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 December 13, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 21   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Education document corrected

Several Voice readers questioned the subject list under the category of “objectionable education” in the brochure, “Information for Parents and Guardians with Students in Public Schools.” The list was not created by the bishops, but I had mistakenly believed the list came from the California state education codes when in fact it came from parents of public school students reporting from their personal experience.

That incorrect information was given to the author of the Voice story regarding the brochure. She has since been contacted and provided with the accurate information.

To remedy the situation, the text of the brochure has been edited to put the issue in context and make necessary clarifications. The corrected document has been re-posted on our website, www.cacatholic.org.

I do appreciate the advocacy of the Voice readers. Together we must be able to more effectively empower parents to partner with the public school leadership and teachers for the well-being of our children. The California bishops remain committed to the public school system in which the majority of Catholic school children receive their education.

Ned Dolejsi,
Executive director,
California Catholic Conference,

Saint touched close to home

Thank you for the outstanding coverage of the six newly canonized saints. The story of French-Canadian Holy Cross Brother Andre Bessette was of particular interest to me as my sister-in-law Rita Boutin Stark of Dumfries, Va., is French-Canadian.

I sent her the article which she shared with her sister Rose Boutin of Montreal. She learned her brother-in-law Maurice Boutin, Rose’s husband, was one of Brother Bessette’s miracles. In 2002, Maurice had been diagnosed by two doctors with advanced throat cancer and given a few months to live. He went to St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal, founded by Brother Bessette. He was too weak to climb the stairs so a Holy Cross Brother came out to bless and pray over him.

One month later, he returned to the physician and X-rays revealed the cancer had disappeared. Maurice, who had lost his voice due to the cancer, was again able to speak. Both of his doctors exclaimed, “It’s a miracle.” Maurice thankfully lived to age 96. Rita tells me there is an area at the Oratory where people leave behind crutches and wheelchairs after their miraculous cures, similar to Lourdes. More than 1 million people attended Brother Bessette’s funeral Mass in 1937 and Rita said there were many thousands who attended his canonization on Oct. 17.

I feel so grateful to the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary at St. Mary’s Academy, The Dalles, Ore., for teaching us a love for the Catholic saints. It is overwhelming to learn I have a close relative whose brother-in-law was the blessed recipient of one of St. Andre’s miracles! It makes the world a beautiful place to be. Skeptics may say it is just a coincidence. I like the saying: “Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous!”

June Stark Casey

Thanks to Monica Clark

Monica Clark signed off at The Catholic Voice with professional style and grace.

When the Ethnic Directors Group with our director, Sister Felicia Sarati, gathered at our November meeting to evaluate our Chautauqua celebration, we found the record in full color in the Voice.

As ever, Monica had striven to give proper coverage to our major diocesan annual event. We have seen this same effort extended to our individual pastoral centers and to so many efforts throughout our diocese.

Thank you, Monica. We are grateful to be among those, like Bishop Cordileone and Mary Doyle, in giving thanks for the foundation you set in your 24 dedicated years. We are forever grateful!

Father Don MacKinnon, CSSR
on behalf of the Ethnic Communities:
Asian Indian, African Americans, Brazilian, Chinese, Eritrean, Filipino, Fijian, Indonesian, Kenyan, Kmhmu/Laotian, Korean, Nigerian, Polish, Portuguese, Tongan, Vietnamese

Liturgical changes regressive

I am appalled by the “changes” in the liturgy. The examples used (i.e., the response “and with you” being changed to “and with your spirit”) are right out of the Latin missal English translation circa 1960. I know: I have one and I looked.

Why are we stepping back from the inclusive spirit of the last 50 years? Is “et cum spiritu tuo” not far behind?

The Church is circling the wagons and closing the doors against and deflecting the real issues of priestly pedophilia, women seeking equality and the exclusion of gays and lesbians.

I see the great theological minds at work: “Let’s change some stuff and make it seem safe again.”
We are all the losers in this ultraconservative Church movement. It is happening with small, somewhat palatable changes.

The culmination, I fear, is walking into a church 20 years from now and seeing the priest (if there are any left) with his back to the congregation saying the Mass in Latin and behind him are empty pews.

We need to take back our Church (yes, it is ours) and draw a line. Please, talk amongst yourselves and speak up to your pastor and your bishop.

Support an inclusive Catholic Church.

Sandy Lione

Catholics have diverse beliefs

A recent letter to The Voice suggests that with a proper knowledge of our Catholic faith, young people will have defenses against “a hostile secular culture.” The writer suggests that Catholic kids would be tested regularly in Catholic schools and parishes, and that an effort would be made to “improve curriculum and train staff as appropriate.”

I find this suggestion misguided. My experience has been that Catholics hold wide ranges of beliefs and values. That is not to be condemned, and it not likely to change. The excellent book, “American Catholics Today,” by William V. D’Antonio and others, reviews results of surveys done over five-year periods, from 1987 through 2005. Clearly, most Catholics did not look to Church leaders for “moral authority” in 1987, and they have done so less over time. The genie is out of the bottle.

Perceiving the outside “secular culture” as “hostile” is tragic. This position identifies someone who lives in fear, with unrealistic images of the past and very little faith in the inherent worth of his fellow man. I think that we live in a better world than that, and that our faith must be relevant to the present and the future. It cannot be based on a fear of the outside world.

George Fulmore

A divine appointment

I had the good fortune to attend 10:30 a.m. Mass Nov. 7 at St. Columba Church in Oakland with friends. Father Aidan McAleenan gave a dynamic and empowering homily addressing “Who and Whose we are.” Father McAleenan also addressed the civil unrest in the community related to the current events of violence and offered a platform for the community to express its feelings and he invited any suggestions for improving the situation. As he shared his love for his family in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I thought, “what a divine appointment.” Who could be better prepared to shepherd this community than one that has experienced the chaos of civil war between Protestants and Catholics, terrorism and anarchy. Father McAleenan, you have the love and support of your parishioners and community. Thank you for what you are doing. May God continue to bless and keep you.

Regina Wilkerson

NYC mosque a good thing

I read Pam Brady’s letter (Reader’s Forum, Nov. 22) regarding the establishment of an Islamic Community Center in Manhattan with sadness. I hope we all pray for the victims of the attack and their families. While Brady calls for not building the center as a sensitive response to those harmed by the attack, her specific linkage of the feelings of those who suffered loss on Sept. 11, 2001 to the debate over the center strikes to the heart of why such a center is a good idea. Those who attacked New York and Washington that day acted in a way that was not consonant with the teachings and spirit of Islam. The willingness of a group of people to build an Islamic center that will benefit all people who live and work in the area of the attack is a good thing. To build a center for the use of all is an act of outreach and hope, healing the understandable pain that those close to the victims certainly feel.

Reconciliation and healing arise from objectivity and openness. The loss of objectivity that accompanies grief is evident when she says that “as Americans, we have been blessed with liberties and freedoms no country on earth can claim.” We are indeed fortunate to live in a country that has protected religious and personal expression from its founding. Objectively, however, we are no longer unique in our defense of religious and personal freedoms.

As Catholics, we are called to transcend feelings that diminish ourselves and rather, to reach out to and be open to all people. I would hope all of us could commend those who initiate actions of reconciliation.

Jim Ahrens

Language not rocket science

Father Larry Lorenzoni (Readers Forum, Nov. 22) stated: “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“).

Well, then, how about this: “Blessed be the Lord whose mercy has been poured upon us?”
Dealing with non-exclusive language isn’t terribly difficult. For instance, there have been any number of inclusive language translations of the Psalms, among them:

“Psalter for the Christian People: An Inclusive-Language Revision of the Psalter of the Book of Common Prayer” (1979 Pueblo Books).

Joseph A. Arackal (www.stthomasdiocese.org/users/frjoseph) has been a Catholic pioneer in the use of inclusive language with several publications. The bottom line is that producing credible inclusive language prayers for Catholic audiences is not exactly rocket science. It’s a matter of willingness, not possibility.

Jim McCrea

Iraq Christians persecuted

I read with interest Father Declan Deane’s comments (Readers Forum, Nov. 22) regarding a letter from David Donovan (Nov. 8) about Christians fleeing the Middle East. Father Deane closes his letter rather pointedly condemning what he views as Donovan’s “anti-Islamic” rhetoric. I have no doubt that Father Deane’s personal experience with the situation in the Middle East, with all its complexity, is extensive and is far more comprehensive than mine. Nonetheless, based upon my limited one-year stay in Iraq, where I and those working with me worked closely with Iraqi provincial governments to develop their capacity to govern, I must say that Father Deane is blindingly wrong.

Looking at Mr. Donovan’s letter, I see no “tired myth” about Christian emigration asserted. Iraqi Christians do not emigrate solely because they can afford to; the problems they face are different than those of their fellow Muslims. Iraqi Christians flee because of the singular persecution and threat to their lives.

If they have the financial or other means to flee, those means allow them to do so. Those means are not, however, the reason for fleeing. Nor is the persecution they face indistinguishable (”no more, no less”) than that faced by other Iraqis. To be sure, being blown up or shot kills Muslims just as thoroughly as it does Christians. However, while Sunnis may threaten and kill Shia, and Shia threaten and kill Sunni, they both threaten and kill Christians. So, while the “problems of repression” for Christians may be much like those faced by Muslims in kind, they are not remotely the same in scope or intensity. No one, except perhaps senior Baath Party members, lived in harmony with Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Michael E. Caples
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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