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 June 8, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 11   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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On religion and science

Thank you, Sister Nancy Teskey, SNJM, Ph.D. for your well-written, well-reasoned article entitled, “Evolution elicits dialogue between science and religion” (Voice, May 25). As a scientist with a Ph.D in physics and an active Catholic, I do not see an incompatibility between science and religion. They are both searching for the truth, albeit with different methodologies.

When there is conflict between scientists and religious people, it usually arises from each of them trying to extend science or theology into the other’s domain. As Dr. Teskey points out, science is concerned with the “what” of nature, whereas philosophy and theology are concerned with “why” nature is the way it is.

There are a very large number of scientists with strong religious faiths. I recommend reading about Prof. Charles H. Townes, who won the 2005 Templeton Prize, given for progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities.

Dr. Townes, a Nobel prize winner, is co-inventor of the maser and laser. He was also my undergraduate thesis advisor. His original article about science and religion, entitled “The Convergence of Science and Religion” was in the 1966 IBM Journal THINK and reprinted in the MIT Technology Review.

I believe that the most important action we can take to avoid a “war” between science and religion is to dialogue about our faith and our knowledge of science.

Stan Stokowski

No longer Catholic

Catholic News Service accompanied its story on Barack Obama’s Notre Dame commencement address with a photo of a visibly smug Obama being vested with an honorary Doctor of Laws stole (Voice, May 25).

From his radically pro-abortion perspective, the president can indeed be pleased. Cheered on by Notre Dame faculty and graduates, he successfully triangulated “calls for dialogue, respect amid controversy” (as CNS summarized things) — regarding human sacrifice, i.e., killing unborn children, at an institution portrayed contentedly by mainstream media as a citadel of Catholic scholarship.

As local Catholic author Pat Lencioni questioned: suppose Obama had militantly racist views, but seemed otherwise to support Catholic precepts; would Notre Dame still have honored him?

Though self-advertised as a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops division, CNS ignored (as did Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins) USCCB’s specification that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” — nor furnish “awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions” (“Catholics in Political Life,” 2004).

CNS also bypassed John Paul II’s “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” stipulation: a Catholic university’s “action or commitment” must “accord with its Catholic identity.” Honoring the politician who promised Planned Parenthood he’d sign the diabolical “Freedom of Choice Act” was instead an overt betrayal of Catholic identity.

Fort Wayne – South Bend Bishop John D’Arcy, having boycotted Notre Dame’s 2009 graduation, should take the next step, and formalize in words what has already been demonstrated in deeds: Notre Dame should no longer call itself “Catholic.”

Sharon Arata

Gaining a pro-life win

The May 15 graduation ceremony at Notre Dame was similar to a college football event or more so a circus. Both the college, through its permissive invitation, and Obama’s references to abortion in reality attempted to ride two horses at the same time.

However, President Obama has spoken throughout his recent campaign and presidency that he is totally committed to pro-choice on abortion. How many times must we be told? He plans to win on this issue.

Now it’s halftime. Gallop research polls indicated that 51 percent of the American people are pro-life. Our coaches, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, need to quickly formulate a strategic plan for a pro-life win.

Some weak players need to be benched and strong players to assume the voice of the Church — those committed to God’s natural law and the papal encyclical “Humanae Vitae.”

We, the laity, need the Church’s team players to inspire their congregations to understand what commitment to pro-life means.

Let’s win the game. This is a moral issue and it’s the last quarter of the game.

Patrick Halligan
El Cerrito

Gov. needs to listen

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he would say 20 rosaries every day on his knees to get his political way. But he is cutting SSI for the elderly, blind, and disabled and cutting funds for public transportation. Is he listening to the U.S. Catholic bishops who said in 1986 in “Economic Justice for All” that the life and words of Jesus call us to serve those in need”?

I know the governor struggled for his wealth, but he must remember the dignity of those who are still struggling and are still poor.

Maureen Hartmann

Panic-based approach

While I agree with the thrust of the St. Francis Covenant (Voice, April 27), I do have concerns about the emphasis on reducing our carbon footprint and related global warming connection.

I am in no way a climate expert, but I have been reading information both in support of and against the claim that man-made carbon dioxide is causing global warming. It seems to me that there are many credible sources that refute the carbon-related effect on global warming. The climate models upon which these predictions are based require many assumptions that can provide widely different outcomes.

Climate models are not accurate at predicting next week’s weather, let alone the conditions that may be present years down the road. Yet, the article uses the ideals of St. Francis to compel well-meaning Catholics to support efforts to reduce their “carbon footprint,” and by extension to support all efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of the United States (and world) at any cost and expense.

It also uses the poor to promote the idea that they will suffer by our continued use of carbon-based fuels. After my reading of the information available to me, I have come to the realization that the poor may be in for more suffering in a reduced “carbon footprint” world than in a world that relies on the efficient and environmentally friendly use of carbon-based fuels (and nuclear fuels) to provide energy responsibly and more cheaply than the alternatives currently available.

I am concerned that this panic-based carbon footprint approach will cause an economic upheaval that will add to the population of the poor and further impoverish the existing poor. If you really agree with the premise that the poor will be worse off because of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, I would like to know how you came to that conclusion — a conclusion that is being used to get Catholics behind an agenda that, in the end, may only be based on a political agenda.

A.F. Soby

Church not a democracy

I would like to correct the factual error of Kate Dougherty (Forum, May 25), who makes reference to the medieval Church and her so-called “illiterate” flock. A great number of medieval laypeople, including the uneducated, had an understanding of the liturgy. Saint Joan of Arc († 1431) is even said to have led the “Veni Creator” during the army’s march to Orléans.

Furthermore, one can safely assume that even the ordinary Florentine would have had a decent knowledge of theology and ecclesiology, such as would be necessary to understand and appreciate the various references in the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri († 1321). It is ironic that today a very detailed ecclesiological and historical introduction is necessary to appreciate something that was read to commoners in the piazze of medieval Italy.

Also, I would like to point out the arrogance of some Roman Catholics, demonstrated through their contrived sense of entitlement to choose their own beliefs and rules. The structure and laws of the Church are those of Christ. They have been proven to be truly His by their age. If one feels entitled to different beliefs, one should seriously consider whether it is their will or the will of Christ that they are following.

Last but not least, Ms. Dougherty is correct. The Church is not and has never been a democracy. Please kindly remember the inscription at the head of the Cross.

John-Paul Deol

The true Church

Kate Dougherty (Forum, May 25) asserts the Church is in need of rule by democracy. It is instructive that the same Voice issue quotes the pro-life Rev. Walter Hoye, a Baptist minister as saying that in many Protestant churches “you can get voted out of your pulpit on the same day you preach.”

When I was studying and searching to find the Church Jesus was talking about when he founded his Church, the only 100 percent solidly pro-life Church, from conception to natural death, that I could find was the Catholic Church. This is one of many reasons I believe with all my heart that the Catholic Church, with her pope and bishops, that is, her hierarchy, is the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ.

The push for women priests evidences a lack of appreciation for the supremely important and powerful vocation to spiritual and natural motherhood. It is actually a form of clericalism which mistakenly sets the priest in a position of superiority to motherhood, when in actuality, the priesthood is both in service to motherhood and dependent upon motherhood for its existence.

Any woman who aspires to the ministerial priesthood needs to reexamine God’s call for her life. Perhaps she is called to teach, as a Mary Ann Glendon or a Jennifer Roback Morse. Perhaps to lead an apostolate, as a Mother Teresa or a Mother Angelica. Or perhaps to be the mother of a faithful pope or priest, doctor or janitor.

Speaking as a former geologist, a wife and mother, converted after becoming all of these, I look with overflowing gratitude on the teachings of Holy Mother Church which reveres, nourishes and protects the natural and spiritual gifts of women far above any other religion or organization.

Catherine Norman

Miss California not correct

As a 25-year-old Catholic woman with an advanced degree, a knowledge of Christ’s teachings, and a brain, I am utterly disgusted and infuriated that Miss California, supposedly representing my faith and state, is getting “praise” within The Catholic Voice (Forum, May 11). What a vile comparison, a beauty queen and our Lord and Savior, both having to endure “crowns of thorns.” I think not!

Miss California did not speak for me or my faith when she inarticulately expressed her belief in “opposite marriage.” How is it that we as Catholics can call ourselves defenders of social justice when we have no regard for the civil liberties of an entire segment of the population? How can the sanctity of marriage not be questioned when two 18-year-olds are able to run off to Las Vegas and be married after knowing each other a week, while two committed partners of 30 years who have raised three children are denied that same right?

What makes a marriage sacred is that it is entered into honestly, with respect for God and each other. Miss California does not deserve our praise. She deserves an education in Christian morality and a reminder that we are all God’s children, that there is a difference between Church and state, that we heterosexuals who currently have a 50 percent divorce rate are in no position to judge what constitutes a civil marriage, and that love is something that does not need to be validated by a 21-year-old beauty queen.

Keli Piper

Religious, not secular thinking

I have been reading the letters in the Readers Forum for many years and can’t believe some of the letters from individuals who may consider themselves good Catholics. I was amused by Kate Dougherty (Forum, May 11) who said a schism is brewing in the Church because “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 don’t make sense anymore.”

I believe that “the Catholic” whom she speaks of may be literate in a secular sense but illiterate when it comes to their faith. There may be many difficult issues but to those who know their faith, the Church has provided the answers. These answers may not be popular from a secular view point, but Catholics are not in this world to promote a secular view point.

We are here to build up the “City of God,” not to follow what we believe the Church should teach. That has already been tried and it was called the Protestant Reformation.

Mike Trimble

Support for Prop 8

Proposition 8 won overwhelmingly at the voting polls last November, but some people are still trying to cram same sex marriage down our throats.

I once asked a priest if same sex marriage was wrong and he looked at me, puzzled, and then said, “Of course, it’s Sodom and Gomorrah; of course it’s sinful.”

I strongly believe this to be unnatural and immoral. If Proposition 8, marriage between a man and a woman, won at the voting polls, why continue with the absurdity of same sex marriage. If the public cannot voice what their wish really is by voting, why go voting at all?

M. Eynck
San Leandro

A Cordileone ‘thank you’

On behalf of all the family members of Bishop Salvatore Cordileone who attended his installation on May 5, we wish to thank the Diocese of Oakland for the royal treatment we received during our visit to Oakland.
The whole event was so well-organized and orchestrated. Everyone was so kind and considerate of our needs.

We wish to thank the installation committee, the hospitality committee who were there anytime we needed them, the Knights of Columbus for all our transportation needs, the ushers and greeters at the cathedral, all who welcomed us into their homes and hearts, and all those we have failed to mention, including the “behind the scenes” crew.

We came away with many pleasant memories and new friends. Thanks to all who helped make our visit to Oakland so special. Our hats are off to all of you.

The family of Bishop Cordileone
San Diego

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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