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 May 5, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Healing begins
As a member of the Voice of the Faithful, I was encouraged by Pope Benedict’s acknowledgment that the sexual abuse crisis was “very badly handled.” This acknowledgment provides a fresh starting point for us to begin healing and transforming our Church needs.

Pope Benedict can further this process by asking those bishops to resign who knowingly and secretly transferred sex abusers from parish to parish. At the same time, he could insist that all bishops treat survivors with the compassion and respect they deserve.

Additionally, we should begin addressing the underlying issues that caused the sexual abuse crisis in the first place: bishops who are not accountable to the people they serve, the culture of clerical secrecy, and the exclusion of lay people from meaningful participation in decision making.

Thank you, Pope Benedict, for giving the Catholic Church in America the opportunity to begin this healing and transformation process.

Mike Jarnagin

Amends due

I want to comment briefly on the headline that appeared above my letter (Forum, April 21) — “Amends have been made.”

Making amends is a process. Certainly our diocese has begun that process but in no way is it complete. In addition to the obvious — making amends to victims and their families — amends are also due to the majority of fine priests who were failed by their leaders, to the laity whose trust and financial support has been abused and to the peoples of the world. After all, Jesus promised the apostles that once they received the Holy Spirit, they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.

During this Easter season we look forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Hopefully the Spirit will teach us what it takes to make amends and give us the courage to continue reaching out to the wounded among us.

Marilynne Homitz

A joyful sound
Who says Catholics can’t sing?

A few years ago, when he retired, Father Richard Gagliardi came to reside at St. Joseph Parish in Pinole. One morning at daily Mass, instead of reciting the Our Father, Father Gagliardi began to sing it. A few, somewhat surprised, brave souls joined in. Gradually, over time, daily Mass goers became accustomed to singing what had become a familiar hymn.

It wasn’t long before he introduced the practice at Sunday Mass, and now the entire congregation joins in. The sound is beautiful, indeed. We may not be the Mormon Tabernacle choir, but we do “sing a joyful sound unto the Lord.”

Betty Smith

Overpriced organ
A cathedral organ for $2.5 million (Voice, April 21). What am I missing here? Parishioners are losing their homes, jobs, and health care. Seniors are barely making ends meet, schools and parish churches are closing or combining, etc. $2.5 million for an organ. Simply outrageous.

Think of the charitable acts this diocese could do for their parishioners in lieu of an overpriced organ. I would like to know the justification for this. The fact that it is a gift has no bearing on this matter. It seems that this new cathedral is becoming the Vatican of the West.

J. Eric Salmon

Revise altar placement

Yes, Mark Gotvald, I too am familiar with the Revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal regarding the placement of the tabernacle (Forum, April 21). But I repeat my concern (Forum, April 7).

The lack of respect and veneration that we now see too often in our Catholic churches today is in great part due the placement of the tabernacle on side altars. I recently saw a film produced by The Mercy Foundation which reported that now 70 percent of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence, that Christ is present in the form of bread and wine in our Eucharist!

And then I read: A January 2007 Gallup Poll reported that “fewer than 45 percent of Catholics who receive Holy Communion at least weekly acknowledged that they were receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine.”

And then: Catholics in the Diocese of Rochester, NY were polled in a November 1997 survey. The results showed that a mere 35 percent of the Catholics surveyed still believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. (From the Catholic newspaper “The Remnant’”of December 15, 1997.)

And then: According to a New York Times/CBS Poll during the summer of 2003, 70 percent of Catholics aged 18-44 believe that the Eucharist is merely a “symbol” of Jesus. (From the August 2003, Regina Coeli Report, Kansas City, Missouri.)

But neither Mark Gotvald nor any others have to read any additional papers to see for themselves. The next time you attend Mass, or walk into your local Catholic church watch for yourselves to witness the indifference, lack of respect and veneration shown toward the Blessed Sacrament too often by our fellow parishioners, and unfortunately, sometimes our priests.

And I am concerned? Yes! But I pray that you will not witness the same indifference that I and others now see.

Rich Peterson

A look back
I was a parishioner at Saint Francis de Sales Cathedral and with the deaf ministry at Sacred Heart Parish at the time of the 1989 earthquake which closed both my churches. With all the excitement now with upcoming dedication events for our new cathedral, I was reminded of a poem I wrote after the earthquake which The Voice published at the time. I thought I would submit it again as we prepare to move to the new cathedral.

      Displaced Prayers
The Earth shook
votive candles in a rack
rattled and tinkled
your loosened bells
tolled in their tower
by no human hand
bricks and candlesticks tumbled
dust filled the air,
and silence.

Locked within you now
the prayers I prayed
mingle with those
of prayers long dead
and the cries of babes
whose baptismal bath
rudely interrupted
their sweet infant dreams
and marriage vows
spoken from trembling lips
full of joy and hope and
stomachs full of butterflies
and requiems’ mournful sighs
and incense heady haze.

An orange band now girdles you
barring entrance
your fallen bricks
gathered here and there
into mounds
like stones piled
to mark a paupers grave
the wire fence
put up to keep all out
slumped over
burdened by the task
of holding your future at bay.

The inspector’s red paper
which once boldly proclaimed “CONDEMNED”
reluctantly flutters on your door
loosened by sun and wind and rain.

We gather now in the rectory
beneath your broken shadow
before an altar
no longer makeshift
transformed these months by use
and our anxious haunted need.

We gather now to celebrate the feast
share the bread
and the sorrow
of being so near you
of having lost you.

And like you we stand condemned
condemned to love you as you were
and will be no more

      Marylouise Lambert (© 1990)
      Via email

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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