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 June 7, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 11   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Polemic rehash

Father Ron Schmit’s May 10th commentary, “The institutional Church, again in a crucible, needs reform” was neither courageous, hopeful nor refreshing. It was a mere rehash of the polemic that our laity need more collaboration in the priesthood and our priests need to behave more like the laity to “be Church.”

The net result of following such ill-advice has indeed resulted in a tragic exodus of faithful and priests from Christ’s Church.

Yes, it is Christ’s Church, His Mystical Body which has been attacked when bishops transferred men who homosexually abused predominately teen-aged young men from parish to parish. It is His Mystical Body which is attacked when discordant voices from within the clergy and religious continue to agitate for the impossibility of the ordination of women to the priesthood.

It is His Mystical Body which is attacked when Catholic parents abort their unborn or practice artificial contraception because their priests failed to preach and teach on the seriousness of these mortal sins.

It is His Mystical Body which is attacked when our youth are seduced into homosexuality because their parish priests failed to preach God’s plan for men and women and instead advocated a false tolerance of objective disorder.

It is His Mystical Body which is attacked when His Vicar, the visible head of the Church on earth, is attacked, even in Catholic publications, by our priests.

Our Blessed Mother and St. John did not bear witness to Christ by joining the voices of those urging Him to come down from the cross and then they would believe, on their own terms. They were faithful to Our Lord silent at the foot of the cross and didn’t join in with the voices of the blind clergy (the Pharisees) leading the mob of the day who just wanted to be heard.

Doug Zeitz
Via email

Deep reform needed

I agree with Peter Davey (Forum, May 10). The institutional Church is very much in need of reform; however, the reform needs to be deeper than cosmetic and must go to the root of the problem, which I perceive to be three “mistakes” made over the course of centuries — dualism, Aristotelean thinking and Roman Imperialism.

Body-soul dualism came into Christianity with the conversion of many Greek-speaking peoples in the first and second centuries. It is the source of many heresies, such as Manicheism, Catharism, Jansenism, Puritanism and others, yet still pervades the thinking of Church leaders.

This must be abandoned for more Trinitarian thinking along the line of the “psyche/soma/pneuma” formulation found in both the Torah and Gospels. In short, we are not spirits in conflict with our bodies.

Aristotelean thinking, while elegant, cannot read the mind of God. One thing we have learned from the “information revolution” is that there are always a few bugs in the system. If the output is garbage, there is something wrong with the data, the logic or both. We need to do theology with other logic systems and remind ourselves that theology is always a human endeavor.

Last century, we fought two bloody wars to finally put an end to iterations of the political Roman Empire, which was fundamentally corrupt because the emperor demanded absolute power and claimed divinity as the source of that power.

We, as human beings, must learn to live with uncertainty. It is not part of the human condition to be infallible in anything. The institutional Church needs to have another model for its organization, and I believe that should come from the New Testament and the traditions of the early Church, before Christianity became the religion of the empire.

This last reform, I fear, cannot come from the institution, as it has too many vested interests in the status quo. It will probably come from below, from the Body of Christ, and I see signs that this is already happening.

Robert H. Irwin

Forum rebuttal

Forum contributions “should be limited to 250 words,” advises The Voice. But four May 10 letters, each disparaging the Church or its bishops, exceeded 320 words.

Gloria Kunz’s 346-word missive claimed the Democrats’ healthcare scheme excludes abortion funding. Not so, as U.S. bishops reveal at www.usccb.org/healthcare.

Nevertheless, Kunz criticized bishops who’ve “taken retributive actions against some women’s religious communities and/or the Catholic Health Association” for supporting Obamacare. “Separation of church and state” and uninformed, apparently as-you-like-it “conscience” underlie Kunz’s “disgust.”

Peter Davey, East Bay coordinator for “Voice of the Faithful” activists (though not mentioning that role), reasonably condemned priest-pedophile cover-ups. But Davey’s 380-word essay reverted eventually to absolving homosexualism in the clerical abuse scandal, citing the John Jay College study as authority. Davey then advocated “open, honest dialogue on [priestly] celibacy.”

In fact, the John Jay report observes that “81 percent of victims were male,” and “older than female victims” (page 9). And “open, honest” discussion of religious celibacy would include John Paul II’s on-point apostolic letter, “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.”

Voice editors should also have appended the latter reference to eight letters (Forum, May 24) supporting Father Ron Schmit’s May 10 push to “reconsider those who can be ordained.”

Eric Grant (Forum, May 10, just 130 words) alleged that my husband’s “derisive usage of the term ‘Obamacare’” invalidated his April 26 comments. But it’s Grant who lacks credibility, having disregarded my husband’s factual exposure of Obama/Planned Parenthood “healthcare” complicity — and the deceit or ignorance of those defending it.

Sharon Arata

Church belongs to God

I’d like to respond to the letters (Forum, May 24) praising Father Ron Schmit’s commentary (Voice, May 10). Some of Father Schmit’s remarks are obviously valid. The Church is meant to change and improve. Only God is unchangeable. However, the all too prevalent tendency today is the attempt to remake and reshape the Church into our own images and likenesses to support our human desires and natural drives.

It seems to be forgotten that the Church was established by Jesus Christ, who is God, for our salvation, with all necessary truth revealed through her. The Church belongs to God, not us. It has supernatural origin. We are the members of the Church which is Christ’s Body. He is the Head. He is sovereign over us all.

We all need to become a little more humble and listen to holy mother Church whose mission is to teach and lead us to heaven. We need to stop listening to all sorts of strange ideas, some of which even border on heresy.

God does not need us to show Him how to do things. To reform the Church we need to move closer to God, not away from Him. A return to Gospel teaching is needed. Thankfully, hell will not prevail, though he keeps trying. Truth has assured us.

Diane Dawes
San Francisco

Dialog for reform

I’m calling for a serious, diocesan-wide, open, respectful dialog on Church reform. The last three Voice editions carried several letters and Father Ron Schmit’s commentary about reforms. Such a dialog can only happen if those of us concerned, laity and clergy, join freely out of our baptismal calling to improve pastoral care.

There are orders from the Vatican forbidding even discussion of some of these matters. I know that people are afraid of repercussions but together and with loving respect we can succeed.

For me, the serious reforms hindering the pastoral work of the Church are structural: Church governance, the prohibition of married clergy, and women priests. My doctrinal challenge is homosexuality, in fact sexuality in general.

Our faithfulness to love and truth-telling compel us to have this dialog, to not remain silent. We need to find ways to move together toward acceptable resolutions and healing.

Dialog has been boldly embraced by Roman Catholics with other religions. We owe the same to one another seeking communion within our own Church.

The basis must be love, the process must be listening to differences, the search must be openness to understanding. We can structure our dialog to have a real impact on change.

Contact me: tomfluce@gmail.com or 510-684-6163. The goal is to engage as many Oakland Catholics as possible and provide our Church with our considered loving recommendations for reform. Let’s get started! It is happening all over the country. See http://americancatholiccouncil.org

Tom Luce

Focus on good priests

I would like to applaud Therese Costello-Hauer of Alameda for her letter “Celebrate good priests” (Forum, May 10).

In this Year of the Priest, let us focus on those good priests whose work has been overshadowed by the negative (repulsive) actions of others in the Church, those priests who are positive models of their vocation, those who are good and effective leaders of their communities.

They have helped us through the difficult and painful times in our lives. Plus they have been there for the happy times.

These good men often live their vocations daily without acknowledgement or appreciation. So especially during this Year of the Priest, let us acknowledge and show our appreciation to these men and their vocations.

Thank you to all of them.

Denise Kandefer

Pray for the pope

In 1917, Jacinto Marto, one of the three visionaries of Fatima, saw in a vision “the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language.”

“Poor Holy Father”, she said, “we must pray very much for him” These words could certainly apply today to the vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI, as he is being held up to unprecedented ridicule and scorn by a hateful press. For all of the unfair attempts to tar him with responsibility for one or another instance of priestly child abuse, the evidence is flimsy to nonexistent to nonsensical.

The world knows that the Catholic Church is the last bastion of hope against a materialistic world that craves immorality at every step, including homosexual conduct, same-sex “marriage”, abortion, euthanasia, radical feminism, contraception, embryonic stem-cell research and cloning.

The pope is doing everything in his power to weed out those priests guilty of sexual abuse and to justly compensate victims for their suffering.

But we must pray for the Pope and for the Church! “Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness, the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (Matthew 5:10). Let us unite our prayers with the children of Fatima, who may have been praying for this very pope in their vision.

Jim Crowley
Walnut Creek

Immigration reform

Kudos to Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City and to the other bishops who are loudly pleading for a human, comprehensive federal immigration reform.

Some 12 to 20 million undocumented immigrants are today living in the United States. Deporting them, however, would create many serious human and practical problems: many children would be left without a father or without a mother; our agricultural system would tragically and suddenly be deprived of thousands of needed workers; American citizens would have to take their places washing dishes, cleaning hotel rooms, picking artichokes, etc.

All undocumented immigrants are at fault for having crossed our borders illegally, for having overstayed their visas, or for permitting American employers to get rich by hiring them as illegal workers.

Our federal employees are at fault for neglecting to properly control national borders, for neglecting to see that legal immigrants with temporary working papers actually leave when their permits expire, but, especially, for failing to arrest the thousands of employers who personally profit from illegal and very cheap, immigrant labor.

Since both undocumented immigrants and federal employees are at fault, a sensible compromise is required, a wise legal solution, also acknowledging that it was immigration (yes, both legal and illegal) that really built our nation. We, or our parents, or our grandparents are all immigrants.

It was Ronald Reagan who in 1986 tried to meet a similar problem with an American type of quasi-amnesty. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), signed by President Reagan on Nov. 6, 1986, was an Act of Congress which tried to reform U.S. immigration law, and granted amnesty to certain illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before Jan. 1, 1982 and had resided here continuously.

Perhaps what is needed is a good review of what President Reagan was trying to do in the ‘80s, with carefully updated refinements and with a number of necessary corrections.

Father Larry N. Lorenzoni, S.D.B.
San Francisco

A miracle of message

Everyone has had one of those days when the world bears down on your shoulders and you feel like an adult in child’s shoes — ready to cry.

I boarded a plane bound for Colorado Springs, and soon a calm and stillness arrived. As the plane made its way over San Jose I dozed off, only to be awakened minutes later to the brightest light ever I had in my life.

It lasted three to five seconds, but I thought that even with my eyes shut I was not going be able to endure the brightness of it. I realized that God was telling me — for us all, especially my two boys — that his love for us is the most powerful thing ever and that he loves us all so dearly and wants each of us to eventually be with him.

I understood that we must be steadfast and patient and that God is ever vigilant at our sides. Even though we don’t see him, hear him, smell him, or touch him, he is ever so strong in our moment-to-moment surroundings.

As this experience slowly overwhelmed me, I was in tears at this phenomenal message. The sun had reflected itself from the left wing, but the experience was vitally real and I call it a miracle of message.

Robert Trias Chavez

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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