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 September 5, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 15Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Ill-spoken advice
I would like to comment on televangelist Pat Robertson’s advice to assassinate the leader of Venezuela partly because he has too much oil and he criticizes President Bush. Maybe the oil is more important than the President? Somehow oil must be involved, as it is in Iraq.

If Mr. Robertson makes such statements publicly, what has he said privately to Mr. Bush over the years? It is known they are friends, and more significantly, Mr. Robertson was one of the teachers of Christianity for George Bush.

Over two years ago before Bush invaded Iraq, Pope John Paul II pleaded to Bush to make peace and not war. We all know Bush was listening to other advisers and not to the pope and millions of anti-war protesters in the United States. The Republicans and Democrats followed Bush docilely into war and we are reaping the consequences the protesters warned us about.

What advice of which “Christians” was President Bush really heeding? It was not the pope.
Joe Trevors
Hercules

GOP is not Catholic
From reading Camile Giglio and Lillian Silver (Forum, Aug. 8), one would think that the Church is actually a branch of the Republican Party. That might seem absurd except that some Catholics act as if it were. I am not sure if it is out of ignorance or deliberate “selectivity” that conservative Catholics excuse the many policies of the GOP that directly oppose Catholic teachings.

The wealthy (whom George W. Bush once playfully referred to as his “base”) have chosen the politically expedient social issues of the Church with which to align itself to distract us from its anti-Catholic economic policies. After all, an issue like abortion would not really affect the rich who could easily fly to another country were abortion to finally become illegal in this country.

The GOP’s “I am not my brother’s keeper” philosophy is NOT Catholic. Neither is the Church’s teaching on “life” confined to just the unborn. Where are the T-shirts and bumper stickers proclaiming “You cannot support the death penalty and be Catholic”?

Bush may call himself “pro-life,” but his policies prove he is anything but. As Texas governor he oversaw the execution of hundreds. As president, he started a war in Iraq that has caused the death of thousands of Iraqis and Americans.
It is Catholic teaching that a war can only be justified if it is “just.” A “pre-emptive” war is not just no matter how well and often the rightwing chorus sings. I cannot attack my neighbor if I only think (without concrete evidence) he is trying to harm me.

As for saving the Iraqis from a brutal dictator, if that were really our reason for invading their country, I can think of other (even closer) victims of dictatorships (the Cubans, for instance) who could use our help. But, of course, the Cubans have no oil. Nope, apparently you can get away with murder if you call yourself “pro-life”.
Haley Bracken
Hayward

No Democratic ‘front’
Camille Giglio (Forum, Aug. 8) raises a number of objections to Democrats for Life’s “95-10” legislative proposal, which seeks to reduce abortions by 95 percent in 10 years (Voice, Aug. 8).

First, she mistakenly assumes that we claim the Democratic Party leadership is now pro-life. In fact, the article claimed only that the DFLA is a pro-life organization within the party. DFLA has no formal connection with the party leadership as such and, therefore, is not a “front” for a “Democratic left-ploy” as Ms. Giglio claims. The leadership of the Democratic Party, however, has displayed a new openness to its pro-life members since the November election.

Secondly, she does raise serious concerns, shared by many DFLA members themselves, about the contraceptive proposals of 95-10. A new rewrite of 95-10 addresses those concerns. The legislation now excludes “all drugs and devices intended to induce an abortion.” It allows a “religious refusal” for the requirement that health insurance cover contraception and requires parental consent for the issuance of contraceptives to minors.

Thirdly, many Catholic DFLA members agree with Ms. Giglio on the immorality of contraception but recognize the necessity of compromise in the political arena. Priests for Life apparently concurs in that it expresses support for 95-10 in its latest newsletter.

Ms. Giglio doesn’t acknowledge its many other provisions which address the real economic insecurities that drive many women to seek an abortion and require that women be fully informed of alternatives to abortion and the risks associated with it.
Edith Black
Orinda

A point of history
You folks do such a good job, any error is glaring — there are so few. But, take a look at the caption under the photo of Father James Sweeney on page S7 of the Aug. 8 Voice regarding his appointment as bishop of Honolulu.
Since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and other Hawaiian locations, on December 7, 1941, either Father Sweeney was there as bishop on May 20, 1941 (not 1942 as was printed in The Voice), or he arrived more than six months after the attack.

Notwithstanding, I enjoy reading your newspaper not only for the content, but also for the print size and layout.
Owen L. Murray
Concord.


(Thank you for pointing out a typographical error. Father Sweeney became Honolulu’s bishop on May 20, 1941.– Ed.)

Vigilance required
There is no doubt that child sexual abuse is an outrage to all faithful Catholics. The thought of a person violating a child is reprehensible. These thoughts are so painful that we push them out of our minds and try to think of something more pleasant.

We who love our Church do not want to think that a priest would hurt a child or young adult. We don’t want to think that a good friend would hurt children either. Therefore, we are giving sexual predators the upper hand in their pursuits. We want to think the best of the people we know and love and that is precisely why our children and youth are in danger.

Children love their parents above all others, and they would do or endure anything to protect them from pain. Also, a child wants to safeguard the way they are viewed by their parents. A perpetrator knows this and uses the child’s love and fear against him/her.

Children must hear from a very young age what is appropriate touch and they need to hear this often. They must know that they can talk to a parent about this subject and this needs to be done until it is no longer uncomfortable for the parent or the child. The priority is the child, not what people will think, so talk often to friends and neighbors, arrange for group discussions at church, go out and learn all you can so that you will know the defenses to teach your children.

Parents must be open and approachable, talkative and willing to listen to children when the subject of sexuality, and/or sexual abuse comes up. This redoubling of our efforts to protect children must start in our homes and be reinforced in our churches and schools.

The Catholic Church is the most visible in the sexual abuse scandal mostly because bishops did what most of society was doing, and that is to not think about these uncomfortable thoughts. They did their best to keep these crimes secret, just like most families would do. Redoubling our efforts will mean that we must be open and transparent.

This will mean that all sexual abuse will be reported to authorities. It will mean that a child will get the help needed to not have an appalling incident destroy their whole life.

Remember, sexual predators do not have horns. They look like you and me and usually appear to be personable and loving people. One of their modus operandi is to make friends with a child’s parents. They endear themselves to the parents to get close to the child. Sexual perpetrators are our friends, relatives and yes could even be our parish priest, so it is in our best interest to know the danger signs.

School will be starting soon, so make sure your school has procedures in place that protect children. Do you know your school’s procedures for an adult to be alone with a child? Have all employees and volunteers at your child’s school had background checks?

Become an active participant in changing church and society’s comfort level so that our children will be safer. Be sure to check on your children often, teach them safety procedures and keep your awareness level up, but most significantly listen to your children.

And please don’t think that this could never happen in my house, or my school, or my church, because that way of thinking is what predators are counting on.
Judy Anguella
Concord

Outstanding report
I would like to commend Patrick Downes, editor of the Hawaii Catholic Herald, for his article on the ordination of Bishop Larry Silva (Voice, Aug. 8). It is outstanding. While I was reading it, I could picture myself through the whole liturgy as if I were there in person. I could “see” the crowd, the colors, the attires, the decorations, the procession into the arena, the cathedra...the hula performance and when our Pope Benedict XVI letter was interpreted, I was hearing it in Latin. (I’m currently a Latin student). I could “hear” in my mind the wonderful songs, the Gregorian and Hawaiian chantings, prayers...

I congratulate Mr. Downes for a well written and very descriptive article.
Nelly Wong Morales
San Leandro

Metaphorical exercise
After Mark Gotvald (Forum, July 4) denied that Pope Benedict is the father of the whole Christian family, I anticipated that someone would object. However, I didn’t think the objection would take the form (Arthur Peterson, Forum, Aug. 8) of proposing Pope Benedict as “the father of the whole world,” which is a bit much.
Describing Pope Benedict’s fatherhood is, of course, a metaphorical exercise, one most expressive of wishful thinking. Perhaps we can end this discussion by asking which religious groups, other than Roman Catholics, consider Pope Benedict their “father.”
Thomas F. Mader
Walnut Creek

Famine is God’s plan
The Voice’s article (Aug. 8) concerning the struggles of the people in Niger was truly disturbing. I felt a deep concern for the plight of these people and the many people throughout the world who go hungry and do not have the simple essentials of life such as healthy food, clean water, and basic sanitary facilities.

But I believe there could be much more involved here than simply sending more food. That just doesn’t seem to work in the long run.

The hard fact is that Africa, as in many other parts of the world, simply has too many people. Even Pope John II admitted that when he visited Africa. If we take a real hard look at how our creator built certain checks and balances into our world so that it would have a sustaining population, the only logical conclusion that can be reached is that a certain number of people were meant to die prematurely.
Why else would our creator have created premature life-ending natural disasters, diseases and sicknesses, such as plagues, dysentery, cancer, measles, small pox, malaria, AIDS, etc.? What other purpose do these life-ending events and sicknesses serve?

I believe the answer might be “population control” (as opposed to birth control which is much kinder), and it worked for thousands of years until about the time of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. That was when man learned how to have a substantial effect on the checks and balances of the world population.
He did that by discovering ways of providing and transporting an abundance of food and by developing miraculous drugs that not only sustain life, but also extend it considerably beyond our productive years. But the cost is tremendous.

We now have pesticides in our streams and on our lands, air pollution from tiling the land and harvesting and transporting the food, diminished wet lands, lost rain forests and open space, the extinction of thousand of species from loss of habitat and from pollution, natural resources being used up at an alarming rate, rivers being dammed to the detriment of our fish, pollution in our oceans, global warming, etc. In other words, when man tries to interfere with the way our creator intended things, the results are many times disastrous.

The starvation in Niger is simply caused by too many people living in an area that cannot sustain them because of naturally recurring disasters (cyclical droughts and periodic invasion of locusts). Although starvation is a horrible way to die, that may be just what our creator intended. As awful as this may sound, maybe we should follow our creator’s plan and not interfere. If we do, as we have so often in the past, it could have ever-increasing negative effect on the overall health of our world.
C. Schneider
Via e-mail


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