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 May 21, 2007 VOL. 45, NO. 10Oakland, CA


What advice do you have for graduating seniors?

Send us your thoughts, in 150 words or less, to: voice@oakdiocese.org
Or mail to: Reader’s Forum, 3014 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland CA 94610.
Include your name, address and telephone number.
Deadline is Monday, May 26.

Letters from Readers

Gun ban won’t work

I would respond to letters from Tom McMahon and Father Lorenzoni (Forum, May 7). Banning all firearms simply won’t work. Each year, gangs and gangsters in the United States and their foreign allies illegally smuggle millions of pounds of drugs, millions of tons of counterfeit merchandise such as jeans, watches, luggage and just about anything else you can buy, and hundreds of thousands of people desperate to get to the land of freedom and opportunity.

If guns are made illegal, the gangs will simply import them. And the ones they bring in may be foreign military weapons that are far more dangerous and deadly than what can legally be bought here.

The infrastructure is already in place, and many weapons, especially full automatic ones, are already being smuggled in.

Also, those of us who are law abiding will no longer be free to defend ourselves. Gun confiscation does not work. Look at the true facts of what has happened in Australia and look at the physical violence in Great Britain. Defenseless people are made victims.

Look also at what happened in the Soviet Union which had one of the tightest gun control programs in the world. The day the government collapsed, the guns came out and gangsters and corruption took over.

Perhaps those of us who want to reduce violence in our young people would be better served to listen to the music they hear.

Violent rap and hip hop music seems to be at the core of much of the street problems we have. Of course, that is not a politically correct thing to say: what about freedom of expression? On the other hand, what about the right to bear arms in the defense of one’s self and family?

Listen, really listen to the music and then decide where the problem is. You may find, as I did, that it is in Hollywood and other places where a lot of people make a lot of money promoting violence in music.

Dave Day

Use guns as a deterrent

Why do so many people insist on blaming inanimate objects for crime? Example: Tom McMahon (Forum, May 7). Criminals, regardless of laws, will always have access to weapons; that is a “given.” The only question is: Will potential victims have effective means to defend themselves? Criminals prefer unarmed victims.

An article from the Jan.14, 1989, West County Times reports that 85-year-old Edna Lamont beat her sister to death with a ... MOP!

Shall we end access to mops? About 20 years ago, a woman deliberately drove her car down a Reno sidewalk and killed several people. Mops, autos, and guns are only neutral tools.

Why are schools targeted? Schools (Virginia Tech included) have advertised that people on campus are helpless to defend themselves. How different things would have been if just one armed teacher was in that building. Probably two dozen lives would have been saved.

Australia legislated a gun ban; their crime rate has been steadily climbing since. Kennesaw, GA, passed an (unenforced) ordinance that all households have firearms; their crime rate fell into the basement and has stayed there, in spite of a doubling of population.

The effective answer is obvious: arm a few staff members, advertise that fact, and it is very doubtful that they will ever have to be used to defend students.

Arthur W. Peterson

Tell inspiring stories

What makes a good homily? Stories! Real stories of people of courage and faith, of how people have lived and walked and struggled with the Gospels. Stories of inspiration.

Phyllis Stevens
Via email

Preach on the real issues

In the March 2007 issue of the “Homiletic & Pastoral Review,” a reader from Illinois wrote, “I read it [the Review] to get the catechesis that I receive nowhere else….. I’ve attended my present church for over 20 years now…. In those 20 years, I cannot recall a single homily that dealt with marriage, divorce, abortion, annulments, chastity, contraception, natural family planning, cohabitation, penance, sin, hell, purgatory, or confession. Not one.

I’ve been told about love until I can’t stand it.”

Was he on point about good homilies? Was he saying the Church has the answers to everything but the solutions to nothing? Is that the reason millions of Catholics have switched to Evangelical and Pentecostal churches?

Horatio F. Ozorio

From talk to action

The well-written invitational article announcing the First Annual Northern California Lay Convocation (Voice, May 7) caught my attention, piqued my interest, and resonated with me by bringing back good memories about the new spirit-wind that noticeably blew during the working sessions of the Second Vatican Council. Since then this wind has largely died down for me.

After letting the article sink in a little and reading it again, the only presentation that seemed interesting to me was Father Brian Joyce’s talk titled “Vatican II: Shared Baptism/Shared Leadership,” primarily because I happen to know Father Joyce very well.

The view of the hierarchical Church leadership is well expressed by Archbishop Niederauer who said: “It is good for me to have an opportunity to be able to hear what Catholic laity have to say.”

Isn’t it terribly sad when you hear important leaders of our Church lament that they otherwise never, or apparently rarely, have an opportunity to hear from the laity, i.e. all of us who are the Church and are looking for compassionate shepherds.

Rob Grant of the convocation’s steering committee speaks of the committee’s aim to provide a venue for all Catholics, lay and clerical, to talk with one another; we do that already.

However, organizational Goal 2 of the Convocation states: “To present the convocation as a living assembly committed to working in a cooperative role with existing Church leadership.” How about working toward a sharing of these roles?

Werner Koellner
Walnut Creek

Focus on feeder schools

My strongest identification with the Catholic Church comes from high quality Catholic grammar and high schools. The lack of this opportunity during one’s most formative years may be a major reason so many youth drift away from active participation in the Church.

Hence, it’s most unfortunate that Pope John Paul II High School is being indefinitely delayed. Perhaps the diocese can take advantage of the delay by augmenting the feeder schools necessary for long term success.

Currently there is only one Catholic grammar school (in Livermore) remotely near the proposed high school site and only one other (in Dublin) closer to it than the cities of Tracy and Mountain House.

For decades the diocese has chosen not to add grammar schools in eastern Alameda County because parishioners were reportedly happy with the public school systems augmented by CCD-type parish programs.

If that is still true, why would those same parishioners suddenly want to switch their children to a remote Catholic high school after the 8th grade (arguably the most important eight years of one’s education and moral development)? Such a switch would entail large tuition payments, pulling children away from classmates and familiar school systems, and the twice daily challenge of one of the most congested freeways in the Bay Area.

Foresight would have suggested buying land much closer to Dublin, Pleasanton, and San Ramon decades ago when it was cheaper and more available. Given the generous donation of current land, in spite of its remoteness, Pope John Paul II High School should obviously be built as soon as possible.

However, it may be time to take a fresh look at the need for additional Catholic feeder schools within reasonable commute – or perhaps share construction costs with the Diocese of Stockton.

Bob Norris

Informed by conscience

Mark Gotvald is correct that neither the Republican nor the Democratic parties can be called pro-life (Forum, May 7). But we must ask ourselves if it is the role of politics to legislate morality.

I believe abortion is a moral question better addressed by religion. Civic government is limited in its power to deal with what is most important to us. For the big questions I feel we must turn to God.

Compared to God’s law, human laws are flawed. We might take the latest concern over undocumented workers as an example.

Since the U.S. took Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah from Mexico, the U.S. has been trying to come up with laws to speak to the Spanish-speaking peoples that originally settled this great land.

I feel that people move to the U.S. for individual reasons regardless of immigration laws of the day. In the 1980s the U.S. denied asylum to 95 percent of applicants from my homeland of El Salvador who were fleeing the U. S.-financed civil war there. This is one of many times I’ve seen injustice coming from Washington, D.C.
So when I find disagreement between my adopted country and my Church, I usually listen to my Church. I am so deeply grateful to have a conscience that was formed by Catholic teachings.

Carmen Hartono

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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