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 October 5, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 17   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Many valid forms of music

As a fellow musician and colleague, I respectfully respond to Sebastian Romeo’s comments (Forum, Sept. 7) on music of the people.

This diocese’s gift to all of us is diversity. It is a gift to share our faith with people of many ethnicities and languages — our Catholic faith, which has remained constant, no matter what our individual heritage, for 2,000 years.

It’s all good. Every liturgical and musical expression of our faith is valid, as it unites us with Christ and with each other. As such, all our music — every ethnic tradition’s music, as well as the wealth of Catholic contemporary music cited by Mr. Romeo — is worth performing well and worth hearing.

Far from being “elitist,” the traditional music covers our 2,000-year Catholic history, and as such it is worthy of exposure and serious study. The Church still sings the chants sung by the Desert Fathers, by St. Benedict and his first group of monks under his newly written Rule, and by St. Francis and his earliest followers. And the motivation for sacred music composition was the same for Thomas Tallis as it is for Janet Sullivan Whitaker — expressing the amazing love of Christ.

The Cathedral of Christ the Light will offer several Sunday Masses each week, which provides Mr. De Vos, the new music director, with the opportunity to create several co-existing and equally worthy choirs at the different Masses. These will hopefully include choirs which sing ethnic music in various non-English languages, one which is enthusiastically young-adult contemporary — and one which sings traditional classical.

With 50 years of all kinds of church choir experience, I say: If it brings each of us individually to the collectivity of Christ, it’s all good!

V. Graham

Not a ‘great’ Catholic

I felt moved to add my comments to the letter (Forum, Sept. 7) titled “A great Catholic.”

The writer Gwen Watson says that Senator Ted Kennedy was a “great” Catholic and cites his support for various health care, immigration, and racial equality initiatives and his stand against violence and war as qualifications for a label of being a “great” Catholic. She also seems to cite the presence of two cardinals at his funeral also as support for being called “great”.

The term “great” is thrown around so loosely. I suppose almost everyone can be called “great” if the only prerequisite is to care about the issues that humanity faces today. Certainly, Ted Kennedy wasn’t alone in his support for these causes — they are universal amongst Democrats and Republicans alike and his efforts routinely were bipartisan. Cardinals being present at his funeral simply reflects the political influence he had in this country as a Catholic — not a measure of his Catholic “greatness”.

I want to remind Voice readers about Senator Kennedy’s long support for abortion — a practice that goes against Catholic teaching. Some bishops have even gone so far as to withhold the receipt of Communion to those politicians supporting abortion. Sena-tor Kennedy would have fallen in that category. He would not have fallen in that category if he was a “great” Catholic.

Senator Kennedy may have been a historical figure and a powerful and politically savvy politician. I would agree with calling him a great politician or a great orator. But calling him a “great” Catholic goes much too far. He was simply a Catholic and one that may need our prayers.

Edward Nowicki

Selective excommunication

I am saddened by the news (Voice, Sept. 7) that Father Roy Bourgeois was excommunicated automatically for not recanting on his views on the ordination of women and their needed equality in the Church.

Another person suffering from similar views is Sister Louise Akers in Cincinnati, who was banned by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk from teaching at archdiocesan parishes and institutions. I could never imagine looking my mother, sisters or wife in the eye and telling them they are less worthy than me, as they are not male and cannot be ordained.

Too bad Church teaching does not specifically address abusing children or supporting the abusers, as it does the ordination of women. The priests who abused children were put into treatment and moved to a new assignment.

Only recently are they removed from office, banned from public ministry, and it takes years before the Vatican agrees to laicize them, but they are not excommunicated. No bishop has been held accountable and only Cardinal Bernard Law resigned, but got a promotion.

Mark Gotvald
Pleasant Hill

Cathedral concern

I am a little concerned about the request for the cathedral’s debt to be paid off by parishioners.

Before the cathedral was built, we were told that the cost for the project would be funded by private donations, not parishioners. The new high school in Livermore was put on hold because the bishop had to concentrate on the funding for the cathedral.

Now parishioners are asked to pay down the debt. Where is the high school? We need the school. We did not need another show place.

A. Christensen
via email

Listening devices

A summer issue of The Voice (June 22) carried a story about handheld listening devices for hearing-impaired parishioners to use during liturgy. St. Anne Parish in Walnut Creek has had such devices for years. Any parishioner who needs one can ask; then it is tuned in with the proper frequency and it is theirs to use as long as necessary.

Betty Jane Rank
Walnut Creek

Bow at Jesus’ name

In St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:9-10) it is written that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on the earth and under the earth.”

This same theme is in Isaiah (45:22-24), “For every knee shall be bowed to me.”

There are several other descriptions similar to the above that are used in both the Old and New Testaments.

How easy it has been made for us, yet we still forget. We no longer have to bend our knees with a genuflection, but only simply bowing our heads at the name of Jesus.

It would be very nice to see more Catholics bowing their heads at the name of Jesus.

Bill Beiriger

Prevalence of killing

In addition to abortion and the death penalty being the worst sins that humanity can commit against itself (Forum, Aug. 10), there is the deliberate killing of soldiers and massacres of innocent civilians during acts of government wars. These numbers from the wars are so much more massive than the numbers of abortions and death penalty executions.

Add in the multitudes of people killed in genocide by their own kinsmen. And there are generations of people all over the world who have been killed during centuries of religious wars. What about those sins of man against man? It is very difficult to comprehend that we should cherish life when we, as a species, persist and prevail in killing each other for no good reason.

Barbara Wright

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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