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 January 19, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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A pro-life president?

Since January 22, 1973, the date the US Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade decision and it became the law of the land, there have been five Republican presidents: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. The only Democrats were Carter and Clinton.

I wonder if any of the several writers decrying Obama’s election think that a McCain-Palin administration would somehow be able to overturn Roe v. Wade. I think the electorate has been “had” again.

Charles Coyle
Via e-mail

Single-issue voting

In his letter “Rationalizing support,” (Forum, Jan. 5) Paul Vargas infers that all Catholics should have voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin because they are pro-life. Well, since they are also pro-war, how can a good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports the killing of innocent Iraqi civilians?

Mr. Vargas’ reasoning is myopic at best. It only looks at a single political issue and makes a concrete decision based upon that issue. Voters cannot base their choice on only one issue, but must make a balanced choice by weighing every known issue. Killing is killing regardless if it is through abortion, war, death penalty, or euthanasia.

If a Catholic voted for McCain/Palin, they too should go to confession because they voted for candidates who support government-sanctioned murder.

Stephen Brainerd
Via e-mail

Refuse any compromise

For the small number of priests who were working prior to the election telling Catholic voters they could justify a vote for Obama, I would like them to picture the following scenario:

Let’s imagine there is a law in this country that allows the killing of priests by saline poisoning, vacuum suction, opening the skull with scissors and suctioning out the brain or simply crushing the skull and tearing off limbs, etc. (all methods used on unborn Americans).

Let’s imagine that priests are living in great fear because 4,000 of them are being murdered in this manner every day (the daily number of abortions).

Let’s say there is one presidential candidate who says, “Not only is this killing fine but, if elected, I shall make sure it continues and I shall strike down every law (as Obama has promised to do by passing the Freedom of Choice Act) that makes any restrictions on this killing.”

Yet there is another presidential candidate who says, “I oppose the killing of priests because I believe in the sanctity of all human life and I shall work in office to reduce the number of these murders and work to put in place laws that protect the lives of priests.”

I’m betting it would take all priests about five seconds to decide which candidate to support and I guarantee that no issue — be it the economy or welfare or illegal aliens, etc. — would be seen as surpassing the importance of protecting human life, in this case their own.

The problem is we are all guilty of devaluing the lives of the unborn in comparison to our own. Not one of us really works as hard for the baby in the womb as we do for our own selves.

Instead of pointing fingers as Father Gerald Coleman did (Voice, Dec. 15), at the good priest in South Carolina and the good priest in Modesto who challenged the consciences of their people, we should be praising them for their courage and honesty. These heroic priests refuse any compromise with evil. They are true shepherds and I, as a weak member of the flock, would be honored to follow such shepherds.

Mary Arnold

The world is watching

Recent letters have asked us to take a broader view of “all aspects of life,” which is, of course, consistent with Church teachings.

But this ideal seemingly gets a bit messy in justifying one’s vote for now President-elect Obama, and as we critically examine what all aspects of life will mean in the new administration. For example, on the campaign trail, then Senator Obama seemed to favor the death penalty, at least in some circumstances.

President Obama has promised to increase our military activity in Afghanistan and perhaps expand it into Pakistan. One also wonders how soon, and if, the new administration will close down Guantanamo and cease rendition programs.

Given the above concerns, it is hardly convincing, except to a devoted partisan, to suppose that President-elect Obama is on the right side of, and a principled, consistent supporter of, the broader spectrum of life issues, let alone abortion.

The wonderful teachings of Vatican II remind us that “life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.” Some speciously attempt to refute this as preaching politics from the pulpit, though a truly informed Christian can easily comprehend the fullness and richness of this teaching.

The world will be watching, especially the most vulnerable, to see if the Obama administration will in its actions respect all aspects of life.

Dan P. Tracy

Individual conscience

I wish to join my voice to that of Thomas Weston, S.J. (Forum, Jan. 5) and others who are grateful for your recent publication of Father Gerald Coleman’s column (Voice, Dec. 15). Certainly this past election cycle, campaign and candidates gave us much to ponder. Issues are complex: morality is complex.

As Christians, we look to the hierarchical magisterium for guidance in the formation of conscience. That means giving due consideration to the formal teachings of Church authority. Some judgment is involved here. The views of every cleric who opines on a moral issue are not necessarily of equal validity: some folks have better credentials to speak than others.

If one of our Christian duties is to have a well-formed conscience, it is definitely beneficial to have a Reader’s Forum and other venues in which to exchange various viewpoints and share thought processes. Vatican II teaches that the main norm of morality is the individual conscience. In the final analysis, an individual must act according to his/her own conscience.

Marilynne Homitz

Call of the Holy Innocents

Abortion always deliberately kills an innocent unborn child. Nobody can honestly claim to be a faithful Catholic and then support a false “right” to abortion. It is just an elegant way of evading the brutality of what abortion actually does.

A thief, when repentant, can make restitution for the object stolen. But if a person kills another, he or she cannot bring his victim back to life. The bitterest tears or even the deepest repentance cannot bring the victim back to life.

The fearful change that has taken place in our nation is that millions no longer understand and, for this reason, no longer respect life. We have legalized the murder of the innocent — the unborn baby. The most helpless creature is, with the collaboration of the one to whom this new life has been given, professionally and scientifically dismembered.

The terrifying thing is that once a crime is legalized, the feeling of guilt is put to sleep — no punishment, therefore no crime. Morally the abortionist is a criminal; the mother freely collaborates in this act, which should still be considered a crime, and the absent father shares in their guilt.

The cries of slaughtered children, called so poetically the Holy Innocents, echo loudly through our time. In our nation over 50 million babies have been legally killed and dismembered. The Holy Innocents call to us as Christians to raise our voices against the evil and injustice of abortion.

Jim Crowley
Walnut Creek

Actions speak louder

In various recent letters to Reader’s Forum, there was the presumption that all political candidates had to do was speak the words “pro-life” to be considered committed to policies that defend, nurture, and safeguard the dignity and sustainability of human life. I look for more than that.

Clearly the outgoing President Bush, who says he opposes abortion, is one of the most pro-death presidents in our history. He has championed capital punishment, a morally indefensible war, and cutbacks on human services that nurture and protect life at all its stages.

There were fewer abortions in the United States during President Clinton’s terms than previously, and I suspect that abortions increased during Bush’s presidency. In other words, jargon and statements are not enough.

Actions on behalf of health, housing and job services for the vulnerable of our society, including pregnant women, are what make the difference. I personally trust that President-elect Obama will embody the best of Catholic social justice teaching.

Father Jim Schexnayder
Walnut Creek

A mortal sin?

I completely accept the words of Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the USCCB, who said, “Symbolically, this is a moment that touches more than our history when a country that once enshrined race slavery in its very constitutional legal order should come to elect an African-American to the presidency. In this, I truly believe, we must all rejoice.” (Voice, Nov. 17).

In his address at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel before hundreds of U.S. bishops, Cardinal George said no political order conforms fully to the kingdom of God, but he prayed the incoming president will be able to succeed in his task for the good of all.

I heard, erroneously I trust, that a priest declared that voting for Obama was a mortal sin. I hope this was propaganda from “the dark side.” The reason given was that Obama approves of abortion. I learned that grievous matter, awareness and clear, personal intent are required for a mortal sin. Who needs to study the Catechism? Me?

Michael F. Sarabia
Bay Point

Example, not force

The Voice reported (Dec. 15) that Cardinal Roger Mahony and the auxiliary bishops of Los Angeles said their support for Proposition 8 “was in defense of . . . marriage understood as the lifelong relationship of a man and a woman . . . ordered to the protection and education of their children.” and that it did not in any way lessen the personal dignity or value of homosexual Catholics.

Yet my heart dropped when I saw a lawn sign in front of my neighborhood Catholic church saying “Yes on 8” and “protect marriage.” This felt as if I’d been betrayed by a parent. Though the Church has given guidance on many social issues, I have never seen a sign in front of a church promoting a specific measure or person on the ballot. It was in Catholic school civics class that I learned about the separation of church and state. What happened?

A few weeks later a known lesbian was brutally kidnapped and gang-raped a mile from where that sign was. Many wonder if there could be a connection.

I’ve seen many same-sex couples married in spirit, in body, and in churches. It happens. Proposition 8 was not about whether you like the idea or not. It was about whether our very state Constitution would be changed to forever keep the people’s political process from providing full equality in structure of rights and obligations for those who want that.

To protect their definition, I wonder if the bishops will next be supporting ballot measures to eliminate forever the secular judiciary’s role in anyone’s divorce proceedings (“lifelong”). And then maybe a change in the Constitution so that every civil marriage that does not produce at least one child in its first five years will be automatically annulled.

Better that those who must keep to these guidelines for marriage influence us by example, not political force.

Marie Kochaver

Inspiring words

My thanks to The Voice for printing Father Michael Sweeney’s article, “In the Eucharist is found the evidence and renewal of hope” (Voice, Dec. 15). I felt a sense of wonder and an appreciation for the Eucharist as I read and re-read his article. What a beautiful description of God’s power and love. How deeply tender are his words, “The Son of God commits Himself into our care.”

I urge everyone who worships Christ in the Eucharist to read this beautiful article. They will be refreshed, renewed and inspired by Father Sweeney’s words.

Mary Gregory
Walnut Creek

Too much silence

The 5th annual March for Life West Coast is scheduled on Jan. 24 in San Francisco. It is big and growing every year, thanks in no small part to the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN) and Catholic radio (A.M. 1260). However, there is a grievous pattern of secular media “blackout” for both this event and the annual March for Life in Washington D.C.

There is also somewhat of a blackout of this event and the mention of the “A” word when preaching about life issues in some of our Oakland Diocese parishes including my own.

Moral clarity is a necessity for the salvation of the flock’s souls and reaching the flock during the celebration of the Mass, especially through sermons and prayers of the faithful, is much more effective than a simple bulletin announcement. Silence and charity at the expense of truth murders our pre-born innocents and hurts women who have had and will have abortions.

Truth spoken in love is every Catholic’s responsibility. Silence denies the truth which breeds confusion, which leads to relativism.

As our nation prepares for President-elect Obama’s new administration and a transition in government leaders, let us reflect on Blessed Mother Teresa’s simple words of truth about the intrinsically evil act of abortion and national politics. “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”

Mary Poston

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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