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February 20, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 4Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Rethink budget priorities

With the elimination of 17 staff positions, the Chancery reports that they nevertheless retained positions deemed essential to parishes and the diocese (Voice, Feb. 6). But I wonder what is more essential to our Church than the departments affected by the lay-offs, which are small faith communities, youth, family life, and special religious education?

It seems that the only people not affected directly are in the priesthood, showing little sensitivity to the fact that our budget problems are partly due to clergy abuse. I would think the solution would be in more participation from the laity, rather than to further isolate priests from the community. 

As a long-time catechist for the developmentally disabled, I was especially saddened to hear that SPRED will have to survive with only one staff person paid for by the diocese.

In the Jan. 23 issue of The Voice, a reader wrote an argument to justify the abortion of a Down Syndrome child. I believe such ideas would not be voiced if every parish in the diocese truly celebrated youth, family life, and our special friends. Perhaps the Chancery needs to rethink what it genuinely means to be pro-life. 

Carmen Hartono 

Deter evil

Gillian Mello (Forum, Feb. 6) comments that pro-lifers seem only concerned with life before birth since “they” don’t protest the war in Iraq, and wonders, “Why?”

Mello’s complex question can be the subject of a doctoral thesis, but I shall attempt to answer the question with the following few comments.

All and any wars are evil, a result of man’s disobedience to God’s laws; however, at times evil must be engaged and deterred. Since America and its allies went into Iraq and Afghanistan, over 50 million people who had been living under brutal regimes have been liberated and are now attempting to establish new lives under democracies.

Many of the Iraqi men, women, and children who have been killed are victims, not of Allied fighting, but of bombings carried out by the same Islamic terrorists who were responsible for the murder of 3000 innocent Americans on September 11, 2001.

As for pro-lifers only being concerned with life-before-birth, do you know the rallying cry of this year’s Walk-for Life? Give support to women who are in crisis or unexpected pregnancies, and the need for abortions will be eliminated because “Abortion Hurts Women”.

Patti Devlin

Be anti-war and pro-life

Thank you to Gillian Mello (Forum, Feb. 6) for writing about the need for pro-life people to speak out against war. There is a network called Consistent Life that has over 200 member organizations that oppose both war and abortion.

About 54 percent of the groups are Catholic organizations, including Pax Christi, National Council of Catholic Women, and Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

As a speaker at the Walk for Life-West Coast, I chastised the Democratic Party, my party, for working less on opposing the war in Iraq than opposing war in the womb. There is enough hypocrisy here to go around for everybody.

But Consistent Life asks us to be respectful of the strength of conviction of every group that supports a particular class of vulnerable people. Celebrating the work of the anti-war movement doesn’t mean putting down the pro-life movement. Can we be both-and rather than either-or? The human race depends upon it.

Carol Nan Crossed
Vice President for Chapter Development
Democrats for Life of America

A point of confusion

The Voice article (Feb. 6) on Catholic cemeteries in the diocese now offering mortuary services was very confusing regarding costs for transporting the body to the parish church for the funeral Mass. A second article spoke about the body of the deceased being present at the funeral Mass even if cremation is to follow. In that case, a committal ceremony should be held. Are you saying two ceremonies are to be held? Is there any light you can shed on this?

Ray Manning

(Editor’s Note: Under the usual arrangement with a mortuary, families can reduce the cost of a funeral package if they do not have the body moved to the church for a funeral Mass. In the diocesan arrangement, the price is the same whether the family chooses to have the body in the church or not. This is to encourage families to have the full rite with three ceremonies – vigil, funeral Mass, and committal or burial – without consideration for cost. In the case of cremation, the funeral Mass normally would be celebrated with the body present, and then a day or so later, after cremation, the committal ceremony would take place.)

Restoring true teaching

There have been a number of angry letters since the Vatican released its document on homosexuality and the priesthood. There is no question that there are homosexual persons in our Church who lead holy lives and want to be faithful members of the Church. The Gospel and Church teachings call us to respect the dignity of every human person at all times.

But it is also true that according to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice report commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, an overwhelming majority (81 percent) of the victims of clergy sex abuse were male; 40 percent were boys aged 11 to 14 and 27 percent were 15- to 17-year-old boys. The bishops’ National Review Board said that the sex abuse crisis was characterized by homosexual behavior.

During my 30-year career I investigated hundreds of sexual assaults, child molesting cases, and homicides as an Inspector in the Juvenile Bureau, Sexual Assault Unit, and Homicide Detail of the San Francisco Police Department.

I witnessed firsthand the anguish, anger, and hurt of victims, their parents, families, and friends.

This is not just a problem of priests who are homosexuals.

There were many bishops who were derelict in their duties. Hundreds of problem priests were shuffled back and forth from parish to parish, leaving trails of abuse across the country. These scandals were covered up, lies have been told. While hundreds of priests have been defrocked, not one bishop lost his position.

There have been some bishops who were good and perhaps holy people, but who have never stood up to defend Catholic truth. When they found homosexuals and dissenting theologians in their seminaries, most of them did nothing to correct it. The pastors of the Church need clearly to promote the correct moral teaching of the Church and publicly to reprimand individuals and groups who spread dissent in the Church.

It has been well-documented by Michael Rose in his bestseller “Goodbye Good Men” how orthodox candidates for the priesthood were systematically rooted out of the seminaries.

There has now been over $1 billion spent by the Church in America in lawsuits and payoffs and this figure will go higher.

This crisis cannot be solved without restoring true Catholic teachings and practices.

Jim Crowley
Walnut Creek

A troupe thank-you

I wanted to thank The Voice for the delightful article in its Feb. 6 issue about St. Vincent de Paul’s Champion Guidance Center and the Seldom Seen Acting Company.

The group’s Dec. 10 debut at the Oakland Museum was a success, and the event really helped to break down some of the stereotypes and misconceptions about homeless people. The troupe has another performance scheduled for April 8 and is looking forward to future engagements.

Thank you so much for your support of our work and helping to spread the word!

Christine Comella
Director of Development
St. Vincent de Paul
of Alameda County

Not a ‘security’ wall

I was pleased to see my letter about Christian Peacemaker Team member Jerry Levin in the Jan. 23 Voice. Of course, in submitting the letter I was aware that all letters are subject to editing in the interest of brevity or clarity.

Nonetheless, when I read my letter, the word “security” jumped out at me since I knew I hadn’t used that adjective to describe the Israeli-built 27-foot-high cement-fortified barrier that encloses Bethlehem on all sides and “annexes” a great deal of West Bank agricultural land, not to mention water table, to Israel and separates Palestinian farmers from their land.

Let me quote from Father Firas Aridah, a Catholic priest in the village of Aboud in the West Bank: “The wall that Israel is building through Aboud is not for the security of Israel. It is for the security of illegal Israeli settlements. The Israeli government continues to falsely claim that it is building the wall on Israeli land, but Aboud lies 3.75 miles inside the Green Line, the pre-1967 border between Israel and the West Bank. The wall will cut off 1,100 acres of our land for two illegal Israeli settlements.”

Mary Vivian Zelaya

Intrinsically evil

Many Catholics have a mistaken, erroneous or incomplete understanding of the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion. In his letter (Forum, Jan. 23), Donald King, “a long-time activist in the pro-life cause,” demonstrates such an understanding because he looks in the wrong places from the Church’s authoritative teachings.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the following:
“The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.” (para. 2268)

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” (para. 2270)

“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every
procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable…” (para. 2271)

“Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life." (para. 2272)

In summary, abortion is intrinsically evil, always has been and always will be. Those guilty of aborting their child are excommunicated. But remember Christ died for our sins, even the sin of abortion, and provided us a way to be reconciled to Him.

Our bishops need to catechize their priests, so they in turn can catechize us, so we will have a correct understanding of the sin of aborting a child.

Tom Tami

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Donald King (Forum, Jan. 23) does not have all the facts. A study done by Donald Reardon (“The Abortion Experience for Victims of Rape and Incest” available from the Human Life Alliance) shows that women who have an abortion after rape or incest have their bodies violated twice. “Some women have described the abortion experience as feeling like rape – a form of surgical rape.”

No mention of post-abortion was made. Would-be mothers and fathers are suffering because of the “choice” they made. There is help from the Church at the Respect Life office. Also, “Healing Relationships with Miscarried, Aborted and Stillborn Babies” (Paulist Press) is very helpful.

Pro-life is from conception to natural death. “Thou shalt not kill.” God said it; I believe it. That settles it.

Beverly McWilliams

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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