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placeholder July 5, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Berkeley church closing?

I am at a loss for words, that my conservative, 80-year-old, frail mother is one of the protesters who stood outside of St. Joseph’s Church from 8 a.m. through 11 a.m. Mass June 12. She tells me she is troubled and deeply concerned she will not be able to go to Sunday Mass at St. Joseph.

Her core concern is if St. Joseph’s is going to be closed. Our family has attended St. Joseph’s Church since 1958. We have a three-generation history of attending St. Joseph Mass as a family when we visit Mama in Berkeley.

Maria del Carmen Grimmelmann
Redwood City

[Editor’s note: Several people have written to The Voice regarding St. Joseph the Worker. There are no plans to close the parish. Please see this story for information.]

Come to St. Columba

We had First Communion at St. Columba church on June 26. At the 10:30 a.m. Mass, we had five young people who received communion for the first time.

It was a beautiful Mass, the choir as usual was fantastic, and everybody felt the Spirit. Please come and enjoy our Mass on Sunday mornings.

Lois Wiley

New book on diocese

I have just finished reading Father Don Osuna’s book, “How Awesome is this Place: My Years with the Oakland Cathedral, 1967-1986.” It is his memoir about a creative, exciting time in the life of our diocese.

The book is beautifully written. Readers who participated in the liturgies at the Oakland Cathedral during those years will be reminded of the exuberant optimism that was unleashed by the Second Vatican Council. Father Osuna and his team of musicians and artists, emboldened by the council’s vision, sallied forth into unknown territory and transformed the cathedral into a space that embraced worshipers from all walks of life.

Visitors came from all over the world to participate in those magnificent liturgies. The cathedral was an “awesome place” indeed!

I hope that many will read this book. It’s available at Sagrada Sacred Arts on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. Perhaps the new Oakland Cathedral could sponsor a book signing and reception for Father Osuna soon. It would be “awesome” to gather, once again, with those who hold dear the memories of his wonderful work.

Dan Cawthon
Walnut Creek

Wrong to divide clergy, laity

Concerning Bishop Cordileone’s article (Voice, May 23) on the “Primacy of charity in the priest’s identity to Christ,” all that applies to the ordained priest also applies to the rest of us priests (laity, including women) who are not formally ordained.

The commands of agape (love) apply to all of us because we all share in the one priesthood of Christ, and we are all called to holiness. Ordination does not give the ordained priest a greater call to holiness than the rest of us. Those in administrative positions are supposed to be examples for us, but they are not substitutes for our personal faith in Christ.

The present mentality of dividing clergy and laity is not healthy, because it puts a burden on the ordained priests to live up to standards that are not expected from the rest of us. And when they don’t live up to them, we wonder why ordination does not give them a holiness edge. This is not Christianity.

Peter Aiello

Change funding; aid people

A recent poll shows Americans view themselves as worse off now than when President Obama took office, and they don’t see any signs of improvement in the economy. People realize that most of the “stimulus spending” and most of the federal government’s “share of cost” not only pays some of state and local employee salaries, it forces businesses and citizens to conform to federal policies. It has also made many people dependent on tax dollars for housing, health care and income support; home, business, college or farm loan subsidies; and, construction, supply and maintenance contracts.

All this is “at risk,” not because some politicians want to cut the budget, but because debt and devaluation of the dollar makes this “economy” unsustainable. Yet, do you think the proponents of these policies will just stand by and allow themselves to be voted out of office? We can expect some kind of “crisis” in the next year.

They already control the availability of our food, energy and cash! A crisis would justify their rationing of these necessities in ways that reward their allies and punish their adversaries. They will make it an all-or-nothing choice.

“Raise the debt limit or crash the economy!” They know that Congress does not really make the cuts; the czars who run the bureaucracy make the real decisions. And, rather than eliminate the departments of Education, Health, Housing and Human Services, they’ll cut the subsidies to teachers, nurses and housing. The real alternative is that the House of Representatives place the funding for these departments in direct block grants to the states.

Cut the size, cost and power of the federal bureaucracy. Rather than empower a “Crisis Czar” to rule over us, let us have the governors, legislatures, bureaucracies, special interests and citizens of the 50 states set priorities and govern themselves. Taking away their money takes away their power! Urge your Senators and Congressman to fund programs through block grants!

Michael F. McCarthy
San Lorenzo

Authorities on social teaching

Catholic Social Teaching and papal encyclicals were (mis)quoted to disparage Mike Arata’s letter (Forum, June 6) wherein he discussed a letter written by a group of liberal college professors criticizing Catholic John Boehner, Speaker of the House, for “his record on government programs serving the poor, particularly programs affected in the 2012 budget cuts.”

One writer held up the preferential option for the poor as the basic tenet of Catholic social teaching that should inform Catholic consciences and ballot box decisions. I don’t think so!

The natural virtue of justice and the supernatural virtue of love, as outlined by Pope Benedict in Caritatis in Veritatae (Charity in Truth) and Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum (Of New Things) are the basic principles of Catholic Social Teaching. Church tradition bears witness to the preferential option, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (The Social Concerns of the Church), but advises against making it a partisan choice or source of conflict, Libertatis Conscientia (Instruction on Freedom and Liberation).

This same writer referenced a letter by Bishops Stephen Blair and Howard Hubbard, wherein they lectured Congress on how their budget cuts mistreat people. It’s too bad the writer didn’t know about what Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles said (L.A. Tidings, June 17), that the Church reminds us that government programs are not the only ways to serve the poor, and that sometimes government may not be the best means. He mentioned subsidiarity, a principle of distributive justice (the Distributism of Chesterton) whereby solutions are sought at the local and even personal, as opposed to the government, level. That’s the way charity used to work before the government appropriated “social justice.”

Another writer listed a half dozen programs that the college professors’ letter thought should be included in the federal budget, even though Arata quoted Paul Kengor’s observation that the letter ignores a $1.6 trillion deficit, ruinous debt-to-GNP ratio and insane printing of money — fiscal madness that is likely to generate economic conditions “far more deleterious to the poor than any spending reduction.” It’s time for a reality check!

Finally, this writer wants the Church to promote the “common good,” whatever she means by that. Augustine defined it as “The good that is able to be shared in by many or by all without diminishing it.” It is not possessed as it should be unless it is shared by all, so truth, peace and order (as in the family) are the only goods that are shared in common. I suspect she meant something else.

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

Appreciates dedication

I want to let our beloved Bishop Cordileone know that I am appreciative of his faithfulness and dedication to our diocese. I can see his sincerity in his service to our local church. I feel blessed that the Lord has sent him to our diocese. I sometimes look at his schedule, which is printed in the front of The Catholic Voice, and I am amazed that he is still makes himself very visible throughout the whole diocese — not to mention his weekly visitations from parish to parish.

Of course, I have no doubt that his strength could only come from the Lord. Take, for example, last year. I was able to attend a retreat that was officiated by Bishop Cordileone at San Damiano in December. Then there was the breakfast prayer meeting by the new women’s group, the Magnificat, for which he was the guest speaker a few months ago.

His letter about his trip to Lourdes was beautifully written and meant so much to me, a health-care provider. I myself went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes a few years back, and it was a heart-wrenching experience. To see those sick people who were carried on small carriages by volunteers from all over the world — they even had a dedicated building for the sick. That is the power of faith in action: People who come from all over the world just to seek a miracle.

I look up to the bishop as my spiritual leader and I say a short prayer for him every day. May he lead our church with fervor that could only come from the Holy Spirit. May the Lord bless him as he continues to serve us.

Michele Abella-Juntilla
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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