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placeholder June 20, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 12   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

• A list of principals from St. Michael School in Livermore in the June 6 issue incorrectly identified the nuns associated with the school. They are the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael.

• The incoming principal of St. Philip Neri School in Alameda is Janis Palaña.

Penance made clear

Jim McCrea (Forum, May 9) quotes the Council of Trent to build his case that Mass is sufficient for the forgiveness of sins. Unfortunately, he relies on a book by W. Bausch (who holds many views contrary to the Catholic faith) for his quote.

Here’s one part of the Trent document that was left out:

“As regards those who, by sin, have fallen from the received grace of Justification, they may be again justified, when, God exciting them, through the sacrament of Penance they shall have attained to the recovery, by the merit of Christ, of the grace lost: for this manner of Justification is of the fallen the reparation: which the holy Fathers have aptly called a second plank after the shipwreck of grace lost. For, on behalf of those who fall into sins after baptism, Christ Jesus instituted the sacrament of Penance, when He said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”

Obviously the council recognized the need for the sacrament of Confession — that is, to recover “the grace lost” through sin.

Anyone wishing to read everything in the Trent documentation can go here: http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/trentall.html.

Amanda Borenstadt

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Parousia preaching needed

It’s strange. Every time we go to Mass, we Catholics hear our priest say, “We wait with joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” But has any one of us heard one of our learned priests or theologians offer an idea as to just what such a return of Christ would be like?

It would seem to be a ready-made subject for a visionary’s speculative exercise, but it does not seem to be. My Jehovah’s Witness friend posits an image that defies rationality: All will be about as we would have it in the here and now, everyone healthy and happy and physically attractive, and lions lying down with lambs, etc.

Scripture tells us Jesus will return as he departed, coming down from the sky. (I understand the Mormons have prepared a place for Him to land near Salt Lake City.) Jimmy Swaggart says there will be a great light, “From east to west” presumably all around the globe when Jesus arrives.

It must be rock solid dogma that Our Lord will return, but all we hear from Catholic sources is that it is fruitless to speculate on the matter.

Donald F. King

(Editor’s note: Here are links to an article and a book on the subject: www.paulthigpen.com/apologetics/rapturefever.html and www.goodreads.com/book/show/1648186.The_Rapture_Trap.)

Principle of equality

The principle of equality does not pertain to our abilities or physical appearance for sure. God made everyone different in this regard. Inequality also exists in many of our legal rights which may be attained justly, but are not distributed equally due to circumstance. For example, some people hold patents to inventions, stocks in companies and/or contracts with individuals providing rights which many do not have. These rights are legislated and adjudicated by man and may be justly unequal by design.

The freedom of speech, assembly and religion stem from who we are as human beings (i.e. children of God). The principle of equality lies in these certain unalienable rights “endowed by our creator” (American Declaration of Independence, 1776). In other words, we are equal in natural rights because we are all human beings. From ancient times to the Magna Carta, to the outset of the American Revolution, through the Emancipation Proclamation and to the Selma-Montgomery march, man’s struggle has always been to gain admission of our God-given rights from our fellow man.

So, next time someone is looking to evoke some sort of justice based on equality and/or rights, question whether they are defending a natural right. Does a woman have a natural right to an abortion? Do two homosexual men have a natural right to a marriage license? (A categorical imperative?) The principle of equality pertains exclusively to our natural rights which, through creation and redemption, have already been legislated and adjudicated by God (res judicata).

Mark James Gonzales

Catholic social teaching

Re: Michael Arata’s letter “Catholics in Alliance” (Forum, June 6): Bishops Stephen Blair and Howard Hubbard, chairmen of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops’ committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and the Committee on International Justice and Peace, respectively, recently wrote every member of the House of Representatives. They told the representatives “the moral measure of the budget debate is not which party or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated.” (The letter is on the USCCB website, www.usccb.org.)

Catholic social teaching is based on a body of elegant theological reflection by Popes Leo XIII, Pius XI, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and the current pope. As such, the basic tenet of Catholic social teaching — the preferential option for the poor — is a basic teaching and needs to form every Catholic’s conscience and behavior (including ballot-box decisions). Unfortunately, we Catholics cannot choose to ignore or invalidate the teachings because of personal or party politics or special interests or because the country is broke.

Furthermore, we as Catholics should be proud that a Catholic institution has the strength of mission and character to call out a Catholic politician who ignores the teaching. We should all draw from the example of the Catholic University faculty even if we think some of them voted wrongly in the last election.

Ray Galka

JPII school missing

It was woeful to read of all the wonderful Catholic school graduations realizing that the proposed Pope John Paul II High School in Livermore wasn’t in the line up.

Mary McMahon

Leadership in social justice

Mike Arata’s letter (Forum, June 6) shows a lack of awareness of the basis and breadth of social justice teaching in the Catholic Church.

Numerous papal encyclicals and statements from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as the Gospels themselves, detail the themes of Catholic Social Teaching, which include life and dignity of the human person, concern for the vulnerable in society, care for God’s creation and the dignity of work and the rights of workers.

The scholars’ letter to House Speaker John Boehner, which was dismissed by Arata, raised substantive issues about the choices made in developing the federal budget. A federal budget that protected programs for the vulnerable and invested in increasing employment, while addressing the budget deficit through decreasing subsidies for fossil fuels and agribusiness and revoking tax cuts for the wealthy, could well be more consistent with Catholic social teaching than the Ryan proposal.

There is room for informed debate around the best strategies, but we hope the Catholic Church will continue its leadership to promote the common good, rather than yielding to uninformed dismissals of social justice as “crypto-communism.”

Maureen Wesolowski, chair
Claire Broome
for the Peace and Social Justice Committee, St. Mary Magdalen parish, Berkeley

We’re doing something right

I am happy to “catch someone doing something right” and I agree with Mike McDermott (Forum, May 23) when he stated that he sees a change for the better in The Catholic Voice. As a strict, conservative and obedient Catholic and long-time subscriber of the Catholic Voice. I am happy and grateful to say that many times my thoughts and views have been printed in this newspaper, regardless of my stand.

As a person who tries hard to live the message of Jesus, I agree that ALL are invited to the table of our Catholic faith; Jesus most often sought the company of sinners over self-righteous people. What I urge us to keep upmost in our focus is the truth. There are many issues facing not only our secular world but more importantly our world as Christians, such as abortion, moral living, same-sex issues and healing those who have been wrongfully hurt in any way and if we lose sight of what is God’s truth, then we can be sure of the end of what God set out to do.

Remember, we are all on the same side and that must be God’s side and never let any man or anything come between us and the Eucharistic table. “Lord, teach me Humility, then teach me Love.”

Pam Brady
Pleasant Hill

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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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