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 February 6, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 3Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Person not defective

I am writing to comment on the letter from Donald King (Forum, Jan. 23) in which he refers to a Down’s syndrome fetus as defective and that a mother carrying such a fetus has an innate right (whatever that means) to terminate her pregnancy.

Let me tell you about a young woman I know. She is 22 and has Down’s syndrome. A few years ago she completed a special program at her local high school. That is, when she was not competing in Special Olympics, teaching swimming, serving as an acolyte and helping with hospitality at her church, completing her chores at home, and attending programs at the local library.

She continues to do all of those things and has recently applied for a special program at a community college nearby. In addition, she is thinking about applying for a job at the neighborhood supermarket, where she helps with family shopping and is well-known by the staff.

She has helped me tend my garden, and we have had many an interesting dinner conversation.

This young woman is, in many ways, different from other young women her age. But please, Mr. King, do not refer to her as defective. You will get many an argument to the contrary from those of us who know and love her. How glad we are that her parents did not think like Mr. King does.

Deborah Tatto

Defending pre-born life

The problem with Donald King’s conclusion (Forum, Jan. 23) that women should have the “right to choose” in cases of rape, incest and “defective fetuses” is very simple.

The value of the pre-born life is not dependent on the circumstances surrounding his or her conception, nor is it dependent on the mere fact that he or she happens to have an extra 21st chromosome (as in Down’s syndrome).

The value of the pre-born life is intrinsic and God-given. Not even the feelings of the mother trump that!

Carol Kennedy
San Ramon

Essential funding

I want to thank you The Voice for the excellent Jan. 23 edition celebrating Catholic Schools Week. While I particularly appreciate the article, “At risk schools are bouncing back to health,” there was a serious error that I need to point out.

Contrary to what was written, St. Martin de Porres School and our families rely heavily on financial assistance from FACE and BASIC. Without their generous and consistent support, our families would never be able to send their children to a Catholic school and our doors would be closed.

I hope everyone knows how significant these two funds are for low-income families and for inner-city education.
Sister Barbara Dawson, RSCJ
St. Martin de Porres School

Root causes of abortion

At the second annual West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco on Jan. 21, many pro-choice protesters used hateful, vulgar words that attacked the character of the pro-life marchers.

Most protesters seemed to operate on mistaken assumptions that all pro-life marchers were pro-war Bush supporters, and that abortion is the only issue any of us cares about. We were told to impeach Bush, to go protest the war, to volunteer at Boys and Girls clubs. Mere smokescreens.

A person’s character, beliefs about other issues, and public service record, while interesting, do not disprove his or her argument. Rather, a claim about right and wrong stands apart from the person who makes it. I saw no effort to refute the very serious claim that abortion is wrong because it kills an innocent human being.

Further, I saw no compelling response to the theme of the Walk for Life, the “women deserve better” slogan of Feminists for Life, which seeks to eradicate the root causes of abortion, such as lack of resources and unfair discrimination against pregnant women and mothers in the workplace and in schools. These are issues on which we can work together.

Elizabeth Woo
Pleasant Hill

Protest war and abortion

We often hear those who are pro-life protesting the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. All life is sacred, they claim, all life from the moment of conception.

Why do I hear no protests from them when so many lives have been lost in the 240th month after conception, or thereabouts, while fighting an unprovoked war in Iraq? I see lists of the dead, and most are barely more than children.

This is not even taking into account the lives of the many Iraqi men, women and children that have been lost or the pain and mutilation that has happened to both Iraqis and Americans and others fighting in this most pointless of all wars.

Am I missing something here, are we of less value to the world after we are born than while we are still in utero?

If anyone has an answer to this question, I would sincerely like to hear it.
Gillian Mello
San Leandro

Staggering statistics

Although thousands and thousands of people participated in the 33rd annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 23, there was almost no coverage in the American press.

Bus loads of people came from all over the country to participate, including the young and old, religious and lay people. The spirit of the walk, however, seemed to be carried by the young, especially leaders in the Life Movement who are active in their respective colleges and universities, including Princeton, Ave Maria University, Notre Dame and Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, etc. Their enthusiasm and inspiration filled the walk with great energy.

In the 33 years since the legalization of abortion, 43 million babies have been killed. The participants came and marched in the rain to stop this killing. We have killed a total population of 13 states. If you are under 30, one out of every three of your generation has been aborted.

Pope John Paul II has said that prayers and work to end abortion and the protection of life to natural death is the greatest work on earth. Blessed Mother Teresa has said that one hour of weekly Eucharistic Adoration will end abortion.
In front of the podium at the rally, stood a group of women who each held a sign, “I Regret My Abortion!” They stood as an icon for the movement throughout the rally and the march and are a part of Operation Outcry.

After watching the entire March for Life live on EWTN and then again during a total replay on EWTN, I am inspired to take up the torch for the gift of life that God so generously gives us. God bless us all!

Susanna Maria Ax

One-on-one help

In response to Edna Pucci’s letter “Take action now” (Forum, Jan. 23), I agree there is more we can do for the poor. The other day as I was getting out of my car, a man started telling me a story about his wife and children all living in a shelter. I handed him cash before I took my three small daughters out of the car.

Many people feel that homeless beggars will only spend that money on drugs or liquor. But we can’t control how all the money we spend on taxes, union dues, or give to large organized charitable groups will be spent.

During the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina, it was exposed that the most important help was received one-on-one. The government and larger charity groups were too big and cumbersome as well as tied up with red tape and bureaucracy. The most effective help came from ordinary people in neighboring communities and people trapped together helping each other.

“Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (I Peter 4:9-10)

Linda Trester
Union City

Help for Katrina evacuees

Thank you for your continued coverage of Hurricane Katrina evacuees within our midst.

I am encouraged by efforts on the part of Catholic Charities of the East Bay (CCEB) in working with other faith-based communities to provide continuing assistance to evacuees. A special word of recognition to Millie Burns, CCEB director of planning and program development, who has been on the forefront in helping to provide for the needs of evacuees, and for her ability to network with other agencies to address evacuee concerns. Her vast previous experience in disaster management through the American Red Cross has proven to be an invaluable resource for Catholic Charities of the East Bay.

Also worthy of much praise is Father Jay Matthews and St. Benedict Parish in East Oakland. Father Jay has done more for evacuees than any priest in the Diocese of Oakland. He has placed numerous children into local Catholic schools and through his extensive connections throughout Oakland has secured housing for quite a few evacuee families.

St. Benedict Parish continues to support the many folks displaced from the Gulf Coast, as well as maintaining connections with the area through parishioner contacts in New Orleans and beyond. Much of the response from the Catholic community in the East Bay to evacuees in our area is due to the hard work and dedication of Millie Burns and Catholic Charities and Father Jay Matthews and St. Benedict Parish. Thank you to both of you for “stepping up to the plate.”

Father Jayson Landeza
St. Columba, Oakland
Parochial Administrator
St. Joseph the Worker, Berkeley

Parish generosity

The Voice often publishes reports of how parishes help each other. I would like to express our appreciation to the four parishes that assisted us with Christmas baskets this year. We are a poor, immigrant parish whose collections do not equal half of our expenses, so such assistance is greatly appreciated. Most of our families are low-income, making $25,000-$30,000 a year doing house-cleaning, construction and landscaping.

This year we had requests for 268 Christmas baskets. There is no way our parish could afford to assist such a large number. The four churches that assisted us were Santa Maria in Orinda (Margaret Govednik), St. Isidore in Danville (Pat Black), St. Bonaventure in Concord (Sister Roberta Carson), and the Catholic Community of Pleasanton (Suzanne Slupeski). There were also 11 families from our parish who could afford to provide a basket.

This is truly an example of family-to-family and parish-to-parish generosity. We would like to encourage more of those who have some means to assist those who do not. This shows forth our Catholic values and we commend these parish, their pastors and their leaders for carrying on the Catholic tradition.

Carolyn Krantz
Pastoral associate
St. Peter Martyr Parish

Choirs enhance liturgy

To the gentleman from Fremont who wishes to send the choirs to the loft (Forum, Jan. 23), I hope he restricts his suggestion exclusively to his own parish. At St. Raymond in Dublin we are blessed to have multiple choirs that enhance our worship experience. We would be diminished should they be banished. And I always feel cheated when I visit a church where music is not part of the liturgy.

It is said, “He who sings, prays twice”. While I am aware my own singing voice is less than stellar quality, I join the choir in singing to the best of my ability. I sing with the voice God gave me, and I give it back to Him in praise. I am grateful for our choirs who assist me in this act of worship.
Sharon Svitak

Value of Latin Mass
It is fascinating to see the on-going controversy in The Voice over proper dress at Mass. It reflects so much more than just clothes. And it makes me so glad I regularly attend the traditional Latin Mass at St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland.

There, though the dress is current, the Mass is according to the Roman Missal of 1962 and, in keeping, reverence and respect are always demonstrated by the faithful in their attire. The Latin Mass, Roman Missal -- with wonderful choirs safely in the loft! -- every Sunday at 12:30 p.m. The Tridentine Mass 1962 weeknights at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. Come and see!
Oscar M. Ramírez

Blasphemous commentary

Where do I start with David Sylvester’s incredulous commentary (Voice, Jan. 23) about “Crossing the line at Fort Benning”?

It would have been believable and coherent had he stayed with the School of the Americas perspective and its alleged abuses in Central America. But when he introduced Iraq and Abu Ghraib references, and compared a prisoner there to Christ on the cross, he crossed the line! To place Iraqi terrorists in the same context as our Savior is ludicrous at best and blasphemous at worst.

Any righteousness he may have had with his SOA protest was totally lost when he tried to bring dignity to the evil “insurgents.” And where were The Voice’s editors on this?

Bob Hespen

Careless treatment of Eucharist

Recently my family and I attended a very sad funeral for a child. The funeral was also attended by many non-Catholics from the public school. The priest at Communion time invited “all those wishing to receive to come up now.” This filled me with trepidation. I have heard other priests explain that only practicing Catholics may receive, but all others are welcome to come up with hands crossed over chests to receive a blessing.

My children and I watched in horror as a teenage girl came down the aisle, tearing the host in half, chewing one half and then holding the other half in her hand for a few minutes, chatting to her mother before finally consuming it. A child of about 11 came down the aisle holding the host, showed it off to some other kids in the pew and then after a while put it in her mouth. A Baptist college friend of my son waved at us as he went up to receive.

After Mass, my nine-year-old said to me, “A lot of people made their first holy Communion today, didn’t they.”

What does this say to our children who spent months learning about the sacrament and preparing themselves spiritually to receive?

What does it say about priests who seem not to care about protecting this most precious sacrament from being abused, dropped on the floor or left in a pew? St. Paul said, “Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”

I found this careless treatment of the Blessed Sacrament as sad as the funeral itself. I pray our good bishop will remind his priests that they are the guardians of our Eucharistic Lord.

Mary Arnold

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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