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 July 3, 2006 • VOL. 44, NO. 13 • Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Immigration justice

As the debate about immigration reform comes to a decision point in Congress, we Bay Area Catholic Sisters stand together to insist on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. As religious communities who came to this country to serve and nurture immigrants, we are encouraged by the Senate bill provision of a legal path to citizenship.

However, Congress must simplify this path by rethinking the flawed three-tiered earned legalization approach. Furthermore, increasing the National Guard1s involvement and expanding a costly border fence will not prevent people who are desperate from seeking a better life in the United States.

When reviewing enforcement measures, Congress should consider why the U.S.-Mexico border is the most militarized one in the world between two nations not at war.

Our Sisters and our ministries in California are working to serve the needs of all with compassion and without prejudice. At the same time, we recognize that no immigration legislation will be complete without addressing the root causes of migration.

We Bay Area Catholic Sisters urge everyone to write and call Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein as well as your Representatives to ask that justice be done for this generation and for the future.

Leadership Teams:
Dominican Sisters of San Rafael
Holy Family Sisters, Fremont
Holy Names Sisters U.S.-Ontario Province
Mercy Sisters, Burlingame
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Belmont
Presentation Sisters, San Francisco

Applying the Gospel

William Beiriger (Forum, June 19) saw the TV news coverage of the May 1 demonstrations on immigration and instead of thinking about the Christian reasons why the Church took a stand on this issue, he gets upset about how undeserving “illegal” immigrants are.

The same week, he said, he got two envelopes for donations and even when such are voluntary, he couldn’t think of anything but how this money could or would help those “illegal” immigrants.

Yes, many dioceses in the U.S. have deep financial problems, but instead of finding one of the myriad reasons for such problems, he blames this situation on those “illegal” immigrants.

Instead of presenting compelling evidence, he cites “illegal” immigrants dumping food (as seen by his own hard-working mother).

Does he not know that in California “illegal” immigrants cannot receive cash aid from welfare, food stamps, and that they have restricted access to health care?
Does he know about the long Catholic tradition of social justice? Does he know that it was Our Lord himself who said that when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the prisoner we do these things to Him?

I am appalled to see how people with “Jesuit educations” and “pious lives” have presented the most hideous, anti-Catholic, and anti-Christian opinions in this Reader’s Forum. It is obvious that their own economic interests and the compelling coverage of alarmist venues such as FOX News are more powerful than the word of God.

What’s more disturbing is the idea of how these “pious” brothers and sisters are sharing the Eucharistic table with many of those “illegal” immigrants and still find it in their hearts to question their dignity.

Luis A. Gachuz-Meza

No place for greed

Again in the news is a story less than flattering about Catholics. It seems the Catholic Healthcare West hospital system has been charging the uninsured five times what they charge those who have medical insurance.

What was it Christ said about taking advantage of others – the “do unto others” thing?

Over the years we have had the Vatican financial scandal, bishops’ and priests’ sexual misconduct, and a hit-and-run bishop. I realize that we are all sinners, but it does seem that our institutions and hierarchy are a little more like the rest of the world than one would hope.

How are we going to change the world for Christ, when profit, the almighty dollar and personal will are our prime concern, even in our institutions and hierarchy? If we don’t start acting out the love of Christ in our dealings with others, this world and its problems will continue the slide into the greedy and hedonistic place it’s become.

I don’t know if it is a lack of faith that God will provide that drives us to follow our head rather than our heart, but it seems to me that if we would communicate with our God at the start of every day, a little of him might be left in our minds by the end of the day, and the world would be a better place.

Wayne Mortensen
San Ramon

Forget the ‘Code’

There is more than a provocative story in the current “Da Vinci Code” saga.
The cover-up atmosphere, including also some high Church functionaries,
weakens the pleas of bishops and cardinals, from Rome or from home, for
Catholics to avoid the movie.

Time’s reviewer Richard Corliss (5/29) scored the movie very tersely, and
more effectively than any Vatican prohibition, with his simple, bold-type
title, “The Da Vinci Coma,” and with his closing comment: “Good movies
are show-and-tell; this one is all-tell, no show.”

I wasted 153 minutes sitting through it, just to avoid having to say: “Since I did not see the movie, I’ll give you my opinion of it.”

Waste your time to see it if you want to. The words of our American
humorist James Thurber about something else keep coming to mind when I
think of the “Da Vinci Code” movie: “It had only one fault. It was kind of

Father Larry N. Lorenzoni, S.D.B.
Salesian Provincial Office
San Francisco

A self-help campaign

A few months ago, our local committee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) had the rare privilege of meeting with the 11 groups who had applied for funding from the national CCHD office. I left those meetings with such a feeling of gratitude and pride for the campaign that our U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops imagined, designed and implemented in 1970.

The bishops understood that by supporting self-help programs of many kinds, our Church could make a significant contribution to ending poverty. So, each year, we hear from groups of low-income people that are going out into their communities and developing solutions to the problems they face every day.

These groups have gotten more affordable housing in their communities, and increased access to health care services and jobs that pay a living wage.
Organizations working with immigrants have supported and educated their members as they strive to become a vital part of our society.

As the lower income members of our communities become able to participate in efforts to improve their lives, and come to tell us about their success, we also often hear their deep appreciation for the freedoms that we often take for granted, and for a Church that is willing to support them in their struggles.

So, thanks for your generosity to the annual CCHD collection each November. We’ll be sending out our full report in the fall, and have it on our website then as well: http://cceb.org/public_policy.php#subhead.

Maurine Behrend
CCHD coordinator
Catholic Charities of the East Bay

A different Church experience

I was confirmed at the Easter Vigil in 2004 at St. Felicitas Church in San Leandro. It was without question the happiest day of my life.

To become a member of this beautiful Church is what I consider to be the most wonderful gift that God can give us. I have found so much happiness and comfort here. In the past year my family and I have suffered many bad experiences, the most recent being the passing of a most beloved pet.

If it wasn’t for my love of this Church and the faith I have, thanks to God and his mercy and love for us, I would have fallen apart. The joy I have had when I became a Catholic is boundless. This is why I am so deeply saddened by Leo Akiona’s letter (Forum, June 5).

The rage this man feels is something I cannot understand and is indeed unfortunate that he has chosen to leave after his family has been a part of this Church for so long. My hope for him and his family is that he somehow finds peace within himself.

Marilyn Consaul
San Lorenzo

Only one true Church

Regarding the decision of Leo Akiona (Forum, June 5) to leave the Catholic Church for another church, I want to respond by saying that there is no other church founded by Our Lord with St. Peter as its head and direct papal succession and authority to teach and to administer the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

I humbly suggest that Mr. Akiona broaden his prayer life, seek more deeply the treasures of Holy Mother Church, and be aware that although the Church may be suffering now, she will be the Church Triumphant on the last day.

If he feels unwelcome in his parish or doesn’t like the pastor, he can seek a new parish with all the attendant gifts and take up his cross and call to salvation and get working on his vocation to serve Jesus.

Joe Padilla

Miracles at Medjugorje

June 25 marked the 25th anniversary of the daily apparitions of Our Blessed Mother in Medjugorje, Herzegovina. Since her first apparition in 1981, many pilgrims from all over the world have visited this tiny Croatian village. Many have received healings, multiple blessings, miracles and conversion.

Father Jozo Zovko, the Franciscan pastor of St. James at the time of the first apparitions, suffered greatly and was imprisoned due to the repression under the communist militia. Many busloads of pilgrims still flock to his monastery to hear him speak.

The faith of priests is strengthened after a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Fallen-away Catholic return to the Church with a new found zeal. Non-Catholics are converted. Miracles happen.

My biggest miracle happened on my first pilgrimage to Medjugorje when I was still not a Catholic. The sacrament of reconciliation I received there was one of the great gifts of my entire life. I returned five times and hope to return again soon.

If you are suffering, if you crave peace, if you need a time apart with the Lord, consider taking a pilgrimage to Medjugorje while this incredible blessing is still available.

Susanna Maria Ax

(Editor’s note: A news story about the apparitions and their contested authenticity appears in this issue.)

Speak truth with love

“The greatest of these is love.” We can see why our Holy Father chose to teach us about love in his first encyclical. To really love someone, to want their greatest good, we must share with them the truth. “Truth without love is a noisy cymbal. Love without truth is blind.”

And let us always remember, the truth is not some thing, but Somebody. Christ gives us the way to know the truth --- His magisterium -- the teaching authority of the Church

In these dark times of the culture of death and the undermining of the family, let us pray and work to encourage all to speak the truth with love, especially our bishops, our priests, deacons and Religious.

Remind us that contraception (including permanent contraception -- sterilization) is a grave sin that takes apart God’s plan and opens up a Pandora’s Box of evils that undermine the family in so many ways. It also leads to abortion (now about 4,000 a day in the U.S. alone) -- a crime that cries out to heaven.

Teach us about the other intrinsic moral evils – euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and same-sex marriage. It’s so important to understand! If we love our brothers and sisters suffering from same-sex attraction, we must tell them that there is hope. They can be chaste.

And when they are ready, this disorder, this sickness (in the truest sense of the word -- a lack of wholeness), this lack of gender identity development can be healed.

For all of good will, I urge you to study at www.couragerc.net and www.narth.com.

David Zarri

One man’s sin…

It is amazing to me how the sins of a few can affect so many. A few incidents these past several months have brought this home to me.

Recently I spent about eight hours, involving at least eight people, to get insurance coverage through the Boy Scouts to host a one-day camp on diocesan property. Everyone was trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, but I had to jump through bureaucratic hoops because of all the recent legal issues involving the diocese.

Likewise, I have spent hours attending Safe Environment training three times in 18 months, only to be notified that I can’t be in my son’s classroom or go on a field trip until I submit proof that I’ve attended one of these classes. Again, this involves people who are trying to do their jobs correctly.

It is the sin of someone I don’t know and have never met that is causing me and other good people to lose time from our families, our jobs, and from doing God’s work. It adds to our frustration and irritability, which in turn affects other people around us. Not to mention the financial impact.

The only positive outcome is before I do anything, it makes me stop and think. How are my actions going to affect people I don’t even know.

Donna Roberts

A privilege to serve

For 29 years I was privileged to care for the Sisters in the care center at the Holy Family Sisters motherhouse in Fremont. I always felt that I had this calling from God to take care of the sick and elderly. I felt I could give purpose as well as help them maintain good quality of life with dignity. I would learn from them as well as care for them, I thought, and I did.

I assisted them with their needs, gave hugs, sang, turned tears into smiles and even wrote poetry about some as the years passed. I loved my work and grew to love them all. They became the “Wind Beneath My Wings.” The many challenges and changes I faced through the years turned into rewards for me. I am a better person for having known them.

Spiritually, they taught me the power of prayer and to keep faith, hope and love always in my heart.

Now as I begin my retirement, I say, “God bless them all” for I will miss them,
but I will never forget them.

Sandra Souza



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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