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Christian Stewardship connected by the environment

placeholder  February 21, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Two issues of concern

I am very concerned with regards to two articles (Voice, Dec. 12):

The Crystal Cathedral. The Los Angeles Cathedral cost $189-plus million (2002 dollars), the Oakland Cathedral cost $172 million and now it would appear the Diocese of Orange has bought the Crystal Cathedral for $57.5 million.

Over the last few years the economy has been poor, people have lost jobs, health care and their homes and now we see Church leaders, again, spending money for items that are not necessary.

The total amount for these cathedrals is $436.5 million think of the social programs the Church could have provided its parishioners with over the years with these funds.

A pilgrimage. It seems the bishop and six priests are making a pilgrimage to India. Who is paying for this trip? I sincerely hope the trip funds are the personal funds of the individuals involved and not the Diocese of Oakland. Pilgrimages are personal travels and should not be paid for by parishioner-contributed funds. I am very concerned about Church spending. Take care of us and don't worry about cathedrals and pilgrimages as they mean nothing and we do.

J. Eric Salmon

[Editor's note: The bishop and priests were guests of various families and religious entities while in India. They paid for their own transportation and incidental expenses.]

Advise and dissent

Let diocese
host "Occupy"

"Christian Stewardship principles echoed in 'Occupy' movement," reports a headline (Forum, Jan. 9). Misunderstood Occupy demonstrators have been harshly and selfishly criticized by proprietors of businesses they've vandalized, by owners of other properties where they've squatted, by tight-schedule truckers they've blocked at the Port of Oakland and by health authorities they've alarmed with their sanitation arrangements.

Ultimately, Occupy's persecuted disciples of Christian Stewardship have been evicted from their encampments by heartless police authorities.

Well, then, in keeping with the utopian spirit of the times, the Oakland diocese should graciously offer its modernist cathedral and grounds to Occupiers as an alternative worship/living/protest space.

After all, the $190 million cathedral complex is the most expensive U.S. diocesan structure ever constructed, and Christian Stewardship principals "echoed in Occupy Wall Street" demand that "we share our gifts generously in justice," thereby to demonstrate "the inherent connectedness that exists between us all" and "a broader social commitment to the common good."

Think of the wonderful synergies! The relocation could even provide rent-free office space to behind-the-scenes organizers of the reportedly "leaderless" Occupiers (including Causa Justa, the George Soros-funded Alliance for Global Justice and various public-sector labor unions)!

Cathedral-based Occupiers could then conveniently coordinate "social justice" activism with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and welfare-state government authorities, working collaboratively to extract from each according to his [bureaucrat-assessed] ability, and distribute to each according to his [bureaucrat-determined] need! Karl Marx and Saul Alinsky would be proud!

Michael Arata

[Editor's note: The Cathedral of Christ the Light $190 million cost was a pre-construction, 2007 estimate. The final cost was $172 million. The Los Angeles Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels cost $190 million in 2002.]

We are to blame

The causes of the "Occupy" movement are justifiable but many of their actions were against the law. Those responsible for illegal acts are criminals and must be held accountable. America is one of the most democratic countries and there are several legal methods available to show opposition and air grievances. We are a civilized society and the law of the jungle must not be allowed to prevail.

It is true that a small percentage of people amass wealth and deprive their fellow human beings to "a right to life, food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, education and employment" but this unfair system is allowed to exist because our representatives, the administration and the Legislature, do nothing to control this practice because it benefits them too. We, the so called 99 percent, voted our representatives into office so it is time to shed the mantle and place the blame squarely on where it belongs ourselves.

Robert P. Mendonca
A civil tongue

In his letter (Forum, Feb. 6) Cliff Wiesner certainly expressed his "opinions and concerns," but I don't believe he contributed to the "climate of respect and civil discourse" the Forum wishes to promote. It is one thing to disagree with decisions a person or legislative body make. It is quite another to call a person names, disparage him and attribute motives.

By all means, be critical of President Obama's decisions, the bishop's decisions. But be respectful of their persons. They are God's children just like you.

Regarding the pending requirement for religious organizations to provide contraceptive services, the religious organization itself will not provide the services, it will be the insurance carrier. Why? Most universities and hospitals receive federal funds and cannot discriminate. Many students and patients are not Catholic: many employees are not Catholic either. All insurance plans include benefits many of us never use, never need. They are included as part of a comprehensive package. Anyone whose informed conscience determines that using drugs or medical procedures for contraception, erectile disfunction, infertility, etc. is wrong or sinful should not use them.

If Catholic hospitals and universities forgo federal funds, they would not be subject to the pending requirement. However, they probably wouldn't exist either.

Marilynne Homitz

[Editor's note: The HHS mandate applied to all institutions regardless of whether they accept federal funds. Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York said Feb. 13 that President Barack Obama's revision to the contraceptive mandate in the health reform law did nothing to change the U.S. bishops' opposition to what they regard as an unconstitutional infringement on religious liberty.]

Respect conscience

On Feb. 28, 2006, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, was one of 55 House Democrats who signed a document which was labeled "Historic" A Catholic Statement of Principles.''

In this document the members expressed a "commitment to the dignity of life" and their "belief that government has moral purpose."

They acknowledged they were "proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition a tradition that promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those individuals in society who are most in need." They stated they "seek the Church's guidance and assistance" and "believe also in the primacy of conscience."

That "primacy of conscience" is now in jeopardy. In keeping with the Catholic principles they have acknowledged and the commitments they have made, Miller and the others should do everything in their power to endorse and affirm the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S. 1467) to ensure that the rights of conscience of all participants in our nation's health care system will be respected.

L. Richard Vivrette
San Ramon

Life in solitary

In his column on capital punishment (Voice, Feb. 6), Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone calls for replacing a sentence of death by a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Unfortunately, the latter sentence doesn't do justice to the enormity of the crime committed (i.e., first degree murder).

If we must go that route, the life sentence should be served in solitary confinement, with the murderer not permitted any contact whatever with family members, friends or fellow inmates. Since many inmates in the federal maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado, are already serving such sentences, there should be no constitutional issues with California following suit.

Lawrence Foster
San Ramon

What happened?

I was unable to go to my parish church for Mass on Christmas and New Year's due to a very sore back. I turned onto EWTN and participated in the Mass at the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. It was all in Latin with only the organ and the beautiful Gregorian chants.

I didn't realize how much I missed it that beautiful, dignified and deeply spiritual liturgy. I at first welcomed Vatican II, but it has gone too far. We have thrown away too much. Our Lord deserves the best worship we can provide and we have tossed it aside. Why?

What happened? Why do we not bow our heads at the name of Jesus? What happened to Tenebrae (Holy Week devotion) during Lent? What happened to modesty in dress when attending Mass? What happened to the soft, mellow sounds of the organ? Where did all this clapping come from? Maybe I am the only one who feels this way, but it is how I feel.

Katherine Hudson

[Editor's note: Vatican II did not do away with the beautiful liturgical elements mentioned above. "Sacrosanctum Concilium" ("The Dogmatic Constitution on Sacred Liturgy") Chapter VI, speaks of the central importance of Gregorian Chant and the pipe organ for liturgy. Pope Benedict has invited the whole Church to read and meditate once again on the Documents of Vatican II in the upcoming Year of Faith from October through November 2013.]

Thanks for promotion

I wanted to thank The Catholic Voice for the tickets we won in the Harlem Globetrotters promotion in January. Our family had a great time. It was an entertaining and magical experience for my boys. The seats were great too. We were able to experience seeing the Harlem Globetrotters, something we normally could not afford to do. Thanks again.

Charlene Soto
Union City

Support mothers

I applaud Mary McMahon (Forum, Feb. 6), who wrote in about supporting Casa Vincentia. She referred to herself as the "Life Walk nag" but she is directing us to continue on to the real journey the Life Walk asks us to take.

If we walk for the unborn, should we not also support those amazing women who choose to carry them to full term? This is not an easy journey for these mothers. In encouraging them to take it, we should take the next step and help them and their babies.

Supporting places like Casa Vincentia, 3210 62nd Ave., Oakland 94605, is what the Life Walk is all about. This is positive action in supporting life and I am encouraged that people like McMahon bring this to our attention. I hope many respond to her challenge to support those who chose to deliver their babies alive.

Darleen Upmeier

I adore and thank Him

As an Orthodox Christian, having entered Santa Maria Church almost nine years ago, I've learned how important it is to pay Jesus a visit when given the privilege of being near Him during adoration.

Three loving disciples, John, Peter and James, when accompanying Jesus to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, were so filled with fear during the night, they fell asleep. Later, Jesus asked Peter: "Are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?"

My brothers and sisters, we have this opportunity to actually be with Jesus at adoration, reassuring Him of our love and support. When we are with Him in holy adoration, He shows himself to us as clothed in the bread "because our mortal eyes are not capable of seeing Him in His bright countenance and brilliance."

While at adoration, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Church of Santa Maria in Orinda, I experienced once a flood of soft golden healing rays emitting from the Host of Our Lord, which I believe He constantly gives us during our visits with Him, though we are not always able to see these healing rays of light.

Recently at adoration in St. Monica Church in Moraga (1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays), I interiorly felt the Lord comfort me, tenderly telling me He loves me, and not at all angry with me.

I understand I need Him to help me grow in holy love and humility.

A. Buzzell

Portugal's dark side

I commend Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone for visiting India and for writing about his experience (www.catholicvoiceoakland.org) in a mostly respectful and open-minded manner. I was particularly pleased to hear that he had visited a Hindu temple, something often considered verboten (prohibited) by those Catholics weighed down by disdain for other forms of worship.

That said, I do wish he had informed the readers of the darker side of the Portuguese influence he so lauds. As in Mexico, the Iberian (in this case, Portuguese) invaders and accompanying Jesuits arrived bearing the good news in one hand and a sword in the other. During the nearly 300 years of Portuguese rule in southern India, 42 Hindu practices were outlawed, temples and mosques were demolished, ancient texts were burned and orphans were forcibly converted.

Furthermore, Konkani, the indigenous language was outlawed in favor of Portuguese. The native tongue became referred to as "a lingua de criados" (the language of servants).

Many secular historians, both Indian and European, have written of the atrocities committed in southern India, yet I am unaware of any Catholic recognition of or apology for these events. If this were to happen today, it would be a crime against humanity. When will the Church finally take responsibility?

Steven Lodhipur

Interfaith effort on homeless

Thank you for the mention in "Around the Parishes" of St. John Vianney's participation in the Contra Costa Interfaith Council Winter Nights program. This wonderful program houses homeless families from October to April each year. So far this year the program has served 21 families for varying lengths of time. I did want to point out that by the end of the season the families and their many children, most under 6 years, will have enjoyed special attention from 29 different congregations.

Ours is just one of those privileged to serve in this way as the residents move from place to place every two weeks. There are six Catholic parishes involved, almost all the rest are Protestant churches, with the addition of two Jewish synagogues. This is a truly interfaith effort and is to be celebrated.

Nora Petersen
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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