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 November 20 , 2006 • VOL. 44, NO. 20 • Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers


Co-partners in the Church
I would like to thank Paul Mendoza (Forum, Nov. 6) for his reflections on being “almost there, but not yet” on his journey to ordination. It seems that he has the right approach to learning how to handle his impending role in the basic organizational unit of the life of the Church, the local parish.

I would like to ask him and other priests, however, to discard the concept of “leading their flock.” Birds and sheep belong to flocks. The concept of the laity being a flock no longer rings true to me and to so very many of us who are out there taking on more and more responsibilities in our parishes each day.

I prefer to think of the priests as co-partners with the laity in ensuring the viability and future of parishes. Each has an important place in the Body of Christ manifested on a local basis. There is no room for sheep or any other flock animal in our parishes in the 21st century. Many laity are as well educated and as well- motivated as their priests. They are no longer looking to, or needing to, be led as sheep were led.

In respect of this concept, the culture of the priesthood must adapt to the new reality of parish life.

Best of luck, Paul, in your new life as a priest and co-leader of the Church of the 21st century.

Jim McCrea

Impractical directive
I am enjoying the image of the Pope and Cardinal Francis Arinze together at the Vatican washing chalices, communion bowls and plates, with their sleeves rolled up and dish towels thrown over their shoulders. Will they next launder the purificators and corporals since they have crumbs and drops of the Eucharist on them? 

They are certainly out-of-touch in not allowing extraordinary ministers to cleanse vessels used at Mass (Voice, Nov. 6). I attend a parish that has over 800 people at a single service, with many chalices and bowls being used, let alone there being six Masses each weekend. Do you think the priests are going to do the tedious work of washing dishes? Not any more likely than the Pope or Cardinal Arinze doing it. I hope these two consult with priests at the grassroots level the next time they consider such decisions. 

Of course, I’m sure lay people will continue cleaning up after Mass and priests will ignore this directive, as they do many other nonsensical ideas. 

Mark Gotvald 
Pleasant Hill

A generous gesture
Recently, Bishop Allen Vigneron entered into a most generous real estate arrangement with St. Mary’s Center by granting the Center a lease at the rate of $1 per month for the property which was formerly the parish of St Andrew-St Joseph. At the end of five years, St. Mary’s Center has the right to purchase the property outright for a price around 50 percent of the current market value.

This lease gives new hope to St. Mary’s Center for continuing operation and undreamed of potential for development.

St. Mary’s Center, an organization that serves seniors who for one reason or another are homeless or otherwise at risk, has been looking for a permanent location for their ministry for some time. The people that St. Mary’s Center serves are generally seniors who are alone and are living on less than $10,000 a year.

The directors of the Center have expressed a vision of creating a village for the people they serve out of the former St Andrew-St Joseph Parish.

This act of charity will provide a new dimension of social service for seniors in downtown Oakland marked by a level of respect, security, and dignity which most of us simply take for granted. A profound thank you is in order to Bishop Vigneron and his advisors.

Tom McLoughlin

Assist Iraqi Christians
Bishop Wenski (Voice, Nov. 6) has strengthened the U.S. position in Iraq by calling on the U.S. Secretary of State to assist the Iraqi Christians in their struggle to remain in Iraq. An article like this should appear in the everyday media.

Yes, the violence is perpetrated on all whose faith is different than the majority’s. With encouragement like this, our presence in Iraq should be helpful and meaningful to those who are pleading for our girls and boys to return home.

The recent riots in France and England may be indications of war clouds starting in Europe. We are very fortunate that this has not occurred in America because our brave youth are defending the faith where the terror and violence originate.

Let us pray with the bishops for Condoleezza Rice that her mission be a success not only for Christians but for all other faiths suffering in Iraq today.

I am used to praying for peace for the past 60 years, through World War II, the Cold War, Korea, and Viet Nam, and for all the brave hearts who are at rest so that America is still free.

Lillian Silver
Walnut Creek

End the unjust war
Long ago, our own U.S. military leaders have concluded that there is no military solution in Iraq; problems will be solved through political peaceful process.

We have to ask ourselves this question: Who has killed the greater number of Iraqi people, both good and bad? Is it Saddam or Bush’s unnecessary unjust war? God, our Father and Creator, knows always.

Our problem president’s flip flop from “stay the course” to “victory only” is still delusional in a no-win war. No strategy.

Through people pressure and our combined prayer of reciting the rosary, our Mother Mary’s spiritual influence will bring our military troops home, sooner than later, to end this unjust war and the bloodshed on both sides.

Melvin Dalisky

Bashing the Church
After reading the movie review of “Deliver Us from Evil” (Voice, Nov. 6), I wondered if I was reading the Catholic Voice or the National Enquirer.

Yes, there have evidently been abuses, and, yes, some men who became priests should have been screened and not allowed to enter the priesthood. Being a holy priest is very difficult and the relaxation of rules of conduct (the obligation of saying the Office, the wearing of the Roman collar) have been of no help, but definitely a detriment.

To spend part of a page in our own Catholic newspaper on a film review so devastating to the Church is unbelievable. Is the reviewer so naïve as to not realize that pouring fuel on the fire is siding right along with the people who delight in bashing the Catholic Church and who are clapping so gleefully at this whole unfortunate situation? Or does she feel it’s more important to see her byline?

My children and I are products of 12 years of Catholic education. We never experienced any such abuse from any priest or nun nor did any of our classmates. I feel this is true of the majority of Catholics, if they would only speak out.

Amy Berg, the documentary producer, might be up for an Oscar and has already made $50,000 on this film plus box office receipts. May I finish her film title with the word “Amen.” Enough already.

Marie L. Fiatarone






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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