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 August 8, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 14Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

A Democrat-left ploy
The July 4 Catholic Voice spotlighted “Democrats For Life of America,” a participant in January’s San Francisco Walk for Life. DFLA apparently includes sincere pro-life individuals. But Voice readers should recognize that for the Party leadership appearing “pro-life” is merely a political calculation.

DFLA’s “95-10 Initiative” packages 17 proposals that would supposedly end 95 percent of abortions in 10 years.

But “95-10” embraces warmed-over measures with long, predictable histories of failure, including federal “grants to school districts to administer effective, age-appropriate pregnancy prevention education.”

In Democrat hands that has meant dangerous birth-control devices and substances without parental knowledge or consent, resulting in higher rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.

“95-10” also promotes “Contraception Equity.” The Catholic Voice reports, without hint of disapproval, that this would “require insurance coverage of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration,” which approved RU 486.

Contraceptives are mostly abortifacients, and Catholic doctrine forbids them all.
“95-10’s” final proposal would mandate State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage for pregnant women and newborns — i.e. promoting birth control and abortion for mainly “alien” women too intimidated by their status to refuse.

California’s just-enacted AB794, a deceitful “gut-and-amend” re-write of other legislation, now requires SCHIP coverage for illegal immigrants and denies funds to sick children. “95-10’s” wording would endorse such barbaric misuse of public funds.

It’s a standard Democrat-left ploy: disguise immoral propositions and sneak them through with support from helpful front groups. The Catholic Voice shouldn’t be assisting.
Camille Giglio, Director
California Right to Life Committee, Inc.

Pro-life Democrats
It is good to see that some Catholic Democrats have come out and spoken for the unborn. It is good to know that their consciences were stirred by a small splinter group, breaking away from the pro-choice views of their party.

The expansion of Democrats for Life of America in northern California as well as in all of California is doubtful. I hope and pray that it gains speed to enact the changes they have proposed.

I’d almost rejoin as Lila Martinez did (Voice, July 4), but I’d rather stay with the man who was brave to come out in our society and claim that he is pro-life.

I will be waiting to see what other Democratic legislators come under this group to foster the proper legislation. I hope their consciences are working very hard. I hope that they don’t get criticized and demeaned. But if they do, nothing can prevent Lila from making the right choice.
Lillian Silver
Via e-mail

Pope is our father
Contrary to Mark Gotvald’s assertion (Forum, July 4), Pope Benedict is indeed the father of the whole Christian family, even that portion (which, sadly, even includes some who call themselves Roman Catholic) that rejects him. In fact, he is the father of the whole world.

Consider that Christ commanded: “Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) Our bishop is right on target.
Arthur W. Peterson

True spiritual father
Bishop Vigneron (Voice, June 20) was absolutely correct in stating that Pope Benedict XVI is “the father of the whole Christian family.” In fact, since he is the vicar of Christ, the pope is the only true spiritual father to the whole world.

The bishop did what all Catholics are called to do by their vows at Confirmation – to defend Christ, his teachings and his Church. Bishop Vigneron was not afraid in speaking the truth about the Holy Father, regardless of the objections from other faiths.

It is no coincidence that the Holy Spirit picked Pope Benedict XVI from the land where Protestantism started – Germany. Time magazine, CNN and Fox have all reported how Protestants are finding their own reasons to celebrate Mary. Once the Holy Spirit starts opening the minds and hearts of Protestants, then the Virgin Mary will lead them home to her son, Jesus Christ, through the Holy Catholic Church.

I think all the bishops need to look at this deeply and not close our churches. We will need those churches once our brothers and sisters start coming in from the other faiths.
Cynthia Vargas

Why pick on the military?
Marlene Candell’s recent letter (Forum, July 4) appears to be yet another attempt to bash President Bush at the expense of facts and logic. She states that the $3 billion in aid we give to African nations is not enough because it only equals “two days of spending at the Pentagon.”

I am not aware of any requirement that the U.S. government give specified sums of money based on such an arbitrary measure. Why pick on the military? Without American military power, actual physical aid (food, clean water, clothing) would have been difficult to get to the victims of the recent tsunami in a timely manner.

Candell says that President Bush is concerned about increasing aid to corrupt governments. She then quotes a U.N. report that states that aid “properly applied” would have an impact. How is that different?

Having lived in Africa for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer, I can assure you that corruption in Africa is rampant. Merely increasing the size of the check our government writes to any given country will not ensure that aid gets to the people who need it.

President Bush and others (such as Sir Bob Geldof) believe it is imperative the aid be applied in such a way to avoid the mistakes of the past. Larger amounts of money may assuage the consciences of some, but it does not mean the aid will have any meaningful effect.

Debt forgiveness is an important start, but must be accompanied by democratic reforms, free elections, and the establishment of free markets. Only then will Africa have the opportunity to move forward.
Julie E. Carlson

A cathedral for all
After reading Oscar Ramirez’s letter that the new Cathedral looks Protestant (Forum, June 20), I felt compelled to make a response.

First, I do not want to diminish the architecture of the cathedral because I believe it will be beautiful. But I don’t believe the look of the cathedral, whether it looks Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish for that matter, is important. The people who attend the cathedral for Mass are the Church, not the building. Jesus said, “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name there I will be.” Therefore to me, the look of the building is unimportant.

Second, I find most interesting the statement from Mr. Ramirez that “we have to appear more Christian and less Catholic so we ‘may all be one.’” I’ve heard similar statements before; for example, “I’m not Christian, I’m Catholic.”

I find it hard to understand how many Catholics feel they are not Christian, they are Catholic. Webster’s defines Christian as “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.” Since Catholics as well as Protestants all believe in Jesus Christ and that he is their Lord and Savior, I believe that Catholics would be defined as Christians as well.

I’m Christian first because I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, then I’m a Catholic.
Harlan Young

A priest’s profound gesture
Our parish priest and friend, Father John Fernandes, recently retired as pastoral leader of our parish family. We were taken by surprise when he requested support for Mother Jean Cornack’s orphanage in Zimbabwe instead of a retirement party and gifts. Rarely do acts of charity touch hearts so deeply.

Recently we hear about “good soil” increasing abundantly. The wisdom of Christian compassion confirmed the “good soil” of many at our parish. Our Vietnamese community contributed $975 to the orphanage and Father Fernandes has reported that over $19,000 has been offered for the orphanage.

A tremendous joy of hope has penetrated our parish family. In the many years of diverse ethnic parishioners, in one act of generosity we experience a unity of love.

Father Fernandes’ simple and profound request has done more for parish unity than all the polite talk for equality among our parishioners.
Long Nguyen, chairperson
Vietnamese parishioners
St. Lawrence O’Toole-St. Cyril Parish

Support new tax deduction
President Bush’s tax revenue proposal for 2006 (called the “2005 Blue Book” at www.treas.gov) contains a proposal that both conservative and liberal Christians should enthusiastically support. On page 30 of the document titled “General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2006 Revenue Proposals,” you will find a recommendation to permit tax deductions for charitable contributions made by senior citizens from their traditional or ROTH IRA.

Under current tax law, only higher income taxpayers (those who can itemize their deductions) are allowed to deduct charitable contributions. Under the President’s proposal, anyone over 65, regardless of income, could deduct contributions made from their IRA. The charitable contributions would also be counted for purposed of meeting the required minimum IRA distribution rules.

As a group, most senior citizens are not able to deduct charitable contributions because their income and expenses are not adequate to allow them to itemize deductions. This same group controls several trillion dollars of taxable pension assets so you can imagine the potential for increasing charitable giving if deductibility were offered as an incentive.

Please contact your Senator or Congressional Representative and let them know you strongly endorse this tax change proposal. Offering middle and lower income seniors the same tax benefit wealthy individuals enjoy will increase the fairness of the tax code and most importantly will substantially increase charitable giving.
Mike McDermott

Poor editing decision
The Voice’s decision to publish a letter from Father Peter Mulomole (Forum, July 4) in its unedited form was an egregious editing decision. The five words “…if not an outright sneer…” in the second paragraph should have been expunged. Their inclusion did nothing to enhance the content and force of Father Mulomole’s letter, but rather held him up to be an ungrateful snob, a whining bumpkin, which I doubt the case, in fact, to be.

Editor Monica Clark should have taken into consideration that English is most likely not Father Mulomole’s native tongue and that what may have seemed to him to have been a harmless “bon mote” (a la John Cleese?) in British English was offensive in the language of The Catholic Voice and its readers. The Voice audience is not the same as that of the BBC, of which Father Mulomole is, by his own declaration, an admirer.

But with or without the antagonistic putdown of America, the thrust of Father Mulomole’s letter is hard to swallow: bilateral aid to Africa in 2004 was $3.2 billion, almost triple what it was four years ago. One quarter of all monies for development of sub-Saharan Africa last year came from the U.S. President Bush has committed an additional $674 million to sub-Saharan Africa this year in addition to previously committed funds.

Simplistic diatribes such as Father Mulomole’s do not fill swollen bellies any more than scattering blood on munitions advances the cause of peace.
Richard Harrison
Walnut Creek









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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