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 November 22, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Thanks for sabbatical support

On Aug. 1, the New York Times published an article by Paul Vitello concerning clergy burnout and the need for rest, including sabbatical leaves, for those engaged in full-time Church ministry.

I have recently returned from a year-long sabbatical after 23 years as a priest for the Oakland Diocese, 10 of those years as pastor of St. Columba Parish in Oakland. The past 12 months took me to sabbatical programs in Washington, D.C., and the Vatican and study of Spanish in Mexico. I had a chance to travel through the Holy Land, and to spend time in Hawaii, working in a Honolulu parish and visiting family on Oahu during the holidays.

I wanted to acknowledge and thank all those who made this time possible. First and foremost, I am grateful to God for the gift of the time away and my safe return back to the diocese. I am also grateful to God for the people and resources that enabled me to step away for a year.

I am grateful to Father Augustine Joseph and the parish community of St. Felicitas, San Leandro, for their warm welcome upon my return to the diocese. Thank you to all of you, and may God’s blessings be yours.

Father Jayson Landeza, Parochial vicar
St. Felicitas Parish, San Leandro

Proponents untouched by 9/11

In response to Felix Guillory (Reader’s Forum, Oct. 18), I must be perfectly honest in stating I really don’t know what side of the issue he is on or what side the “Princes of the Church” are on, but if we consider the thoughts and feelings of one who first, seeks the Wisdom of God, but also has lost a baby brother in the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, just maybe some light could appear.

Why ask the Church what its feelings are; ask the families of those who were murdered how they feel. As Americans, we have been blessed with liberties and freedoms no other country on earth can claim, and one of them is the right and freedom of speech and of expressing our opinions without threat. But with the many freedoms and liberties we have some responsibilities.

The issue of building a Muslim mosque so close to Ground Zero is absolutely within the boundaries of the right of freedom of speech and expression.

But, that is not, and never will be, the issue. The issues are sensitivity and respect. I so clearly remember the battle cry of the tragedy of 9/11 and that was “Never Forget.” Sadly, some have allowed themselves to forget the unspeakable horror so many families experienced, because if they haven’t forgotten, they would feel in their hearts the immediate response to building a mosque on such sacred ground is unforgivable.

It seems that those who have lost little or nothing are the ones who see no harm in continuing the suffering of those who have lost far too much.

Pam Brady
Pleasant Hill

Encourage respect for Mass

It is not unusual in our diocese when a priest does not show up to celebrate weekday Mass, for someone from the congregation to hold a Communion service.

Guidelines were issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops International Commission on English in the Liturgy in 1974 that were confirmed by the Apostolic See.

However some bishops have restricted this practice. Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., put an end to weekday Communion services in 2008 saying that it “would bring the archdiocese into conformity with the liturgical norms of the church” He said that Communion services sever “the connection between receiving the sacrament and celebrating the sacrifice.”

The 2004 Vatican document Redemp-toris Sacramentum from the offices of the Congre-gation for Divine Worship and the Dis-cipline of the Sacraments, on certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist, was signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze. The document stated that it is in the power of the local bishop to discern whether to allow Communion services (n.165). It said permission must not be easily granted “especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday” (n. 166).

Maybe it’s time to revisit this practice in our diocese for the same reasons Bishop Murphy gave, “to avoid any sort of confusion between this type of gathering and the celebration of the Eucharist.” It might encourage more respect for the Mass, even though people would leave church disappointed.

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

Expand inclusiveness efforts

Our diocese is justifiably proud of its diversity and has held its Chautauqua celebration for 16 years (Voice, Oct 18). I have followed that celebration and other similar parish celebrations of diversity for many years. The diocese continues this outreach through many ethnic, pastoral and cultural centers to the various minority communities. However, I have observed few, if any, attempts to foster inclusiveness.

In many parishes the various minority communities come together once a year to celebrate diversity. The remainder of the year they remain separate but distinct enclaves within the general community. They rarely attend parish functions but only attend those they sponsor for their own, even to the point of demanding separate liturgies.

Few join other parish organizations such as the Knights of Columbus or St. Vincent de Paul. As in politics, it appears that the leaders of each minority community refuse to encourage their members to assimilate out of fear of losing their followers, power and status. Unfortunately neither the diocese nor the pastors seem to have any ongoing programs to encourage inclusiveness. This is unfortunate. Over the years, my wife and I have attended various ethnic celebrations and functions and have always felt welcome.

I am thankful there are some parishes in which this is not occurring. My own parish, St. Augustine in Oakland, is one. We are a very diverse parish. However, we are one worshiping, social and caring community. This makes me feel proud and as one with my fellow parishioners.

Clifford R. Wiesner

Gender pronouns have purpose

I was distracted at Mass by a very slight word change, well-intentioned, I am sure. Holding high the Host before Holy Communion, the celebrant said, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to the Lord’s supper.”

Since “lamb” is a masculine noun in English, the Missal is correct: “Happy are those who are called to His supper.”

What distracted me was the thought of Christina Hoff Summers, author of “Who Stole Feminism.” She singled out some well-intentioned, patronizing males who refuse to accept the fact that pronouns exist in a language to take the place of nouns. “Blessed be the Lord, for He has poured out His mercy upon us,” turns into an awkward, “Blessed be the Lord, for the Lord has poured the Lord’s mercy upon us,” which avoids the masculine “his” and which causes even respectable feminists to look ridiculous (hence our “stealing feminism.“)

“God” and “Lord” are grammatically masculine nouns in English, with “his” as their proper pronoun. Francis of Assisi’s “Brother Sun and Sister Moon,” from his “Canticle of the Creatures” in English becomes an odd-sounding (for us) “Sister Sun and Brother Moon” in German. So what? Gender is just a grammatical fact. There is nothing sexual about it.

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

Christians can afford to leave

In his letter (Reader’s Forum, Nov. 8), David Donovan trots out some of the tired myths about Christian emigration from the Middle East.

Christians in the Western-backed Arab dictatorships face the same problems of repression as their Muslim counterparts, no more, no less. They emigrate because, by and large, they can afford to.

In the case of Iraq, where Christians lived in relative harmony with the regime and with their neighbors, the invasion of 2002 changed everything. Pope John Paul II had taken the unprecedented step of sending Cardinal Pio Laghi to dissuade President Bush from invading Iraq, because it would be an immoral act by any ethical standard and it would spell disaster for the Christians of Iraq. President Bush paid no heed and the invasion went ahead with predictable consequences.

As for Israel, Christians are comparatively privileged for the sectarian reason that “they are not Muslims.” In the West Bank, it is the Israeli occupation that makes life difficult for them, hence they tend to emigrate. In the West Bank and Gaza there is a long and honorable tradition of cooperation between Christians and Muslims in opposing the cruel Israeli occupation.

Anyone who reads the statements from the recent Synod of Bishops for the Middle East will detect a very different tone and different concerns than the anti-Islamic rhetoric that pervades Donovan’s letter.

Father Declan Deane
Pleasant Hill

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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