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 July 4, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 13Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Speaking out for Malawi
I read with greatest interest and appreciation the front-page article on Malawi (Voice, June 20). I am a Malawian diocesan priest myself, entering my third year of doctoral studies in Scripture at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. I want to commend the Voice editorial staff for a message well captured and articulated.
My beloved Malawi is one of the many countries that today is being choked by extreme poverty while the international community, especially the U.S., looks on with apparent indifference, if not an outright sneer. Africa in general, and Malawi in particular, are hardly, if ever, on the national U.S. TV channels. I have to go to BBC in order to learn about happenings back home.

It seems there is a silent conspiracy to shield the American society from hardships that some quarters, especially Africa south of the Sahara, are facing right now. Unless problems concern American interests directly, they either don’t exist or are ingeniously explained away. This is very unfortunate for a healthy future in today’s globalizing humanity.

Today, more than ever before, we are called to be our far-away brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. The one sixth of humanity that is enjoying more than 80 percent of the earth’s resources cannot be proud of itself as long as another one sixth is suffocating under extreme poverty, deprived even of the basic necessities of life. And it is not true that it is all Africa’s fault. (Please read “The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time” by Jeffrey D. Sachs. New York: The Penguin Press, 2005, pages 1-10, 51-73.)

It is consoling to note that The Catholic Voice has finally decided to give a voice to these till now voiceless and faceless masses of humanity. That is exactly what the Gospels are saying that Jesus of Nazareth used to do. At least Voice readers will no longer use ignorance as an excuse for doing nothing when the Master finally arrives for the ultimate reckoning (Matt 25:31-46).

Firstly, thanks to Tavares and Schuyler Thorup, who have sounded the wakeup call within the Bay Area Christian community. God bless the Catholic Community of Pleasanton, St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon and St. Monica Parish in Moraga who are already responding and those of you who intend to join the campaign soon.

My Malawian brothers and sisters will always be grateful to learn that after all they have a family across the Atlantic that cares. That is no mean feeling for a destitute people. Any small contribution will make a huge difference to someone down there. It is the good intention behind our gift, not necessarily the amount, that matters before our good Lord who sees the heart.
Bravo, Catholic Voice!

Father Peter Mulomole
Church of the Good Shepherd

Give more for Africa
Wholesale preventable deaths in Africa are now being compared to the Holocaust.
Jeffrey Sachs, economist and director of Earth Institute and a special advisor to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, has recently written extensively debunking the myths perpetrated by President Bush for not increasing proportionately our aid to impoverished Africa as the well-off European countries have recently agreed to do.

Bush states the U.S. is giving generously, but in reality the $3 billion we give annually approximates two days of spending at the Pentagon.
He claims that increased aid would be wasted since Africa is corrupt and mismanaged and therefore cannot absorb more aid. However, several recent high-level studies, including the U.N. Millennium Project and Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa, have concluded that, conversely, vastly increased investments, properly applied, will create the critical mass to raise Africa from pervasive disease, hunger and poverty.

Africa’s health needs include increases in clinics, health care workers, medicines. In education there are too few teachers and school supplies. Productive agriculture requires small-scale irrigation, improved seeds and fertilizer. Finally, the infrastructure lacks rural electrification, safe drinking water, sanitation, paved roads, and telecommunications.

Now that G-8 ministers are calling for debt cancellation in Africa’s poorest countries and for donor nations to harmonize their goals and operations there, real hope may be emerging. Christians in the world’s richest nation must demand that our government does its share. Whatever you do for the least of these…
Marlene Candell

Mary calls Muslims to Jesus
I am writing in response to the letter (Forum, June 6) entitled “Mary is link with Islam.”
The writer needs to understand that the Catholic Church is the only Church that Jesus Christ founded. Mary, who is the Mother of God, will only bring people of other faiths to the true Catholic faith.

In the old Catholic calendar, Sept. 24 is dedicated to Our Lady of Ransom. As noted in my Saint Joseph Daily Missal, in 1218, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in visions to St. Peter Nolasco, to St. Raymond of Pennafort, and to King James I of Aragon, requesting them to found the Order of Our Lady of Ransom for the express purpose of the redemption of the Christians from the Mohammedans. This means the Virgin wants to bring Muslims back to her Son, to whom they belong, through the Holy Catholic Church.

Our Lady of Fatima is no mere coincidence. Yes, Fatima is the name of the favorite daughter of Mohammad. However, this land in Portugal where Mary appeared was named after a former Muslim girl whose name was Fatima as well. She fell in love with a Christian Portuguese boy whose parents owned the land. For a wedding gift to their son and new daughter-in-law, they gave the couple the land and named it Fatima after her because she converted to Catholicism.

It is very clear that the Holy Mother of God loves the Muslims. Her design for these wonderful people is to bring them back to her Son, the One True God. The Catholic Church will be completed when our brothers and sisters of Protestantism, Islam and Judaism come back home to the true faith.
Cynthia Vargas

Priest lives gospel
Although Father John Fernandes retired in June, he left his parish of St. Lawrence O’Toole-St. Cyril a rich, loving legacy. He lived, practiced and preached Gospel values every day, not just on Sunday.

His role-modeling life and leadership called me to a new understanding and appreciation of who I am as God’s creation. He called me to do things I never even thought about before meeting him. He challenged me to walk with Jesus and to be the best person I could be and to put the ministry of social justice into action, not mere words. His life transformed mine and made every day resurrection.

The Church of Jesus seems long gone. Priests like Father John live the gospel message with humility, reverence and honor. The Church of today needs priests like Father John in leadership positions. Instead we have a hierarchy that aspires to power, control, secrecy and greed, rather than to imitating the life of Jesus.
Edna Pucci

Not father of all
I think most Christians, including the Orthodox, would object to Bishop Vigneron’s claim that Pope Benedict XVI is the “father of the whole Christian family” in his “In His Light” column (Voice, June 20). He may be the “Holy Father” of Roman Catholic Christians, but not other Christians.
Mark Gotvald
Pleasant Hill









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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