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Catholic Voice

 March 8, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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An open letter

I’m not sure what you thought you were teaching me when you defaced the anti-war bumper stickers on my car, parked in the Cathedral parking garage, but I can tell you what I have learned from you.

I have learned that some folks in the Church have developed such tunnel vision when it comes to abortion that they do not recognize when someone agrees with them about respecting all human life.

I have learned that self-righteousness is replacing compassion.

I have learned that although you may have the courage of your convictions, you do not have the courage to talk with me face to face.

I put that “Pro-Life means No War” sticker on my car eight years ago as our “pro-life president” was sending our military into an unjust and unnecessary war in Iraq. And I was among good company on that issue. The U.S. Bishops Conference had issued a statement saying the same thing. It was not a radical statement, but a gentle reminder that pro-life must mean ALL human life.

I have learned that I need to get more bumper stickers.

I have learned that the next time I go to the Cathedral, I will take BART.

Lucy Soltau
Union City

Alternative views

Professor Donald Anthrop (Forum, Feb. 22) takes issue with Pope Benedict speaking out about environmental concerns such as whether man is influencing the climate. While Professor Anthrop raises several good points, there are alternatives to some of his points that should be raised for consideration.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences advises the pope on scientific issues. The pope himself may not have expertise, but he is not speaking without advice.

I agree that there may be climate scientists who have a vested interest in the conclusion that human activity is adversely affecting the climate. It is likely, however, that there are also people who reject the idea simply because they have a vested interest in business as usual.

Finally, Professor Anthrop cites one paper in a well-respected scientific journal as evidence that climate has changed in the past and concludes therefore the present warming is part of a natural cycle. The professor knows well that there are thousands of papers written from all perspectives on the climate change processes and forces. It is the way that science works; no one paper has the definitive answer.

Martin J. Leach, Ph.D.
(atmospheric science)
Via email

Sweeping assertions

Donald F. Anthrop criticizes “unfounded climate claims” (Forum, Feb. 22) in a lengthy letter that offers little proof of his assertions. He also questions the motivation of people who disagree with him.

For example, he says that “claims that climate change is accelerating are unfounded.” Then he goes ahead that these claims are “self-serving to various groups of people who have a vested interest in promoting visions of catastrophe.”

Given that Anthrop is an emeritus professor of environmental studies, I assume he has published in journals in his field. I question whether either of his assertions would be acceptable to his learned peers. They would demand much more proof.

What “proof” he does offer is, unfortunately, mystifying. A few examples:

1) “The relationship between carbon dioxide concentration and its effect on global temperature is logarithmic rather than linear.” What’s the point?

2) “Researchers found an informative outcrop in coastal Tanzania where the Eocene-Oligocene transition is well preserved in assorted marine shells.” Again, what’s the point? To what audience is Professor Anthrop directing his comments? Even if it is one specific to his field of study, I suspect that a number of environmental experts would be scratching their heads trying to determine what conclusions can be drawn from his assertions.

Finally, Professor Anthrop says that “neither the pope nor other leaders of the Catholic Church have any understanding of physics or climate science,” and therefore should keep quiet on this topic. Wow!

Anthrop’s assertion is as sweeping as an assertion can be. Although I don’t agree with the pope on a number of important issues, I have no doubt that he discusses issues like climate change with distinguished experts. This is simply a matter of common sense. Surely the pope is sophisticated enough to avoid making proclamations on matters he hasn’t studied carefully with qualified advisors.

Tom Mader
Walnut Creek

Responsibility of conscience
I was taken aback after reading Mr. Anthrop’s attack on the Holy Father’s position on global climate change (Forum, Feb. 22). Considering that almost none of us really understand how to interpret the scientific evidence on the subject, and knowing that no one can predict the future, perhaps some common sense is in order.

For example, consider the millions upon millions of automobiles and thousands upon thousands of factories and power plants around the world pouring pollution into the atmosphere. This goes on around the world 24 hours a day, and has gone on for years upon years and decades upon decades since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Does it make sense that no serious consequences would come from this?

When you consider the possible consequences of being wrong, does it make sense to operate under the idea that everything will “most likely” be ok or that some magical future technology will make the problem disappear? The Church has a right to speak out on this issue that will affect the quality of life for generations to come. All people of conscience have a responsibility to confront this problem before it’s too late.

David Wolf
San Leandro

Pro-abortion, not pro-choice

I would like to commend Bishop Salvatore Cordileone and Archbishop George Niederauer on their respective columns about abortion (Catholic Voice, Feb. 8).

I have only one comment that I would like to make. Archbishop Niederauer referred to our opponents as “pro-choice”. They are not. They are pro-abortion and pro-death. If anyone has any doubts about this, just remember the controversy last month about the Super Bowl ad featuring Tim Tebow and his mother. Initial reports stated that the ad would feature Pam Tebow discussing her choice not to abort her son despite the risks to her health and her doctor’s recommendation that she have an abortion.

A truly “pro-choice” organization would have congratulated her on her choice and expressed their hope that all women would be allowed to make their own choices. Instead, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other pro-abortion groups went into a “shark frenzy” attack mode and tried to force CBS into censoring the ad.
I learned many years ago that if one side in an argument is allowed to control the terms of the debate, then that side has a huge advantage.

Those of us who are pro-life have to do a better job of asserting ourselves in the abortion debate. We can start by calling our opponents what they are, which is pro-abortion. If they don’t like it, tough. After all, they don’t believe that fathers have any “choice” in the matter, nor do they respect women who “choose” life for their unborn children. And, of course, they don’t believe that an unborn child has a right to life.

Another thing we can do is to stop promoting pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians. They have chosen to embrace heresy. I was very disappointed to see that in the same issue of The Voice that carried the columns by Bishop Cordileone and Archbishop Niederauer there was an announcement that pro-abortion Kathleen Kennedy Townsend would be speaking at St. Mary’s College. Why is a Catholic college giving speaking time to a heretic who has supported the killing of millions of unborn children? And why is a Catholic newspaper announcing the event? At the very least, it sends a mixed message to your readers.

Imagine if 50 years ago a Catholic politician was a supporter of segregation. Would a Catholic college invite that person to speak on their campus? Would a Catholic newspaper cover it? I would hope not. Isn’t abortion at least as great an evil as segregation? If so, then why don’t we shun these so-called Catholic politicians until they repent of the evil they have chosen to embrace?

Robert Burke

Improve the sound system

I attended the cathedral’s dedication concert for the new organ on Feb. 11. The music was awe inspiring, but the spoken words of each speaker at the microphone were not understood at all by those of us sitting in the seats of the “common man” in the back of the cathedral. Perhaps it is the echo effect, but I should think that the sound system can be tuned better.

But the real reason for my writing is that I found it simply rude that Father Quang Dong, the rector of the cathedral, was not given any acknowledgement in the evening’s beautifully printed program.

Maria Silva
Castro Valley

No place for pianos

Regarding the music used in our liturgy everywhere, the simple point that is missed by nearly all music directors is this. The organ is an instrument of worship and the piano is an instrument of entertainment.
We do not go to Catholic Church services to be entertained; we should be going to worship the Holy Trinity. There really is no place for a piano in our churches.

Unfortunately our music directors seem to feel that they need to change the music as if it were a movie theater and play the piano as if it were a concert. My own parish’s use of music in the liturgy is as if we were attending a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I now go elsewhere.

Robert Lockwood

Letters to the editor provide a forum for readers to engage in an open exchange of opinions and concerns in a climate of respect and civil discourse. The opinions expressed are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the Catholic Voice or the Diocese of Oakland. While a full spectrum of opinions will sometimes include those which dissent from Church teaching or contradict the natural moral law, it is hoped that this forum will help our readers to understand better others’ thinking on critical issues facing the Church at this time.

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