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 May 7, 2007VOL. 45, NO. 9Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

RAISE YOUR VOICE - What can we do to end violence?



Always our children

The film “Straight from the Heart” will be shown at St. John Vianney Church in Walnut Creek on Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m. This short-subject movie, which was nominated for an Academy Award, highlights a variety of parents of lesbian and gay children explaining the difficulties, the learning process, and the reasons for their eventual acceptance and support of their children.

I have seen this excellent film. As the father of a lesbian daughter, I encourage you to attend this evening if you have someone in your family, or a friend, who is lesbian or gay, and you want to meet and discuss this with other Catholics who have gone through the same journey.

We also invite any pastor and/or staff who would like assistance in starting a ministry for parents in their parish to join us.

In the 1997 document “Always Our Children” (copies will be provided that night), the U.S. Catholic bishops say to our lesbian daughters and gay sons: “In you God’s love is revealed. You are always our children.”

Michael Harmuth
Chairperson, Oakland Diocese Ministry
to Lesbian and Gay Catholics
and their Families

Neither is pro-life

I would like to thank LaVonne Stittle (Forum, April 23) for highlighting the amount of federal funding Planned Parenthood receives. She points out that under President Clinton they received $20.1 million in his last year, while under the Bush administration the funding rose to $272.7 million by 2005.

The phenomenal increase illustrates how the Republican Party uses a pro-life stance to garner votes, but how it is only lip service. Despite several Republican presidents since Roe v. Wade in 1973, and a recent Republican congress, nothing has changed and government funding for Planned Parenthood has increased over 1000 percent.

Neither party seems to be pro-life.

Mark Gotvald
Pleasant Hill

Reason for conversion

Many will welcome the entry of Bishop Daniel Herzog and Carol Herzog into full communion with the Catholic Church, especially in light of their Catholic upbringings (Voice, April 23). As Anglicans becoming Roman Catholics, they stand in a distinguished tradition that includes, among others, John Henry Cardinal Newman and Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ.

Speaking as one for whom Jesus’ commitment to the poor is a central dimension of my faith, however, how I long to hear about men and women drawn to our communion because of its passionate commitment to social justice, and not only because of its sexual prohibitions!

Marian Ronan

Is it worth the fight?

On April 4, 2007, a 22-year-old man was killed in Iraq in the line of duty. I did not know the young man, but my son knew him. They went to the same school, Las Lomas High. The soldier’s stepmother and I work for the same company.

What a very devastating moment to hear that your loved one has been killed in the war. I sympathize with the family and with all those other families who have lost their loved ones. I could imagine the fear that each family member is experiencing. More so, the predicament puts our troops’ lives in peril. They are truly our heroes.

If I would be given an opportunity to speak with President Bush, I would ask him, “Mr. President, is this worth the fight? Don’t you think it’s time for you to pull our troops out of Iraq? If in your mind pulling out would mean that we lost, who cares? What is more important is to stop the ongoing enormous bloodshed. Do you hear the people’s cry or are you just listening to yourself?”

It seems like this kind of tragedy is inevitable. All we can do is pray harder and hope for the best. May our political leaders be enlightened and may God bless our troops and America.

Cherry Quijano
Walnut Creek

Praise for new cathedral

It’s good to see that the Cathedral of Christ the Light is being built. So many churches and cathedrals are old and being torn down and church property is being used for low-cost housing. The following generations need churches and cathedrals, too.

I’m looking forward to driving to Oakland and attending Mass at the new cathedral and going to the café afterwards.

Dennis McGraw

Importance of Good Friday

John Marquette (Forum, April 9) has a profound appreciation for Holy Thursday when the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, as we all should.

However, the greatest day in the Church year has to be Good Friday. Jesus suffered and was crucified on this day as a ransom for us sinners.

Lonn Hendren

Catholic schools cost too much

I had five of my children going to Catholic school. When the two eldest got to high school, I couldn’t afford tuition so they had to go to the nearby public high school. This was terrible.

Next year, my third child goes to high school, the following year, the next one and then the last will start. I get a grant which I am so thankful for, but it is not enough to pay for Catholic high school.

Maybe one of the reasons many children aren’t going to Catholic high schools is because of the money.

Mike Lopez

Bring EWTN to San Leandro

I am an elderly member of Assumption Parish writing to get help to improve TV programming in this area. Several years ago, Comcast dropped EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) from its programs in the Hayward-San Leandro area. They replied to my letter of complaint that it was a purely business matter and they wouldn’t restore it.

Health problems prevented further pursuit of the matter on my part. Now that I am living at home again I miss EWTN very much.

Perhaps The Voice can bring this matter up again or get other Catholic organizations interested in restoring EWTN.

John Carroll
San Leandro


What can we do to end violence?

End access to guns

We must move to change the culture of violence that is bred and fed by the mass possession of guns by almost anyone who wants to have one. It is insane that our country allows citizens to purchase, own and carry lethal weapons. It is bad for peoples’ health, bad for public and mental health.
These weapons are made to maim and kill. Columbine and Virginia Tech show just how effectively guns do that. And these are only the dramatic headline-catching incidents.

The too-frequent shooting on our streets gets less coverage but is no less fatal for the victim, no less tragic for the families of the victims killed or wounded every single day.

This must be halted at the source, and that source is access to guns. We must change this culture of violence by working at the grass roots to persuade our leaders to make it illegal for ordinary citizens to own a gun.

It is possible to create such an atmosphere by continuing to talk about it, (in our families, churches, neighborhoods, newspapers and radio) not waiting till the next calamity. It is possible to begin a program that aims at retrieving the guns already in circulation. Banning gun ownership and a program (like Australia’s) to collect all illegal guns must go together.

Boycotting violent movies is another way to show our disapproval.

Tom McMahon

Increase resources

Crime and violence plague our poorer neighborhoods and cities for a number of reasons. Some would say the primary reason is poverty. That is a false assumption and disrespectful to the majority of poor people who struggle to make ends meet while still abiding by the law.

The reason cities have too much crime is simple: they have too many criminals.

The quickest and most effective way to lower crime is to lower the number of criminals on the street. This can be accomplished only if these three systemic problems are addressed:

1. Lack of resources to fund effective policing. Unlike schools, which are funded at the state level, police departments are funded by local cities and counties.

As a result, there is a huge disparity between police staffing in rich and poor communities. The cities needing the most police support have the lowest available funding.

2. Lack of cooperation with the police. Living in a high crime area breeds a certain amount of fear and paranoia. This is made worse by many who fear deportation or fear retaliation by neighborhood thugs.

The police must build trust in poor communities and assure people that their family will not suffer adverse consequences for reporting crime.

3. Catch and release policies due to jail and prison overcrowding. Serious offenders are routinely released early from jail due to overcrowding, and felons are released back to poor neighborhoods with inadequate supervision and little rehabilitation.

There is no cheap solution to the decades-old cycle of violence. More jails need to be built. More police and parole officers need to be hired. More money needs to be spent on effective rehabilitation. State legislation (call it “No Criminals Left Behind”) may be needed to provide high crime cities with additional funding and accountability.

Mike McDermott

Restore respect for all life

The culture of violence that permeates our society is quite a complicated issue. It started in 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court went outside its authority and legislated that the rights of the most vulnerable and innocent people in our society were nonexistent.

Roe v. Wade has completely devalued life in this country and our young people absorb this more than we realize. If we do not find life at its very creation to be sacred and worthy of protection, then how do we explain to our children that every life is precious regardless of social standing, age, infirmity, or ethnicity?

We selfishly teach our children that “my life is more important than anyone else’s, and I must always come first.” This is also prevalent in pop culture, which we allow to thrive. Songs and lifestyles worshipping excess and violence seem to be those that our society permits to rule the airwaves, the TV shows, and the tabloid magazines.

Education is the key to stopping this disturbing direction our world has taken. Help children be aware that abortion and all it stands for is the taking of a precious life.

Fight Planned Parenthood with the truth that at least half of the people who enter an abortion clinic do not leave alive.

Make it acceptable to our youth to embrace kindness, politeness, and patience. If they understand that they do not always have to be first, then they won’t resort to using any means necessary to achieve such a desire.

Intervention programs in our most violent neighborhoods which promote this type of attitude probably would help. It would also help in our wealthiest neighborhoods because a “me first” attitude isn’t the domain of the most downtrodden of our society.

Melinda Miron

Stop violent entertainment

We breed a culture of violence with the entertainment we allow our children to view and the computer games we allow them to play. Violent movies, trash television, rap music, and video games that glorify murder and mayhem have created a generation that has no respect for life and property.

As long as we support the industries and advertisers that produce the poison we are going to suffer from the toxic effects.

We need to return to basic values. We need to teach by example. We must improve our own conduct before we can expect our young people to improve theirs.

What do we teach our children when we drive under the influence, cheat on our taxes, cut off the driver in the next lane, lie to the boss about why we missed work, or any of the other “petty” crimes we commit at one time or another?

We need to do two things – we must walk the walk, not just talk the talk – and we must stop supporting the purveyors of violence. When we speak to their bottom line, they will get the message.

If we really want to reverse the trend we must each start with ourselves – we must live by the golden rule.

Sharon Svitak

Restrict gun ownership

There is wisdom in the slogan one often hears, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

But after Virginia Tech and the six 2006 school shootings – Nickel Mines, PA (Oct. 2), Cazenovia, WI (Sept. 29), Bailey, CO (Sept. 27), Pittsburgh, PA (Sept 17), Hillsborough. NC (Aug. 30), and Essex, VT (Aug. 24) -- one is inclined to reflect more seriously on the experience-inspired and perhaps deeper wisdom of the dictum, “Guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people.”

Tragedies like Virginia Tech do not happen in the United Kingdom, Canada, or Japan, where gun ownership is restricted.

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

Increase support for family life

To reverse the trends of violence in our communities, I am afraid there are no easy answers for the near-term.

To fully take advantage of opportunities in our modern world, children need to receive an education. Without an education, children are lost in our society. To fully benefit from educational opportunities, children require healthy and happy homes with both parents present. Encouraging marriage needs to be a priority to achieve this.

Of course, parents need both the financial resources and the time to attend to this most important responsibility; therefore, corporate and political leaders must develop policies that support mothers and fathers in their parental duties.

From Pope John Paul II’s “Gospel of Life”: “In every child which is born and in every person who lives or dies, we see the image of God’s glory.”

Dan Tracy

Attention to family integrity

Urban homicides, school shootings including Cho Seung-Hui’s depraved rampage, and our post-mortem anguish should indeed drive findings of causes and cures.

The national murder rate — 1.2 victims per 100,000 population in 1900, maximizing at 10.7 in 1980 — is still at 6.1. And tragically, murderers and homicide victims are 6 to 7 times more frequent per 100,000 blacks than among whites (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs).

Daniel Moynihan, then Assistant Labor Secretary, warned in 1965 that crumbling black families were producing a multi-generational “tangle of pathology,” and recommended new family-strengthening initiatives. But HEW bureaucrats, enraged “feminists,” and various race racketeers condemned Moynihan’s report (www.city-journal.org/html/15_3_black_family.html).

So President Johnson punted, and we got what Moynihan predicted.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech, Columbine, and other school shootings didn’t involve black-on-black criminality. But coarsened, estranged youth of all races, with cold-blooded contempt for human life, shouldn’t surprise us when dissolute politicians and reckless judges remove Ten Commandments displays and punish animal abusers, but uphold barbaric abortionists who pickle or dismember tiny unborn human victims.

Renewed attention to family integrity and common sense is needed:

• Redeploy assets from the failed 43-year, $10 trillion “War on Poverty.” Rewarding indolence, illiteracy, and illegitimacy guarantees more of the same.

• Slash taxes to encourage stay-at-home parenting and personal charity.

• Overturn Roe v. Wade.

• Return biblical morality to schools; implement genuine school choice.

• Condemn gratuitous TV violence and pandering hip-hop artists, video-game makers, and porn producers.

• Permit dangerously psychotic individuals once again to be committed to treatment (www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009977).

• Oppose unconstitutional gun-control schemes. Historically, government-sponsored mass murders far exceed common-criminal killings.

Michael Arata

Pray the rosary

We Catholics can pray constantly for the violence to cease.

I did a rosary crusade as an active member of the leadership of Father Patrick Payton from County Mayo in Ireland. The great rosary crusader has now gone to glory, but he left a lasting impression on me. We visited homes twice. First to explain our rosary mission and later to return for the signed rosary pledge that the family would recite the rosary daily for world peace. Many signed and it made our work on foot worthwhile.

Let us all continue Father Payton’s great and important work and peace will come to this weary world.

Eleanor Dolan

Root cause is abortion
The first thing we need to do is to locate the cause. If we read the letter from a writer in the Reader’s Forum (Voice, April 23), we will find it: “Mother Teresa said, ‘The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left – for me to kill you and you to kill me?” Indeed, nothing is left.

Frederick Arend

Words can kill

During the 1940’s, there was a popular phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” In observing how drastically societal norms and expectations have changed, that phrase is no longer true; for words can and do allow humans to kill one another.

We have taken freedom of speech so far out of context that we now allow any and all manner of atrocities to occur. We have allowed the same situation to occur in our schools, under the pretext of separation of church and state.
In essence, what we have allowed is the removal of the Good News of Christ and replaced it with the bad words of a secular society.

When we, as a society, condone verbally abusive words in our music and mass media, we condone dehumanizing one another. Once we have psychically dehumanized another person, it becomes no problem to kill that person, as they have been psychically reduced to a non- human being.

Lena Regina Wilkerson


Model anti-violence leadership

In the April 23 Voice, Monica Clark, Voice editor, writes that a “culture of violence continues to grow,” and asks “why violence permeates our society.”
Short answer? Ms. Clark is wrong.

U.S. violent crime in every major category is at the lowest level in decades and has trended downward for generations (FBI stats). We cannot rationally seek to change societal behavior based upon tragic anomalies, e.g., Columbine, Virginia Tech, 9/11. Statistical aberrations should be treated as such.

Prior to suggesting ways to curb violence, consider the history of Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. Together they claim as members more than 70 percent of the world’s population. Tragically, each has an extremely violent history, fostered by its leaders as God’s will and which, in too many cases, continues today. Each of these religions piously declares: “We love you; if you convert, you will be saved. If not, God will condemn you.”

Shameful historical subtext: “However, if you refuse our peaceful, loving, and compassionate offer, we, as God’s shepherds, may do one of the following, for your good, of course: burn, kill, imprison, fine, torture, stone, or dismember you; take your children and property, demean your women, or enlist state power to brutalize you.”

Is God so easily fooled by conversion through torture?

One may ask “If my religion embraces violence, why shouldn’t I”? Should people believe a call to non-violence from hypocritical religious leaders who might well kill should their evangelizing be rebuffed?

Suggestion: Our Church should take this unremitting stance: “We will try to convince people of the truth we know. Should anyone reject our message, we will never again inflict violence on them because of that. We will challenge others, e.g., Islam, Hinduism, etc., to unqualifiedly condemn violence done in God’s name.”

That’s a world-class anti-violence leadership role.

Joe Moran

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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