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Catholic Voice

 July 5, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Wise and humane solutions

In reference to Father Larry Lorenzoni’s excellent letter, “Immigration Reform” (Forum, June 7), he states that “all undocumented immigrant workers are at fault for having crossed our borders illegally.”

Yet, shouldn’t we remember that just because an act is illegal, it isn’t automatically immoral? It depends on the circumstances.

If the worker has immigrated because that is his only way of getting enough money to let his family live decently, then his illegal immigration is actually the virtuous thing to do.

There is something very wrong and unjust about this state of affairs where to be virtuous you have to be illegal.

The problem is caused by factors which won’t go away: the great economic disparity between the U.S. and the countries to the south, our great demand for the resulting cheap labor pool willing to work here, and our long border.

Let’s hope that our legislators soon follow Father Lorenzoni’s suggestions and come up with wise and humane solutions. Isn’t this the Christian thing to do?

Robert Anelli

Ministry and prison reform

I applaud the work of Father Padraig Greene and others as they provide Catholic Detention Ministry in our diocese. The Voice’s wonderful article (June 21) encourages all of us to get involved in this ministry, which gives back so much to those who visit and share the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I was honored to attend an “outside team” Kairos closing day retreat at Santa Rita last fall with women from all over the diocese, and I can attest to the moving testimonies by both prisoners and parishioners alike.
I encourage all who participate in this wonderful ministry to consider taking a course which enriches and challenges us to do more about the prison system in our country and would complement the tremendous work of Catholic Detention Ministry. Currently a group of 11 parishioners from three parishes is taking a six-week course at Corpus Christi Church in Piedmont. “Prison Reform: Church of the Second Chance” is sponsored by JustFaith.

We are learning about prisons, prisoners and our system and reflecting on biblical Scripture and “crime” in the bible.

Since the early 1970s, the number of inmates in U.S. jails and penitentiaries has grown sevenfold, from 300,00 to 2.3million.

Although only 4.6 percent of the global population lives in America, 22 percent of the world’s prison population is housed in U.S. correctional centers.

A 700 percent increase in the number of inmates produced a 0 percent change in levels of offending. The crime rate in 2003 was precisely the same as in 1973.

Instead of lowering crime, mass incarceration has only produced a new public safety problem: huge hosts of ex-convicts. Each year, prison departments throughout America discharge 672,000 inmates who have finished their sentences.

67.5 percent of those 672,000 will re-offend within three years of their release.

African Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population but represent more than 49 percent of prisoners in state and federal prisons.

Hispanic Americans make up 9 percent of the U.S. population but 19 percent of prisoners in state and federal prisons.

We, as a group studying this problem, will be advocating for true rehabilitation in prisons and preventions such as better education and social services for our youth.

As our U.S. bishops have said in their 2000 statement on criminal justice, “Our tasks are to restore a sense of civility and responsibility to everyday life, and promote crime prevention and genuine rehabilitation.
“The common good is undermined by criminal behavior that threatens the lives and dignity of others and by policies that seem to give up on those who have broken the law (offering too little treatment and too few alternatives to either years in prison or the execution of those who have been convicted of terrible crimes).”
Further information about this course: www.justfaith.org/programs/justmatters-m_prisonreform.html. Or LMJTBOW@pacbell.net

Meg Bowerman

(Meg Bowerman is volunteer coordinator for JustFaith in the Oakland Diocese.)

A difficult decision

It was heartwarming to see the concern for Mercy Sister Margaret McBride (Forum, June 21). I attended Mercy High in San Francisco with her and always found her to be kind, caring and gentle — a genuinely good person. To have to make the decision she did, along with others on the ethics committee, had to be so difficult.

I am a staunch pro-lifer. Yet, faced with the prospect of losing two human beings or being given the gift to be able to save one (a mother, no less), what other decision can you come to?

Our bishops, cardinals and popes seem to be so out of touch with real life. The Church should not be a static institution full of irrelevant, archaic laws made by men hundreds of years ago in a much smaller world. It should be alive, representing all of us who live each day the best we can, trying to get by, trying to help those around us, trying to be good stewards and representatives of Christ.

That’s why Father Ron Schmit’s commentary (Voice, May 10) was so valuable. Whether you agree or disagree with him, he has gotten a dialogue going, a dialogue that the Church hierarchy needs to seriously listen to.

I attended Catholic schools for 17 years. I have a strong faith in God. However, the institutional Church keeps pushing me farther and farther away with the decisions it has been making and I am saddened by the prospect of perhaps joining another church with more love and understanding — a better representative of Christ.

The bright light at the end of this story is that some children had their mother come home to them because of some compassionate people who made the right decision.

And I am prouder than ever of the Mercy nuns, who taught me for 13 years, who are supporting brave Margaret and standing up to a bishop who is totally out of line.

Sister Margaret McBride, you are my hero!

Anne Dee Watson

(Editor’s note: The front page of this issue includes a Catholic News Service story explaining the theological and moral differences between direct and indirect abortion as articulated by the U.S. Bishops Committee on Doctrine.)

Church is Christ’s

According to the Creed, Catholics believe that the Church in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Christ founded the Church, so its origin is divine. He founded it on Peter and gave him the authority to bind and loosen on earth. He also promised the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

We cannot reform a divine institution. Clergy and laity alike have an obligation to seek holiness and that is how the reformation must take place.

Patricia Werner

Food for Thought

Recent comments in Reader’s Forum speaks to the essence of certain so-called “Pro-Life” Christians.
One writer urged that those who claim to be “Pro-Choice” be referred to and called “Pro-Abortion.” The comments encouraged the self-pronounced “Pro-Life” supporters not to vote for any elected public servant that is labeled by same as a “Pro-Choice” official.

This is an interesting idea, but would this include a boycott of votes on all elected public servants that do not support all “Pro-Life” issues.

I’m referring to support of the death penalty, cuts in welfare programs, war and, of course, the debate on affordable health care for all. It seems to me that certain “Pro-Life” Christians are asking to only consider one life issue. This is a very simple-minded way of avoiding the many issues that our God’s earth is facing as far as a lack of respect for life.

I sometimes wonder if Jesus was to walk this earth today, where would he walk first to discuss the importance of life. Would he go to an abortion clinic, a war zone, homeless shelter, soup kitchen for the hungry, a slaughter house, the Department of Defense to see how we are spending billions of dollars to find ways to destroy His earth, a person dying of an illness because he/she could not afford proper healthcare coverage, the glaciers melting due to global warming?

Or would He just go to the tallest mountain, sit down and cry?

“Respect Life” is broader than just one single issue and we, as a people created in His image, just don’t get it.

Please open your hearts to the many social injustices happening throughout this country and world before you decide who to vote for or judge.

Joseph A. Maraccini

Recommended reading

Sister Carol Anne O’Marie was a founder of A Friendly Place in Oakland and the author of 11 mystery novels. She died in May 2009 right after finishing her novel, “Like A Swarm of Bees.”

It is not a mystery, but about the early missions of the Sisters of St. Joseph through the eyes of a novice, Sister Protais. The book is now available and is an easy and informative read. It is available from www.cproductions.org.

Mary McMahon

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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