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March 26, 2007VOL. 45, NO. 6Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Follow Mexico’s example

With respect to The Voice’s on-going articles on immigration and the Catholic Church’s support of illegal aliens, I offer these points.

The laws of the United States are made for the benefit, for security, for the welfare of this country’s citizens. When laws are broken, there are consequences to be paid. I just cannot believe that illegal people even think they have rights to oppose our government, to rally against us, or to demonstrate in public their outcry for their needed supposed justice.

I wonder if U.S. citizens decided to illegally enter Mexico, or any other civilized country, to better their lot, what would happen if they are caught? Will Mexico grant amnesty, welcome with open arms, find jobs, give health benefits to the poor souls who are trying to improve their lives? Or will they end up in Mexican jails and then kicked out of the country?

Mexico, which annually deports more illegal aliens than the United States does, has much to teach us about how to handle immigration. Under Mexican law, it is a felony to be an illegal alien. Mexico has a single, streamlined law, seeking to ensure that foreign visitors and immigrants are in the country legally, have the means to sustain themselves economically, are not destined to be burdens on society but rather are of economic and social benefit to society, and have good character, with no criminal record.

The law also seeks to ensure that foreign visitors violating terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported and anyone who aids in illegal immigration is imprisoned.

Who could disagree with such a law?

Maurice Duenas

Care for our own first

I am a Christian with 12 years of Catholic school training and it is very clear in my mind what Jesus taught us about loving our neighbor as ourselves and ministering to His poor. In the case of illegal immigration, I feel as though our Christians leaders are appealing to our sense of guilt when honesty is what we need to be examining. 

Daily I encounter men and women outside of grocery stores collecting money for charitable causes and destitute people holding signs reading, “Will Work For Food.” I am always compelled to put something into their hats or boxes in the hope that I can make a little difference in their situations.

Our own United States citizens are starving and going homeless everyday and we can’t begin to solve these problems, yet we are led into believing that we have the responsibility to take in even more poor souls from other countries who come here illegally. 

What really incenses me is that the countries most of these people are fleeing from don’t care about them. The leaders live in their lofty palaces, lounging on gold-gilded furniture and eating to their hearts content. If these evil, selfish countries treated their native people with the respect they deserve, they would not be running to our already overtaxed and overcrowded country for refuge. We have got to wake up and smell the corruption that runs rampant.

How are we supposed to take care of the rest of the world, in the name of Christian values, when we can’t take care of our own citizens? 

I am reminded of a quote made by the late Msgr. James Wade when he was pastor of Christ the King Parish many years ago. Whenever he would speak to his congregation about honesty, he would use the line that you can say that you got what was coming to you, but it is still stealing.

We must be careful that in doing what Christ called us to do, we are not taking part in what is illegal. 

Pam Brady 
Pleasant Hill

Caution towards Caesar

It is unfortunate that Joyce Harrison (Forum, March 5) chose to tie the subject of illegal immigration to the child abuse scandal and the failing of some of our bishops. One would think a more sober and charitable argument could have been made.

God’s laws and civil laws are not always one and the same. For example, our civil laws proclaim abortion to be a right, yet our Catholic formation tells us abortion is an affront to mankind and fundamental human rights. As Catholics, we need to be watchful for what is rendered to Caesar.

If tomorrow Congress deemed all illegal immigrants legal, there would be no affront to God or God’s laws. Though it may upset our patriotic partialities, if our nation’s borders between Mexico or Canada changed dramatically, there would be no offense against God.

From Pope Benedict XVI in “Deus Caritas Est”: “Anyone who needs me, and whom I can help, is my neighbor. The concept of ‘neighbor’ is now universalized, yet it remains concrete. Love of God and love of neighbor have become one.”

Dan Tracy

Debate on ‘real’ Catholics

A recent letter to The Voice (Forum, March 5) talked about “real” Catholics and the relationship between believing in “rules, customs and laws” vs. following such. The writer’s position seemed to be that those who do not attend Mass regularly and/or do not believe or accept the basic teachings of the Church do not have any business calling themselves Catholics.

The writer concluded wondering how many “real” Catholics are in the world. Maybe we should build a test to determine this. I’d suggest positions on the following issues for starters: The war in Iraq, immigration reform, affordable housing and homelessness, health care insurance reform, premarital sex, contraception, female or married priests, gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose abortion

On the immigration reform issue, another writer in that same issue of The Voice expressed the view that the immigrants who are here without proper papers, have disobeyed our laws and should be sent away. “The Church needs to butt out of immigration law issues and let our law enforcement officers do their jobs,” states the reader. From what I know of the position of the bishops on immigration reform, this writer would hardly be called a “real” Catholic. She simply wouldn’t pass the test!

But this is just a start. Using testing and retesting, “real” Catholics could be identified and certified. This would lead to a much better world to live in. And important in this identification of “real” Catholics would be the litmus tests of supporting pro-life and being against gay marriage....or is that the basic way that political conservatives are identified? Or both?

This really gets confusing. Maybe the idea of identifying “real” Catholics is not such a good idea after all.

George Fulmore

The answer is orthodoxy

I could not have agreed more with the letters of Mary Arnold and David Brusiee (Forum, March 5) regarding orthodoxy. Although I love the diversity of needs that many Catholics are a part of in our Church, the lack of knowledge of the Catholic faith is what ends up causing many to eventually leave the Church, or to stay stuck in the same sinful ways.

At present, all three of our children are going to Franciscan University. Why? Because it’s one of only a few truly Catholic colleges (ones that actually take an oath to obey the Magisterium/Holy Mother Church) in the country.

Our oldest son is planning to obtain his doctorate in theology. He was recently picked by the university to be in three videos -- promoting the university, showing the strengths of the spiritual fraternities that help formation on campus, and being on EWTN (great Catholic TV station) to help evangelize youth.

Our second son plans to become a priest. Our youngest is currently discerning becoming a nun and is involved there on campus with different ministries.

Their holiness is contagious; their lives are joyful. You see, getting true Catholic teaching actually inspires our youth to know, love and serve God and man with joy. True Catholic teaching keeps them in our Church and helps them to lead others in, and back to, the Church and away from this culture of death.

If we, as parents, are not discerning as to how we raise our children and where we send them to school, they will indeed become ship-wrecked by the world’s values, and become, as stated, nothing more than humanistic men and women, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof, living without true purpose, walking aimlessly through life, as many of us have.

For us truly Catholic parents who want to keep our children in the faith, I suggest we raise them with discernment, vigilance, love, and especially knowledge of the faith; and send them to truly Catholic places of learning. Choose wisely.

Even though we as parents do have the first responsibility toward raising our children Catholic, it is imperative that we work together with our clergy in the spiritual formation of us all.

So clergy, please teach us the tried and true centuries-old methods of spiritual growth and you’ll see a vibrant, growing, powerful Church that will convert the world -- our true mission. The saints knew what worked! Are we any wiser?

Bob Milano

Schools, not cathedral

Has anyone calculated if one $190 million cathedral project will create more vocations to the priesthood than three $60 million high schools the size of the proposed Pope John Paul II in Livermore?

The religious education I received at St. Mary’s High School in Berkeley was instrumental in my transfer to St. Joseph’s Seminary in Mountain View in 1955 to see if I had a vocation to the priesthood. The earthquake in 1989 eventually destroyed St. Joe’s, but many of the vocations survived both in the priesthood and, for those who dropped out, in the diaconate program that is flourishing today.

In his letter (Forum, March 5), John Neudecker, the diocesan director of development, stated that the cost/value of the new cathedral “must be evaluated in terms of its longevity,” maybe 500 years. Is he aware that we live in earthquake country?

Meanwhile, where are we going to get enough priests to populate this grand $190 million edifice? In our current status as a missionary country dependent on the charity of foreign countries to supply 25 percent of our priests in the U.S., it might be more prudent and productive to build fewer grand cathedrals and more Catholic high schools.

Bruce Bergondy

Make education a priority

I believe it is essential to the future of the Church to establish a firm foundation through the education of children. While having the monument of a cathedral is nice, I view the establishment of the basic education of our children to be a higher priority and one that could and would be supported by the local communities in the Tri-Valley.

I respectfully understand the planning for the cathedral is well on its way, but denying a future generation of Catholics the support of a parochial education for another decade seems to be in the wrong direction.

John Holst
Via e-mail

Troops aren’t commodities

I have read The Voice for years and wish the paper could do more to represent the viewpoint that the “troops” are our sons, daughters, and the future of our country.

I’m so saddened that pressure has caused the names of fallen soldiers in Iraq to be taken off crosses on a Lafayette hill. It further reinforces the national view that our sons and daughters are commodities - -” troops” – rather than real flesh and blood sons and daughters whose families and communities love them deeply, have invested so much in keeping them safe and helping them to become outstanding adults, and are so devastated by their deaths.

Something’s off-kilter in how this memorial has been viewed. I’m so grateful my daughters aren’t in the military, but if they were, and if they died in the name of a United States endeavor, I surely would want them to be recognized as beautiful individuals...not a commodity.

Jeanne Nixon
Via e-mail









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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