and this Church have to offer. A true ‘sister’ in the fullest sense, we will at once miss her and look forward to our reunion.
Greg Bullough
Via e-mail








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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