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placeholder March 26, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Crimes in India

I have read with interest Steven Lodhipur's letter (Forum, Feb. 21). Those who have read the history of colonization in Asia and elsewhere know the dark side of colonization. Is it necessary for every visiting Catholic dignitary to apologize for the dark side of the Portuguese rule?

Lodhipur wrote that if those atrocities committed by the Portuguese were committed today they would have been considered crimes against humanity. This is very true.

But there are many atrocities committed against Christians in this age in India for which I am not aware of any apology from anyone.

More than 15 priests have been murdered — such as Revs. A. Goveas, Francis Louis Martinseck, Mathew Mannaparabil, L. Bridget, Lawrence Kujur, Joseph Dungdun and Brother Anup Induvar to name a few. More than six nuns have been killed. Many nuns have been gang raped. Rev. Swaminathan Christudas was beaten and paraded naked in Dumka. In Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and Gujarat, (states in India) Christian institutions, hospitals, churches have been vandalized and burnt.

The Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were burnt alive. Several bills have been passed to curb the freedom of religion. I have named only a few instances here. A full report would take pages.
The British and American press seldom give much news of these crimes.

The only thing we can do now, is pray and hope these atrocities are not committed against anyone and freedom of religion is respected by all.

Bella Comelo
San Leandro

Choice denied

I was disturbed to witness a scene this morning in the parking lot of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Walnut Creek.

I heard yelling. Then I saw a mother storm out of the clinic, threatening to leave her daughter there. The daughter followed, paperwork in hand, and I saw them get in their vehicle where I could see the angry mother getting in her face.

It was obvious the woman didn't want an abortion and had said so. She was upset and definitely not in a place to make an informed decision that would impact the rest of her life.

I'm angry about what I saw next: A clinic worker (or counselor?) came outside. Was it to intervene on behalf of the woman under duress? No. The woman sat in the passenger seat with the door open.

To see the mother, father and worker standing over her offended my feminist ideals — she was in an unequal, subjugated position.

Where was empowerment of this woman? Why wasn't her choice honored?

Elizabeth Woo
Pleasant Hill

Marriage: Man and woman

No one can stop two persons who love each other from living together. These two persons could be both female or male. However, their togetherness or union cannot be described or called marriage. The term "same sex marriage" is a misnomer.

Their togetherness or unity could be called same sex lovers or same sex union ... but not marriage. The term marriage describes only the union between a man and a woman for the purpose of bringing into this world the next generation.

Peter Tejada
Castro Valley

Advise and dissent

Lauds bishop's stance

Hurrah for Bishop Cordileone's intended elimination of contraceptive coverage embedded in local Catholic Charities insurance plans — and for the Voice's continuing reports on principled opposition to Obamacare's perverse birth-control mandate (Voice, Feb. 21 and March 5)!

President Obama and ostensibly Catholic HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius remain hostile to life issues, retaining their support of Planned Parenthood objectives — despite that organization's teen-targeted depravity, as exposed (for example) in American Life League's "Hooked on Sex" report.

Recall with sadness the prominently dissident local priest who proclaimed at a Walnut Creek parish in October 2008 that voting for Obama could be seen as "pro-life," though Obama's infanticidal opposition even to life-preserving measures for abortion-surviving babies was already well documented. Roman Catholics must choose life — e.g., alternatives to Obama, Sebelius and Obamacare.

The HHS diktat that insurers cover contraceptives (including certain abortifacients) is both illegal and unconstitutional, as former Justice Department officials David Rivkin and Edward Whelan have explained (The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15).

It's illegal because it doesn't explicitly override 1993's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as that act requires — and because the mandate also fails "compelling governmental interest" and "least restrictive means" tests.

It's unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment's "free exercise" clause (not to mention the Tenth Amendment's reserving to "the States respectively, or to the people" of "powers not delegated… by the Constitution").

Hopefully, the USCCB has itself begun recognizing danger in its Faustian partnership with America's "social justice" Left, which effectively promotes government domination over human lives, womb to tomb.

Sharon Arata

Can't have it both ways

As not just Catholics but all other, true people of God continue to wrestle with the injustice of government in our lives in regard to the mandate compelling all Catholic institutions to go against our teachings and more importantly, our God-given consciences.

I can come to only one conclusion: A person who truly lives his or her life in accordance with the Commandments of God does not think twice about what is right and what is wrong; what is truth and what is a lie. All true Christians, not just Catholics, have no trouble interpreting what God meant by His commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." We can decide to take that commandment on face value and fool ourselves or we can be honest with ourselves and stand up for its full meaning. President Obama is taking this commandment of God's on face value and forcing the Catholic Church to obey him and not God.

The mandate of Obamacare forces us not only to accept the lie but we also have to pay for that lie out of our pockets.

How can President Obama claim to be a true Christian and at the same time not believe what he is doing is a sin? If there is a blessing in all of this, let it be that we have been brought to a crossroad in our faith — am I a true Catholic or just a Catholic when it suits me; we can't have it both ways!

Pam Brady
Pleasant Hill

Cardinal Mahony's stand

On Feb. 12, Cardinal Roger Mahony sent a strong message to President Obama regarding the "new health care bill," which read in part, "As a Catholic American, I am outraged not only by your incredulous contortions to justify your untenable position, I am insulted that you would think that Americans who value and treasure our Constitutional freedoms would even question your overreaching infringement on individual freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

"Your 'accommodation' actually makes the entire matter far worse. Every effort must be undertaken to reverse your ill-conceived revocation of our Constitutional rights.

I fear Mr. President, that you are knowingly and intentionally trampling upon and reversing our Constitutional rights."

Unfortunately, there has been little real support or not from our US bishops regarding this most important issue.

Thank you Cardinal Mahony!

Rich Peterson

[Editor's note: The vast majority of U.S. Bishops have issued similar statements. The USCCB has also issued statements as a body. For more information, search: USCCB, Conscience protection.]

Appalled by bishops

As a woman, physician and practicing Catholic, I am appalled at the US Bishops' attacks on President Obama and the policy of making contraception available without a co-pay to employees of Catholic hospitals and universities.

To me, it is an assault on religious liberty to insist that all employees of Catholic hospitals and universities must follow Catholic positions — the administration policy does not force anyone to use contraceptives; the bishops' position would force their view of Catholic morality on non-Catholic employees and deprive those employees of insurance support for a recommended health benefit proven to improve health and decrease mortality in women.

Furthermore, to use this single misrepresented issue to claim Obama is attacking religion and urge Catholics to not support the president is offensive to me as a Catholic who believes in the Church's social justice teaching. One can make an excellent case that Obama is much closer than his Republican opponents to positions of Catholic social teaching on stewardship of the environment, support for the social safety net, dignity of labor and provision of health care to the needy.

Where is the bishops' outrage over the increasing portion of our country in poverty and homelessness or the threat to God's world from climate change?

Claire Broome, MD

[Editor's note: No one is prohibited by law from purchasing private health insurance that would cover contraceptives/abortion. The issue is whether a Catholic institution would be required to provide such coverage under its employee's health insurance plan. Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty has made the analogy that this is like requiring a Jewish deli to serve pork because most people "have no problem eating pork" and many non-observant Jews eat pork. This begs the question: "In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity," why should a Jewish deli be "forced by government to serve pork within their very own institutions?" For more information search: Kosher Deli, Bishop Lori.]

HHS … much ado

The Catholic press has been awash in what I call "Henny Penny" warnings that "the (religious liberty) sky is falling." I refer to the brouhaha over the Affordable Care Act and how it will impact health insurance programs at religious institutions. What is a health insurance matter has been conflated into a clarion call for the protection of "religious liberty."

There is an unwarranted assumption that religious liberty should have no limits. However there are indeed limits to people's rights to do and practice certain things under the guise of "religious freedom:"

• Mormons were and are not allowed to legally practice polygamy.

• Christian Scientists or others who believe in faith healing cannot withhold medical treatment from their minor children.

• Parents who are strict disciplinarians, as their understanding of the Bible speaks to them, do not have the right to do things that the law deems illegal.

• A husband whose understanding of St. Paul leads him to believe himself the true and unquestioned head of household is not allowed to enforce that belief on his wife and family by physical or otherwise violent means.

• Those whose understanding of the Hebrew scriptures lead them to believe that slavery is allowed cannot hold and/or own slaves.

• Practitioners of female circumcision look on it as an integral part of their cultural and ethnic identity, and some perceive it as a religious obligation. The Catholic establishment has rarely if ever come out in support of the rights of those mentioned above. It appears that it all depends on whose ox is being gored — or whose right to discriminate is being questioned.

Jim McCrea

[Editor's note: "The right to freedom of conscience and, in a special way, to religious freedom taught in the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae of the Second Vatican Council is based on the dignity of the human person and not on a non-existent equality among religions or cultural systems of human creation. Paul VI taught that 'in no way does the Council base this right to religious freedom on the fact that all religions and all teachings, including those that are erroneous, would have more or less equal value; it is based rather on the dignity of the human person, which demands that he not be subjected to external limitations which tend to constrain the conscience in its search for the true religion or in adhering to it.'" Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life," CDF (Doctrine of the Faith), 2002: No. 8.]

HHS and Catholic Church

The First Amendment states, in part, that the state "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …" The recent ruling of the Health and Human Services department forces church-run institutions to pay for birth control and morning-after pills (both of which destroy a beginning life), abortion and sterilization.

This is against moral Church teaching, as well as Natural Law and the Constitution.

Catholic institutions can now comply with the law (against the Catholic conscience), disobey it and risk lawsuits and fines or get organized to repeal the ruling. Another choice, of course, since President Obama has said he won't back down, is to elect someone who will repeal ObamaCare and this ruling, which proceeded from it.

All US bishops have spoken out against the HHS ruling. The burning question is now whether Catholics will get the message and do something about it. Will we see leadership from the pulpit and in our church bulletins?

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

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