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Christian Stewards, like Mary, asked to say ‘yes’ to God

Advance of same-sex marriage deepens concern for religious liberty

A most misunderstood word: What faith is and what it isn’t

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placeholder November 7, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 19   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Assaults on Christians

Christianity has been under attack from its very beginnings, but the modern day attacks have been primarily theological and philosophical. However, recent actions have shown that the attacks have been moving to violent attacks to destroy Christians and Christianity in various non-Christian nations.

China has ratcheted up its anti-Christian stance to discriminate against members, and even persecute the leaders, of “unofficial” churches. The more China increases these actions with no negative results the more it’s encouraged to continue.

Much worse is the violence developing in Muslim nations undergoing the “Arab Spring.” Vicious, intolerant Muslim radical groups once held in check by strong secular leaders are taking advantage of the confusion and lack of responsible leaders and are stirring up religious hatred. Witness Egypt, Iraq and Iran. Christian churches are burned and Christians are killed just because of their faith. I fear that this cancer will spread rapidly throughout the Mideast and northern Africa. Once again we learn of violent attacks in India, Nigeria, Malaysia and other non-Christian nations.

We cannot afford to sit idly by or issue pious pleas for understanding, tolerance, and an end to the terror. I ask that our bishops move with strength, conviction and dispatch to defend the faith and its followers.

I ask the United States Conference of Bishops to:

• Issue an immediate demand to an end of these practices.

• Make a statement that the Catholic Church in America will hold the leaders of the nations which tolerate these crimes as responsible as the actual offenders.

• Order every church in every United States diocese to immediately institute a prayer petition at the end of every Mass asking God for conversion of these offenders and the end of these horrors.

• Demand that the government of the United States and the United Nations condemn these actions as crimes against humanity and develop sanctions, etc. against nations that do not take action to stop them.

• Withdraw all Catholic funds from any company or firm that does business with any offending nation or firm within an offending nation and ask that all Catholic and other Christians do the same.

• The U.S. bishops create a department whose sole responsibility is to follow-up and encourage all the above and routinely report back to the bishops and the faithful.

I do not propose meeting violence with violence, but in today’s world economic might can be more effective than the sword. We cannot afford to delay any longer. History recorded the Japanese government killing and driving out all Christians and missionaries in the 17th century because no one moved to stop it; that is being repeated elsewhere today.

Clifford R. Wiesner
Concord


Big government a bust


We can get bedazzled by federal budget figures.

Looking inside the numbers — 35 percent of all expenditures go to civilian employees. These bureaucrats not only make twice as much in salary and benefits as their private sector counterpart; they’re paid to impose regulations that increase costs and make private businesses less profitable.

Thus, employers hire a tax accountant instead of sales clerks; or, regulations that shut down oil production raise gas prices. Is this a moral issue? Fact is that 59 percent of expenditures go to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense contractors, etc.

Most health care providers and suppliers have union employees (and political connections); those that don’t, like doctors in private clinics, are getting a 30 percent cut in “Obamacare” reimbursements. The people unemployed, on welfare and even those receiving Social Security benefits soon will be dependent on taxpayer dollars. Presently, contributions taken from our salaries go directly as benefits to the unemployed and to retirees. There is no “trust fund” for these benefits! Social Security just holds IOUs (debt in U.S. Treasury bonds) that earn only 1.23 percent in interest. As more people retire, and there are proportionally fewer workers, tax money will be needed to pay the trillions owed in retiree benefits.

Each year the government borrows $1.4 trillion, mostly from Social Security and other federal, state and local public employee pension funds. These days they are the only buyers. The international “sovereign” holders of the debt have been selling their U.S. Bonds. Social Security and these other public pension plans are holding worthless U.S. bonds and will be dependent on tax dollars to pay out hundreds of trillions in benefits. The Federal Reserve has shown how it will handle this debt in the future. It will devalue the dollar, which, in turn, will devalue retiree and pensioner benefits and our wages and dividends. This has already happened twice. We all are now being paid in worthless dollars.

Following Pope John Paul II in Centesimus Annus, I am a critic of “big” government on moral as well as economic and political grounds. In a gracious God we trust, because, in big government, we go bust!

Michael McCarthy
Hayward


Wasteful ‘intentions’


The moral issue isn’t whether the federal government spent more than $4 trillion than taxes it collected during the past three years, the question is how was it spent? Even though this money was spent, it has not improved the economy nor reduced unemployment.

To think that the recent health care reform legislation will control health care spending is a myth. I haven’t seen any government program that has controlled spending.

What does “fairer taxation” mean? Is it the old envy game? The wealthy should pay their fair share? The last I heard, the top 1 percent of earners paid 40 percent of income taxes. That 1 percent consisted of 1.4 million tax returns. The bottom 95 percent paid 39 percent. This group consisted of over 130 million tax returns of which over 40 percent didn’t pay any taxes. This means the top 5 percent of taxpayers paid 61 percent of federal taxes. Should the top 5 percent pay 100 percent?

When I was growing up in the 1930s, we had material poverty. What the “war on poverty” has done is replace material poverty with behavioral poverty. This kind of poverty reflects on conduct and values that prevent the development of healthy families, work ethics and self-sufficiency. Without these values it guarantees pathological life-styles that include drug and alcohol abuse, crime, violence, incarceration, illegitimacy, single-parent households, dependency (includes being slaves of the government) and erosion of work ethics.

Human beings need useful, meaningful, honest work, not only to make a living, but, more importantly, to keep their sanity. Handouts by the government cause people to become lazy and bored. That’s when we get into trouble.

The government’s “good intentions” show a lack of knowledge of human nature. Because of this, we have not only misspent billions of dollars but more importantly, we have destroyed healthy families. It’s healthy families that develop morality, discipline and strengthen the will.

One can quote all the encyclicals of our beloved popes, but they have had little influence on our government. The wasted billions are nothing compared to how many lives our government has injured and destroyed by its foolish “good intentions.”

William R. Delucchi
Newark


Down on death penalty


JA Smith’s justification for the death penalty (Forum, Oct. 17) correctly cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Nos., 22663 2267). My copy of the Catechism is dated 1994. Since that date, there was at least one appeal by the late Pope John Paul II to end the death penalty. On Jan. 27, 1999, during his homily at a Eucharist participated in by 104,000 celebrants at the TWA Dome in St. Louis, the pope said, “I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty. Modern society has the means of protecting itself without definitively denying the criminals the chance to reform.”

Smith also references Paul’s letter to the Romans (Rom, 13:4). It might be advisable to check Romans 12: 17-18, in which Paul exhorts the Romans not to repay evil with evil, to make every effort to live at peace with all and to forsake revenge.

It seems to me these teachings are more in line with Christ’s affirmation of the two greatest commandments: love God, love your neighbor, which was the Gospel in our Sunday liturgy Oct. 23.

Art Reardon
Rodeo


Swift conviction may be wrong


JA Smith (Forum, Oct. 17) writes that capital punishment is sometimes appropriate and should be executed swiftly, within six months of sentence. I agree people like Johannes Mehserle and William Calley should be put to death, but somehow those villains were sentenced only to two years and three years respectively. Neither was properly prosecuted, as is usually the case with treacherous police officers and soldiers — in fact, such people are rarely prosecuted.

But six months? Consider the lefty Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in 1982 of murdering Daniel Faulkner, a Philadelphia police officer. Abu-Jamal did not help his own case by his behavior in court, and he was sentenced to death. What with one thing and another he is still alive. In 1999, a lot more than six months later, a Mafia hit-man said he was the killer. But there are those adamant in demanding Abu-Jamal’s death, and the District Attorney is going along with them, so Abu-Jamal is still in prison.

There are many cases of late-coming evidence or botched procedure exonerating a convicted person. Paul Kern Imbler was convicted and sentenced in a Los Angeles murder trial, and only much later did evidence surface exonerating Imbler.

We should be very careful about expediting the death sentence until we have had 20 or 30 years without prosecutorial immunity (an anomaly in a democracy: why do we not copy in California the relevant Canadian maxim?), together with other measures to clean up police and prosecutors.

John A. Wills
Oakland


Our immoral leaders


Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have done much to improve the economic situation since the President Bush/Paulson/Bernanke bailout of the banks in 2008.

Remember before the bailout there was a courageous band of Democrats and Republicans in the House that did not endorse it. Then Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, candidate McCain, candidate Clinton and candidate Obama all rushed to support Bush — I was so sorry that happened.

Obama had a chance to prove he really meant he was for change; I even hoped McCain would oppose the bailout but he did not. Do you recall that Obama waited to hear McCain’s announcement before he said he would oppose it? What a sad day it was when our leaders betrayed the American people to save the very ones who created the bubble in the first place!

I was so proud of those Congressmen who voted for the people, including the Black Caucus, with our own Barbara Lee from Oakland! I think George Miller also voted to oppose the bailout.

Our leaders were swayed with the enormous contributions they received from the Wall Street/Federal Reserve/banking establishment. How immoral could they get?

Joe Trevors
Hercules

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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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