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 April 12, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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The worst scandal

Although it pains my 75-year old cradle-Catholic heart to say so, Pope Benedict XVI needs to resign as Bishop of Rome. I believe he must do so to save his/our Church from the worst scandal of its history.

But, before he goes, Benedict should do three things:

1) Remove Cardinal Bernard Law from the position John Paul II famously gave him after Cardinal Law left Boston in disgrace.

2) Remove from any position of authority all other bishops throughout the world whose glaring sins of omission enabled the horrors of child abuse to proliferate.

3) Adopt throughout the Universal Church the U.S. Church’s standards of zero-tolerance, immediate reporting to civil authorities, and removal from the priesthood of abusers.

Our beloved Catholic Church can no longer be held hostage by a hierarchy that places defense of the institution above the defense of its children. Such an institution does not deserve to be called Christian.

Jesus Christ made it crystal clear how he viewed abuse of His “Little Ones.” Jesus made it equally clear that His apostles were to be the servants of His followers. He spoke not one word about preserving the hierarchy of the Church founded in His name.

Jesus led by bold example, driving moneychangers from the Temple. It is time for Peter’s successor to act boldly, in the name of Jesus. Regrettably, Benedict’s leadership path in bringing the Church back to a credible fresh start, leads him through the steps of resignation.

James K. Brennan
Walnut Creek

Unwise decision

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the historic health care reform bill. The Catholic Health Association, which represents more than 2,000 Catholic hospitals and medical providers, endorsed the bill. A group of 60 nuns from orders they say represent 59,000 Catholic Sisters endorsed the bill. Rep. Bart Stupak, a Catholic Michigan Democrat holdout, endorsed the bill.

To the end, the U.S. Conference of Catholic of Bishops did not endorse the bill; thus, the bishops joined with the Republican Party in its opposition to a comprehensive overhaul of the American health care system. This decision could prove to be a very unwise. In many ways, it is like the American nation has moved forward, while the Conference of Bishops has stayed entrenched and behind.

George Fulmore

Unwarranted concerns

After reading the March 22 issue of The Catholic Voice and after listening to media coverage regarding the Health Care Reform Bill, I again became disappointed in the stance that the Catholic bishops have taken towards the bill. My understanding is that federal funds will not be used for abortion.

The concerns of the bishops, to me, seem to be unwarranted. Why are their concerns strictly focused on the abortion language? Should they not have also considered how many millions can be affected in a positive way as well?

I feel the bishops need to be reminded that having the “pro life” position does not only apply to the unborn. The fact that bishops/clergy have covered up priest molestations of young children is inexcusable and a violation of the respect for the sanctity of life for those children who were affected. To add salt to the wounds of the molested, these clergymen were not defrocked, but reassigned to other parishes with the possibility of molestations occurring again. Where does the protection of all life come into play with these actions?
I feel that the passage of the health reform bill is a good thing. I hope that in time, as the law moves forward, many will be grateful for its passage.

Mary Morrissette

Disturbing discrimination

The item (News in Brief, Voice, March 22) about the children of lesbians being refused enrollment at a Boulder Catholic school is really disturbing. Since when did admission to a Catholic education require being even a baptized Catholic? Within our own Diocese of Oakland, many school enrollments include non-Catholics.

In the news item referenced, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver is quoted as saying, “If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.”

Does that mean children of divorced parents, or parents who practice birth control, or parents who don’t attend Sunday Eucharist, or parents who differ with some church discipline like clerical celibacy, woman’s ordination or homosexuality should not be permitted to attend a Catholic School? If that were the case, we wouldn’t need many Catholic schools at all.

I am not a big fan of slogans, but “What Would Jesus Say?” Jesus was about bringing people in — the least, the lowliest, the marginal. He said He came to give life and give it abundantly. Church that is the believing community would embrace these children. Would that the hierarchical Church would do the same.

Marilynne Homitz

Not to be missed

There could not have been a better Easter message than Brian Copeland’s testimony (Voice, March 22). I feel it should be reprinted in parish bulletins for all to read who missed it in The Voice. His local presentations of “Not a Genuine Black Man” are not only entertaining but thought provoking and inspirational.

Mary McMahon

No cell phones in church

I would venture to say that most Christians are aware of the story in the Scriptures about Jesus overturning the tables of the merchants outside the Temple. Jesus’ words were, “My Father’s house is a house of prayer, and you have made it a den of thieves.”

So here we are in 2010 and not much has changed in the disrespect of people in the Lord’s house. I am speaking of cell phones. More often, the Mass is rudely interrupted by the ringing of a cell phone, and interestingly it occurs mostly during the homily.

Recently during Mass at my parish, cell phones rang four times during the homily and the priest tried to make some kind of a joking excuse and incorporate it into his message.

For me, and I am sure many others, it is a blatant insult and disrespect for God, the people and God’s house. Just once, I would love to hear the priest who is celebrating Mass chastise the guilty party for the disrespect. If Jesus was physically present at Mass, would cell phone owners think twice about making sure the phone was turned off or would they wait for Him to turn them over as He did the tables in his father’s Temple?

Pam Brady
Pleasant Hill

Trumpet and clashing cymbals

The Lockwood letter (Forum, March 8) decrying use of pianos during liturgy appears to express a dismal lack of information on the part of the writer and the writer’s unexplained disdain for this instrument.

His letter makes one wonder how he would handle the use of oboe, harp, ten-string harp, lyre, ten-string lyre, trumpet, horn, cymbal, drum, strings, reeds or any of the other instruments listed in the Psalms for the praise and glory of Yahweh.

In my view, the piano is a harp writ large, though some might argue that it is a percussion instrument of drum, of sorts.

The best response to Mr. Lockwood lies in Psalm 150:

           Praise God in his temple on earth,
           Praise him in his temple in heaven,
           Praise him for his mighty achievements
           Praise him for his transcendent greatness!
           Praise him with blasts of the trumpet,
           Praise him with lyre and harp,
           Praise him with drums and dancing,
           Praise him with strings and reeds,
           Praise him with clashing cymbals,
           Praise him with clanging cymbals,
           Let everything that breathes praise Yahweh!

Psalm 150 aside, one must consider that the organ, electric or pipe, is a very difficult instrument to master and there are very few accomplished organists around.

Albert Limberg

Liturgical treachery

One would be hard-pressed to find a piano in an Orthodox church. On the other hand, one would not find it at all difficult to locate one in a Protestant church. This is because the use of the piano in liturgy is really a Protestant invention. Why, as Catholics (Latin-rite or Byzantine), do we feel so compelled to make our liturgy a music festival filled with pianos and lutes?

I would joke that perhaps we should include sitars and didgeridoos as well. Sadly, I am sure that this would be neither a joke nor a novel idea. If we continue down this path of theological and liturgical treachery, we will become Protestants. If that is what you want, please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

John-Paul Deol

Many instruments of worship

Mr. Lockwood (Forum, March 8) has a limited view of worship. I agree that he should find a worship setting that inspires him, but he is incorrect in saying the piano is not an instrument of worship, but only for entertainment. (By the way, organs are also instruments of entertainment.)

Many different instruments are used throughout the world in the Catholic liturgy. Not only is the piano an instrument of worship, so is the accordion. And the bandoneon, now associated with the tango, was designed for worship in German churches that could not afford an organ.

The Psalmist exhorts us to praise God with trumpet sound, harp and lyre, timbrel and dance, stringed instruments and pipe, and crashing cymbals. I’m pretty sure that if pianos were around in that day, they’d be in the line up.

Ann McChesney-Young

Why parish nurses?

A “new” ministry, referred to as the Parish Nurse Program, has arrived at St. Ignatius Parish in Antioch. The program claims, according to the March 8 Voice article, to be an additional aid in bringing spiritual and physical health and healing to parishioners.

In 1996, the L.A. Times wrote about parish nurse program in a Presbyterian church in Hollywood. The article’s subtitle was: “Clinics at schools and churches?” It went on to describe the innovative use of church as the point of contact of potential new clients for government health and welfare programs.

The parish nurse program, also referred to as Church-Based Health Care, was developed in the 1980s by Granger Westberg, a Lutheran-trained minister. It was modeled on programs he visited while accompanying a government health care fact-finding trip to China.

The internet carries several parish nursing programs and descriptions, http://www.parishnurse.org/about-the-program.html#philosophy

The parish nurse is described as one who, acting on a level of authority with the pastor, liaisons between the faith community and the civic community, forming partnerships outside the church with other community health and welfare resources. She is an integrator of faith and health. She connects family members with the community resources she deems necessary including, in California, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs.

Parishes have realized financial gain for signing up clients with government programs.
Is this to be the role of the Church in the 21st century?

Camille Giglio
Walnut Creek

Inflammatory claims

Robert Burke (Forum, March 8) attacked reproductive health care providers’ and advocates’ supposed knee-jerk response to the Tim Tebow Super Bowl advertisement.

Many groups, not merely pro-choice organizations, did have a problem with the decision made by CBS to air certain advocacy advertisements, while excluding others. However, Ms. Tebow’s choice was certainly not the primary issue in the matter. Yet, Mr. Burke used a broad range of negative reactions to the TV spot to lump all pro-choice groups together under a supposed “pro-death” umbrella.

Regarding Ms. Tebow’s choice, Mr. Burke claimed that, “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.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Burke’s evidence and argument were fundamentally flawed.

In a statement released prior to the advertisement’s airing, Planned Parenthood publicly expressed their support for Ms. Tebow’s decision, and her ability to make her own choice regarding her reproductive health. Planned Parenthood stated that, “The Tebows’ story is compelling, and central to it is the fact that we must respect the ability of every woman to make important medical decisions for herself and her family, after receiving counsel from medical professionals, religious leaders, family members, or others she trusts.”
Mr. Burke chose to rely on false claims to assert his opinion that pro-choice groups mask a true desire to promote abortion in every circumstance. If someone chooses to make inflammatory claims, they should at least research the facts to back them up.

Kristen La Follette

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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