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 May 8, 2006 VOL. 44, NO. 9Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Support for gay adoptions

Through the past few decades of revelations regarding the Church’s implicit role in sexual abuse of children within the Church, I have still been proud to be a Catholic.

At the same time, I have always recognized the dichotomy of Catholic teachings. For example, preaching the evils of homosexuality at the same time as compassion for the homosexual person.

This was, in my mind, what made the Catholic Church “righteous” even in the face of horrific actions of its own.

But Cardinal William Levada for the first time in all my 50-plus years as a Catholic changes that.

As a parent of an adopted child (from a family with male and female parents), I am astonished that anyone would assert that a child is better off in an institution than in a family with a loving home.

In one fell swoop he destroys the very foundation of the Church and embarks on a judgmental course, condemning the sinners. His statements are both reprehensible and hopefully beneath the dignity of the Church.

John Lubeck

Patterns of abuse

The article (Voice, April 17) on the supplemental John Jay study on clergy sex abuse fails to mention a key finding that is very telling with regard to some of the opinions expressed in these pages.

Certain factions have beat the drum for a pogrom against gay priests and
seminarians. They use as justification the John Jay study finding that 80 percent of the reported abuse victims were male.

However, the supplemental study disproves that thesis with some information about patterns of abuse.

The latest analysis shows that priests who abused girls tended to have only one reported victim. However, those that abused boys tended to have at least
several reported victims. Indeed, the difference is enough to account for the
differences in numbers of male and female abuse reporters.

It would also suggest that the number of abusers is fairly constant across
sexual orientations. Rather, it is the pattern of abusive behavior that
varied, producing more reported male victims. Whether or not that
difference can be explained by priests' more ready and unquestioned
access to boys and young men is unclear.

What is clear is that upon further analysis the John Jay study certainly
does not support the position that a particular homosexual priest is any more
likely to commit sexual offenses against young people than his heterosexual

Greg Bullough
Annandale, NJ

Choir as ministry

Earlier this year in Reader’s Forum, there were comments about the place of the choir at Mass. I would like to call attention to an interview by Michael J. Miller with Father Robert C. Pasley in “The Catholic World Report” of January 2006.
Father Pasley is a priest of the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, and rector of Mater Ecclesiae Mission. He has been a member of the Latin Liturgy Association for over 25 years and is on the board of directors of the Church Music Association of America.

When asked about “The Spirit of the Liturgy,” a book written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Father Pasley said:
“I have read “The Spirit of the Liturgy,” “The Ratzinger Report,” “The Feast of Faith,” and “A New Song for the Lord,” and I guess you could say, in a nutshell, that he is adamantly opposed to the idea that the people have to do everything in order to be participating in the liturgy; he demonstrates that this notion is absolutely wrong and is not part of what the [Vatican] Council wanted.

“He explains that the choir can have a ministerial function, representing the people through the talent that they have, through the training that they have received. They can be almost a surrogate that stands in for the people praising God, so that the people can join in with them internally and thus sing praise to God in a way that they would never have been capable of on their own……

“But true active participation occurs when they’re meditating, using their sense of hearing to listen, their sense of sight in reading, when they’re conjoining themselves with the cantors who are trained to sing, when they’re lifting their hearts up to God, so that the result is not constant activity, but actual participation.”

Horatio F. Ozorio

Music as prayer

Singing at Mass is prayer, not entertainment. Are people forgetting the old High Mass when the Mass was sung?

We are now included and the music is a contemporary style, at times a dialog and at times sung Scripture.

I agree that bad music is a distraction. Hopefully enough good musicians will come forth.

Phyllis Stevens

No link to terrorism

I would like to thank The Voice (April 3) for clarifying the Church’s stance on immigration. I am reminded of how much I appreciated The Voice reporting the truth about my native El Salvador during the 1980s. At that time, the mainstream media were presenting Church leaders in El Salvador as communists, resulting in the assassination of many faithful.

The Cold War is over, and now the media are perpetuating the lie that immigration is somehow connected to terrorism. I continue to be amazed at the gullibility of the average U.S. citizen in allowing government leaders to spread so many falsehoods.

Carmen Hartono

No place for jokes

I go to Mass to raise my spiritual consciousness, to seek a closer relationship with God. My hope is to hear a homily that will assist me in this endeavor.

Over the last few years I have noticed a disturbing trend at a number of churches -- some priests begin a homily with a joke. Almost without fail these jokes make fun of women, i.e., dumb blondes, hen-pecked husbands, etc., Some jokes touch on sexual abuse -- totally inappropriate to laugh

An example: The TV news recently reported a priest being arrested for suspicion of raping a woman he had been counseling. Two days later a priest told a joke at Mass about a 90-year-old priest being flattered after a stunningly beautiful woman accused him of attacking her! Where is that priest’s head to use a topic that is so painful and criminal as a joke at Mass?

At an Easter past, I heard a lengthy joke whose punch line had a dumb blonde confusing the Resurrection of Jesus with Ground Hog Day. Totally revolting.

Some priests can no longer present a homily without starting out with a joke. I asked one priest, Why? He said it is done to “warm up the congregation and get their attention.”

That’s quite insulting to our intelligence. Is it really necessary to turn Mass into a cheap lounge act by wannabe stand up comedian priests?

The main elements of a homily should raise consciousness, not drag us down to a lower level. Some of these elements are beauty, grace, dignity and reverence.

Several years ago an exceptionally talented group of priests and lay people put together a video called: ”Making Sunday Worship Work.” This was filmed at our St. Francis de Sales Cathedral before the earthquake in 1989 and should be required viewing for all priests and laity.

B. J. Lieberman

Time to pursue peace

Prior to the Iraq war, President Bush requested an audience with our Pope John Paul II, who staunchly opposed the war.

In the first visit, our pontiff told Bush, “Unite in solidarity with the United Nations to pursue peace.” Bush disregarded our pope’s advice and started his preemptive war. When the media asked our pope for his opinion of the war, he replied that Bush will have to answer to God.

Bush requested a second papal audience and sent Vice President Cheney to face our pontiff. Cheney was graciously received and given the same advice to unite in solidarity with the United Nations to pursue peace.

In the third visit, Bush received the same advice as the first two. It was obvious that Bush wasn’t interested in pursuing peace; he was wooing the Catholic vote for re-election. I’m sure that our pope, the Vicar of Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit could read Bush’s mind as if it were transparent plastic.

About two weeks before his death, Pope John Paul stated, “It’s time for America to give back the country of Iraq to their people.”

Just a few days before he died, he gave the world two messages: First, “The world is gripped by fear and selfishness.” (Bush incites fear to promote his agenda or legislation). Second, “Those who succeed in life have an obligation to those who don’t.”

Our Catholic bishops have called for U.S. troops to leave Iraq “sooner than later.” This can happen with people pressure on Congressmen in the November elections, combined with our prayer power.

Bush was prominently seen leading the U.S. delegation at our late pontiff’s funeral, but has yet to heed Pope John Paul’s advice. Instead of pursuing peace, which has always been an option, our problem president is labeling those of us who don’t support the Iraq war as unpatriotic as he promotes support on prime TV for a no-win war of death and devastation.

Until Bush admits his sinful misdeeds, he won’t repent. Those who don’t repent, perish. (Luke 13:5).

Melvin Dalisky

Destroy all nuclear weapons
Weapons of mass destruction are morally evil because they are built, as their name implies, to kill indiscriminate masses of people, innocent civilians by the tens of thousands.

Since they are evil, they should not be in any nation’s arsenal of weapons, because no nation is morally permitted to use them.
Nuclear-anti-proliferation-talks are unreasonable and a waste of time as long as even one of the participants is permitted to have, and is able to use, nuclear weapons.

Isn’t it the duty of every responsible nation to arm itself against the possibility of a nuclear threat by building for itself a suitable nuclear defense?

Why should Iran (and North Korea) not have the bomb like the USA, Russia, Pakistan, India and Israel are currently permitted to have? Shouldn’t they also build an adequate nuclear defense against nations that have it?

In the USA, we control literally thousands of WMDs; we are able to use them; we did use them. Yes, we are the only country on earth that has immorally used an atom bomb, killing, maiming and disfiguring 200,000 innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Who gave us the moral right to prevent Iran and North Korea from having, if they can develop it, the same weapon of mass destruction which we have and which we have used? Regrettable was the deafening silence of most official churchmen about the immorality of what must have been one of President Truman’s most difficult personal decisions.

Yes, because of the unprecedented terrible pressure of that war moment, Truman can be easily forgiven his immoral decision, but that decision remains immoral.

Nuclear-anti-proliferation-talks will begin to make sense only when the United States and all the other nuclear-capable countries voluntarily destroy their own arsenals of WMDs, and unite firmly with every nation on earth against any nation that would dare rebuild them.

No nation could possibly survive the threat of a total boycott and embargo by a united world that preaches what it practices.

Fr. Larry N. Lorenzoni, S.D.B.
San Francisco

Sadistic law

It was shocking to read that bishops in South Dakota have “hailed” that state’s new abortion law (Voice, March 20). This law is disgustingly sadistic because it criminalizes abortion even in cases where conception results from rape or incest.

Forcing a woman to give birth to a child begotten under such circumstances is arguably as brutal a crime as rape itself. To embrace such a violent expression of misogyny as “pro-life” is not merely un-Christian, but perverted, or, if you will, “objectively disordered.”

Bob Schildgen

Where is the justice?

Concerning the debate on immigrant justice (Voice, April 3), was the word “illegal” accidentally omitted? And what happened to “Thou shalt not steal”?
I have public school students (illegal) who are stealing the resources of native-born and legal children in the form of medical, welfare and educational costs. Why should a law-abiding student pay higher out of state college tuition while an illegal gets it for less? Why should higher scoring students be wait-listed in the name of diversity while lower performing minorities are accepted? Where is the justice?

When hypothetical farm worker Jose works here, unlike past laborers, Jose brings in his extended family who takes more from the social support systems than Jose could ever give as a taxpayer.

By checking the Department of Justice website, one can discover that 29 percent of felons in our prisons are illegals. So much for the myth of everyone coming here to work. Work the system would be more correct.

Mary Travers
Redwood City

Stop military recruiting
I am writing to voice my concern about military recruiting in our public schools. While I support the troops and the rights of a volunteer military, I do not support institutionalizing involuntary recruitment practices.

The No Child Left Behind Legislation automatically gives the military the right to take any student’s private information without any form of parental permission or notification! This snooping into students’ private school information needs to stop!

There is an opt-out provision in the legislation, but rarely are students or parents informed of it. I encourage students and parents all over our state to send a letter to their school’s administrators asking them to keep their information private! A sample form can be found at http://www.militaryfreezone.org/opt_out.

Jay Blanch
Castro Valley








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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