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 April 3, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 7Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Gross misrepresentations

I am sure that Cardinal Mahony (Voice, March 20), like his fellow Catholics, is passionate about helping all men and women whether they are citizens of the U.S. or any other country.

Rather than wade into the politics of a specific House bill and attacking his perceived opponents, our community would be better served by leaders clearing articulating elements of a policy that is consistent with church beliefs while cognizant of our country’s sovereignty.

In this particular case, Cardinal Mahony would do well to avoid gross misrepresentations of a political measure that he clearly does not favor. His claim that “Anyone who does anything for someone here who doesn’t have documents would be a felon under this bill” is absolutely absurd on its face. Such statements assure a lack of dialogue or acceptance of Cardinal Mahony as a serious critic in this arena.

The country is in the middle of a difficult debate on how to change an immigration policy that is clearly broken.

Chris Harley

A shocking advocacy

It was very laudable – and certainly quintessentially Christian – that The Voice carried several articles in its March 20 issue about showing compassion to immigrants. However, it was very disappointing that The Voice seemed to agree with Cardinal Mahony that Catholics should disobey the law.

Any citizen may register his/her objections to any law; but until the law is changed it must be obeyed. For a church leader to advocate disobeying a law is very shocking. If the law were against Christian doctrine, then it might be countenanced -- for example, abortion.

There is nothing in church teaching that says that it’s OK for people to illegally enter a country.

Ernest Avellar

Oppose illegal immigration

It is chilling to read (Voice, March 20) that Cardinal Mahony is openly defying the rules of our country. I know of no person who is against immigration, and the bulk of my friends and associates are descendents of not too distant immigrants. What I am against and believe most people are against is illegal immigration. The House of Representatives, Minutemen and government officials are not against legal immigration.

One hopes that such fuzzy thinking is not followed in Cardinal Mahony’s decisions in church matters. Not surprisingly many people have said to us that they feel excused from following church directions when the hierarchy and many priests are promoting the defying of laws.

William Anhalt
Walnut Creek

Enter U.S. legally

What is it about the words “illegal immigrants” that people do not understand? The word “illegal” means unlawful. These people who come across the border are breaking the law – our laws to protect the citizens of this country. My grandparents and my mother were from Mexico, but they came over legally. Nobody paid their way, they did not accept charity or free medical care or free schooling, which incidentally is bankrupting our social economy.

If immigrants want to live here, let them come in the right and legal way.

What Cardinal Roger Mahony is preaching is against the law and no one is above the law. He is harboring fugitives from justice and condoning it. So what does that make him and what does that say about the Catholic Church?

I spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy. I traveled to foreign countries far and wide, and nowhere did I see any country cater to the English-language people, like they do here for the Hispanics. First in English, then in Spanish for them. It makes these people lazy and not learn English.

There are many illegals here because the citizenship exam is in English, and they will not pass it if they do not know English, so they do not take it. If it was up to me I would send them all back and make them do it the right way or in a special program to let them in.

I am an American Mexican. I speak both languages and I am proud of my heritage and so are my children, but we do not break this country’s laws.
Richard D. Castillo

Who’ll pay for support?

So Cardinal Roger Mahony is telling us Catholics to break the law of the land by embracing illegal aliens. Where is he going to get the money for all these illegals? He spends too much money on sex abuse problems.

Fred Surma
Walnut Creek

Adoption by gay couples

It is unfortunate that Cardinal Levada proclaimed in his official Vatican office that it is better for children to be raised in a foster home environment than being adopted by gay parents. No foster home can give children the feeling of safety and permanence that an adoption can provide.

Not all gay families are perfect but with the history of horrors of many foster homes, how can a man of God come up with such nonsense and an uncaring statement.

The interview for suitability for adoption should be blind to whether they are gay or straight. The welfare of the child is the important consideration and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome was correct in his outrage over the new Archbishop of San Francisco even considering Levada’s anti-children pronouncement.
Jack Dice

More information, please

I was greatly confused and disturbed by the news article written by Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service concerning Cardinal-designate William J. Levada and his remarks during a Feb. 26 homily at Rome’s Pontifical North American College (Voice, March 6).

Did the archbishop really say that the gay priest who reveals his homosexuality places an obstacle in his ability to represent Christ to his people? Does he overlook the reality of the large numbers of gay priests and bishops already serving in the church? Did he wish to imply that the current clerical sex abuse scandal is primarily the fault of gay priests?

Perhaps the complete text of the archbishop’s homily could be published in The Catholic Voice, along with the complete text of the November 2005 Instruction of the Congregation for Catholic Education. Then we the readers can see for ourselves what is his and the Vatican’s teaching.

Gregory Rienzo
Castro Valley

(Editor’s note: To date, the complete text of the archbishop’s homily has not been released to the public. The Instruction of the Congregation for Catholic Education is available at: www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/index.htm)

A church of intolerance?

When did the church get so intolerant? Where was I? Was that the weekend I was in bed with the flu? When I was traveling in Europe and couldn’t understand the homily? Is the document that states that we must brand our homosexual brothers and sisters – notice I still did not use the term “pariahs” – as evil and unworthy of full life, still available on-line somewhere? I need to get up to speed on the new regulations.

I get that we are now supposed to look on gay priests as unworthy to minister to us…….this is very hard to swallow, as those I have known, have been splendid ministers and many who are not gay have been mean-spirited, intolerant bullies. Now I am supposed to get my, admittedly, old gray head, around the idea that a loving gay couple cannot adopt a child that they intend to raise in tolerance and charity.

My fear is that with the erosion of civil liberties we are already seeing in our national life, and the intolerance being shown for segments of our society, there is a disturbing
resemblance to Germany in the 1930s. How long before gays and lesbians will be forced to wear the equivalent of the yellow Star of David to mark them as unfit?

Will we have the courage of Sweden and all don the mark?

Jeanne MacCoy
San Leandro

Jesus loves gay priests

Congratulations on printing Father Ron Rolheiser’s Lenten reflection, Listen to Christ’s heart with a spiritual stethoscope (Voice, March 6). I am sending copies to many – this is the

Having read in the same issue quotes from our doctrinal chief, Cardinal William Levada, I am doubly happy from Father Rolheiser’s reflection. Cardinal Levada dealt another blow to our gay sons of Christ.

I can’t even get into what was said, but in my heart it did not come from the heart of Christ. Jesus loves and cherishes all gay priests in his pure, beautiful heart; his Father created them in love. I am proud of the priests who share with us the sexuality God bestowed on them. What else can they do—lie? They are who they are.

How grateful I am to know a loving God is the one in control of all.

Nancy Powers
San Leandro

Scripture speaks

In response to Declan Deane’s “Ask the people of God” (Forum March 20), I must say that he is extremely mistaken if he thinks that the church is a democracy. The church is theocratic. The only time the church is democratic is when the cardinals vote for a pope.

In the Bible, when the people were asked to choose between Barabbas and Jesus, we read (John 18:38) that the people chose Barabbas, the robber; so much for people making the right decision(s).

We also read in Scripture (Numbers 16) where some of the people (specifically Korah) of Israel rose up against the authority of Moses and Aaron and the consequences were horrific for Korah and his followers.

Cardinal Levada is correct when he spoke about homosexual priests. And we, “the people of God”, must listen to the pope and all the bishops and priests in union with the pope.

Father Deane is causing division and confusion (Rom 16:17) among “the people of God” with his erroneous teaching. He is also seriously mistaken if he thinks that Jesus was silent on the subject of homosexuality.

All of Scripture is God’s word and Jesus used his prophets and apostles to speak against homosexuality ( Gen 1:27, Gen 2:21-24, Gen 19, Lev 18:22, Lev 20:13, Rom 1:27, 1Cor 1:6-9, 1Tim 1:9-10).

I would never accept Father Deane’s erroneous version of Catholicism. As stated in Romans 16:17: “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.”

Bert Palmon

Correct assessment

Cardinal-designate William Levada is correct with his assessment of homosexuality in the priesthood. A good priest, if he practices homosexuality, cannot “preach and practice the love of God and neighbor advocated by Christ.” He fails Christ’s church, he fails himself, he fails the People of God. If he cannot be faithful to the clear teachings of the Catholic Church, how can he be a good priest?

Father Deane is in error when he says Christ was silent on the subject of homosexuality. I suggest Father Deane re-read Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1: 9-10. It was Jesus Christ who knocked Paul off the horse on the road to Damascus, it was Jesus Christ who inspired St. Paul to write his words in Sacred Scripture. The letters of St. Paul are the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In the Gospels, Jesus may not say anything directly about homosexuality, but he does clearly discuss his teachings on marriage. (Matthew 19, Mark 10.) My question to Father Deane: As a married man, if I look lustfully at a man, am I committing adultery in my heart? The answer is certainly yes; I have committed adultery in my thoughts and I am guilty of sin. (Matthew 5:27)

Father Deane and I would agree that we should follow the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept homosexuals “with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (Catechism, 2357.)

The Catholic Church is not here to condemn homosexuals. It is here to bring the message of the Gospel to the world, to bring the face of Jesus Christ to all people. The Catholic Church must accept the dignity of homosexuals as persons in the image and likeness of God. But it does not and cannot accept the actions of homosexuals that are sinful. The Catholic Church cannot accept actions of heterosexuals that are sinful.

I hope Father Deane is not advocating that priests who are homosexuals be open and active with their sexuality. Before anything, the People of God want priests who are faithful to the church, who love Jesus Christ and who will put aside everything, even sexuality, to serve Christ and his church for the Kingdom of God.

Joe Murray

God created gay and straight

Cardinal-designate Levada (Voice, March 6) describes the “spousal character of love as revealed by God.” In this image I, a member of that people, see myself as the bride, Christ being the bridegroom. Since I am male, this takes a much bigger imaginative leap than is needed to see a gay priest as representing the bridegroom. 

God created us male and female. God also created us gay and straight, for reasons that we do not know. This has made quite a few problems for us, but the one Cardinal Levada suggests seems to me to be a small one. 

John Neville 

Church as ‘homosocial’

Soon-to-be-Cardinal Levada (Voice, March 6) may have been right that Catholics will find it difficult to visualize Christ as the spouse of the Church if he is represented by homosexual priests. Yet Archbishop Levada shouldn’t underestimate the imaginative capacities of the Catholic laity; we have, after all, managed for centuries to visualize a Christ who is married to the church in the persons of men who are most emphatically not married. Maybe the Catholic imagination is less literal than the archbishop thinks.

There may be another reason to prohibit homosexual priests, however. Some cultural theorists suggest that the basic structure of modern society is what they characterize as “homosocial.”

By this they mean that the not-necessarily-sexual but certainly social, political and economic bonds between men make it possible for them to control institutions, nations, and especially women. The problem created by the increasing visibility of male homosexuality is that male homosexuals make it more obvious that a society or institution is structured this way.

The repression of homosexuality is essential if it is not to become apparent that a particular institution is run by men. Christ as the heterosexual spouse of the church conveys the idea that the church is female.

Seen from another angle, though, the Church is unarguably homosocial, governed by collaborations between the higher male clergy. The church, I would suggest, is attempting to prevent this reality from becoming apparent by prohibiting the ordination of visibly homosexual priests.

Marian Ronan
Associate Professor
Contemporary Theology and Religion
American Baptist Seminary of the West
Graduate Theological Union

Antiquated imagery

Who in the 21st century still thinks of priests as bridegrooms of the church or the church as a bride (Voice, March 6) I thought this imagery went the way of having women taking religious vows dressed as brides.

I see priests as religious leaders, spiritual experts, pastors, etc., but not as bridegrooms. My imagery of the church is the people of God, not a bride. Cardinal Levada may want to update his ecclesiology and theology of the priesthood. 

Mark Gotvald 
Pleasant Hill 

A good read

For your Lenten reading, try “Parish Priest” by Douglas Brinkley and Julie Fenster. Beside being the biography of Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, it gives an excellent history of the Catholic Church in America. It recites the social struggles with the large immigration of the Irish from the potato famine in the 1800’s.

Mary McMahon

'Statement of Politics'
Fifty-five congressional Catholic Democrats have issued a statement of principles which supposedly “acknowledged the ‘moral leadership’ of the Catholic Church,” but asserted “primacy of conscience” regarding abortion (Voice, March 6). Pro-choice Ellen Tauscher couldn’t even go that far. Local Democrats Anna Eshoo, George Miller, and Nancy Pelosi did sign - but so what?

Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat and statement coordinator, claimed it was “not at all driven” by 2006 mid-term elections, and denied that Democratic lawmakers “celebrate abortion.”

DeLauro doth protest too much, methinks. Catholic League president William Donohue correctly calls the statement a sham, noting there’s “never been an abortion [DeLauro] couldn’t justify, including the killing of an innocent child who is 80 percent born. Indeed, she previously served as the executive director of EMILY’s List, the richest pro-abortion organization in the country. So the Statement of Principle is nothing more than a "Statement of Politics.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses “erroneous judgment. When an individual takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin,” the person “is culpable for the evil he commits” (n. 1791).

Even Democratic advisers Stanley Greenberg and James Carville find Democratic politicians recognized commonly as morally bankrupt or even anti-religious. And Pew Research reports that only 29 percent of polled respondents think Democrats are friendly to religion.

Sharon Arata








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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