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 September 8, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Protect marriage
The clear words of Jesus in the Gospel (Mark 10 and Matthew 19) define marriage as between one man and one woman. Proposition 8, the Protection of Marriage Act, will return California law to this traditional definition. The full text of the proposition can be found on ProtectMarriage.com.

Rarely does a ballot measure provide such a clear distinction between those who take the words of our Lord seriously, and those who would ignore or reject His words. Those Catholics who respect the teaching of the Church and the wisdom of countless generations of the faithful will overwhelmingly support Proposition 8.

Hopefully those Catholics who currently oppose the measure will, after prayer and reflection, reconsider their position in light of the teachings of Jesus and the guidance of His bride, the Church.

Catholics should take time to investigate the positions of all candidates running for office in November. Where do they stand on this transcendent issue? Candidates opposing Proposition 8 are demonstrating grave confusion over the nature and value of marriage and its critical contribution to society. On that basis, they do not deserve your vote.

We are called to be light to the world. Sometimes this involves taking a little heat. The opponents of traditional marriage are well-funded and will use their influence in the media to marginalize people of faith. They will fund biased polls, and will attempt to discourage and confuse voters. Catholics must stand together on this critical issue!

Mike McDermott

More than procreation

The Catholic Bishops’ statement against gay marriage (Voice, Aug. 4)) was illogical. I question their premise that procreation is the central purpose for marriage.

Paul wrote that marriage of persons is a union analogous to Christ’s union with the Church (Eph.5, 23). It is an effective state of grace. That state of grace does not depend upon the ability to procreate. Is a “barren” couple’s marriage devoid of purpose? Are adoptive parents less an expression of God’s love than their biological counterparts? Of course not. Procreation is neither necessary nor sufficient to create a marriage. I was married in the Church and my vows did not mention procreation once.

If we contemplate the many benefits of marriage other than biological procreation, then we will recognize that gays and lesbians benefit from the sacrament as much as straight folks do, while our entire society benefits from more people marrying.

Furthermore, gay marriage is pro-family. My daughter’s best friend has two mothers, whose marriage has outlasted those of Catholic couples I know. My closest friends include gay and lesbian couples whose commitment to each other is as thorough and enduring as any sacrament could be. Their children are just as stable, respectful, and grounded in family values as my children.

Despite the bishops’ arguments, my conscience will not let me repudiate the evidence that my gay and lesbian friends’ marriages — and children — have value equal to mine. I support gay marriage.

Celia McGuinness

Eternal happiness at risk

For those who wrote opposing the California bishops’ request that we vote against gay marriage in November, I would suggest they start thinking in eschatological terms. As a mother, I tell my kids there is only one real tragedy — to end up in hell. No matter how many crosses we are called to bear in this life, it will be worthwhile if we can make it through to heaven.

Catholics who want to see others living “happily” in gay “marriages” are not really considering the risk to the person’s soul. If we love someone, as a mother loves her children and as the Church (the best mother) loves us, why would we encourage anyone to live in any lifestyle that puts their eternal happiness at risk?

One reader chided the bishops because atheists and non-Catholics should be allowed to live in homosexual partnerships, but I would argue that the Church founded by Christ is mother to these people as well. Isn’t it a phony compassion (or elitist condescension) that would jeopardize the souls of atheists? The Church is supposed to be a beacon of light for all people, not just Catholics.

Saint Faustina writes in her Diary of Divine Mercy that during her visit to hell she noticed that most of the people there had not believed in the existence of hell. Have we also lost this belief?

Homosexual persons are dearly loved and cherished by God who calls them and longs to share eternity with them. They are precious people who deserve better than a superficial government response. In his book “Beyond Gay” (available from Amazon), David Morrison describes how the homosexual life led him into the Catholic Church. He encourages others to join him in his struggles and joys. It’s a great read.

Mary Arnold

Breaking natural law

Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron, and attempts to redefine marriage in civil law are futile because natural law is unchangeable. Experience in Canada and Europe shows that when same-sex marriage is legally declared equal to heterosexual marriage, homosexuality is declared normal and the concept of family is diluted.

This year is the 40th anniversary of “Humanae Vitae,” in which Pope Paul VI infallibly reinforced the 2000-year moral teaching of the Church against contraception. There is a connection between contraception and same-sex marriage in that both are sterile, contributing to what Pope John Paul II called a “demographic winter.” He was referring to the decreasing birth rates and population death spirals we are experiencing. This self-inflicted sterility is a portent of societal collapse.

Contraception breaks the natural law and harms married love and the universal good — principles the Church has always taught. We need our bishop and pastors to continually remind us of this, and to speak out against government programs that promote birth control and population reduction — the cause of our demographic suicide. Pope Paul VI foresaw the dangers of removing the openness to procreation from the marital act, just as it is absent in same-sex relations.

Pope John Paul believed that the 21st century would be the century of the family. The Catholic Church can be the beacon of light and hope in society, when all other institutions are failing. Californians will have the opportunity to lead the country when they vote on the Marriage Amendment in November. This is a momentous opportunity.

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

In defense of Latin Mass

It was perplexing to read Theresa Schexnayder’s letter (Forum, Aug. 4) on her recollections of the Latin Mass. She asks wherefore the Latin Mass. Perhaps the question ought to be “Why not?”

Or should we also begin to question the validity and need for the other 14 rites of the Catholic Church around the world besides the contemporary, post-conciliar Mass and the Tridentine Latin Mass? Yes, there are 14 other Catholic rites around the world besides the two at the center of the controversy. Shall we do away with them as well and forbid them, if we could?

Perhaps the writer should have recalled how in the early 20th century the pope began an active global movement to not only attend the Latin Mass but also to “pray the Mass,” to get actively involved in what was happening at the altar by following the liturgy in a Latin-English Missal until eventually the Latin would become familiar, outwardly participating at certain points in the service while always participating inwardly.

Converts before the Second Vatican Council do not appear to have had any trouble with this, as a sacred language for a sacred purpose is not unique to pre-conciliar Catholicism. The writer also muses rather ominously, “What will happen if every parish is required to have a Latin Mass now?” Simple: those who prefer the modern Mass will continue to attend it; those who seek the Tridentine Mass will finally have a chance to participate in it without having to travel hundreds of miles to get to it. It already has been done for decades in Anglican/Episcopalian churches, where they offer two types of services: the traditional and the contemporary.

Oscar Ramirez

Focus on the needy
It is with a sad heart I have read about the new cathedral, but I can’t look at it. I have seen too much pain and hunger in the media. I have received too many letters from missionaries begging for money. I wonder if only the very rich will be buried there? I do hope to hear about the needy being helped in a big way. Until then I have a heavy heart.

Nancy Powers
San Leandro

Cathedral created jobs
Recent letters to The Catholic Voice show some remain upset with the diocese’s decision of several years ago to proceed with the construction of the new cathedral. Many strong points have been made, arguing that the money could have been better spent in direct service to the poor.

That is one perspective, though given that the cathedral is nearing completion the dutiful exhortations now seemingly serve a limited purpose. Maybe these protestations remain a viable way to continue communicating to our diocesan leaders that we need to be more mindful of our Christian duty to love and serve.
In context, the money now spent on the Cathedral of Christ the Light has not been wantonly fiddled away but has provided jobs in our community, jobs that do provide for the well-being of families and more.

Moving forward, perhaps we need to look in the mirror and ask how we can be better examples of Christian charity. Do we spend too much on luxuries such as dining out, on vacations, or on pampered pets while far too many live in poverty and face injustices within our own diocese? Being mindful of our own faults and limitation will better prepare us to guide our bishop and our priests.

Dan P. Tracy

The victims of war
In recent years, our church has been beautifully renovated. It encourages you to sing out, to thoughtfully meditate, pray and give thanks. Yet, more and more I am uncomfortable sitting in the gorgeous building. Once the faithful are inside, the doors close and Mass begins, I have a sinking feeling the real world has not followed us in.

Nevertheless, the real world is there, present, hovering over us, crowding in among us. It will not go away, but we do not acknowledge its presence, especially when it comes to war. Why are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the deaths, destruction and terrible suffering they have caused never even mentioned? Are we afraid of offending some, of sounding too partisan or political, of frightening children?

Yet, these wars deeply affect each and every one of us present in that holy space, then and every day of our lives. We must do something to confront this consuming reality and begin to heal ourselves and our nation.

Why not have a monthly vigil with solemn reading of the names of those soldiers who died that month, remembering our wounded and also the nameless dead and destroyed Iraqis and Afghanis as we pray for an end to war?

Too controversial? How about just naming the dead during the prayers of the faithful?

Still too difficult? Would a tasteful sign listing the number of dead soldiers, the number who died of self-inflicted wounds, the number of Iraqis and Afghanis who have died and the years and months the wars have gone on, concluding by asking us to pray for peace be delicate enough?
Our faith, our humanity, our salvation requires that we do something.

Fred Zierten

Retired nuns offer thanks
On behalf of men and women religious throughout the United States, I extend heartfelt thanks to all who contributed to the annual appeal for the Retirement Fund for Religious in 2007. Your generous donation totaled $223,395.33, over four percent more than was contributed in 2006. We know this represents great sacrifice on the part of many in these difficult economic times, and we are deeply grateful.

Your generosity helps to provide care for more than 37,500 religious in the United States who are past age 70, including more than 4,900 who need skilled nursing care. These women and men pray daily for your intentions, asking God to bless you abundantly.

The funds from the 2007 appeal were distributed to religious institutes at the end of June, and I am confident that they will be received with profound gratitude for every donor. Our annual report details the distribution of funds, and is available on our website. We invite you to visit www.retiredreligious.org

Sister Janice Bader, CPPS
Washington, D.C.

Become rosary makers
The Catholic Voice has run some impressive articles about our Blessed Mother Mary and various devotions honoring her. I’d like to recommend to your readers a means of fostering the Marian mission.

The need for rosaries is increasing in the missions and in poor countries around the world, as well as here at home. There is a large need for more rosary makers.

One lady took it upon herself to enlist new rosary makers and direct them to Our Lady’s Rosary Makers in Louisville, Kentucky. She pursued this apostolate by placing announcements in parish church bulletins across the USA. The results were very good. She is no longer able to do this. Will Voice readers help to continue this good work?

OLRM has a Holy Rosary Apostolate Kit available free of charge. The kit explains how you can place free announcements in parish Sunday bulletins. The process is simple.

Your help is needed. If you can help, please contact the office of Our Lady’s Rosary Makers. Telephone: (502) 968-1434. E-mail: info@olrm.org Web: www.olrm.org Write: Our Lady’s Rosary Makers, P.O. Box 37080, Louisville, KY 40233-7080.

George Murad
San Francisco

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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