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placeholder May 21, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Good Friday time off

I remember quite some time ago when I worked for PG&E on Market Street in San Francisco our offices were closed from noon to 3 p.m. each Good Friday. Unfortunately, I can't say I consistently made a bee line to nearby St. Patrick's for the full three hours, but it did help me to understand that it was a special day in the Church's calendar and not just another Friday.

I realize those days are long gone from the secular landscape of our society, but, I must say, I'm disappointed to note that while Wall Street takes the day off, Saint Mary's College schedules baseball and softball games and the University of San Francisco schedules tennis matches during the holy hours. This should be a special and respected time, not just another Friday.

David McGrath

Right to choose — 2%

If I were to attend a rally for religious freedom, my sign would read, "98% of Women (and, therefore, men) use contraception. Insure their right to choose." You should not get fewer health care benefits if you work at a parish or K-12 school, vs. a Catholic hospital or university.

Letters opposing contraception should only be coming from those 2 percent who use natural family planning. Anyone else is a hypocrite.

Mark Gotvald
Pleasant Hill

[Editor's note: The issue is not whether one has the right to choose to use contraception, it's whether or not the state has the right to force a religious institution to pay for it when it is contrary to its teaching. Pregnancy is not a disease and birth control is not health care. Further, the contraceptive Pill was declared a Class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization, "IARC Monographs Programme Finds Combined Estrogen-Progestogen Contraceptives and Menopausal Therapy are Carcinogenic to Humans," International Agency for Research on Cancer, Press Release 167 (July 29, 2005); Physicians' Desk Reference, 2415.]

Religious freedom

The article "Rally for religious freedom draws a crowd in San Francisco," (Voice, April 9) dovetails nicely with United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty release on April 12 of a statement ("Our First Most Cherished Liberty") calling on Catholics and others to resist what the bishops characterize as unprecedented threats to religious freedom.

In this statement they were and are absolutely right in declaring that the defense of religious freedom should not become a partisan issue. If it does becomes a partisan issue or, worse, an electoral ploy, it will result in enormous cynicism in an electorate in which a significant majority of voters already think religion is too politicized. Unfortunately, the bishops' statement and proposal for public action are likely to increase that possibility. This initiative is being launched during an election year in which one party has assumed the mantle of faith and charges the other with attacking religion. The bishops need to do much more to prevent their national campaign from becoming a not-very-covert rallying point for the Republican Party and its candidates. If that happens, it is the church and the cause of religious freedom that will suffer.

For their effort to be effective, the bishops' campaign must be seen to be nonsectarian and independent of electoral politics. Adding anti-Islamic prejudice to their list of concerns would help in that regard. The "grand campaign" should also begin and end with a frank admission about the complexity of church-state relations. No government can accommodate every conceivable religious practice or belief, nor does the Catholic Church have a strong record of supporting accommodation of other religious communities. In their simplistic rhetoric, the bishops sound more like politicians than pastors. If religious freedom becomes a partisan issue, its future is sure to grow dimmer.

Jim McCrea

[Editor's note: It is possible for any statement from the USCCB to be spun politically. The bishops did not ask for this fight, they are simply reacting to an unprecedented attack on religious freedom as it occurred.]

Compassion for victims

I was horrified to read about the California Supreme Court having slammed the legal door on a new wave of lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church over long-past instances of clergy abuse. The Supreme Court case centers on the Quarry brothers, who were allegedly abused as children by Donald Broderson, an Oakland priest who was forced to resign in 1993 as a result of abuse allegations.

Buried memories "PTSD" can reveal themselves at any time and cannot be legislated, nor fit into a time frame.

It's obvious these victims should be treated with heartfelt compassion and not subjected to time constraints.

Helen Koci

Pro-life means more

As the Presidential election draws near, it appears that some contributors to the Forum have decided to mount an anti-Obama campaign.

People have written to say that Obama's plan forces us to "offend our religious beliefs and pay for what others do in their bedroom." It's pretty clear that those "others" are your own. A recent Catholic University of America report states that 95% of Catholic women use birth control. I think even God knows they aren't fornicating just for means of procreation.

More Catholics support expanding access to contraception (to those who can't afford it), than the general population. It seems that many in the Catholic population understand that using some form of contraception would prevent many women from making the difficult decision of abortion. They also understand the dangers of overpopulation and disease. I think it's time for the Church to update its school of thought in regard to this issue, as it is long overdue.

Several writers have accused Obama of crossing the line between Church and State because his plan mandates that all employers provide a health care package to their employees that includes coverage for contraception. He's not the pope, he's the president. His health care plan is for everyone; if you don't believe in contraception, don't use it. And if the Church doesn't want to provide its employees with this health care plan, they can certainly pay the cost out of pocket, possibly with the federal funds they receive? Federal funds the Church uses for its own denominational practices. The Church wants to play politics but remain tax exempt and it wants to take federal funds but not follow federal law.

I am a father, a husband, a practicing Catholic AND a pro-lifer; and when I use the term "pro-life," I truly mean it. Pro-life is more than just the abortion issue; it's the health care for children issue; the capital punishment issue; the nuclear weapon issue; the poverty issue and the racism issue. In regard to all things pro-life, Obama's beliefs more closely mirror those of the Catholic Church than any Republican!

Joseph A. Maraccini

Social justice

Those who claim to be advocating social justice are really up to something else. The social encyclicals tell us that commutative justice comes first, and the social-justice wallahs (people in charge) do not seem to accept this. One I know recently put me on his e-mail-block list after I claimed that ending abortion was more important than implementing his particular ideal of society.

These people tend to ignore abortion. They never mention prosecutorial immunity (the legal anomaly, almost unique to the U.S. among democracies, by which we are forbidden to sue a prosecutor who has tried to frame us), which is surely a "sinful social structure" with multiplier effects on us all. Nor do they bother much about no-fault divorce, surely an injustice to the rejected spouse. Another sinful structure is the tariff system: In international trade-relations let all means be sedulously employed for the removal of those artificial barriers to economic life which are the effects of distrust and hatred (Pius XI: Divini Redemptoris §76 s. 4).

Yet how often do we find the social-justice wallahs calling for the implementation of the Doha Round? How many of them have even heard of it? Instead we hear what David Henderson in the 2000 Wincott Lecture characterized as "do-it-yourself economics," and propaganda for "fair trade" (which is largely a scam). The secular liberal (using that word in its proper, historical sense) workers are doing more good than most noisy Catholic "advocates for social justice."

There is indeed social sin, but at least some of our social-justice wallahs are part of the problem rather than of the solution.

John A. Wills

Women religious

The Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose "live and proclaim Jesus Christ through evangelizing, preaching, educating and promoting peace and justice." Among their ministries is affiliation with Catholic schools in the diocese. The Sisters of the Holy Family have been called "Gleaners of the Kingdom [for] seeking out and advocating to the poor and needy." Among their ministries is providing Catholic teaching to public school students (which includes me and my mother and her siblings a generation earlier). Both orders came to the Oakland area more than a century ago and prior to the creation of the Oakland Diocese.

I am most troubled by the recent Vatican reprimand and planned revision of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents most of the American nuns, women who have dedicated their lives to carrying out the Christian Works of Mercy, and doing so with the love that Jesus commands.

In good faith, the American bishops need to clarify the rationale behind the Vatican's action. Also, I would ask that Bishop Cordileone publicly affirm the good works of the orders of nuns within the Oakland diocese.

Margery Leonard

No Catholic values

Why does Hollywood once again want to desensitize youth into viewing murder as commonplace as walking down the street and then rating it PG-13. The subject of the entire movie "Hunger Games" was youth killing other youth to win a "game" and save their own lives, for viewing pleasure by eccentric futuristic adults on a big screen, while the poor society of the children's parents watch in excruciating horror.

Please tell me who makes these movies? We as parents are struggling daily to raise kids with honest Christian values, but this "mainstream" movie goes against everything we believe in. Am I the only mother out there speaking up against this movie?

B. Flowers
San Leandro

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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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