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March 7, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 5Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Hypocritical process
As a long time member of the RCIA, I am saddened by the news that the Vatican wants to make annulments more difficult to obtain. In an age when many are abandoning our Church, the Holy Spirit continues to call many people to the faith. Sadly, we cannot welcome these people properly because of their former marriages.

Like many Catholics, I view this process as one rife with hypocrisy. We force people through a charade to prove their former marriages were never valid. This process is insulting to the ex-spouses and especially insulting to the children of these unions.

In most cases, they were valid unions and entered into with good intentions. Unfortunately, they have not lasted. Now we need to help these people and welcome them (or welcome them back!) to our faith community. Just as we forgive sins, we need to allow people to put the past behind them and move on as good Catholics.

Each year, we have candidates and catechumens who cannot be welcomed into the Church in spite of their months of hard work, diligent study and prayerful discernment.

This year is no exception. They are far better prepared and certainly more zealous than many Catholics already sitting in the pews.
Jesus was there for the Samaritan woman at the well who had been married four times. Why can’t we be like Jesus and embrace these people?
Jim Murphy

Creating ‘designer babies’
It seems likely that many Catholics will welcome the news in “Religious ethicists debate new stem cell proposals” (Voice, Feb. 7) that new approaches to embryonic stem cell research may make cures of deadly diseases possible without killing the human embryo. Yet the article’s focus on the embryo gives the impression that the killing of embryonic life is the only problem attending this form of stem cell research.

Many individuals who are not necessarily pro-life oppose embryonic stem cell research, also called Inheritable Genetic Modification or germ-line manipulation, because it will bring about irreversible changes in the human species.
Advocates of such genetic engineering are predicting, with enthusiasm, that it will make the children who receive them so far superior to those who don’t that they will soon comprise a separate species. This would make the current chasm between rich and poor insignificant by comparison.

Unfortunately, the scientific techniques that may make the cure of heart-wrenching diseases possible will also make “designer babies” possible and likely. As Catholics, we must not let an exclusive preoccupation with fetal life obscure the other grave moral problems that accompany the genetic modification of the human organism.
Marian Ronan
Associate Professor
of Contemporary Theology
American Baptist Seminary of the West

Criticism part of democracy
Unlike Earl Rupp (Forum, Feb. 21), I thought John K.C. Chen’s comments (Forum, Jan. 10) were reasoned and balanced. Whenever the leader of a country orders troops into combat and starts a war that results in over 26,000 dead, he must be held to a very high standards.

Even some of us Republicans recognize that the administration has not been forthcoming in telling us the real reasons it sent troops into Iraq. The explanation they have given us (the threat from weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s links to terrorist organizations) have not been substantiated.

Before the war started, the CIA told the administration that they could find no connection between Iraq and terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda. What we do know is that Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense and a principal adviser to the president, publicly began advocating the invasion of Iraq back in 1992, well before terrorism was even an issue for our country.

As citizens we must be allowed to criticize our president without being accused of being part of a “Hate President Bush” crowd. We also are entitled to know the real reasons they started this war.
James M. Dempsey
Walnut Creek

The use of capital letters
I am a returning Catholic and am surprised by the practice of not capitalizing personal pronoun references to God. For example, in an older edition of “Imitation of Christ” capitals were used and newer editions do not use capitals. It seems that Bishop Vigneron, in his earlier columns in The Voice, capitalized personal pronoun references to God but now does not.
Charlotte Rios
Pleasant Hill

(Editor’s note: Many Catholic publications in the U.S., including The Catholic Voice, follow the stylebook of Catholic News Service regarding pronoun usage. Personal pronouns referring to God or Jesus are lowercase, i.e. with small letters.)

Improve seminary education
Regarding Clifford Wiesner’s letter (Forum, Feb. 7) on how he knows better than the Pope how to solve the vocation shortage, I’d like to hear more about the “number of newly ordained priests who leave the priesthood after a short period of time and the large number who leave despondent and discouraged after years of service.”

Wiesner evidently has some information that he could share, in terms of numbers, statistics, etc.

He didn’t mention seminary education, but Bishop Vigneron wouldn’t have been appointed to the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, which oversees seminaries, if he didn’t have his finger on the pulse. I’m confident he will manage our seminary better than his predecessors, as he follows the Pope’s urging to examine the “‘emotional and sexual maturity’ of all candidates for the priesthood including their attitudes toward celibacy” (Feb. 7 Voice, p. 10).
Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

A doctor is a doctor
After having several letters published in The Voice, in which I have been critical of others’ reasoning and logic, I am pleased that someone takes pen in hand to rebut me. Unfortunately, Camille Giglio responds (Forum, 21) with hysteria, not thoughtfulness.

In my original letter (Forum, Feb. 7) when I accuse Mrs. Arata of “abuse of logic,” I give a specific example and I explain why I do so. When I accuse her of “guile,” I do so in response to her unfair tactic of implying that those who disagree are not “genuine Catholics.” Now Mrs. Giglio accuses me of both these faults, but she gives no example or explanation.

She then proceeds to commit the same fallacy, that because she doesn’t like what they are, she can change the facts to suit herself. The fact is that, no matter how strongly you feel, a doctor is still a doctor. What the two women should do is modify the word “doctor” with a suitable adjective, such as “bad doctor,” “evil doctor,” “fiendish doctor,” etc. By doing so they stay in the world of reality, not fantasy.
Stan Coppock
El Cerrito

CCHD says ‘Thanks’
On behalf of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), I am writing to thank all of the faithful of the Diocese of Oakland for the very generous collection contribution of $107,180.94. This support enables the Church in the United States to continue to support people who are poor to break the cycle of poverty.

In 2004, CCHD was able to grant $9 million to 330 projects in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We are proud to be one of the largest private funders of anti-poverty programs initiated and led by people living in poverty.
Rev. Robert Vitillo
Executive Director
Washington, D.C.









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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