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 September 19, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 16Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers


Victims, not ‘refugees’

The Catholic Voice’s referral (Sept. 5) to hurricane victims as refugees is unacceptable. These victims were born in the U.S. and lived all their lives in the United States. They should not be referred to as refugees.

If two thirds of the victims from New Orleans were not poor and African American, this term would not have been used. Were they victims of a natural disaster from the coast of Maine or New York they would simply have been referred to as victims, not refugees.

In future articles relating to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, I demand that you no longer use the term refugee but use acceptable terms such victims, evacuees, persons displaced from the hurricane.

As an African American I am outraged and so is the African American community. The help that the Houston parishes are providing (the news story in The Voice in which the term “refugee” was used) is being overshadowed by The Voice’s use of the negative term. It appears that even The Catholic Voice sees the victims of the hurricane as second-class citizens. If that is not your intent, then do not use the term refugee.

Yolanda Sanders

Don’t force lectures

The diocesan Safe Environment for Children Project (Voice, Sept. 5), coordinated by Nancy Libby, is using our call to serve the community through ministry – lector, Eucharistic minister, etc. – to force attendance at lectures on safety of children.

The plan, as described in a recent Oakland workshop, is to tell everyone in the diocese that either you attend a yearly lecture on safe environment for children or you will not be allowed to serve as a lector, a Eucharistic minister or in any other ministry, whether you work with children or not.

The topic of safety is an important one, as a few priests and many bishops have recently learned. Forcing attendance of the laity at lectures is not a reasonable approach except in the case of those who want to work directly with children.
If the lectures are fruitful, then they should be made available to all parishioners rather than forced on a few. The assumption seems to be that without a threat no one would care to attend.

Why is it that the laity’s participation in liturgy will be limited if they do not submit
important, but the approach to attracting participants seems very heavy-handed.
Is this a result of legal or insurance dictates?

Angela Backman
Pleasant Hill

(Editor’s note: The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 for all 190 dioceses, requires that there be a background check for all church employees (priests, deacons, Sisters, lay ministers, parish staff, teachers, etc.) and all parish and school volunteers who have contact with children. In addition, all employees and volunteers must participate annually in a training session on the prevention of child sexual abuse.
The goal of all these requirements is to raise awareness of the issues of sexual abuse and to assist adults in their commitment to the safety of children.)

God doesn’t cause disasters

I had a hard time digesting the letter (Famine is God’s plan) from C. Schneider (Forum, Sept. 5) and had to read it twice to make sure that I wasn’t misinterpreting what was printed. The argument for “population control” by acts of God is one of the saddest commentaries I have read in your paper.

In her letter she claims that plagues, famines and disease are God’s method for maintaining a sustainable population because “the world simply has too many people.” I do believe that the initial assault on humankind is only under God’s control. The perpetuation of the assault, however, is entirely up to man.

Our response to disasters calls on us to challenge ourselves and look beyond the comforts of our homes and pocketbooks. So what if sending food to Niger “just doesn’t seem to work”? Does that mean we should let a population die when the United States has the resources (but not the political motivation) to feed an entire nation? Does this mean that tsunami victims are not worthy of our attention? That Hurricane Katrina’s victims should not receive assistance?

How many times a year does Schneider go to the doctor’s office? How many prescriptions is he/she on? Does Schnieder succumb to his/her own theory of population control by eschewing the medical resources available? Somehow, I doubt it.

C. Schneider’s comfortable world of healthcare, food, and economic privilege paints a dismal picture that is exclusive of hope and help for the millions of people worldwide that suffer from famine, natural disasters and access to basic health care.

Aileen Hayes

Outrageous contention

C. Schneider’s outrageous letter (Forum, Sept. 5) contends that “our creator” has divised a method of population control via plagues, locusts, AIDS, etc. Perhaps “our creator” has decided there are too many poor black folks in Louisiana and Mississippi.

It is a sickening thought that a hurricane of horrendous proportions inflicted on these poor states would be “our creator’s” answer to the population problem. Our inept and bungling government aided in this tragedy and appear to have the same standards of corruption as African officials and governments.

Patricia Avina

Immoral vision of God

Sometimes I am amazed at the Voice’s willingness to print such outrageous and erroneous dribble as stated by C. Schneider (Forum, Sept. 5). Schneider implies that famine is God’s plan for correcting the starving people’s plight in Niger.

Schneider’s vision of God’s method of dealing with world problems by famine or disease is immoral. If one considers the killing done by natural disasters, wars, and terrorist acts as acceptable because it is God’s plan, then we as a people are at a precipice that is at odds with God’s teachings.

God instructs the prophet Ezekiel, “If you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked will die from his guilt but I will hold you responsible for his death.”

Rather than blaming God and holding him responsible as a natural way of handling the world’s problems, we as his people must shoulder the blame for not warning world leaders, at times unwittingly wicked, to take corrective action by intelligently coping with every conceivable problem that arises. That is why God made us in his image.

This is also why we must continue to pray for God’s wisdom in our leaders and we must pray for wisdom to select moral and competent leaders.

J. Guadarrama
Via e-mail

Twisted logic

My initial reaction to C. Schneider’s letter (Forum, Sept. 5) was to laugh at the logic expressed. Then I thought . . . no, this is more serious.

How did the simple messages of “tend my sheep” and “what you do for the least of my flock, you do for me” get lost?

We (meaning ALL OF US) need to redouble our efforts to live and practice the Gospel message of love. We will never relieve all of the suffering in this world, but at least let’s not write off our indifference (and the appearance of selfishness) with the twisted logic that disasters, both man-caused and natural, are simply God’s method of population control.

Brian McCoy

Identification, please

When people send their comments to Reader’s Forum via e-mail, I wish The Voice would not print them unless they identify the town they are from.

Regarding “Famine is God’s plan,” (Forum, Sept. 5), sent via e-mail by C. Schneider, I would hate for any readers, many of whom are in my parish, to think that this ridiculous view would have come from me.

Cathy Schneider

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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