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Catholic Voice

 November 17, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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A taste of terror

The article in the Nov. 3 Catholic Voice for many reasons was of great interest to me since I also had a taste of Soviet terror, World War II, etc. The fate of Lithuania is close to my heart, and I was surprised that the article did not include a “resettlement” issue, which is an ongoing problem in present day Lithuania.

If I am not mistaken, there are almost 30 percent of minorities from the former Soviet Union living in Lithuania now. It is a great frustration to a new state of Lithuania and a problem for many years to come after years of Soviet domination in Eastern Europe.

When the film “Red Terror on the Amber Coast” will be shown, please keep your readers informed.

With great admiration for Father David O’Rourke for his tireless work in Lithuania.

Irene Stachura
Via email

Editor’s note: DVD copies of “Red Terror on the Amber Coast” are available from Father David O’Rourke for $20 each. Send orders, with checks payable to Father David O’Rourke, to Father David O’Rourke, Our Lady of Mercy Parish, 301 West Richmond Ave., Point Richmond, CA 94801-3862. A version of the documentary with Lithuanian subtitles written by former Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis is also available. For further information contact Father O’Rourke at: dkorop@sbcglobal.net; 510-232-1843.

Glaring contradiction

I’m wondering if you recognized a contradiction in the Nov. 3 issue that on the front page recalled the 1986 pastoral, “Economic Justice for All.” Paragraph 104 of that document states, “The Church fully supports the right of workers to form unions or other associations to secure their rights to fair wages and working conditions . . . we firmly oppose organized efforts, such as those regrettably now seen in this country, to break existing unions and prevent workers from organizing.” Then on page 4 in a News in Brief article it’s reported that the Vatican upheld Bishop Martino’s refusal to recognize the diocesan teachers’ union in the Scranton, Pennsylvania diocese.

I guess it’s another example of “do as I say, not as I do.” I agree that the pastoral should be revisited — by the leadership of the Church.

Mark Gotvald
Pleasant Hill

Abortion and socialism

During the pre-election season, Catholics heard people, some priests, justify voting for the most pro-abortion candidate for president in history as follows: there will be fewer abortions because the government handouts to the poor will allow them to keep their babies. Although there is no evidence to substantiate this, it influenced the Catholic vote.

Pope John Paul II said, “A nation that kills its unborn is a nation without hope.” How Catholics can equate hope with “change,” (the candidate’s slogan) in this context, is hard to understand.

A change in the way government and financial institutions operate is definitely needed. Greed has run rampant and been at the root of the depression into which we are headed. But greed has permeated even the poor.

The nationalization of banking and industry is underway and presages a move toward the socialistic state, which enslaves even more than burdensome taxation.

Chesterton and Belloc envisioned a “distributist” society, based on the family, small business and local economy and government. We are headed in the opposite direction.

This does not bode well for the protection of defenseless human life. Socialistic societies, historically, have had the highest abortion rates.

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

Cathedral comparisons

Rather than criticize or commend the Cathedral of Christ the Light, I offer my cathedral comparisons.

Entering St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, you are awed by its majesty and beauty.

Entering St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, you are overwhelmed by its size, its grandeur and the power of its art.

Entering the Cathedral of Christ the Light, you are spiritually refreshed by its ethereal grace.

Thank you, Bishop Cummins and Bishop Vigneron.

William F. Gahan

Cathedral meets need

Over the past months I have heard much commentary about the new cathedral, ranging from how it is an asset to the community to how the money would have been better spent elsewhere. I have heard its appearance extensively both criticized and praised.

Here is my two cents: The availability of weekday Mass and the Blessed Sacrament two blocks from my office is a gift. As such, the cathedral meets my needs, and I am delighted to have it here.

V. Graham

Focus on the positive

I have read with interest many letters in the Voice about the new cathedral. I live in Oakland and have driven by the site weekly to watch it evolve from a parking lot to a magnificent place of worship. There are divergent points of view on the money spent building Christ the Light Cathedral and I have personally struggled with this issue.

With the help of many generous donations, the cathedral has been built; it’s a done deal! It is an architectural marvel, a beautiful building that has the potential to bring people closer to God. The celebratory events surrounding the dedication of the cathedral have been an inspiration to many Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Instead of focusing on how the money could have been spent feeding the hungry (I am personally and professionally committed to feeding the hungry), let us focus on how the cathedral can be a beacon of Christ’s light to people in the Bay Area through its liturgical celebrations, the free Order of Malta Health Clinic, and other ministries in the heart of Oakland and throughout the Bay Area. Let us concentrate on what is good and positive about the cathedral and how it can help the building up of God’s Kingdom.

Rita Mitchell

Freedom to adapt

I read with interest the letter titled “A Mystical Experience” (Forum, Nov. 3) where Gina Gemma Lopez extolled the virtues of the Latin Mass. I particularly appreciated her statement, “If my heart is in the right place, any service in any language or form is spiritually rich and meaningful.”

The American Catholic Church is alive and vital because of its tolerance of diversity. Indeed, there is a variety of celebrations where different people can find a place for themselves.

On the other hand, I worry for the Church when I hear about the experiences of Catholicism in Europe, where the Church appears to have lost relevance for many. I recently shared lunch with a pastor who returned to Portugal and who is disheartened because Catholicism there has lost its meaning and fervor for most of the people.

He reports how, in his own parish, even the catechists do not attend Mass, despite the fact that services are scheduled around their class times to make it easy for them to participate.

Here in the United States, there is a clear pressure from Rome to return the language of the Mass to a more direct translation from Latin, with subtle changes in theology that make the more progressive Catholic uncomfortable.

In the same issue of The Catholic Voice there was an article about three alternative endings now given for the Mass. Only three? I have heard over 100 over the years, all liturgically appropriate and theologically sound, related to the spirit of the occasion and the lives of believers. Again, a change that appears repressive and regressive in nature.

Like Ms. Lopez, I love the variety of languages in which I can celebrate the Eucharist and the freedom I feel to adapt Catholic tradition to my faith and practice as my understanding of Scripture and theology grows.

Jim Erickson

Disheartened and disillusioned

I wish to express my deep disappointment to see that so many citizens have a complete lack of respect for the First Amendment of our U.S. Constitution. During this election, I have personally had my right to free speech completely trampled upon. Countless times, I went and placed campaign signs alongside roadways and at intersections supporting a particular viewpoint for a candidate and/or a ballot measure. Then, in a matter of less than 12 hours, every one of the signs I had placed had been removed and replaced with the opposing viewpoint.

I’ve even had signs in my own yard removed and destroyed.

This denial of my freedom of speech is totally contrary to the greatest concept upon which our country is founded. There needs to be a return to the ideal of a respectful exchange of ideas. Anyone who fails to allow another person to express their ideas in a thoughtful and considerate manner should be ashamed of themselves. How sad it is to see that this country has forgotten the golden rule to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Stephen Brainerd

Investigate SOA

In April 2008 the Catholic Church made international news: Pope Benedict XVI visited our country. Less heralded is what transpired in Central America that same month.

April 26 was the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Bishop Juan Gerardi. At the memorial Mass in Guatemala City’s cathedral, Cardinal Archbishop Rodolfo Quezada said, to the applause of those of us present, that he would “spare no effort that justice be done for that just man, Bishop Gerardi.” See www.odhag.org.gt (Spanish only)

Given that two of the already-convicted assassins had received training at the Fort Benning, Georgia “School of the Americas” (now called Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation :WHINSEC) it is up to us Americans to insist that that place at Fort Benning, with its own underworld past, be investigated and not just the Guatemalan underworld.

The organization that has been advocating for this investigation can be found at: www.soaw.org.

Already some 125 US Congress(wo)men have agreed by co-sponsoring HR 1707 which calls for an investigation of both the past and present of WHINSEC/ SOA, but among the four Representatives covering the Diocese of Oakland, only Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher has not yet supported a cleansing investigation. It’s an aberration we trust will be quickly corrected by upholders of human rights such as are those Catholic readers respectful of bishops’ — Juan Gerardi and others — right to life.

“Mutual forgiveness must not eliminate the need for justice and still less does it block the path that leads to truth. On the contrary, justice and truth represent the concrete requisites for reconciliation.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #518.)

Father Bernard Survil
Diocese of Greensburg
This letter was also signed by 19
East Bay residents, most of whom
are Catholic parishioners.

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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