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When innocent children are caught in the cross-fire

A canopy under which to pray

placeholder September 5, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Principle of equality

How are we equal? We are not equal in abilities or physical appearance for sure. Some of us are more intelligent, some are physically stronger, and some are more loving. God made everyone different.

We are not equal in all rights. Some people are age 65 or over and have rights to Social Security money. Some people hold patents to inventions, stocks in companies, and/or contracts with individuals providing rights many others do not have. These rights may be just when justly attained. These rights are legislated and adjudicated by man.

We ARE equal in certain unalienable rights “endowed by our creator” (Declaration of Independence, 1776). In other words, we are equal in natural rights. From ancient times to the Magna Carta, the American Revolution to the Emancipation Proclamation and 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? Do these issues arise from an over exuberance for justice or a desire to do whatever we please? 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

Promoting the common good

Recent letters in The Voice seem to find some kind of disconnect between the private efforts of Catholics and the public efforts of governments to promote the common good. That common good, enshrined in the Preamble of our Constitution with a mandate “to promote the general welfare,” has never been totally embraced by the state and was the reason for the theology professors criticizing House Speaker John Boehner.

The Church has always tried to keep up, Catholic hospitals and Catholic schools being priorities of the Church for a long time. But the Church can’t tax.

Two items are the bedrock of leading a productive life: good health and a good education. Neither of these has been totally embraced by either Church or state. All persons should have health care and the opportunity to go as far in education as their gifts, not their pocketbook, permit. Everyone, especially Catholics, should be happy to pay taxes to achieve those items, and especially when their country can easily afford them if it just curtailed its largest, obscene budget item.

Both private wealth and public funding is needed to leaven the Earth into the place Our Lord envisioned and, with all the unChristian attitudes around, maybe more than we might think. (Incidentally, it pains me to say it, but John Boehner and I graduated from the same Catholic university.)

Frank B. Nieman
Pleasant Hill

Violence, vengeance, God

Upon reading the article by Father Ron Rolheiser (Forum, June 6), I noted a number of comments that are out of sync with Catholic thinking. The thought that God is not a God of violence is really sweet, but then what does one do with the fact that Jerusalem was literally, completely destroyed as a punishment from God, just as Christ predicted when He wept over its fate. Or is Christ just another figment of our imagination?

When the Blessed Mother appeared at Fatima in 1917, she prophesied another World War that was a punishment for sin, and when Germany marched into Poland a huge, red line in the form of a dagger appeared in the sky across Spain and Portugal, and the Holy Spirit spoke to the last of the three children, Lucy, and revealed that this was the start of the war as prophesied. No archetype there.

I agree that God does not call us to vengeance, but He does say that “vengeance is mine,” and I do believe that sin is offensive to God, as witnessed by the Blessed Mother at Fatima. Otherwise, there is no need for punishment and there is no such thing as sin.

Barbara Meistrell

Amusing letters to The Voice

Thank God the Forum letters in the Voice are on the next to last page. Sometimes the views are so amusing I would not be able to continue reading the interesting articles on Church doctrine or activities of our ministers. There is a caption on the upper right of the page that in part reads “thinking on critical issues of the Church.” The acid test of many of the letters doesn’t pass. The letter “Changing Funding Aids People,” by Michael McCarthy, is one such letter.

There was a brutal war over the issue of states’ rights vs. the federal government, and the federal government won. The issues of the war were human rights, slavery and the economy, as opposed to states establishing their own laws on slavery, citing their economy. Thank God the federal government prevailed. I cannot imagine Jesus Christ dying on the cross for a country that inflicted the brutality of slavery, the lynching, burning and decapitation of another human being, as many of the states wanted to continue for the sake of their economy.

The letter cites a recent, unnamed poll, naming President Obama as the culprit who must make improvements in the economy. The president does not legislate; Congress legislates. The president does not make law to spend tax dollars; the Congress passes tax bills for the president to either sign or veto. For the stimulus to have been allocated to the banks and auto industries, Congress had to approve the bill. By the way, all of the stimulus money allocated to the banks and auto industry has been paid back to the federal government with interest.

I would be remiss if at some point I did not say the federal government is the only competitor to Big Business. Businesses are in business to make as much money as possible without input from any entity except the laws enacted by our federal Constitution and its Amendments. There is no business in the world that would care for our health and welfare without making as much profit as it can. The American standard of living for the middle class and lower class, those of us who make less than $250,000 gross income a year, depends on the controls and safeguards the federal government imposes on businesses.

Felix Guillory

What would Jesus say?

In response to the letter “Loving Gay Relationships” (Letters, March 21). It closed asking what Jesus would say if he were to address an active gay or lesbian couple? He would say the same thing he told the woman caught in adultery. “Neither then do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” It is funny, but we seem to forget the “go and sin no more” portion of this command. To state an active gay or lesbian couple are devout Catholics is not correct. One cannot be a sexually active gay or lesbian and be considered a Catholic in proper standing. While one can go to confession and be absolved of sin, the intention is to be sorry for the sin and to avoid sin, not sin again. If we know, without question, we are going to sin again, the intention of the confession is called into question.

When engaging in the myth that one’s personal life choices don’t affect others, it is important to understand that there are two ways to fail in life. We can fail morally by doing things that directly hurt others, or we can also fail by lacking in virtue, by not being the best we could be. When we confess our sins at the start of liturgy, we express sorrow for both “what we have done and what we have failed to do.” Thus our personal lives are not simply a private matter as they affect other people. When we fail to be the best we can be, we have a negative impact on the people God has placed in our lives. Our spouse, children, friends, family, co-workers and parish will suffer from our lack of virtue.

Our lives should be focused on God. We must pray for everyone. We must avoid sin with all our strength rather than attempt to find an excuse/reason for it, or think we know better than the word of God and can therefore justify sin. We must love the sinner but hate the sin, and we must continually strive to “go and sin no more.”

Louis Renner

Nietzsche, Feuerbach are dead

Regarding the column on “Manipulating God and religion to suit our needs” (Forum, Aug. 8), God is not dead, but Friedrich Nietzsche and Ludwig Feuerbach are dead. Who has the last laugh?

God does not need human permission to exist. Humans need God’s permission to exist. Divine revelation tells us God created humans with the need to commune with Him. When we don’t, there are consequences.

Ask our ancestors Adam and Eve. There are those who try to manipulate God for their own ends, but I am quite confident that God can sort them out and deal with them accordingly. Humans recognize a need for God because we actually have a need for Him. He created us this way.

Our human weakness and lack of peace are the most obvious manifestations of this need. Human rebellion and wishful thinking tell us that we are going to evolve out of this. Good luck.

Peter Aiello

End capital punishment

It is not just wishful thinking that states can live without the death penalty. Generally, states that do not have capital punishment have lower homicide rates than states that have capital punishment.

People of New Testament times need to consider what Jesus did when asked about the legality of divorce. Jesus was aware of His present time and of what the law stated, but He referenced a time before the law was ever given to reveal what God’s intentions were/are for humanity (Mt. 19:3-8).

The example of what Jesus did regarding divorce is also valid for capital punishment. We only need to go back and to examine what God did about the very first homicide.

After Cain killed Abel, God put a seal on Cain so that no human being would presume to execute him (Gen. 4:15). Execution is God’s domain — not man’s.

This is the ideal of what God intended/intends for humanity even for today. Cain became a wanderer, but society today cannot have killers on the loose. This is why we have jails. Incarceration is enough. The law of love leads one to choose life instead of death.

Let the Californian without sin be the first to put the lethal needle in!

Matthew R. Dunnigan

Joseph Salamack ‘inspiration’

Thank you for your poignant piece on Joseph Salamack (Voice, Aug. 8). As a young Catholic born and raised in the East Oakland Catholic schools of St. Louis Bertrand (1972) and Bishop O’Dowd High School (1976), I have experienced the inspiration of passionate educators, administrators and good people, none more moving, personable and Christian-like than Mr. Salamack.

He said, “It’s really, really, really good for people to go through change” as the Bishop O’Dowd family makes that transition in his family move to his native New York. I, personally, was sad to see him leave the O’Dowd community but excited for him in his next journey.

Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, New York, will go through that exact change that we in the Bishop O’Dowd community went through six years ago.

Embrace the journey wholeheartedly and be moved by the path the Lord prepares us for!

Mark I. Leyva
San Leandro

Saddened by Berkeley situation

I have just been reading about the protests in Berkeley against Father John Direen and I am deeply saddened.

We in Livermore at St. Michael Parish are still missing him greatly. He served here for only about one year, but has thousands of friends who still seek him out. The reasons, among many, are that he can be completely trusted with the truth, is selfless, honorable, compassionate. His homilies were the best. His sacraments fully true and authentic.

True Catholics are gathering around and strengthening our Church as society and the world are tottering and crumbling. Satan is truly trying to divide God’s people.

Don’t give in but love and support those sent to us. Don’t stone the prophets. Let grace quietly pull us together in the peace of Christ.

Lynda Fullerton

Choir training ‘a blessing’

Since our son, age 5, started with the Golden Gate Boys Choir this past March, I feel that this organization has been a true blessing for our family. During their recent summer camp held at the Oakland Diocesan Youth Retreat Center, I was greatly impressed with not only the music education the boys receive in choral skills, theory, keyboard skills and musicianship, but more so with the camaraderie that the boys displayed.

The older boys, teens and young men were strong role models for the younger boys — teaching, mentoring and guiding them throughout their camp experience.

My son had more than 40 “big brothers” and loved being in an environment where boys could flourish musically, mentally and spiritually. I especially appreciated how the boys sang hymns in harmony for each meal, and even sang and performed handbells for Mass after the first week of camp.

The focus on liturgical music is unique to the GGBC, and a choir that reinforces our Catholic faith through song is indeed a Godsend. I highly recommend the GGBC and invite any boy and his family to be a part of this inspiring group.

Therese Labuguen

Leadership in young men

It was with great pleasure that I read the article on the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers (Voice, Aug. 8)!

My 8-year-old son has been a chorister since he was 5 years old, and has benefitted immensely from his membership with the GGBC.

Being a choir member is giving him loving discipline from a patient and dedicated director, a sense of teamwork, camaraderie with a multi-aged peer group, and outstanding role models provided by the alumni and older boys. While excellent musical and vocal instruction go without saying, it is important to note that being a member of the Golden Gate Boys Choir is an all-encompassing experience that truly goes beyond the music; it is, in fact, an experience that builds and refines character.

My son has just returned from another glorious summer at choir camp, where an effective combination of fun, hard work and musical excellence culminated in a beautiful concert on the last day. The boys and young men astonished proud guests with what they had learned during two short weeks, including: Orff instrument collaborations; rhythm, movement and Solfege demonstrations; bell-ringing; solo work; selections for changed voices; and pieces performed by the entire camp ensemble.

The most moving part of the concert was seeing the musical and personal growth between the youngest and oldest boys. Every age group was highlighted, and the oldest boys were clearly providing musical mentorship to their younger choir “brothers.” In some cases, older boys and alumni were completely responsible for directing pieces, and the stellar results were a testimony to the Golden Gate Boys Choir’s ability to create leadership in young men.

As a parent, I saw my child’s precious boyhood flying all too quickly before my eyes; but, if Lord willing, was greatly heartened by what was yet to come.

I want to express my personal appreciation for highlighting the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers in “The Catholic Voice,” and letting other parents know about this fine organization.

Martie Canterberry
Castro Valley

Choir ‘amazing experience’

We are writing in response to the article titled “Rigorous Dedication for Boys’ Choir” (Voice, Aug. 8.).

Our sons, ages 8 and 6, just completed two weeks at the Golden Gate Boys Choir camp along with 40 other boys, ages 6 through 18. We were thrilled with the music direction, leadership and camaraderie developed during their stay. The boys learned music theory, ear training, the Kodály method of music, English hand bells, liturgical music, classic choral works, and Broadway melodies. The Golden Gate Boys Choir is distinctive in that the boys experience the richness of liturgical music and joyously share it during Masses and worship services.

In addition, the older choir members mentor the younger boys with their music and other activities. The “big brothers” learn leadership and patience while the younger boys experience friendship and support.

We volunteered to help at camp every day and witnessed the development of outstanding young citizens with total respect for their fellow choristers, parent volunteers and leaders. It was an amazing experience for all.

Our sincere thanks to Steven Meyer and his team for providing excellent leadership and training for our boys. We encourage all parents of boys who would like to sing and learn how to be good citizens and gentlemen to join the Golden Gate Boys Choir.

Sue Ann and Peter Wercinski
San Francisco

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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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