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placeholder June 11, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 10   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Catholicism not a poll

What the Church teaches is not a matter of opinion. Nor is Church teaching a matter of the percent of Catholics who believe or practice it. The Church teaches that fornication and adultery are wrong, but many Catholics commit these sins. It does not matter what percentage of Catholics commit these sins, the Church will not change its teaching. Similarly, the Church teaches that contraception is "intrinsically evil" (2370 in Catechism of the Catholic Church). The Church is not going to change this teaching even if 99.999 percent of Catholics practice contraception.

The Obama administration wants the Catholic Church and other related groups to fund its so-called, "health care" that is against her teachings. The Church reaches out to others through her schools, hospitals, soup kitchens and social services. It has done this without interference from the federal government until this administration changed the definition of what kind of people the Church can employ and serve to maintain the exemption. The HHS mandate states that as long as the organization hires only Catholics and serves only Catholics, then there is an exemption from its "health care." Church-related organizations hire non-Catholics and they don't require recipients to be Catholics. Can you imagine telling people coming to our soup kitchens that they must be Catholic to get fed?

The Obama administration is restricting what and whom the Catholic Church can serve. Clearly the issue is religious freedom, not contraceptives. If this administration succeeds in destroying Catholic outreach, other organizations will also be attacked. Hopefully the courts will favorably respond to the numerous lawsuits filed by impacted religious organizations and many dioceses.

Tom Tami

Church under attack

Religion, particularly the Catholic Church, has been under attack by radical liberals in government and the media for some time and they are slowly winning. They excel at deception and stealth and are very successful in changing the focus.

They turned an unborn child into a blob of cells and abortion on demand into a previously unknown right to privacy. They are now trying to turn our struggle to retain our freedom of religion into a war on women's rights and freedom to practice our freedom of religion in the public arena into a distortion of the separation of church and state. The Church's protest of the government's attempt to define what it will recognize as a religion is a first step in its attempt to control and dictate what we can or cannot practice or preach. They are trying to define it as an opposition to a women's right to free contraceptive services and abortifacients rather than what it is; an attack on religious freedom; and they are succeeding.

Go see the movie "For Greater Glory." Look back at what has been happening to our freedoms and moral compass over the last 50 years and try to tell yourself it can't happen here. We have the watch, they have the time.

Clifford R. Wiesner


Obamacare provides

I agree wholeheartedly with Joe Maraccini (Letters, May 21).

Cheers to him for saying it so eloquently. President Obama's health care plan provides health care to millions previously not covered, which leads to a healthier nation. The Church needs to stay out of politics as this issue is not about religious freedom.

JoAnne Ciazinski

[Editor's note: Even if the mandate was not about religious freedom, which is difficult to justify since Catholic institutions are being forced to pay for services that are directly opposed to Catholic moral teaching, the US bishops have also made the point that the mandate is also an unwarranted government definition of religion, and a violation of personal civil rights. For more information see the "March 14 Statement on Religious Freedom and the HHS Mandate," www.usccb.org.]

Vatican II changes

Let us be real, and remind ourselves what Vatican II has meant to the Diocese of Oakland and to the Catholic Church in the world today for the past 50 years. I have stopped counting the number of Catholic Churches and schools closed in this diocese. A recent survey reported that in 1965 there were 1,556 Catholic high schools; in 2002 there were 786; in 1965 there were 10,503 Catholic grade schools; in 2002 there were 6,623.

In 1965 there were 1,574 ordinations to the priesthood; in 2002 there were 450. More than 50,000 priests left the Church, thanks to Vatican II. (This also included the priest who married my wife and I, a very good priest, a good man.)

In 1958 weekly Mass attendance was 74 percent; in 2002 it was 25 percent.

The Catholic Voice reported, Feb. 19, 2007, "How frequently Catholic young adults ages 18 to 30 attend Mass?" 15 percent rarely or never; 21 percent every week; 28 percent a few times a year; 35 percent once or twice a few times a month!

And worse, 70 percent of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence. New York Times CBS Poll 2003, 70 percent of Catholics aged 18-44 believe that the Eucharist is merely a "symbol" of Jesus. A January 2007 Gallup Poll reported that "fewer than 45 percent of Catholics who receive Holy Communion at least weekly acknowledged that they were receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine."

A recent Gallup study found that 53 percent of Catholics approve of abortion. (And now gay marriages?)

In 1968 there were 338 annulments of Catholics married in the Catholic Church; in 2002 there were 50,000.

Vatican II for no other reason changed the Mass, and other Catholic Church teachings practiced for the last 1,000 years, and changed it, to make the Mass and Catholic teachings more acceptable to the Protestants. There was no other reason unless you want to hear from those who believe that Vatican II was created to hurt/destroy the Church!

Richard Peterson


[Editor's note: At the Extraordinary Synod of 1985, Pope John Paul II and then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) admitted there were grave "dangers and excesses" that had arisen in the years after the council. While acknowledging a need for an authentic implementation of Vatican II, both men also described the council as a singular gift of the Holy Spirit. Historically, almost all councils have been followed by periods of great turbulence. However, nowhere does Vatican II say the changes in the liturgy were done to make it more acceptable for Protestants, nor were there changes to Church teaching. The Traditional Latin Mass itself comes from the 16th century, from one of the many rites within the Church.]

Help Casa Vincentia

Your edition of May 21 was great about the history of the diocese.

However, to close Casa Vincentia, which cares for unwed mothers, is not Christian.

If anything, have a raffle or other fund-raisers to make up their deficit. I know that the Young Ladies Institute supplies the babies with clothes and diapers.

Hopefully, there is an angel within the diocese to help with financing a new building for Casa Vincentia.

Audrey O'Brien


Remove the temptation
A good time to remember the sanctity of life is when you're driving. There are too many drivers who are short of sleep, using cell phones, using drugs or alcohol. When another driver makes an unsafe maneuver, you may have a split second to react in a way that could save your life or the life of another innocent person.

Be prepared. Remain alert. And do not be one of the distracted drivers! If you can't resist looking at your cell phone while driving or waiting at red lights, remove the temptation and keep it in the glove box.

Sharon Silveira
Union City

More than demographics

In the most recent 50th anniversary edition of The Catholic Voice (May 21) the headline, "50 years: One faith, many cultures," grabbed my attention. This particular issue includes a brief look at the 80-plus parishes in the diocese, calling them the lifeblood of the diocese. While I sincerely believe the parishes are our lifeblood, the statistical and demographic information included here about each one of our parishes is not.

Why would it be "interesting," as stated in the article, to list the percentages of single parent families with a child under the age of 18 living with them? There is no context for this statistic to be in the profile unless it is meant to compare with those parishes with predominantly two parent families. Are parishes with higher percentages of single parent households somehow not providing the same level of quality parenting as others where the statistics are lower? What is being implied about single or two parent households? We do not know the circumstances, whether it be a divorce, loss of a spouse due to death or other reasons. Out of context, this statistic is meaningless and can easily be misconstrued.

Similarly, the number of college graduates and the average household income statistic only further separates the parishes from those with more or fewer resources. What purpose does this serve? In these challenging economic times a better financial statistic would have been the status of the Bishop's Appeal regarding a current parish goal, and the current percentage achieved. The reporting out of financial information needs to have a purpose, particularly in light of the current analysis of a possible capital campaign for our diocese.

On the other hand, celebrating 50 years of parish life which included statistics of the number of baptisms, weddings and funerals along with which parishes that have/had Catholic Schools, faith formation programs, etc. would be "interesting" from a historical perspective.

Finally, as mentioned in the title of the 50th anniversary issue, 50 years: One faith, many cultures, why not feature and report on the richness of our ethnic/cultural diversity in each one of our parishes? For example, a listing of all of the Masses celebrated in different languages throughout the diocese on a given weekend would also have been far more interesting from a historical point of view. Celebrating 50 years of ministry and faith ought to be more about the people celebrating sacraments and who they are and not how much money is earned in each demographic or the percentage of single parent households.

If we are to embrace the rich ethnic and cultural diversity that each one of our 80-plus parishes brings to our diocese as a whole, then distinguishing them from one another based upon irrelevant demographic esoterica is most certainly counterproductive to this goal.

Leo Keegan

Director of Docent, Ministerial Services
The Cathedral of Christ the Light

A safe home
Casa Vincentia has provided a safe and loving environment for single pregnant mothers for 25 years. Now the home is in financial crisis. I find it hard to believe that a church that paid out millions of dollars in the clergy sex scandal is unable to fund a safe home for five pregnant women who value unborn life!

Simultaneously bishops are "investigating" U.S. nuns for not giving sufficient emphasis to respect for life and anti-abortion concerns. A sad, sad paradox.

Mary Lou Rogers
San Ramon

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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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