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November 19, 2007   •   VOL. 45, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

What about social justice?
I read with great interest your article (Voice, Oct. 8) about the new pastoral plan that is taking shape in the Oakland Diocese. As I reviewed the five areas that will be the focus of this effort, I found myself wondering where the social justice/outreach to the poor and homeless part of the mission was. I did find one sentence under Stewardship that addressed what should be major concerns for any followers of Christ.

The thrust of this pastoral plan seems to be focused inward—taking care of the sacramental needs, pastoral leadership, and youth with a very minor amount of energy centered on helping the economically and socially disenfranchised, the focus of so much of Jesus’ teaching and healing.

I hope that this is not the case and that I have missed something. Or is the task force missing something?

Tom Lehmkuhl
La Selva Beach

A question of justice
How is it that Franciscan Father Louis Vitale and Jesuit Father Stephen Kelly (Voice, Sept. 17) are currently serving five months in Florence Correctional Center for denouncing torture while the vast majority of the perpetrators of torture at Abu Ghraib served sentences ranging from six months to a year?

How is it that military leadership — Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, Head of intelligence for the U.S. command in Baghdad; Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski; Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade; and Lt. Col. Jordan — who were complicit in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse were quietly relieved of their commands and reprimanded while men of conscience like the two priests are incarcerated in a federal prison?

Susan Hall

A national disgrace
The remarks of General Antonio Taguba (Voice, Oct. 22) about the infamous Abu Ghraib affair indicate that that the story is even more appalling than the country was led to believe, which scarcely seems possible. The abuse by American soldiers and contractors was more depraved and the cover-up and lies by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his team were more widespread than we were told.

It is an absolute disgrace that Taguba, who by all accounts was a highly respected officer, was fired for doing his duty and speaking truth to power. Perhaps most shocking of all is that the mainstream media has given literally no coverage to General Taguba’s remarks nor to his firing. This whole episode has been a black stain on our country

Philip Barton

Appropriate precaution
In this day and age when many businesses and agencies require finger printing and background checks to protect themselves, their customers, and their money, it doesn’t seem inappropriate that the Church should take the same precautions to protect our children.

Unless one has something to hide, fingerprinting is a painless experience. And having one’s prints in a data bank can result in one being identified in the event of a catastrophe.

I am in my 60s. I was fingerprinted for my first job in 1963. And I have been fingerprinted a number of times since, including as a volunteer. In 45 years I have never felt like a criminal because my prints are on file.

Sharon Svitak

Include family planning
In the poorest countries of the world, there is no shortage of babies. There, women seek help in controlling their fertility. Yet the United States has apparently barred for the fifth year in a row contributions to the U.N. Population Fund for its work in family planning. Reportedly, we are now $196 million in arrears to the fund.

Also, my understanding is that the Vatican, with its seat in the United Nations, consistently opposes family-planning-related efforts and votes.

So, when The Voice runs a story (Nov. 5) telling us that “Global poverty can end if rich countries make good on their promises to help poor ones...”, I look in vain for any mention of family planning in the article. I think its omission sticks out like a sore thumb.

And I question the sincerity of efforts to reduce global poverty without the inclusion of family-planning education and assistance.

George Fulmore

(Editor’s note: The United Nations Population Fund supports methods of family planning that are not approved by the Catholic Church.)

Veiled speech
Jim Crowley opines “that homosexuals suffer higher rates of depression, drug and alcohol addictions, and suicide than the general public” (Forum, Oct. 8).
If that is the case, a lifetime of being faced with the kind of thinly-veiled hate speech which Mr. Crowley and his ilk continue to spew forth, and which The Voice editors continue to give a platform, surely can’t help the situation. His latest diatribe seems less a defense of traditional ideals of marriage than yet another opportunity to publish a homophobic rant.

I have difficulty correlating Crowley’s gay-bashing, or The Voice’s hosting of same, with the notions of “Love one another” and the dignity of all people. It is certainly beneath the dignity of the Catholic Voice and the Diocese of Oakland to continue to give it a platform.

Greg Bullough
Moreau Catholic High School ‘77
Doylestown, PA

Fraudulent email

Catholic Charities USA has recently learned of several types of fraudulent email messages that have misappropriated the name of Catholic Charities USA and its affiliates to extract money or personal information from unsuspecting recipients.

Catholic Charities USA and its affiliated entities do not and will not distribute unsolicited email requesting this type of information.

Please be advised that Catholic Charities USA is no way associated with or responsible for these messages.

Shelley Borysiewicz
Manager of Media Relations
Catholic Charities USA

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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