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 October 18, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Too much silence

I am so proud that finally a priest, Father Jim Schexnayder, (Forum, Oct. 4) spoke out on the perceived persecution of all American Muslims, and in particular the American Muslim mosque that is proposed for several blocks from the site of the horrific attack in New York City.

But why have not the “Princes of the Church” — the cardinals and bishops — stood with the Muslim community? Why are they silent? As a community of people under God, they should be providing all of us in Catholic Christian Love for all people.

Have the leaders of the American Catholic Church forgotten the history of Roman Catholics in these United States? Have they forgotten why the State of Maryland was carved out to protect Catholics from persecution by the Protestants majority?

Have they forgotten how silent they were during the Jim Crow period when blacks were enslaved, lynched, imprisoned for being black in these United States?

As an older black Catholic, baptized shortly after birth, and as a United States Marine, I am saddened to know that the American Catholic Church’s leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand rather than stand physically and vocally for all God’s people — Christian, Jew, Muslim. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, has spoken out, but where are the active princes? These leaders are not preaching the words of Jesus Christ by not speaking out.

Felix Guillory

Public schools misrepresented

Journalist Valerie Schmalz’s article “Parents reminded of right to ‘opt out’ of school programs” (Voice, Sept. 20) was placed on the front page, but its content misrepresents public schools.

The opening paragraph relies on the California bishops’ misguided objectionable education list, which leads Schmalz to ridiculous statements that public schools give “instruction in how to perform sexual acts” and “instruction in the ins and outs of witchcraft and the conjuring of spirits.” Schmalz and the bishops should visit our public schools to learn facts about them.

As a parent of three former public school students and as a 25-year classroom teacher, I have never heard of any school or teacher giving such instruction. Schmalz and the bishops insult those of us who work hard to educate young people and seem to suggest Catholics should be afraid of their local public schools.

Examining the website of the California Catholic Conference, as listed in the article, I found the bishops’ “Objectionable Education” list which says students should not be given instruction in tolerance of diverse lifestyles; yet Christ taught tolerance.

Do the bishops intend that Catholics be intolerant?

The bishops suggest students not visit a counselor at school, yet these highly educated, trained professionals listen compassionately and help students in crisis to avoid self-destructive behavior.

The list says students should not receive education about homosexuality. How are facts damaging?

The list objects to “meditation, yoga, conjuring of spirits.” Why do the bishops think someone who participates in meditation or yoga is “conjuring spirits”?

I believe our Church leaders, priests, and families need more, not less, education and tolerance to face today’s challenges.

Christine Wise

Positive about public schools

It is good that the California bishops have reminded parents of their parental responsibility to oversee their children’s educational curricula (Voice, Sept. 20). Unfortunately, they seem to be taking their approach from talk radio or partisan network media — creating fear and sensationalism rather than inviting rational conversation.

Presenting extreme and dubious examples of “witchcraft” and “teaching sex acts” reminds me of some of my more extreme Protestant relatives. They would accuse Catholics of scheming to “have the pope take over the country” or call the Catholic Church a “cult” in a pejorative way. Silly! Even if there are some isolated examples of such behavior in public schools (because one can always find isolated craziness) is it endemic of the whole system?

As a pastor, my experience of the public school system has been very positive. For 11 years St. Anne Parish in Byron rented facilities from the Byron Unified School District. We used a public school for all those years for Mass on Sunday, catechism and parish functions. We interacted with the principal, staff and school district on a regular basis. During that time two of the superintendents were Catholic.

In the past, the local Protestant pastors of the area and I have been invited in to talk about religion. I once was invited to speak to the fifth grade about where all the different Christian groups come from. The children were reading about them in American history.

Once, the superintendent called to ask me about Islam. An Evangelical Christian was protesting that the children were taught that Islam worships the same God as Christians and Jews. The person was saying they do not; they worship some god called “Allah.” I informed the superintendent that “Allah” is the Arabic word for “God.”

Unfortunately, this situation, aided by a “Catholic” law society (out of Ave Maria University), developed into a lawsuit. The district was being sued for religious bias in teaching Islam. They and Fox News never bothered to question the local pastors. They never asked about how the district was more than accommodating to all faiths, groups and parents who wanted to “opt out.” It tied the district up in a lawsuit for several years.

The public school system has a monumental task. Unlike Catholic schools, they cannot select who gets in. They cannot reject anyone. They must work with everyone. That is much more difficult.

I am a product of Catholic education. I am proud of it and I am a supporter of it. But if we are to help Catholic schools to succeed we cannot do it by demonizing public education. After all, as The Voice has pointed out, nine out of 10 Catholic children go to public schools.

I have found many good, decent and honest people working for the education of our children in the public school system. Many of these people are Catholics. Jesus calls us to be a leaven in the world, not a paranoid sect. Rather than engendering fear, should we not help lift the burden of public education?

Rev. Ronald G. Schmit, Pastor
St Anne Parish, Byron

Cup contaminated

In the past couple of months I attended Sunday Mass at various churches in the vicinity of my church where I regularly worship and where Holy Communion is received only under the species of bread.

What I observed at the other churches where Communion was received under the species of wine at the option of the communicant left me wondering about its sanitary aspect.

The several Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion conspicuously sanitized their hands just before Communion from bottles of disinfectant placed on each side of the sanctuary. When distributing Communion they handed the cup of wine in turn to each communicant who handed it back after taking a sip. This meant the cup became contaminated through contact with the hands of the many communicants.

Upon getting the cup back the Extraordinary Ministers wiped the lip of the cup with a napkin, which meant the lip of the cup and the napkin now also became contaminated.

Surely the attempts at decontamination are farcical. Not only that, the whole disinfecting process detracts from the reverence that befits the holiness of the sacrament, and is a distraction in terms of receiving Communion with devotion and dignity.

Last but not least, it appalled me to see little children not much older than seven years of age taking a sip of alcohol. Starting them young?

In my opinion, the well-meaning souls in Vatican II who instituted the option of Communion under the appearance of wine in the belief that it made for a more complete Eucharistic banquet did a disservice to the Church. Holy Communion under the species of bread alone should be reinstated. That’s the way it is at Mass on EWTN.

Horatio Ozorio

Silence cell phones

I am a parishioner of St. Felicitas in San Leandro. Before each Mass begins, we are asked to kindly turn off our cell phones. Apparently some people don’t get the message for whatever reason, perhaps because they come in after the procession and don’t hear the announcement. On an average Sunday, I hear three or four cell phones go off and sometimes during Holy Communion.

The fact is, cell phones should not be in church for any reason whatsoever. I always leave mine in the car during Mass. We are at Mass for approximately one hour; we can do without our cell phones for that short of time. My family and friends know where I’m at during Mass and can find me there if there is an emergency.

I find it completely disruptive and disrespectful when I hear a cell phone ring during Mass. We all need to remember that the sole purpose of being there is to worship God — period.

Marilyn Decker Consaul
San Lorenzo

God’s definition

I take my hat off to Cindy Rocha (‘Prune away abusers’, Forum, Oct. 4). These falsifiers of truth pervert the basic categories of good and evil, darkness is confused with light, and the bitter for the sweet. The truth is so twisted that life and reality are turned upside down.

They act quickly and self-righteously to acquit the perpetrator of evil and to condemn the victim or the innocent. In fact, they end up calling the arrogant most blessed and happy.

It is amazing how creative sinners can be in rationalizing sin when they want to justify their own way. The path taken by such rationalization is one of self-aggrandizement.

Calling evil good and good evil define a depraved mind. In our day of moral relativism, tolerance becomes the absolute good, and under this standard, prohibition of immorality becomes intolerance and therefore evil.

We must ask ourselves where we are compromising God’s definition of good and evil in order to be acceptable in the eyes of the unbelieving world.

Maggie Silva
Walnut Creek

Gratitude for editor

Under the leadership of Monica Clark, The Catholic Voice has given a voice to many Catholics. As a grateful recipient of this journal, I want to give thanks for her many shared gifts.

I had the privilege of first meeting Monica when she taught at our alma mater (Immaculate Conception Academy) in San Francisco. Some seeds were planted, because I later developed a strong drive to write. I thank The Catholic Voice for giving me an avenue to be heard.

It seems fitting that Monica gave 40 years of service to Catholic communications before retiring. As she embarks on this new path of life, I pray she may receive God’s blessings. I ask Our Lord to continue to use us, as we continue our journeys of life.

Carmen Hartono

God is the peacemaker

Thank you, President Obama, for ending a war that no other administration was able to do. By bringing our troops home, God will win the war, via you, for the American people and for the world.

The people in the Middle East, as well as theologians and historians, know that our wars will not end the history of strife in the region.

Only our Creator can and will end the historic chaos there. Once America and the world return to God as our only source of peace, we will regain the favor of God, thus restoring our infrastructure and economic status at home and in the world.

Our troops could best be used to provide special security units here in the U.S., thus creating needed jobs, especially in areas of high interest to our enemies.

Lena Regina Wilkerson

Rights threatened

Striking down Proposition 8 threatens the rights and liberties of the majority of citizens. The threat is particularly acute for people whose religious faith adheres to the prohibition against homosexual acts given in Scripture.

Will Catholic colleges be required to provide “married student housing” for same-sex couples? Will Catholic elementary schools be forced to teach from “Heather Has Two Mommies” ? Will priests be jailed for “hate crimes” because they preached against homosexual acts?

On Sept. 15, 2008, a California court ruled against two doctors who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian woman because of their religious beliefs, although they had made a medical referral to other providers without those conflicts of conscience.

On May 11, 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston, a respected organization that had placed more orphans in homes than any other organization in the state since its founding in 1903, decided to shut down its adoption agency rather than comply with state law requiring homosexuals be allowed to adopt children.

Under California law, homosexual domestic partnerships already have all the legal rights and privileges of heterosexual marriage.

What Proposition 8 protects is freedom of choice to not only believe that homosexual acts are morally wrong, but to act on that belief without being accused of and legally liable for discrimination. Wake up, Americans, to what this debate is all about.

Jim Crowley
Walnut Creek

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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