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placeholder September 19, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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‘Stunned’ by new book

I was absolutely stunned to read your announcement of Father James Schexnayder’s book, “Setting the Table,” which you headlined as “New book aids parishes in ministering to gays.” Why on earth is a Catholic newspaper promoting ways for homosexual activists (“gays”) to boldly infiltrate Catholic parishes?
I was also shocked to read that Bishop Cordileone had read the draft and offered some suggestions. This is insanity!

Laurette Elsberry

(Editor’s note: The only authorized resources for use in parish ministry are those which: have an imprimatur [an official declaration from the local bishop that a published resource is free of doctrinal error]; the approval of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops or the state Catholic Conference [for California, the California Conference of Catholic Bishops]; or the explicit written approval of the local bishop.)

The heresy of Modernism

As the political news is dominated by financial crisis and partisan bickering, we must not take our eye off of what is truly important. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36). Crises come and crises go, nations come and nations go, but God and the Church endure.

Regardless of anyone’s political leanings or gut feelings, the Church is not a democracy and Church doctrine is not established by fashion or consensus.

Modernist thought is that Church doctrine can be trumped by personal and societal judgment as long as the intention is good. More than 100 years ago the Church recognized the dangers of this modernist view and identified it as a heresy. Today, Modernism remains a corrosive threat to the Church because it appeals to our vanities and masquerades as enlightenment and tolerance.

Pope Pius X wisely dubbed Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies.” Modernism is not identifiable as a dogmatic difference with the Church, rather it is a belief that Church doctrine is somehow of secondary importance to its fundamental moral teachings. It hides in the shadows of every moral issue and dilemma and it is pervasive.

Our “Modern” culture is full of the practice and outright evangelization of Modernism. Every hard decision we are faced with has an easier answer if we succumb to Modernism. We can absolve or diminish every grave and minor sin if we can fabricate a moral construct in which the sinner can remain “a good person.”

As a consequence we live in a country in which millions of unborn are killed every year, the institution of the family is being destroyed and our children can expect a standard of living less than ours.

In response to the heresy of Modernism, Pope John Paul II released the encyclical Veritatis Splendor to correct errors in Catholic moral teaching. It rejected the notion that one’s particular actions do not necessarily affect one’s ultimate salvation, rather it affirms that what is important is one’s fundamental orientation toward or against God.

The encyclical also insists that certain acts are intrinsically evil and that direct, indirect or even tacit support of these are also grave sins. Heresies, no matter how popular or pervasive, are still heresies. We must each choose to be in communion with the Church to become or remain Catholic. We must also expect no less from those we choose to lead us.

Thomas Templeton

Voice changes for the worse

I need no one to tell me that an editorial change was made at your paper a short time ago.

The Readers’ Forum sent to the back page was the first clue. Adhering to the “party line” was the second.

I suppose we can sweep all of the unpleasant issues facing the Church under the carpet: Priests allowed to marry, ordination for women, gay marriages, pedophiles (especially in Ireland and Belgium) and so on and so on.

Pretty soon, the Vatican will be a closed society, if it’s not already.

Patrick Fleming
Pleasant Hill

No balance at Hall of Science

As a Roman Catholic mother of three little ones, I am writing today to let your readers know about a recent experience I had at Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science. I took my children into its gift shop, and while perusing the books I noticed a section entitled, “Science and Religion.” I was disappointed to see the area dominated by titles such as “The God Delusion,” “God: The Failed Hypothesis (How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist)” and “The Moral Landscape.” All these books promote atheism, and worse, the authors present their opinions as scientifically based.

I was disappointed in the Hall of Science’s bias; the choice of books put forth the erroneous idea that science and religion cannot be reconciled. Personally, I would be exceedingly proud if one of my children grew up to be a scientist. However, I would want them to still have faith in God while exploring the beauty and wonders of this universe. What saddened me the most is that LHS’s picks made it appear as if one could have God or scientific thought, not both.

I wrote to the director of the museum and expressed my concerns. I asked her to consider purchasing a few titles for that section that would show that science and religion need not be in competition with one another (such as Ian Barbour’s “When Science Meets Religion”).

Unfortunately, she would not consider any of my suggestions, nor was she willing to add a book of her own choosing. As a family-level member of LHS, I was chagrined by her attitude toward my concerns.

I wanted to let others know what I experienced. If they would like to contact LHS about this, they can go to www.lawrencehallofscience.org/contact_us.

Monica Brent

Probe Bush-era torture

Catholics familiar with Jesus’ teaching that we should love our enemies and do good to those who harm us must have been deeply disturbed when former Vice President Dick Cheney brazenly defended his authorization of torture, even going so far as to say that he “would strongly support [waterboarding] again if circumstances arose where we had a high-value detainee and that was the only way we could get him to talk” [interview on NBC about his forthcoming memoir, “In My Time”].

Quite apart from the fact that waterboarding and other forms of torture notoriously do not produce reliable information, Cheney disregards the fact that the U.S. is a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture and has published the following unequivocal statement: “Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. […] Every act constituting torture under the [U.N.] Convention constitutes a criminal offence under the law of the United States. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Cheney has violated both U.S. and international law. Just as we have supported international efforts to bring to justice war criminals from other countries, we now have a moral obligation to investigate our own government’s use of torture. I support the proposal by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture to establish an independent Commission of Inquiry into the shameful practices of the previous administration.

Maureen Wesolowski

Condemns Cheney book

As a person of faith and a member of St. Mary Magdalene Parish for 22 years I ask that the Church speak out against former Vice President Cheney’s memoir, “In My Time.” The moral horror that is torture is never justified, and is an unreliable source of information. Torture destroys our divine spark, and corrupts our souls.

As a member of The National Religious Campaign Against Torture I pray that the church leaders condemn this book.

Patty Lipinska

Officer Danz, hero and saint

My brother, Officer Vincent G. Danz was one of the 23 police officers who sacrificed his life on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Vincent was in the Emergency Service Unit that responded to the worse case locations in NYC and he was one of the responders into the Twin Towers that fateful morning and in the process of rescuing more than 25,000 office workers and bringing them to safety, Vincent did not get out of the North Tower which collapsed after the South Tower. Officer Danz left behind three beautiful little girls; Winifren, age 9; Emily, age 5; and Abagail, age 7 months at the time. He also had the most brave and beautiful wife named Angela who was born in Dublin, Ireland.

Vincent once said, “I’m not real good at being the one to give the orders but, I’m real good at being the one to carry them out. Vincent was 38-years-old and he was a decent, honorable and obedient officer and what he did that fateful day was what he was trained to do and he never wavered.

I am deeply honored to call this police officer, Vincent G. Danz, my brother. Jesus said, “There is no greater love then to lay down one’s life for another.” Vincent did that so honorably and without thinking about the cost. He was truly a hero and a saint.

Pam Brady
Pleasant Hill

Training ‘rambunctious’ child

Our 32-year-old son Dominic, a Fremont firefighter for five years, spent nine years involved with the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers. Dominic was a rambunctious kid with lots of energy. As a mother I was looking for a good place for him to put that energy. One morning at Mass, a fellow parishioner turned around at the final blessing and told me that our little boy had a great voice, was singing out during Mass, on key, in tune and with much joy. She suggested he audition for the GGBC.

The choir became a great place for his energy, his passion for music and singing. He came from a long line of singers, musicians and dancers so his comfort level with this organization was a perfect pick for him and our family. His bountiful energy found a perfect counterpoint in the choir and its’ focus and concentration methods and techniques. Dominic traveled the world touring with the group. He made lifelong friends and learned skills that have transferred to other aspects of his life. Besides the life skills he perfected in the GGBC, his appreciation for all kinds of music, his ability to speak to people of all ages and from every corner of the world and his talent for teaching others are skills I particularly credit to his training with Steve Meyer and the staff at GGBC.

Dominic was able to be involved with soccer, school activities and other social experiences in those same nine years. However, it has long been crystal clear to me that the time and treasure investment we made in the choir experience was the one that yielded the most tangible and life enriching results.

A couple of weeks ago he spoke to the Golden Gate Boys at their summer camp. I spent the evening tearing up as he shared with the boys from “his point of view” about his life as a firefighter. He also highlighted what the choir had meant to him and how lessons learned in those nine years had transferred to his current role with Fremont Fire. The boys choir has become a part of the man he has become. Choirboy, firefighter, one in the same!

I thought some parent out in the Catholic Voice community might have a rambunctious child of her own who needs some focus, direction, guidance and purpose. This couldn’t be a better next step for that 6 to 10 year old who just needs something glorious in his life.

Annette M. Fagundes

Keep the Sabbath holy

Based on the Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath, keep it holy” Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., wrote “The Gift of Rest” (rediscovering the beauty of the Sabbath). Sabbath means rest. Rest is a creation of God, a gift. His premise is based on the Jewish Sabbath tradition and it compares to the Christian Sunday.

Lieberman feels we have lost this important day of the week and not enjoying the rest that it holds. It is easy reading, very spiritual but heavily thought provoking.

Mary McMahon

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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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