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September 3, 2007 • VOL. 45, NO. 15 • Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Violence engenders violence

I noted previously that turning our country into an armed camp was inappropriate for both a civilized and Christian nation (Forum, July 2). Nina D’Souza says that it’s justified for law-abiding citizens to arm themselves in case a tyrannical government is foisted upon us or we’re faced with a gun-wielding criminal (Forum, Aug. 6).

I don’t know how to respond to the tyrannical government problem, if only because I can’t figure out what the citizen is going to do with the gun. Shoot a soldier who knocks on the door? Well, okay, one down. Next time the citizen will be faced with a squad carrying machine guns. Violence engenders even stronger violence.

Regarding the gun-wielding criminal, I can understand D’Souza’s concern. If I were in that situation, I’d like to have a gun and a sprinkler system that sprayed tear gas throughout the house; I’d be sure to put on my gas mask.

Meanwhile, I’d have to make sure my kids never got near the gun, that I had an understanding with my law-abiding gun-wielding neighbor that no matter how heatedly we might disagree on an issue, neither one of us would pull the trigger. I’d have a similar understanding with many other neighbors, just in case.

Silly? No. Serious.

Focusing on weapons as a way to solve problems leads to a siege mentality and creates even more problems. What I’ve learned in my very long life is that Christianity is grounded in common sense. In the case of gun control, guess how Christ would vote. (And don’t tell me about Christ’s bringing the sword; I don’t believe it.)

Tom Mader
Walnut Creek

More about St. Paul

The article in the July 2 issue by Brother John M. Samaha on letter writing in the time of St. Paul was very interesting (although the ascription of 2 Peter to the apostle Peter was a bit hasty; that letter is generally considered pseudonymous. See, for example, the introduction to 2 Peter by Jerome H. Neyrey, S.J., in ‘The New Jerome Biblical Commentary’, 1990.)

Readers who would like to know more about the world in which Paul lived and wrote and the influence of his own background on his writings might like “The First Urban Christians: the Social World of the Apostle Paul,” by Wayne S. Meeks (2nd ed., 2003), and Alan F. Segal’s “Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee” (1990).

Mary K. LeBlanc

Our sacred language

The Jews have Hebrew. The Muslims have Arabic. The Hindus have Sanskrit. And so it goes with the sacred languages. Until not too long ago, we Catholics universally had Latin as our sacred language.
It was convenient; you could travel all over this global village and hear the Mass and follow it and participate in it without depending on the language of your host country.

It was beautiful; the structuring of its sentences, the positioning of its words, the sound of its syllables and consonants, its totality lent itself sublimely to the majesty and reverence of the classical Mass.
It was sacred. It was the language used in a sacred place at a sacred time for a sacred purpose and it had nothing to do with the language spoken outside of that sacred space and time.

It was timeless. Fixed forever in its form, it was like a gorgeous marble frieze that the changing times could not alter. Its words meant the same century after century, their meaning not impacted by the never-ceasing permutations of the “living tongues.”

It was distinctive; it stated unequivocally that we were Roman Catholics. It identified us and distinguished us, not with arrogance but with due pride in our particular heritage and tradition.
It was the language we reserved for God. As the Mass was conceived principally as a sacrifice being offered up to God, it was the language we reserved for that ultimate sacrifice at the altar, while our communitarian needs could be served by the vernacular in many of our devotions, the Holy Rosary, and our private and personal prayers.

That is what Latin was and that is what Latin can be and has never stopped being.

Oscar M. Ramirez

Latin unifies

It seems odd somehow that the “catholic” Church has completely separate Hispanic ministries, Vietnamese ministries, and everyone-else ministries. In a town where everyone speaks English, it might be perfectly reasonable to have the Mass in English. In a town where people speak a number of different languages, celebrating Mass in all those different languages can be a good thing in some ways, but it also tends to reinforce the divisions in the community.

Here in the multi-cultural Bay Area, I think the Latin Mass could be a wonderfully unifying experience. Because Latin is a foreign language for everyone, it is one thing we can easily share, even if most of our studying, working, and socializing have to be separate.

I would like to be able to pray along with my neighbors, even if I cannot speak with them. I would like to know the other members of my parish at least by sight! Our parish doesn’t feel like much of a community when all of its events are segregated. Maybe we can come together through the Latin Mass.

Nancy LeBlanc

Tridentine Mass

I found the article on the greater use of the Tridentine Mass (Voice, Aug. 6) to be very informative and was pleased to see mention of St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland as the place where it can be found today in the Oakland Diocese.

This indult came about through the generosity of Bishop John Cummins, who granted his permission to use the 1962 Roman Missal at St. Margaret Mary’s Church. This Mass (the pre-Vatican II Mass) was first said in our parish by our former pastor, Father Vladimir Kozina on Sept. 10, 1989, and has continued to this day.

On Sunday, Sept. 16, there will be a celebration of the 18th anniversary of this Mass. Thanks will also be given for the generous act of Pope Benedict in allowing a greater use of this Mass. All are cordially invited to attend.

Today the community is served by Father Michael Wiener, Episcopal Delegate for the Latin Rite of 1962 in the Oakland Diocese and a priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. For those who are interested, a High Mass with Gregorian chant is offered every Sunday at 12:30 p.m., as well as at 6 p.m. Low Mass Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Arden Glass
Castro Valley

A brilliant idea

Finally, a voice of reason on the only way to save our Catholic schools. The new superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Oakland, Richard Kruska, is a radical and controversial thinker to suggest a one percent increase in parish contributions could eliminate all tuition. A brilliant idea that must be adopted.

In the early 1990s, my sons were in Catholic elementary school, and our pastor told us that the diocese wanted all Catholic schools to be self-supporting. I was appalled. We had two professional incomes and it was still a struggle for us to make the monthly tuition payment. How could a family with more kids and/or less income ever make that financial commitment? Now we know they couldn’t, and a whole generation of kids missed out on a Catholic education.

Then we learn that the new Cathedral of Christ the Light will not be fully covered by private donations and the pedophile crisis has left the diocese with big settlements and huge increases in professional liability premiums, all at the expense of our schools, which have been left out in the cold, and some have not survived.

I am ever hopeful that it you wait long enough someone will emerge and do the right thing. Thank you, Richard Kruska, for your courageous idea.

Kate Dougherty

Must Church be Catholic?

Vatican documents asserting the Catholic Church, exclusively, is necessary for salvation hardly reflect a charitable spirit of ecumenism.

Neither does the assertion the Catholic Church is not only “the one true Church” but, in fact, the only entity legitimately entitled to call itself “church” at all, arguing the concept of “church” is the exclusive province of Catholicism.

Thus is launched another round of theological debating reminiscent of “how many angels can stand on the head of a pin?” and “must one be first a Jew and then circumcised in order to become a ‘true’ Christian?”

Issues raised by the current document include: Is Church created by God, by the assembled faithful here on earth, or by both jointly? Is the Church of Christ synonymous with the Church of God, or is it merely one component? Must a group really profess to believe in the pope to be a real “church”? Must a group really profess to believe in transubstantiation to be a real “church”? Must such groups actually believe what they profess to believe, or can they share a healthy skepticism about those things with myriad practicing Catholics? How do we suppose God feels about nit-picking of this sort?

The historical results of the first two debates were “14” and “no” respectively. The jury may still be out on some of the other issues.

Tom Billings

(Editor’s note: The full text of the Vatican document is found at: www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html)

Not exclusively male

St. Augustine Parish in Oakland has a remarkable history and deserves congratulations. However, a part of the story was left out of The Voice Aug. 6 article on the parish’s centenary.

The person who saw to the “strengthening of the ministries of liturgy, stewardship and outreach” for the last six years was Karen Miller, the pastoral associate.

There are 18 such professional persons working in parishes in this diocese as well as many faith formation directors, liturgists, youth ministers, etc. The majority are women.

To omit Karen Miller’s contributions to the parish in the article repeats the often-made unjust act of assuming that leadership in the Church is only male. Hats off to the professional lay women and lay men who keep the Church going as priests are shuffled from parish to parish.

Carolyn Krantz
Pastoral associate
St. Peter Martyr Parish









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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