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placeholder October 17, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Brentwood’s Latin Mass

I hope you will include in your Forum that a Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated at 5 p.m. every Sunday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Brentwood.

I often go to St. Margaret Mary’s in Oakland and love the 12:30 p.m. Mass, but since I live in Clayton I now have the alternative in Brentwood, and feel totally blessed that there are two such churches within driving distance.

I know there are many who have no access to the TLM anywhere near them. Immaculate Heart of Mary Church is modern, but it is built in Spanish Mission style and is lovely. Father Jerry Brown is doing so much to keep our beloved Mass here. It would be wonderful if more and more people went to Mass in Brentwood.

Until two weeks ago I thought the Brentwood Mass was the Latin Novus Ordo, but it is the Traditional and beautifully celebrated.

Ann Hyde

Link enables foreign travel

There are always wonderful and exciting things happening in the Golden Gate Boys Choir — some close to home, some farther away.
One of these is the connection we have with Pueri Cantores, the worldwide Catholic Youth Choir Organization. Our choir is the only choir from this area to belong.

Pueri Cantores is an official youth movement of the Roman Catholic Church. As a result of our membership in Pueri Cantores, the Golden Gate Boys Choir sings and rings in Masses and concerts in our country and in other countries — in Rome, and at the Vatican with the pope, in various historical churches, in schools, on Vatican Radio and TV broadcasts. So in addition to belonging to Pueri Cantores, our choir gets to meet members of other outstanding youth choirs from various places throughout the nation and the world.

There is a lighter side as well: During a concert for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, the bellringers were so highly thought of that Italian girls cheered them like they were cheering rock stars!

Another wonderful and exciting thing happens in the choir and much closer to home, right in rehearsals. Sometimes boys come to us who are either shy or don’t like standing up in front of anyone to sing. But, over time with the training they receive at the choir, they become boys who are confident to sing solos for the choir, for parents, in concerts and Masses, and even live for broadcast audiences.

I am very happy to be affiliated with the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers, and highly recommend it for boys.

Connie Torrey
Accompanist, Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers

Morality and national debt

Michael Francis McCarthy (Forum, Oct. 3) argues the national debt is a moral issue. Rather than make a moral argument, he makes a political one riddled with factual errors.

A moral argument would be based on current teachings of the Church. His principal complaints seem to include both deficit spending and all government spending, “the government takes $4 trillion out of the private economy” (of which) “60 percent is taken from people who would otherwise invest in businesses and employ workers.”

Whether our current deficit spending will most specifically lead to the insolvency of the United States is a question answered by economics and not morality, and is open to question. Economists such as Brad Delong at the University of California acknowledge the long term threat of large deficits, but point out that the low current costs of government borrowing indicate the threat really is long term and not imminent. Delong and other economists also put the current deficits in historical perspective and offer alternatives to drastic immediate cuts to government, including fairer taxation and controls on health care spending like those included in the recent health care reform legislation, as keys to balancing the budget and avoiding long-term catastrophe.

To consider whether taxes are immoral (“taking $4 trillion”) I would suggest reading the papal encyclicals “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on earth”), “Mater et Magistra” (“Mother and Teacher”) and “Rerum Novarum,” (“Of New Things”), all of which specify a positive role of the state in promoting human dignity and welfare, and both directly and by implication sanction the collection of taxes to allow it to do so. Perhaps the clearest expression is in “Gaudium et Spes” (“Joy and Hope”) from the Documents of Vatican II, which admonishes those who “make light of social laws and precepts, and do not hesitate to resort to various frauds and deceptions in avoiding just taxes or other debts due to society.”

The website of the Office of Management and Budget indicates where the $4 trillion goes and how it’s financed. The deficit is not financed by borrowing “mostly from our Social Security contributions.” In 2010, the Social Security surplus funding the deficit was less than 5 percent of the deficit. Most of the deficit was funded by borrowing in domestic and world capital markets. Most of the money does not go “to public employees and corporate contractors.” Direct payments for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, veterans’ benefits, housing and aid to families accounts for almost 59 percent of expenditures. If you include interest on the debt (5 percent) and military salaries and direct operations costs (9 percent) you’ve now accounted for 73 percent of the almost $4 trillion before any spending on civilian public employees and corporate contractors. Of the remaining 27 percent, about a quarter is payments to defense contractors, and about 35 percent is total civilian employee expense, including benefits (about 8 percent of the total government expenditure). The rest (about 7 percent of total expenditures) is payment to contractors for roads, airports, medical research, scientific research and other smaller outlays.

Overall, as economist Paul Krugman points out, the easiest way to think of the federal government is to consider it a giant insurance company with an army.

Tax receipts for 2010 were less than 15 percent of GDP, a level not seen in more than 50 years, despite the moral need for government action, an outgrowth of more than a century of papal pronouncements. I do agree with McCarthy that a review of military contracts and reallocation of some of its funding to social causes is in order. I would argue, though, that a return of taxation to about 18 percent or 19 percent of GDP, curtailment of poorly conceived military deployments, expansion of the health expenditure controls as started by the health care reform act are political solutions to the long-term deficit problem and if put into practice would allow us, through our government, to fulfill our real moral imperative.

Jim Ahrens

New Roman Missal

For the over-60 crowd the New Roman Missal has come a long way since, “Dominic go frisk them.”

Mary McMahon

Aggressive role for bishop

I recently read Bishop Cordileone’s statement on violence. He rightfully decries violence in several sectors of contemporary life. However, nowhere do I see him offer any concrete steps for the reduction in our personal/social lives. This particularly bothers me.

Any concrete steps for its elimination and prevention are missing. To state one “Must find Christ” without these ingredients I believe is fulfilling what Marx referred to as the “Opiate of the people.”

There are several steps I believe he could take that would both symbolically and practically show his concern and fulfillment of his prophetic mission to bring the Peace of Christ to our communities.

• Introduce courses in both the theory and practice of nonviolence within all forms of Catholic education both in our schools and CCD.

• Come to various demonstrations in our communities to show his support for the elimination of violence in our local, national and international parts of our lives. Showing and demonstrating these concerns will show his serious intentionality to lessen violence surrounding us and in our midst.

• Included could be going to a demonstration in November of each year at the School of the Americas in Georgia. Attending one of the Good Friday vigils in Livermore demonstrating his appreciation, understanding and support for the Vatican II document condemning all forms of warfare directed at civilian populations; i.e. total war in all its forms.

• Speaking out openly against wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as wars against populations, not terrorists.

• Find a Planned Parenthood site and lead a prayer vigil for those who believe they are “stuck” and have no choice for an unwanted pregnancy.

It has been said that to oppose violence in all its forms is to believe in a seamless web garment. I challenge Bishop Cordlieone to demonstrate such values in public witness and even to the point of public civil disobedience. As Thomas Jefferson said: “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”

Paul Quinlan

Capital punishment view

Mathew Dunnigan’s call (Forum, Sept. 5) for an end to capital punishment does not reflect Church teaching. In citing the New Testament, he overlooks St. Paul’s endorsement of the state’s authority to execute evil-doers (Rom. 13:4).

The Church has always supported this as well: “Legitimate public authority has the right and the duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense,” and “the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty.” (Catecism of the Catholic Church Nos. 2266, 2267).

The punishment proportionate to murder is public execution. Thus, to assert “Execution is God’s domain — not man’s” is completely false and reflects only confusion between killing the innocent, which is murder, and the legitimate execution of the guilty.

If capital punishment were carried out properly, say within six months of conviction, the claim that states without executions have lower homicide rates, would be shown to be equally baseless.

JA Smith, Esq.
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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