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 November 7, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 19Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Oppose ‘culture of death’

I found Clifford Wiesner’s, “Death penalty justified” (Forum, Oct. 17) difficult to reconcile. I certainly agree with him when he says, “We should not try to be God,” but isn’t that exactly what we do when we decide that an individual should be put to death?

It seems to me that a life sentence without the possibility for a parole is a more severe punishment than death. It gives the individual the rest of their life to reflect on who and what they are, the evil of their deeds and the harm and pain they caused, and even time to repent. But, that’s up to the individual.

The Church has always declared the sanctity of life, much like the late Cardinal Bernadin’s “seamless garment.” The late cardinal used the “seamless garment” as an image for a consistent ethic of life and Pope John Paul II has forcefully stated that a consistent ethic of life must oppose a “culture of death.”

Since God is the giver of all life, how can we be so strongly against abortion and not be strongly against the death penalty, regardless of the crime? Then we could truly let God be God and he can judge the heart of the criminal.

Deacon Al Fleischer
Brentwood

Flawed argument

Clifford Weisner’s argument in favor of the death penalty (Forum, Oct. 17) is similar to many I’ve heard in the past, where a truly evil unrepentant person who apparently has no social redeeming value should be sent to God for judgment. Where this argument is flawed, in my opinion, is precisely where Mr. Weisner makes his case — “We should not try to be God.”

Mere mortals should never assume anyone is beyond repentance and salvation. Forcing God’s judgment through our arrogance and prejudice is blasphemy.
Life in all forms is sacred. It’s never too late to repent —until you die.

Tim Coyle
Danville

Not a witch-hunt

U.S. seminaries are under Vatican review as a direct result of the clergy abuse scandal that swept the Church in 2002. Pope John Paul II and U.S. church officials agreed to examine the way candidates for the priesthood were screened and prepared. The visitation has the endorsement of Pope Benedict XVI.

Some advocates for homosexual priests and seminarians, including several letter writers to the Catholic Voice, say the audit is a witch-hunt.

The purpose of the review is certainly not a witch-hunt. The visitors will be checking to see if the seminaries are pro-active in helping young men develop a balanced, healthy sexuality that will enable them to live a faithful, celibate commitment and to understand the dynamics of living in a culture that is sometimes at odds with the Catholic faith.

The plain truth of this crisis is that at least 81 percent of priest-abuse cases involve men who are homosexual. In the United States there have allegations of sexual misconduct against one priest in fifty. Of the alleged victims of these assaults, about 10,000 were male, and about a thousand female.

In April 2002, Bishop Wilton Gregory, who was then president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted that “there does exist within American seminaries a homosexual atmosphere or dynamic that makes heterosexuals think twice” about entering the priesthood, adding that “it is an ongoing struggle to make sure the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men.”

It is a struggle that the Church must decisively win now.

There probably are some priests with a homosexual orientation who have never violated their vows of celibacy in their lives. Undoubtedly, there have been some priests who have been falsely accused as well.

The problem has been that there have been too many priests who have become a part of the “gay scene.” In this context “gay” means a lifestyle that is contrary to the Bible (see the Letter to the Romans, chapter 1), to the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church and many other Christian churches, as well as to many other religious faiths.

By keeping those with strong homosexual inclinations out of seminaries and the priesthood, the Church isn’t unjustly discriminating. It’s fulfilling its basic obligation to guard the flock.

It is clear there has been a lack of clear moral teaching in the Church. There has also been a crisis of fidelity to the true essence of Catholicism.

Jim Crowley
Walnut Creek

Church inconsistencies

So let me get this straight…if the U.S. Catholic bishops have their way, I will burn in hell if I vote for a candidate who supports abortion, but their opponent who supports the death penalty is okay.

My friend whose husband deserted her after 30 years of marriage for a younger woman will never be able to receive the Eucharist after she re-marries because a canon lawyer said there was no impediment when she and her ex-husband got married.

And a homosexual man may be able to enter the seminary if he has been celibate for three years (one wonders what “proof” our bishops will require) and yet there is no mention of the same requirements for a heterosexual man.

I am sure that Jesus is gratified that the U.S. bishops are spending so much of their valuable time and talent on these vital issues affecting his Church instead of on such insignificant ones as world hunger, war, child abuse, poverty, etc.

Kathy Works
Pleasanton

Where is the book?

I have searched numerous Catholic book web sites on the Internet for “What Happens at Mass” that Bishop Vigneron mentioned in his recent commentary (Voice, Oct. 17.) Can you please suggest where I might find this publication for purchase?

Mike Jarnagin
Via e-mail

(Benedictine Father Jeremy Driscoll’s book, “What Happens at Mass” is available at Kaufer’s Religious Supplies in San Francisco. See their ad on page 5. The book can also be ordered from the publisher, Liturgy Training Publications, by calling 1-800-933-1800 or accessing their website: www.ltp.org)

Belief in Intelligent Design

I was irritated by Brother Mel Anderson’s (St Mary’s College) condescending remarks (Voice, Oct. 17) about “religious fundamentalists” who “push the concept of Intelligent Design over evolution.” Anderson stated, “My problem with religious fundamentalists is, they take a literal view of the Bible. They are an embarrassment to people who know Scripture as being filled with myths and allegory.”

Oh, really? In my experience people who label others “religious fundamentalists” often consider huge segments of the Bible to be “myth” and take the same freewheeling attitude to Church doctrines which they are also happy to denigrate.

On behalf of those of us who are bullied and browbeaten for loving the Genesis story, let me say I do believe in Intelligent Design and that God is free to have created the universe in whatever time he wanted, even in seven days if it pleased him. I don’t deny a theory of evolution, but I personally believe we humans were the result of a special creation and, of course, our immortal souls were the result of an immediate creation.

On another note, while investigating Catholic colleges for my teenagers I visited St. Mary’s and attended the noon Mass where there was not a single student present. Later I visited the University of Dallas (another small, Catholic college) and there were about 30 students at the weekday Mass.

Dare I postulate the theory that in orthodox colleges the students evidence a lively faith and in schools which are less “fundamentalist” the students seem uninterested in the faith?

Mary Arnold
Pleasanton

Proper attire for Mass

I totally agree with John Marquette of Oakland about “Disrespect at Mass” (Forum, Oct. 17).

This problem doesn’t just apply to young people; many middle-age folks come dressed in shorts, t-shirts and rubber beach thongs adorning bodies that would look better with a little more clothing, especially at Mass. Maybe people think “God doesn’t care, as long as I come to Mass.”

Over the years, I’ve been to a number of non-Catholic services and have never seen this type of dress in those churches.

Marilyn Carville
Martinez

Lesson on attire

John Marquette (Forum, Oct. 17) asks why our priests don’t address the issue of proper attire at Mass. Well, at St. Agnes Church in Concord, they are not afraid to tell us when attire is not appropriate. In fact, Deacon Tony Reyes’ most recent homily addressed the issue. Thank you, Saint Agnes.

Dick Duckart
Concord

Clothing not the focus

In regards to John Marquette’s letter (Forum, Oct. 17), wake up and smell the roses, Mr. Marquette. God will accept us no matter how we are dressed. Respect for God is in the heart and mind, not what we wear to Mass.

If Jesus walked into church in his linen clothes and sandals, would you ask him to leave, tell him to dress appropriately for the next Mass, offer him a shirt, tie and jacket?

I think that Mr. Marquette’s statement has brought disrespect to a lot of God’s loving people, who want to praise and love our Savior at Mass without trying to keep up with the Jones’ or the Marquettes.

Lee J. Smith
Concord

Casa Vincentia says Thanks

It is with profound appreciation that I acknowledge The Catholic Voice’s article (Sept. 5) on the loss of Sister Maureen Webb, who was the beloved founder of Casa Vincentia.

Casa is a unique residence established for the care of young pregnant women who are homeless and/or in crisis and who have chosen to give their babies life. Because of the generosity of our supporters, time and again we have assisted mothers in breaking the cycle of poverty, homelessness and welfare dependency.

Sister Maureen’s work continues but is suffering from a critical lack of funds. Donations are a blessing to all the mothers who come to the Casa seeking help. The staff, volunteers and residents extend their sincere thanks to all those who have sent generous gifts and heartfelt letters of support.

On a daily basis we read about worldwide suffering and it is indeed our responsibility, both as Christians and as concerned human beings, to reach out with help. But the needs in our communities and the needs at our doors do not go away. We are asking that you continue to remember Casa Vincentia.

Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and donations. May God richly bless you for the blessing that you have been to Casa’s mothers and babies.

Barbara Jackson
Director, Casa Vincentia
Oakland

Reforms needed

Maria Vazquez (Forum, Oct. 17) wrote of the challenges immigrants endure in the U.S. When raising the subject of evil, we need to be mindful of the evil that created their plight. In the example of Mexico, to use Ms. Vazquez’s reference, decades of corrupt and oppressive government have resulted in tens of millions of Mexicans burdened with unrelenting poverty.

Despite the physical risks in crossing the border, the long work hours for low wages, and the experiences with racism, life in the U.S. offers more hope and opportunity compared to the deplorable conditions in their home country.

Addressing the illegal immigrant “problem” in the U.S. requires that our leaders implement policies that truly result in political and economic reforms in Mexico.

Dan Tracy
Fremont

Unacceptable term

To those who were moved to respond to my letter, “Victims, not refugees,” (Voice, Sept. 19, I had no idea that such dialogue would be created. What needed to be grasped from my letter is something very simple.

African Americans objected to the use of the label “refugee” to describe people from Louisiana who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. That should have been accepted and respected. No further discussion should have been needed unless it was an apology for the use of the label.

There are sections in the INS codes that clearly describe what a refugee is. That code is stamped on the I94 and subsequently on the permanent resident card. Since the agency I worked for prior to retiring was responsible for processing these cards and determining eligibility for benefits, trust me that I know what a refugee is.

To Debra Tatto (Forum, Oct. 17), the fact that you and your parish priest used the term “refugee” – though no evil intended — still did not make the label acceptable. Prior to the printing of the Catholic Voice, mainstream media had already been apprised of the fact that “refugee” was not an acceptable term and they stopped using the term.

To Khai Nguyen (Forum, Oct. 3), you are absolutely right. Refugees are not second-class citizens. However, consider this. African slaves were considered as one-fifth of a person when the framers of the U.S. Constitution wrote the document, thus making African slaves second-class citizens. Reading African American history will also give you greater insight.

Finally, thank you to the Catholic Voice for honoring my request to refrain from using the term.

Yolanda Sanders
Richmond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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