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placeholder June 6, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 11   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Editor’s note: From February through May, the Oakland Museum of California offered a thoughtful and reverent historic exhibition of art of the Catholic missions in the period 1600-1821. A separate, questionable display of modern works prompted a meeting with Bishop Cordileone and Lori Fogarty, museum executive director. The meeting was positive and allowed the bishop to share Catholic perspectives on the modern exhibition, which prompted the following letter.

Museum regrets if some
found display offensive

I want to thank Bishop Cordileone for his May 20 visit to see the exhibition, Splendors of Faith/Scars of Faith: Arts of Missions of Northern New Spain and the companion installation, Contemporary Coda.

We are pleased to be the only California venue, and one of only two in the United States, to present this first-ever major exhibition of art work of the missions. As part of this major traveling exhibition, the Oakland Museum of California organized a small companion installation entitled Contemporary Coda. Our intent with Contemporary Coda was to respond to the input of community members to also present work by contemporary artists that presents other multicultural perspectives surrounding faith and spirituality.

I understand from our conversation and from correspondence we have received that some of the work in Contemporary Coda is offensive to members of the Catholic community. As the Oakland Museum of California, it is our mission — as a place of learning and public dialogue — to present work that reflects the broad diversity and multiple perspectives that are so much a part of California’s culture. While we do so in a way that educates, encourages dialogue and provides an opportunity for reflection, it is never our intention to offend anyone’s religious or cultural sensitivities.

We are dedicated to being an open forum, and the voice of the Catholic community is very important to us. We did not anticipate that the Contemporary Coda would offend some Catholics. It certainly was not our intention to do so, and we are sorry if any members of the Catholic community have found art works in the exhibition to be offensive.

I want to again thank the bishop for his thoughtful visit. Art has the ability to challenge, provoke and raise important questions about our place and our time. Please know that we will continue to provide a venue for this at the Oakland Museum of California while striving to do so in a way that is sensitive to all members of our diverse and vibrant community.

Lori Fogarty, executive director
Oakland Museum of California

“Catholics in Alliance . . .”

Just before Republican House Speaker (and Catholic) John Boehner gave the May 14 commencement address at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., a “Catholic scholars” letter organized by professors there “criticized his record on government programs serving the poor, particularly programs affected in the 2012 budget cuts” (Voice, May 23).

CNS writers (Newspaper Guild, AFL-CIO) neglected to mention letter-coordinator Stephen Schneck’s FEC-reported $5,300 in total 2008-10 contributions to Obama for America, ActBlue and Democrat congressional candidate Tom Perriello.

Perriello is a co-founder — and Schneck a board member — of George Soros-subsidized “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good,” a Democrat front group that promotes “social justice.” CACG’s listed advisers include Clinton operatives Paul Begala and John Podesta, Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry, SEIU president’s assistant Tom Chabolla, a renegade priest who has supported same-sex “marriage,” and numerous other left wingers.

(CACG shouldn’t be confused with Catholics for the Common Good, a reliably faithful, San Francisco organization founded a year before Perriello and Schneck’s outfit materialized.)

As my wife wrote in a Contra Costa Times column two years ago, discussing problems at Moraga’s St. Mary’s College: “Social justice has been transformed in left-wing Catholic circles from Christian charity to crypto-communism — taking ‘from each according to his [bureaucrat-assessed] ability’ and handing over ‘to each, according to his [bureaucrat-determined] need.’ In simpler terms, it’s ‘spreading the wealth around’ to able-bodied individuals who didn’t earn it.”

Paul Kengor, a genuinely Catholic political science professor at Pennsylvania’s Grove City College, observes that the Schneck letter ignores a $1.6 trillion deficit, ruinous debt-to-GNP ratio and “insane printing of money” — i.e., fiscal madness likely to generate economic conditions far “more deleterious to the poor than any spending reduction.”

As is, 2011 spending on Social Security; Medicare and federal Medicaid; other entitlements; and interest on debt will approximate $2.2 trillion — 60 percent of the federal budget. The top 10 percent of taxpayers already provide 70 percent of federal income taxes, while 47 percent of U.S. households pay no federal income taxes.

The liberal professors would also have more credibility, notes Kengor, had they “written just one letter to previous Catholic speaker Nancy Pelosi” and to President Obama to oppose their radical abortion-supportive politics.

But moral and political classroom confusion at ostensibly “Catholic” colleges, along with perverse co-curricular activism, are widespread.

In Saint Mary’s College’s May 3 student newspaper edition, graduating co-editor Michael Bruer himself identified the school as Catholic “in name only,” given the school’s “blatantly anti-Catholic programming, speakers and organizations.” One SMC professor then disparaged Bruer in the May 10 issue.

An obvious “takeaway”: Catholic parents and students hoping to maintain and deepen Catholic faith and practice should carefully weigh their college options.

Michael Arata

Sacraments available to all

I am writing in response to an article written by Father Dan Danielson (Voice, May 23) regarding the Sacrament of the Sick. My initial concern began when I read that his article was edited for the public. I could not imagine why an article that was published for the priests’ newsletter would need to be edited for the public.

In my opinion, all of the faithful are the “proper recipients” of this sacrament which, as we have all been taught, is a gift from God showing His love for us. I feel that age should not factor into the reception of the sacrament. Father Danielson states than an infant or a toddler may not be old enough to be “comforted” by receiving the sacrament. Well, perhaps the parents may be comforted knowing that their sick child will receive the grace that the sacrament provides.

In reading all the criteria as to who should receive the sacrament, I do not feel that Jesus’ intent was for us to be “eligible” to receive the sacraments. We are taught not to judge one’s intentions, so how can a guideline state that just because a person decides to have elective surgery (i.e. nose job or breast implants) they should be excluded from receiving the sacrament. I think we all know that “any surgery,” whether it be necessary or elective, has risks. Perhaps the person having a nose job or breast implants would be comforted by receiving the sacrament should anything go wrong.

In my opinion, why should we be concerned about how old a person happens to be, what situation one finds them in, or what kind of surgery one is going to have. The grace we receive from all the sacraments is the gift that God has given us to partake in. There should be no eligibility requirement in order to receive any of the sacraments (excluding Holy Orders).

Mary Morrissette

‘In my Father’s house’

I find it telling that Pam Brady (Forum, May 23) begins with the words, “I hate.” This is followed by her placing her own extremely judgmental words in the mouth of Jesus, then informing less judgmental “cherry picking” Catholics precisely what Jesus doesn’t like about them. I guess the lady has a private line to Jesus that the rest of us don’t enjoy.

She recommends “decent research” into homosexuality and cites two websites that either state or imply that sexual orientation can be changed. There isn’t a single reputable psychiatrist or psychologist in this country who agrees with that position. Sorry, but “that dog don’t hunt.”

In Sunday’s very pertinent Gospel, Jesus informs us, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms.” It’s too bad that some of these rooms do not satisfy the sadly misguided standards of some, but as a practicing Catholic and a gay man in a loving relationship, I’m not going to lose any sleep over that. No power on earth and no misguided opinion can separate me from the love of Christ.

Tom Savignano

Couples can set example

Re: “Bias in sainthood” by Father Jim Schexnayder (Forum, May 9): His reminder that “the last married couple . . . beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001 (was) the first in 500 years” shocks those of us blessed to know and learn from Roman Catholic couples whose example of Christian faith, spirituality and good works, modeled the Holy Sacrament of Marriage in their families and communities.

As a long-married theologian, I am still incredulous that sexually active married couples are so marginalized in the processes of beatification and canonization. Thank you, Father Jim. I still remember his altogether holy celebration of daily Mass at Santa Maria Church many years ago, when theology wasn’t even a glint in my eye.

Carmina Chapa, STL, Ph.D

More married saints

Father Schexnayder’s letter (Forum, May 9) pointed out saint bias by the pope and the Vatican in not recognizing married couples as saints. He indicated that Blessed John Paul II beatified the first married couple in more than 500 years, Blessed Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi, in 2001.

This is a good point, certainly. Given the state of marriage in secular society and even in our own Church, we need solid examples of married couples to show our Church and our society how this sacrament is to be fully lived and loved with Christ. Father Schexnayder doesn’t seem to think that Blessed Luigi and Maria are good examples of married life because they lived as brother and sister for the last 20 years of their marriage in separate beds. Father wrote that “Protecting marriage can never be real unless those honored for veneration are couples who indicate by their holiness and outward service to others that their virtues are not lessened but enhanced by their sexual relationship.” I fully agree with Father’s statement, and the Quattroccis lived every bit of Father’s statement. Unfortunately, Father mentioned only one meaningless fact about this beautiful couple’s relationship, that they didn’t share a bed for the last 20 years of their marriage.

The Quattrocchis had four children — two boys, two girls. One of the boys became a diocesan priest, the other a Trappist Monk. One of the daughters became a Benedictine Sister and the other cared for her parents in their old age and then her older brother, the diocesan priest, for the rest of her life. A priest, a monk, a sister and an unselfish daughter — now that’s an enhanced sexual relationship! To highlight the social justice accomplishments of Blessed Luigi and Maria, there was the family’s service to the poor in Rome; how the couple opened their home to refugees during World War II; how Maria acted as a volunteer for the Red Cross in Ethiopia during World War II; and how they participated in Catholic Action, serving other married couples. Most important, the couple had a deep spiritual life: devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, frequent confession, daily Communion, daily rosary, and providing an excellent example of the domestic church to their children. Finally, after 20 years of marriage, their goal in life should be our goal in life, and that is to be saints.

To achieve this goal, Luigi and Maria responded completely to God. They gave up their sexual relationship to complete their life together and to complete their life with Christ. As a married man with children, I am proud to have the Blessed Quattrocchis as an example of how I should raise my family and live my married life with my beloved spouse building our domestic church in union with God. It is crystal clear why Blessed John Paul the Great beatified Blessed Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi: their example of faith, their sexual relationship through the gifts of their children and their service to their family first and then their community.

Father Schexnayder is right; we need more examples of married saints, but we need them NOW! If you are married and need an example of what marriage is all about, check out Blessed Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi. You will be glad you did.

Joe Murray

Obama on Israel

Has anti-Semitism reared its ugly head again in the form of our president’s regressive proposal? Can he give proposals like this to the Arab states to give up their land? Should we regress to pre-Civil War laws not favoring slaves? How far back does he wants us to go?

I guess Mrs. Obama is keeping the promise that the president will become the world’s first leader and preside over the United Nations.

All the Christian world will suffer as well as the Jews, because this will be about a caliphate. This certainly will lead to the end of the world.

Lillian Silver
Walnut Creek

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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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