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Catholic Voice

 October 20, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Latin Mass nourishes faith

I found Stephen Brainerd’s letter of Oct. 6 (‘Latin doesn’t nourish’) very puzzling. He makes it sound like someone is holding a gun to his head, forcing him to attend a Latin Mass against his will. I can understand that Latin may not appeal to him. But why is he insisting that millions of Catholics worldwide not have access to the Latin Mass? Is it so hard to believe that for some of us the Latin Mass brings us closer to God?

Millions of people, both Catholic and non-Catholic, find Gregorian chants to be a source of spiritual inspiration. Sadly, they have almost completely disappeared from the modern Catholic Mass.

Maybe he doesn’t mind the countless liturgical abuses the rest of us are forced to watch in so many parishes (e.g. the prayers of the Mass being changed in violation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal). But for some of us, attending a Latin Mass is the only time we get to attend a Mass that is celebrated faithfully according to the rubrics of the Church (I’m sure there must be some English language Masses out there that are celebrated according to the rubrics, but they can be very hard to find).

His objection to the Latin Mass is even more odd due to the fact that neither one of his home parishes in Livermore, St. Charles Borromeo and St. Michael, offer a Latin Mass (according to their websites). In fact, I know of only two parishes that offer a Latin Mass in the entire Diocese of Oakland (Immaculate Heart of Mary in Brentwood and St. Margaret Mary in Oakland). He can hardly claim that his choice of Masses has been limited in any meaningful way.

My parish offers several Spanish Masses. According to Mr. Brainerd’s logic, it should immediately desist from offering Spanish Masses because I don’t understand Spanish. But perhaps a better application of the Church’s universality is to offer the Mass in whatever language allows people to feel closer to God.

As I said before, no one is forcing Mr. Brainerd to attend a Latin Mass nor are they preventing him from attending the Mass of his choice. I hope that he would grant the rest of his fellow Catholics the same courtesy.

Robert Burke
Antioch


Proposition 9 about vengeance


I am disappointed with the California Catholic Conference of Bishops’ recent decision to take no position on Proposition 9: Victims’ Rights and Protection Act of 2008.

My disappointment stems from their failure to act on their own statement that when “an initiative qualifies for the ballot, the bishops consider the moral significance of the issue, the actual ballot language, and the political viability of the campaign to pass it.”

In opposing Proposition 6, the bishops stated, “we seek justice, not vengeance”; Proposition 9 is also focused on vengeance.

I am not excusing the horrendous and tragic crimes that people who are incarcerated, including myself, have chosen to commit. However, Proposition 9, if passed, will remove opportunities for rehabilitation (rehabilitation is not a part of the state or federal Constitution) that are proven to reduce recidivism.

Proposition 9, if passed, will exacerbate the issues of overcrowding and unconstitutional medical care. And, the voters of California will have to pay billions in order to meet the requirements of this proposition. Even the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has “grave concerns” about this initiative and spoke in opposition to it in front of the State Assembly and Senate Public Safety Committees. California cannot afford this proposition!

Unfortunately, many of us who are incarcerated and our loved ones will be severely impacted by this retributive initiative, if it passes. I have been fortunate to have had four California bishops and even the trial judge write in support of my parole for many years. I have now served 22 years on a 15 years-to-life sentence.

The men I live with and I feel abandoned by the bishops’ unwillingness to take a position on Proposition 9 after previously admitting that the parole process “is unfair and cruel and unusual punishment.” Don’t they think that extending parole denials from the current one-to-three years to three-to-15 years will create even more hopelessness for prisoners and their loved ones? Proposition 9 is about vengeance, not justice.

If we want to solve the problems in our society, everyone should pursue restorative justice that makes the needs of victims and survivors the priority while also pursuing the greatest possible restoration for everyone involved. We also need to pursue more avenues to prevent crime rather than just dealing with crime after it has occurred.

We need to support victims and survivors, but not at the expense of victimizing the loved ones of offenders and offenders who have been rehabilitated.

Leonard Rubio
San Quentin State Prison


What does Jesus want?


I am so thankful to John Kiefer of Lafayette (Forum, Oct. 6) for putting into words what I really wanted to say in my earlier letter to The Voice regarding the new, huge cathedral. Is it really going to do what Jesus wants us to do: feed the hungry, clothe the needy, give shelter, take care of the sick?

Finding out the cost of the building ($190 million) really blew my mind. A few of those bucks could have helped the schools, thereby helping families continue their children’s Catholic education; instead tuition keeps escalating. A few of those bucks could have helped shelters for those who really need help and assist soup kitchens so people can continue to have good, hot meals. A few of those bucks could help those poverty-stricken countries that The Voice often has articles on.

And now, people are being asked for special donations to help with the cathedral expenses. I just don’t understand.

Thank you, Mr. Kiefer. I believe Jesus gave you a special blessing when you brought Him into the conversation.

R. P. Cordova
Alameda


Works of mercy abound


I invite the friend of Jesus (Forum, Oct 6) and those who decry the cathedral’s failure to carry out the works of mercy to serve at St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room just a few blocks up the street from the cathedral.

These same people seem to have no faith in the parishioners of the cathedral, home to former members of St. Mary, St. Francis de Sales and St Andrew-Joseph parishes. They have the same mandate any parishioner has to practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

And please do not belittle the tremendous service of the Knights of Malta with the free health care clinic, a part of the cathedral complex.

Sister Ann Ronin, O.P.
Oakland


A spiritual awakening


On Oct. 3, I saw the story on the morning news about Pope Benedict XVI’s “Bible reading marathon” as the news termed it. The pope had called for the entire Bible to be read on Italian television, cover to cover, for six days and nights, beginning on Oct. 5 and ending on Oct. 11. I was so excited to see this story I could hardly contain myself! (See related story.)

On the morning of Oct. 5, I saw the Bible reading from Rome on RAI International (the Italian television network), on TG1’s live news. The pope began the reading with Genesis 1. After the pope, the others invited to read were Rome’s chief rabbi, academics, students, politicians, sports stars, soldiers and factory workers. I saw actor Roberto Benigni reading the story of Cain and Abel.

To this I say, Praise the Lord! Reading the Bible is such an indescribable spiritual awakening! The Bible is filled with lessons for all of us. It is as relevant today as it was when God first started to speak His word. It is filled with stories of God’s love and faithfulness that endure forever and the promises He keeps.

If we are to develop an intimacy with God and become holy, then the guidelines are clearly in the Bible. There is so much more in this book than what we hear at Mass on Sundays. It is so encouraging to see the pope encouraging Catholics to read the entire Bible. Halleluiah!

Ramona Krausnick
Dublin


A history of free care


In the interests of historical accuracy and to give some recognition where it is due, I must comment on the article, “Free health clinic to open next month at cathedral center” (Voice, Sept. 22).

A free health care clinic has been offering service for years in Oakland since the closing of several public health clinics in Alameda County in the mid-nineties. Local public health nurses (Rose Luey, Janet Waring, Professor Joan Bard to mention a few), aware of the deprivation suffered by low wage earners and uninsured people, started providing basic services free of charge to the most needy and vulnerable populations.

They worked voluntarily during their lunch break, initially out of the lobby of the Sutter Hotel in downtown Oakland, and later through the good graces of Sister William Eileen at St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room near the old St. Francis de Sales Cathedral.

Janet Waring continues to give many hours of her time to help set up the clinic anew at the cathedral site. It is good that the cathedral is providing space for the continuation and expansion of this service, though one wonders if the new pristine location is as accessible to the street poor as before.

Kathy Ahoy, R.N. PHN
Oakland


Don’t mix religion and politics


My parents, in 1933, were the first couple married by our diocesan bishop, James E. Kearney. I was named for and baptized by that bishop. He, and his successor, Duane G. Hunt, remained friends of our family all their lives. I am the product of Catholic grade school, high school and college and have remained a practicing Catholic all my life. So what?

Just this. My 74-year-old Catholic conscience impels me to speak out against the arrogant and dangerous intrusion by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops into U.S. politics. They euphemistically call this violation of the separation of Church and State, “Faithful Citizenship.” They say they don’t want to tell us who to vote for, but they do want to guide us in how to vote with a Catholic conscience.

Catholic bishops have no deputation to guide us in how to vote. Their sole non-sacramental mission is to preach and practice the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How U.S. citizens vote is not within their province. How Catholic politicians vote is also outside the bishops’ realm.

Our Catholic-American ancestors fought hard to preserve the right to worship in our nation. The political actions of latter day bishops are undermining that right and thus threaten us with the loss of both the separation of Church and State necessary to preserve that right, and of our tax-exempt status.

It is my prayerful belief that the bishops should cease and desist mixing religion and politics. They should imitate the forbearance of Jesus in matters of state. The bishops should form and vote their own consciences and trust the rest of the faithful do the same.

James K. Brennan
Pleasant Hill


Better accessibility needed


I saw the pictures of the new cathedral in the online version of The Voice. I must be missing something because the view of the inside of the cathedral looks like a big room with levelor blinds and walls of cement. “Stark”, “utilitarian”, “antiseptic” come to mind as appropriate adjectives for the worship space.

If it wasn’t for a few bishops in their regalia there would be no color. How dreadful. It certainly does not live up to the diocesan hype of the past 10 years. And then we had the “opportunity” to contribute to this thing via a second collection? I guess Wall Street is not the only thing the common people are asked to bailout. And a $2.5 million organ? Sic transit Gloria mundi.

I will not be attending any liturgy there. I am partially disabled and must use a walker. The nearest public transportation is a mere two city blocks away from the edifice — not far if you have good knees. But if you must use a walker two blocks are beyond endurance. Well, that certainly eliminates the lame from attending.

Frank Dagostino
Hayward


A life saved


In my search for a diocesan celebration of Respect Life Sunday, I have been dismayed to not find any mention of it in my parish or apparently my diocese.

My adopted daughter’s life was saved by the bishops’ remarks played at Mass on Respect Life Sunday 22 years ago in another diocese. Her non-Catholic birth mother decided to attend church that Sunday (the only time other than my wedding 3 years before). She was planning on having an abortion and her own mother was glad that had been decided. After the bishop’s remarks and the parish’s willingness to support this standard Catholic “holiday,” the birth mother decided to carry her pregnancy to full term.

This baby was later, and very unexpectedly, adopted by my husband and me. I am confident that my daughter would have been killed if it weren’t for Respect Life Sunday. How many more life-saving stories can be attributed to Respect Life Sunday

Susan Wooten
Pleasanton


Cathedral evokes memory


This is the story of a mother’s memories and why she feels God smiled on the site of the new Christ the Light Cathedral for different reasons many years ago.

It was a beautiful autumn day on Oct. 19, 1951. I was driving home to San Leandro from a medical appointment with my two young sons, ages 4 years and 13 months. My third child was expected in November. However, nature changed those plans that day.

I knew from past experience that the time was fast approaching for an unexpected delivery. I parked the car in front of an automobile agency that is now the site of the new cathedral. Upon rushing into the entrance I was met by the kindest people who appraised the situation and assured me they would call an ambulance, my husband in San Francisco and keep my little sons until care arrived. The result was a very happy ending for everyone.

The nurses at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley were most surprised to see me so early for my November appointment. Within the next hour, a sweet little girl (Julienne Marie) arrived to join her brothers for a lifetime of love and friendship.

I am 90 years old. My wish is that all who visit this cathedral will leave with memories which will be a joy to recall somewhere, some time many years from now.

Fayette Charonnat
Castro Valley


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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