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 April 11, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 7Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Lessons from John Paul II
I have a good friend with whom I spoke after John Paul II’s death was announced. For a long time she thought that he should resign the papacy because he was sick and obviously in pain. After his death, however, she understood why he did not resign.

He wanted the world to see that sick people, old people, and dying people are not on the periphery of the human family but are valuable and central to all of our lives. He wanted us to learn that suffering, like joy, can unite us closer to Christ and help us to grow in our understanding and appreciation of God and his grace.
I think he made his point.

All too often there is a painful tendency among Catholics to consider other Catholics with whom we disagree to be less Catholic. Such statements as, “Real Catholics believe...” are all too often bantered about. The death of John Paul II and the outpouring and love of so many has revealed that there is a unity in the Church.

It is not a unity of blind obedience, but it is a unity of belief in a community that does care for one another and a community that argues out of love and a desire for the best for one another.

We are far from perfect but the people of God are church, flawed, loving and glorious. And just as we see signs of Christ in the life of John Paul II, I hope we all learn from his example to see signs of Christ in one another. I have come to believe that much of his fabled uncompromising sternness was his desire that we understand this truth.

I think that he succeeded.
Kevin Fitzsimmons
Via e-mail


On extending life
It seems to me that way back in the 1950s, Pius XII addressed extraordinary means of prolonging life: One is not obligated to use them, but may do so.

If life were an absolute good, Jesus would never have died “a death he freely accepted,” nor would we venerate Maximilian Kolbe, Oscar Romero, Perpetua, Lucy, Agnes, Sister Dorothy Stang and all the martyrs.

At the Mass for the deceased we pray, “Unto thy faithful, Lord, life is changed not taken away.”

The issue is not “quality of life.” The issue is technology in the face of any situation that will naturally lead to one’s departure from this world.

Pius XII and subsequent Vatican teachings talk about the cost of using these extraordinary means to keep people going. The patients themselves, their families, and the rest of us pay dearly, and I am not talking about money. The monetary side of it is the least of our concerns, if indeed a concern at all.

I said “no” to the feeding tube for my 61-year-old Down Syndrome brother when Parkinsons made it impossible for him to eat. At the moment of his death the nurse said, “ You knew where he was going, you could see the joy.”
Aloysia Moss
Fremont


A time for reconciliation
I’d like to commend and thank Father Paul Schmidt for his article (“Present-day martyrs call us to confront social justice also,” Voice, March 7).

Further, I’d like to see an apology from Chris Smith (Forum, March 21) for the disrespectful words used in his retort. It is language like this, irreverent and conceited, which makes his rebuttal irrelevant. What possibly could his motivation have been?

To me, Father Schmidt’s article showed insight, enlightenment, and moral courage. Christians have a unique position in global culture. Due to our faith and obedience, we must illuminate ANY injustice and respond, with love, in accordance with a responsibility governed by our own individual conscience.

Hopefully this conscience is well informed, but more importantly, may it be motivated by the love for God and one another as commanded by our Lord and Savior!

Now is the time for righteousness and reconciliation, in each church, and between each people, our brethren (especially between those of differing faiths).

Our Church is in the process of extraordinary change after Vatican II and an egregious scandal. We as lovers of Jesus and our neighbor must spur forward the hope of our Church. We need healing. We need each other’s outstretched hands of support.

Peace and love are not trivial wishes of all people, but are ideals principal to the Kingdom of God to which each of us must respond.

I am grateful to Father Schmidt for his leadership and hope more spiritual men and women will walk the path of our beloved saints continuing the call for social justice worldwide!
Wylie A. Linquist
Richmond

U.S. ‘soul sickness’
I have to chuckle to myself when I read the kudos Chris Smith (Forum, March 21) bestows on our country as he washes the hands of big business and says, consider the symptoms as he rests comfortably in his Lafayette digs.

I implore Mr. Smith to visit the sick or elderly at a local hospital, or visit the homeless at The Shelter in Concord or volunteer at the Richmond’s West County Detention Facility, all of which I have done. He says he’s not embarrassed of the good ole USA; well, I am!

We have an administration that kills 50,000 plus in Iraq not to mention our own soldiers, Americas’ grown children, dying for what? Big business, of course. And yes, that Bush/Rumsfelt/Rove/Wolfowitz agenda was a success. The oil company bigwigs are richer and we are paying more at the gas pump, absorbing and internalizing this atrocity like one inhales foul- smelling air as you drive by a refinery.

At the same time, this administration fights for Terry Shiavo’s life. Sounds somewhat hypocritical to me.

The real symptoms Mr. Smith fails to see are power, greed, self-concern, grandiosity and control as they manifest themselves into a soul sickness this country has had for many a generation and its only getting worse and costing us dearly.

Some good Americans make those stars and stripes and what they represent more important than He who died on the cross and what He represents. Add insult to injury: “In God We Trust” on our money.

Christ chased the money changers out of the temple. Social justice begins at home and ripples out into the world community. We are supposed to be brothers and sisters created in his likeness to serve and love one another, but you wouldn’t know it!
John Valdez
Antioch

Candles for Terri Schiavo
I have personally seen the candles burning at San Quentin prison for convicted murderers in the hope that someone might intervene in the legal process on their behalf. But where were the candles for Terri Schiavo?

The court saw to it that Terri Schiavo died and it wasn’t a humane, painless, lethal injection.

I appeal to all fair-minded people to light a flame in their hearts for this poor innocent woman who had commited no crime. Please care.
John Malaspina
Newark


Valuable websites
I enjoyed the March 7 Voice article on the laity as evangelizers and would like to share some websites that are done by the laity for the laity and which use mass media to evangelize.

www.cleanfilms.com . This is a website for renting or buying movies appropriate for family viewing/ This video rental service has hundreds of movies which have been edited so that there is no nudity, profanity, vulgarity, or graphic violence. It allows parents to sit down with the family and watch a movie without having to worry about the content.

www.live365.com/stations/305819 . This is the site for a Catholic radio station, something not readily available in our area.

www.angelinthewaters.com/onlinebook/coverpage.htm . This site has in its entirety a new, beautiful and pro-life children’s book called “Angel in the Waters,” written by Regina Dorman. You can buy it or read it online.

Thank you for allowing this layperson to evangelize by sharing these sources.
Wilma Smith
Oakland


Defend EWTN
Many of us in my area who watch Catholic programming on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) on Comcast’s Channel 76 were surprised and dismayed to discover that we could no longer receive it. As of March 14, Channel 76 and only Channel 76 was removed from our basic cable package.

When some of my friends and I called Comcast, we were told that we would only now receive EWTN on a higher-numbered channel, which means switching to Digital TV. This new package, plus the rental of a digital box, would cost much more. Comcast’s representative informed us that they were running a three-month special, but when pressed, she admitted that the price would go up even higher after the three months.

My friends were very upset as they cannot afford the extra fees to retain the Catholic channel. Many other Catholics who are elderly, those on limited incomes, or housebound by health problems will also be very distressed by Comcast’s removal of this channel from their lower coast basic cable TV package.

I urge others to protest as well.
Juanita McDonald
Hayward


Check anger, create peace
On Jan. 18, I joined about 400 people at the gates to San Quentin prison for a vigil preceding the execution of a man. I was there to be in the number of those solidly opposed to murder. If not me, I thought as I ate dinner earlier in the evening with my family, who? If I do not show up when I feel the way I do, I might as well say I condone people being captured and killed by the state of California.

But, humans should not kill each other. Yes, it has always gone on; it appears to be a part of a natural order. Mankind, though, has an intellect that separates us from snakes and sharks, an intellect that can imagine the most improbable developments.

To become peaceful we will need to examine every move we make. Simply, this could begin by always stopping our cars to let people cross the street or by saying hello to strangers with whom we make eye contact. At those moments we can begin to put aggression to rest, and with the ebbing of aggression we may develop a compassion for our fellow beings, an understanding that each of us is trying to pass through this life with a degree of pride and comfort.

If we can see this in each other, the need to feel worthy, we may begin to check our anger with our fellow beings, and if we check our anger, vengeance will cease to seem a solution, and in fact we will not want other people killed.
Denny Riley
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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