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 September 7, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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A great Catholic

During the memorials, funeral, and burial of Senator Ted Kennedy, my thoughts went out to the advocates for the needy who lobbied for passage of many of the bills he authored and carried through Congress to help those who are suffering. Our letters and calls were guided by the legislative analysts at Network, the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. All the bills we advocated for were based in the social teachings of our Church.

The petitions read by Senator Kennedy’s grandchildren, nieces, and nephews at his funeral Mass called for quality healthcare to become a right, not a privilege, for race and gender politics to die away, for newcomers to become accepted no matter their color or place of birth, and for our nation to stand united against hate, violence, and war.

I know that the senator’s words will resound with us as we go on without him: “the work begins anew, the hope arises anew, and the dream lives on.”

For years I just took his Catholicity for granted, but in thinking about his legislation recently, I realized that I needed to acknowledge what a truly great Catholic he was. The presence of two cardinals of our Church at the farewell rituals made me proud. People of faith owe Ted Kennedy a deep debt of gratitude.

Gwen Watson

Too much adulation

Once again the Church hierarchy has shown its penchant to favor the rich and the powerful. We were treated to the Church bestowing its blessing upon the late Senator Ted Kennedy beginning with the private Mass at his home and an elegant funeral Mass with the blessings of the archbishop of Boston. It has also been reported that Kennedy had a personal exchange of correspondence with the pope during his final days.

I appreciate the sanctity of the gift of forgiveness but what almost amounts to public adoration of someone who publicly flaunted some of the most precious and critical beliefs of his Church is too much.

Clifford R. Wiesner

No politics in churches

In the Aug. 10 Reader’s Forum, Robert Burke first told us that he was a “conservative.” He then went on to tell us that he opposed Notre Dame’s award of an honorary degree to President Obama, saying that he would have also opposed an honorary degree to Hitler if a Catholic university had wanted to do so years ago. The letter was more political than spiritual.

In this light, will “conservative” family-values organizations endorse or oppose universal health care? And will prominent Catholic leaders come forward to endorse the concept? Or will the political values of individuals or religious organizations be the dominant factor?

It’s as if one’s political values trump one’s spiritual values or as if one’s spiritual values are used to endorse one’s political values.

As an extreme, I heard a guy on a radio talk show saying that “liberals” could not really be true Christians.
Is there some way we can get the politics out of our churches?

George Fulmore

A failure in logic

I would like to comment on the article by Ed Hopfner on Natural Family Planning (Commentary, July 6). I believe natural family planning can be very helpful for those couples who want to conceive a child. As for preventing conception, I fail to see the difference between abstaining from sex during fertile days and using some form of artificial birth control.

If a couple purposely participates in sex only during non-fertile days, then they are doing so strictly for the pleasure of the act and not for procreation. The Church does not consider this a sin. But if some form of contraception is used, then it is considered a sin even though both acts are done strictly for pleasure and not for procreation. Where is the Church’s logic in this?

In an already overpopulated world that is no longer able to sustain itself, think of the many unplanned pregnancies that could be avoided and the many unwanted children what would not be born if the Church admitted to this logic and allowed artificial means of birth control.

Think also of the many good Catholic couples who would be relieved of the guilt they carry because they use some form of artificial birth control in spite of the Church’s teachings.

If the Church truly wants to promote good stewardship of this world, then she should encourage all means of birth control, particularly in countries that are already overpopulated.

Chuck Schneider

Musical exclusions

I recently received an e-mail from Rudy de Vos, the new music director for the cathedral, asking me to join the new choir he is forming. I was a member of the cathedral’s dedication choir and the choir for the installation of Bishop Cordileone.

What troubled me was that de Vos wrote that he was “looking forward to develop a music program of excellence, befitting of and suitable to a cathedral. Repertoire that will be focused on will include Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony and other staples of the choral repertory (i.e. music by Byrd, Tallis, Attwood, Stanford, Parry, Howells, Duruflé, Colin Mawby, Joel Martinson, Leo Nestor etc.) and no music by Haugen and Haas.”

I was under the impression that the Church belonged to the people and not to an elite few. If we the people of the Oakland Diocese are a diverse group and we are to celebrate our diversity in our spiritual world, why would we not include people like Haugen, Haas, Manibusan, Sullivan-Whitaker and others who write very spiritual music for the people and have roots in our diocese?

The Church wants us to celebrate as a unified Church and as a family of God’s people. But it seems that the leaders of the Oakland Diocese want its people to return to the days of pre-Vatican II and let the leaders worship for the people and for the people to worship in the closet. It is not surprising that so many Catholics are not at the forefront claiming they are Catholics.

Sebastian Romeo
Via email

Cathedral music

I was so pleased to read the Voice article (Aug. 10) about the new music director at the Cathedral of Christ the Light.

I have been watching in The Voice for a Mass schedule that would be updated each week and that would tell us at which Masses the organ will be played. I am also interested in any organ recitals that may be scheduled. I have several non-Catholic friends who are interested in attending such events also.

Joan Thisius

(Editor’s note: Currently, the organ is played during the noon Mass on Tuesdays and the 10 a.m. Mass on Sundays.)

Not always murder

As with a lot of people, Lillian Silver (Forum, Aug. 10) misinterprets the Commandment which from its original Hebrew actually translates as “Thou shalt not murder.” We wish churches still used that translation to be clearer and to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.

God, the Bible, and the pope are all opposed to murder, but they all condone killing in some circumstances such as in a Just War, as retribution for some crimes, in self-defense or, in the case of animals, for food.

For example, it was murder that the Nazis did to Jews and much of what doctors are doing when they carry out most abortions. But it was not murder when Allied soldiers killed the Nazis and Japanese in World War II, or when Timothy McVeigh and other mass murderers are tried, convicted and executed, or when we eat dead fish on Fridays.

Please do better at making these distinctions throughout the diocese and in Rome.

Pete & Sherie Laurence

Adding to the confusion

In response to Mike Mc Dermott’s comments (Forum, Aug. 10) regarding EWTN, I do not think that the everyday Catholic is confused or uninformed about basic Catholic teaching. I find the teachers/spiritual leaders confusing.

Having been raised and educated as a Catholic in the 40s and 50s, I find a vast area of conflicting teachings between then and now. EWTN leads in this confusion. Programs such as Life On The Rock, Father John Corapi, and The Journey Home seem to be outdated and whatever message these programs are attempting to send is very, very confusing to say the least.

The very rare Roman Rite Mass by the Fraternity of Saint Peter shows the beauty of our Church. The EWTN daily Mass, well, that’s another story.

The Catholic Voice does not need fine tuning as Mr. McDermott states. I find The Voice to be overly fair to all opinions. Maybe Catholic communications need fine tuning.

J. Eric Salmon

Violation of Fifth Commandment

With regard to the publication of letters in The Voice from people who dissent with Catholic teaching, Mike McDermott indicated (Forum, Aug. 10) that “The Voice should continue publishing these dissenting viewpoints. Such letters offer a ‘teachable moment,’ an opportunity for The Voice to provide a brief statement citing correct Catholic teaching and references so no one is confused.”

If it were truly the case that a Church teaching authority’s corrections were placed within the immediate vicinity of such letters, Mr. McDermott’s wonderful idea about teaching and correction would be fulfilled. But I have not seen this happen. Instead, these letters are simply published in clear violation of the 5th Commandment as described in paragraphs 2284-2287 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Jesus warns us: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea... Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!”

It is absolutely tragic that there are so many people calling themselves Catholic who support the greatest evil in history, abortion, and take their dissent so far as to cause scandal. I pray they undergo a conversion of heart, and that The Voice not become a tool for those who would divide the Church and cause further scandal.

James Neiman
Union City

Father Jayson deserved more

The Contra Costa Times and the Oakland City Council had fitting tributes to Father Jayson Landeza, a noteworthy man. He was justifiably recognized for his good continuous service for various public agencies in addition to having his own parish. His fine example of a “priest in action” is refreshing to note.
However, what a disappointment The Voice was. It could only do a mere tidbit on page 13.

Eugene O. Schulting
Walnut Creek

Voice gives scandal

Several letters recently dealt with the issue of whether letters expressing positions contrary to the Church’s teaching should be published in The Voice. Thomas Templeton (Forum, July 6) said no. Mike McDermott (Forum, Aug. 10) said yes, and noted that it can be a teachable moment.

Unfortunately, the Voice does not use dissenting letters as a teachable moment. Under Bishop Begin, the editor or the bishop himself wrote a reply to dissenting letters, teaching the truth as bishops are required to do. So, if The Voice is not going to take advantage of the teachable moment and publish an immediate rebuttal, then dissenting letters should not be published.

The excuse that we should be aware of what the dissenting positions are is a red herring. The secular media are bombarding us with that all the time; we don’t need to waste our precious time and space on it. The only reason to publish dissenting letters is to immediately — on the same page — present the truth.

When this is not done, The Voice gives scandal to the many people who think that because it’s in The Voice it represents Church teaching.

Robert C. Berlo

Stop handshake of peace

I attend Saint John’s in San Lorenzo and, at times, Transfiguration in Castro Valley. Recently I noticed that some people refused to share “peace be with you” with a hand shake. I wonder whether with the recent pandemic of swine flu as well as other contagious diseases and people coughing/sneezing into their hands, we should dispense with hand shaking and just acknowledge the people around us.

Jose Perry
Via email

Landmark encyclical

The Holy Father’s new encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” is like a many-faceted diamond. I get a kick out of hearing reactions to it, each one looking at one or a few facets that reflect their favorite world view and missing the jewel. The CNS writers in the Aug. 10 Voice are a good example.

They pick out sections on pro-life, the moral failures of financiers, lack of government oversight, world political authority, help to the poor, universal rights, the world of affluence, profit-making, labor unions — AFL/CIO, voice of workers, common good, global governance, or immigration as if these segments are the essence of the encyclical.

All of the above issues are, indeed, addressed by the pope, but not one writer adequately explained Benedict’s concept of gift-giving and gift-exchange in the economic process that permeates and underlies every section — a new way of thinking that combines limits on the market and governments with Chesterton’s distributist concept of business, cooperatives, credit unions, micro-finance and other alternative economic models on a global scale.

Nor did one writer address the landmark section where the pope questions technology — the prevalent ideology driving economics today in the areas of business, politics, science, media and, especially, bioethics — technology that separates man from the truth about himself.

The greed that created the current global crisis came from men’s hearts; this is where change has to begin. The Holy Father’s message is the expert truth of the Catholic principles of charity, solidarity, subsidiarity and reciprocity — principles that integrally promote the good of every man.

The Church has never embraced either socialism or capitalism in her continuous string of economic and social encyclicals; both systems were born in the Enlightenment, which was the great denial of Church authority and the deification of man.

We can be proud that the pope has laid out an ideal for the world — it is now up to the Church, all people of good will, and governments to make it work in a spirit of charity based on the truth of Revelation and truly human development.

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

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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