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 November 21, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 20Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers


A deep disappointment
We are deeply disappointed that the voters of California chose not to pass Proposition 73, the Parents’ Right to Know and Child Protection Act, which was on the Nov. 8 special election ballot.

Prop. 73 was a common sense initiative that affirmed parental involvement in the medical and moral decisions of their minor daughters. Polls had consistently shown that both pro-life and pro-abortion rights voters approved this restriction, which would have placed abortion law in concert with other laws that grant parents oversight of and responsibility for minors.

Reflecting on the loss, we can make several observations.
Prop. 73 garnered the most “yes” votes of all eight of the failed propositions.
The “no side” outspent the “yes side” by a considerable margin.

Although Prop. 73 did not pass, the campaign provided us all a valuable opportunity to educate the public, many of whom were unaware that children in public school grades 7-12 could be excused for confidential medical services—including abortion—without their parents’ knowledge.

The campaign for Prop. 73 also offered us an opportunity to develop collaborative bonds with many other pro-life and pro-family groups in California.

We would like to personally thank all of our clergy, diocesan and parish staff, and the many volunteers who spent countless hours in this effort. The close vote count can be attributed almost entirely to the incredible grassroots effort throughout the state to which Catholics made an outstanding contribution.
Ned Dolejsi
Executive director
California Catholic Conference

A troublesome defeat
I hope the Blessed Mother has a lot of compassion towards all those Catholic parents who think it is now just fine for a girl to get an abortion without their knowledge. Girls can’t get their teeth pulled or get needle decorations on their backsides, but a dead grandchild is accepted?

Did they realize the emotional and mental bills they will be paying later? Do they also know those so-called “D and Cs” are recorded?
Why didn’t they vote for Prop. 73?
Donna Eknah

Clothing shows respect
Lee J. Smith of Concord (Forum, Nov. 7) is right regarding proper attire in church. It’s not what you wear on the outside that matters to God. However, when you’re invited to a friend’s home for dinner, don’t you put your finest clothing on, whatever your budget can afford? Wouldn’t you want to do the same for your best friend when you go to see Him in church? Shouldn’t He be important enough for you to dress well?
Donna Ramos

Consider the circumstances
“Sunday attire” assumes a biblical day of rest. I run to Mass because there’s too little time afterward to run, wash, eat, rest, and get to work on time. If I chance into just the right seat, I can watch hundreds of runners and walkers pass outside oblivious to Mass. The goal should be to bring them inside, not fuss about two or three who already are there.
Frank Gaipa

A serious misunderstanding
In his letter (Forum, Nov. 7), Jim Crowley states: “The plain truth of this crisis is that at least 81 percent of priest-abuse cases involve men who are homosexual.” This is patently false.

The John Jay College report, commissioned by the U.S. bishops, did not state this. To equate sexual abuse of underage males with homosexuality as a sexual orientation is to misunderstand the complex nature of sexual abuse. The John Jay study dealt with abusive behavior by clergy who in many cases gave evidence of serious psychological problems.

Recently in the S.F. Chronicle, Sulpician Father Gerald Coleman, former president/rector of St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, wrote of “the accepted fact that sexual orientation by itself is not a risk factor for committing sexual crimes against minors.”

He went on to say: “Persons who sexually violate children often sustain certain dysfunctions, such as pedophilia, personality disorders, brain injury and major depressive disorders, as well as issues related to their own sexual victimization, their inability to maintain mature intimate relationships, their inability to cope with stress, struggles with substance abuse and other psychological factors...To blame homosexuals for the clergy sexual abuse crisis is highly disturbing. We should know better.”

If the point is to rid the priesthood of pedophiles and sexual abusers, then the focus should be on that and not on the sexual orientation of the candidates for ordination.
Father Jim Schexnayder
Walnut Creek

Homosexual stereotypes
Jim Crowley’s letter (Forum, Nov. 7), which supports keeping homosexuals
out of seminaries, is reminiscent of the long and convoluted logic which civil-rights- era bigots used to justify keeping people of color out of their neighborhoods and work-places. It holds up just about as well.

He tries to equate homosexuals with the sex abuse crisis, citing reporting in the John Jay study (which he neglects to credit). What Crowley fails to mention is that the John Jay study doesn’t attribute the numbers to any particular cause, least of all reporting rates.

Those of us who have worked with abuse survivors know that there is a different dynamic, different opportunity profile, and perhaps lesser tendency for girls to have reported their abuse to the dioceses, from which the study data was obtained.

We also know that there were many female victims. Indeed, two of the most “prolific” serial abusers in the Diocese of Oakland, were primarily or entirely oriented towards girls. Each is thought to have had perhaps dozens of victims.

Crowley’s assertions also fly in the face of well-accepted psychological data, which says that sexual orientation and inclination towards sexual abuse of
children are simply not linked. They are just two different issues.

Crowley’s states “There probably are some priests with a homosexual orientation who have never violated their vows...” What an insult! He seems to believe that a gay man is somehow less capable of fidelity than a straight man.

Such promulgation of homosexual stereotypes is the danger. A well-adjusted and mature gay man with a vow of chastity isn’t, any more than his straight counterpart.

Crowley’s hate-speech veiled in feeble logic is just a few steps from verbal and physical abuse of gays and lesbians. It is the real “wolf in sheep’s clothing” against which the Church must, as Crowley says, “guard the flock.”
Greg Bullough
Annandale, NJ

Justice in action
I am happy to note that EBASE (East Bay Alliance for Sustainable Economy) is the recipient of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development multi-diocesan grant for 2005 (Voice, Nov. 7).

EBASE is a fledgling non-profit organization that has done yeoman’s service not only for the immigrant workers but also for all low wage workers of Oakland and the East Bay. EBASE has successfully campaigned for projects like the 2002 living wage for airport workers at the Port of Oakland. The most recent successful campaign was getting the living wage initiative passed in Emeryville (Measure C) in the Nov. 8 election.

EBASE has been able to undertake many social justice actions due to the financial support of organizations like the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and its core of caring volunteers. As Catholics, our faith teaches us to help those fellow human beings struggling to make a living. If anyone would like to volunteer on any of EBASE’s campaigns, please call Claire at (510) 893-7106, Ext 22.
Bella Comelo
Board Member

St. Mary’s Center needs help
I walked around Lake Merritt on Nov. 20 to help raise money for St. Mary’s Center. They are losing their present location and need to buy a permanent home. They need mega bucks.

St. Mary’s clients are mostly poor seniors to whom the center offers a warm, nourishing community, drug addiction classes, counseling, and access to the system to get them off the street and into affordable housing.

St. Mary’s Center also runs a winter shelter from Dec. 1 - April, a preschool for children, and serves a lot of meals and passes out a lot of bags of groceries.

Interested in helping? Make a check payable to St. Mary’s Center (tax deductible) and mail it to St. Mary’s Center at 635 22nd Street, Oakland Ca 94612.
Thanks for your help.
Joan MacIntyre

When will women be included?
It was impressive to see a photo of our priests gathered as one during their recent convocation (Voice, Nov. 7). I want to express my gratitude to and for them, for persevering through these difficult times and for continuing to nurture us.

I have been in the Oakland Diocese for many years. I know many of our priests and deeply appreciate their dedication. My hope is that someday the picture will show an equal number of women priests.
Barbara Hazzard,OSB

A gem in the Dimond
I recently discovered a great treasure in the Dimond District of Oakland — the parish of St. Jarlath.

The church is a beautiful Gothic structure. When one enters it, a sense of the sacred is present.

This is a parish which treasures and celebrates the traditions of our Catholic faith while being open to continual growth. Anyone looking for a place where the rich and meaningful traditions of our Church are still in practice may want to consider checking it out.

It is with joy in my heart that I see a faith community which prays the rosary daily after the morning Mass, which has Eucharistic Adoration each week preceded by devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, whose door is open for prayer during the day, where First Friday is acknowledged with Benediction and Adoration. Each month, on the First Saturday, a rosary for peace is prayed.

I was told that the parish celebrated Corpus Christi with a procession around the neighborhood, giving witness to those in the Dimond.

Another thing that strikes me is the love that the people of this parish have for their church. It is with pride that they speak of it: they treasure the serenity of it, the prominence of the Eucharist, their consecration to Mary (which I was told was done by the whole parish last Lent).

I urge any who are looking for a place where the rich traditions of our Catholic faith are treasured while openness prevails to come and get to know this very special gem. It looks like nothing from the outside (at 580 and Fruitvale) but inside it is a holy place, indeed, with a community which appreciates and treasures their home and which welcomes all with loving hearts.
Rosie Cortez

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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