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 May 25, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 10   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Reflect cultural melding

In response to “Keep readings in English” (Forum, April 27), I would like to offer a different perspective.

Ms. Batterton sardonically says our diocese goes to “great lengths to convince” us that we are a Church of great diversity. No convincing is needed; we are, so why not celebrate it?

She also misses being a “full and conscious participant” because of readings in other languages, and yet, most union liturgies offer a detailed worship aide to help follow the readings in English.

These “great lengths” offer us an opportunity to become more engaged in our community and to develop a more Christ-like attitude and understanding. When a translation is not available to us, then let us use those times to pray with the community and let the Spirit open our hearts to images, words and songs of other cultures.

The whole point of the liturgy is to remember Christ and bring us closer to God. We make that journey together.

All of us, not just the majority English-speakers, are welcome to participate and celebrate in the holy Mass. Majority rules is not a Catholic value; listening to the downtrodden, disenfranchised and, yes, immigrants is.

The diocesan liturgies especially should reflect our cultural melding in this region. Our diocese, and state and country for that matter, are uniquely blessed because of our diverse people and our desire for justice. The Mass and our traditions are the most influential teachings we have, but only if we practice what we preach.

Diocesan union liturgies with multicultural influences are a most beautiful symbol of our riches and our desire to be pleasing to God.

Lidia Carlos Reynes
Castro Valley

(Ms. Reynes is a former music director of diocesan liturgies, including the Jubilee 2000 celebration at the Oakland Coliseum, the 40th anniversary of the diocese, and many Chrism and ordination Masses. She is the daughter of immigrants.)

Unite through language

It is the demographics of the community that necessitates the use of one common uniting language at all liturgies. Because there are so many languages, it is essential that we be able to understand one another through the use of whatever is the dominant language of the Church, which in Oakland is still clearly English.

For me, it was easy, as English was my parents’ native language, but not so for my husband and so many others who came here, and often without benefit of helpful schooling, taught themselves to speak this common language. They continued to speak their own language among themselves, but clearly understood that to get along anywhere, it was necessary to use one language.

We can enjoy the rich cultural diversity of Oakland in so many other ways. Music and art are universal languages and surely we are enriched by learning of other cultures in a variety of ways.

Keep in mind, too, that the Lord brought division among the people who were building the Tower of Babel by taking away their common language and making them all speak so that they didn’t understand each other. It is divisive, not unifying, not to have an use a common language.

Bettylu Vaz
Castro Valley

All life is sacred

I always look forward to the letters in The Catholic Voice. The anti-abortion writers are so positive in their opinions, and so ready to chastise anyone who might be struggling with this complicated issue. And in the April 27 issue, we also had a writer who sounds equally certain that the possession of firearms is a right that is presumably looked favorably upon by God Him (Her) self.

Just once, I would like those folks who are so stridently certain in their beliefs about the sanctity of the unborn to be just as fervent in the sanctity of the lives of those who have emerged from the womb, including those who are suffering in our communities, in prisons and, yes, even on our death rows.

James Puskar

Not really Catholic

Fox News coverage of the commencement scandal at the University of Notre Dame was actually a pretty good plug for the pro-life cause although it was disturbing to see elderly women place rosary beads around their necks prior to being handcuffed and hauled away. I’ve seen it happen outside abortion clinics but never thought I’d see it on a so-called Catholic campus.

Fox News said the university asked the police to arrest “trespassers.” Not a good public relations move, seeing as they knew the only trespassers would be faithful Catholics. It reminded me of the old Mad Magazine comic strip ”Spy versus Spy” except now it is “Catholic versus Catholic.”

But I think the Lord, who uses all things for good for those who love him, will draw good out of this also. It has spotlighted what many of us parents have known for ages — many Catholic high schools and colleges are really not that Catholic. And it was impressive to see about 50 young Notre Dame graduates shun the commencement farce and hold their own prayerful ceremony at a Marian grotto on campus. That was inspiring.

Mary Arnold

A schism brewing

Rome insists on preserving the strict hierarchical structure of a monarchy. This imposes an expectation for blind loyalty, no dissent, and unflinching obedience. Our democracy was born out of rebelling against a monarchy. Our basic freedoms guarantee free speech, the right to assemble and fair elections.

So here we are in 2009 in America, where American Catholics have the untenable task of functioning in both a monarchy and a democracy at the same time. For many of us, this existence has become an oxymoron.
Case in point: American Catholic nuns. They are under siege by both a Vatican inquiry as to why their numbers are falling, concurrently, with an inquisition as to the content of their national meetings.

Thanks to courageous women like Sister Joan Chittister and Sister Christine Schenk, many women’s consciousness has been raised, and many realize they have been called to ordination.

So some of the 65,000 women religious are exercising their right to free speech and to assemble. Some may express their dissent of the all male hierarchal structure. Just as our forebearers lodged a revolution against King George for taxation without representation, these women are challenging the Roman hierarchy today.

Rome does not like this rebellious behavior and they have no tolerance for dissent, change or the will of the people. So what’s a Sister to do? Check her brains at the convent door when she enters? (No wonder numbers are down) How does she facilitate change, in a medieval Church, without getting silenced or excommunicated?

There is a schism brewing. Many American Catholics who have been raised in this democracy are struggling. Obedience and control were possible when most were illiterate. Now most are literate and there are so many issues that just don’t make sense anymore.

Kate Dougherty

A Catholic’s lament

I have been a life-long Catholic. I am writing to express my disgust and contempt at the Church and particularly the Catholic bishops who have taken political stances attacking our recently elected president of the United States. It appears to be a vastly different Catholic Church than the one in which I grew up, but I do not wish to dwell on that issue.

I only wish to express my hatred of the bishops’ ignorance, hypocrisy and deceitfulness and express that the Church that I know is gone. It is no longer part of the solution but part of the problem.

John Lubeck

Reversing population control

Chuck Schneider (Forum, March 30) first makes the point that the world’s population has increased from 0.3 billion at the time of Christ to 6.5 billion today. We really should start with Adam and Eve and ask the question, “What was God’s intention for the world?” It would seem He had something in mind beyond Adam and Eve.

Mr. Schneider suggests that the Catholic Church should join the 21st century. Maybe it’s Mr. Schneider who should look at what’s happening in the 21st century. Most countries in Europe are losing population. In fact, more than 70 countries around the world are declining in population. Brazil and India recently joined that group. Japan has been losing population since 1964. It is said that in 30 years, Italy will not even have enough Italians to man the essential functions of their economy.

The real question for the 21st century is, “Can this trend be reversed”? Will young people in the future put less emphasis on pursuing careers and material goods, and be more willing to have three or more children? There is little indication of this today.

Jim Dempsey
Walnut Creek

Politics, not science

I cannot believe nor can I accept the Catholic Church getting involved in a thesis full of errors. Climate change based on our carbon footprint is full of errors due to faculty research.

I suggest we do some of our own research of the literature, study and come to our own conclusions. There are many, many good scientists who disagree with Mr. Gore’s thesis, for good reasons. This has become a political issue more than a scientific one. Because of the intense politics, only one point of view is being allowed to be expressed.

Therefore, the truth of this matter is being compromised. It is our obligation to be skeptical. I suggest an excellent paper by Lord Christopher Monckton. He had been invited to appear before Congress, but was not allowed to speak. That’s how political this has become.

Katherine Hudson

Dangerous developments

We, as Catholic Christians, should awaken and be alert to the inroads being made by the elitists who have moved into positions of power and influence, not only in our country, but throughout the western world. They are slowly but effectively removing Christianity from both the public and private sectors of our lives.

For years, we have tolerated their actions to crush any public, and some private, beliefs and expressions of moral Christianity using the false and contrived freedom from, rather than freedom of, religion mantra.

They are supported and encouraged by activist judges, elitists in academia, and organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, MoveOn.org and some organizations within the United Nations whose primary agenda is opposed to teaching, displaying, speaking of, or supporting any group or religion which doesn’t believe as they do.

Now they feel that the time is right to move forward without fear of opposition or backlash. They have succeeded in cowing, or buying spineless politicians in every level of our government.

We are now supporting abortion on demand and late-term abortions internationally. Those who speak out against these atrocities are silenced. Legislation is in the works to force those who oppose either of these on moral grounds to participate and assist whether they want to or not. Human life is being devalued.

Also under consideration is legislation to allow physicians to withhold medical information involving minor children from their parents at their own discretion.

Religion will be replaced by science. Our president promised to bring science back to its rightful place and make decisions on fact, not dogma. He has funded and encourages the creation of life (embryonic stem cells) to use in experimentation even though the facts are that no cure has ever been found using them and studies show that adult stems cells have more promise.

We are desperately in need of Catholic Christian leaders modeled after the prophets of old. I fear for our country and our children.

Clifford Wiesner

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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