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Regarding the preaching document approved by the U.S. Bishops on Nov. 13 (Voice, Nov. 19): Bishop Ricardo Ramirez urged the assembly "to include (it was) his amendment urging Catholics to make an extra effort to listen to the homilies of foreign-born priests for whom English or Spanish is not their first language ... whose speech may have an heavy accent that the congregation cannot understand."
The purpose of homilies is to communicate. If the congregation cannot understand the accented speech, there is no communication. Trying to listen is a waste of time.
All foreign-born priests should be required to complete a year-long, intensive spoken language course before being allowed to preach. The course should include pronunciation, accented syllables, phrasing.
Following the example of my daughter, Susannah, parishioners could offer their time to coach the priests in English or Spanish so that the homily could be understood. Susannah identified the problem, asked the priest if she could help and tutored him once a week for months. Positive action is the best solution.
Mission to the USA
I recently read an article by Jillian Kay Melchior, who reports on Christianity as a fellow with the Phillips Foundation. She has traveled extensively in China and reports that the Chinese government is changing its opinion of Christianity and since 2008 has become less restrictive. Chinese Christians are quick to respond to natural disasters and operate nursing homes, orphanages and social service centers, caring for the poor, sick, unwanted and abandoned.
Meanwhile, although Christians in the United States do all that and more, our government and courts have increasingly restricted and regulated their activities. They interfere with the freedom to practice their religious beliefs, work to remove Christ from Christmas and have decreed that God is no longer welcome in our schools or the public square.
Isn't it strange that as atheist Communist China opens more to God and Christianity we turn our backs? Perhaps, in a generation or so, China will send Christian missionaries to convert the United States.
It seems clear that the recent election was another very telling sign of the condition of the Church. I'm hoping that we will use the Forum to enlighten us all about the Church in the Diocese of Oakland.
Does it matter that only about 25 percent of Catholics in this country attend Sunday Mass regularly? Of those, only about one-third believe in the Real Presence. About 90 percent of Catholic couples practice contraception instead of using Natural Family Planning. A cause for concern?
The lines to receive Communion are very long. Those for Confession are very short. Significant?
Catholic couples divorce at about the same rate as the general population, about 50 percent. Important?
A great many Catholics believe people who experience same-sex attraction are just born that way, and that healing is not possible. They believe that sodomy should be legalized and legitimized, that same-sex unions and even marriage are good, that children don't really need a mother and a father. A problem?
Half of Catholics voted for Obama, who believes strongly in contraception, sterilization, abortion and same-sex marriage, he is forcing us to pay for these (including Planned Parenthood) and will escalate these greatly through the HHS mandate. This also attacks religious liberty and the freedom of conscience of individuals, as well as being an attack on the Church. What could justify this?
How many prominent Catholics support Obama? How many priests, deacons and religious?
Can "prudential judgments" (the best way to help the poor, immigrants, foreign policy, etc.) justify supporting intrinsic evils?
How do we know what is evil and what is good? Is the Faith taught in our parishes, in our schools, in our homes? Is someone a faithful Catholic if they only believe some of the Church's teachings, and reject others?
Can we be for "social justice" and not believe it begins in the womb? Can we work to help the poor and suffering with the needs of the body, and not be concerned with the needs of the soul?
Does Hell really exist? If so, does it really last forever? Isn't it just for people like Hitler?
I pray that these questions will be the catalyst of reflection and good discussion, and serve the cause of our efforts to come to the knowledge of the Truth, who is Christ, Our Lord.
May we prepare well this Advent!
I was very dismayed by the past election and the inaction on the part of the Catholic Church and a press that passively supported the president's re-election. It's nice that The Voice mentions Church activities and parish happenings, but it also has an evangelist role to promote the Church's teaching and to help protect the Church from anti-Catholic agendas such as gay marriage, abortion, forced payments for contraception. This was a role you badly fell down on.
You may not be able to say don't vote for so and so, but you can raise moral issues and point out that Catholics are morally bound to vote against anti-Catholic measures and politicians.
Let us hope that in the future The Catholic Voice and our diocesan leaders find some backbone before America deteriorates into a secular, non-Christian country.
Rosemary Martelli complains (Forum, Nov. 19) about the Florida bishops' flyer on the presidential election. I have not seen the flyer in question; from the phrase "either candidate" I deduce that only the two major candidates were covered, but that does not seem to be the complaint.
I gather that there was no explicit endorsement of a candidate. Were the positions of the candidates wrongly described? Were the subjects of any positions covered morally irrelevant? Were subjects omitted that might have outweighed the subjects that were covered? Or is merely because the subjects which interested her were not the important ones? Because she wanted to vote Whig and the facts presented by the Florida bishops clearly showed the Tory was the better (or less bad) candidate?
John A. Wills
Consider her words
I recently heard someone on the radio equate Our Lady's revelation at Fatima with the Mayan 2012 prophecy. This is a fallacy. The third revelation is known as the "three days of darkness," but unlike the Mayan prophecy, it does not posit an exact date and is not apocalyptic in any sense.
It is conditional upon the world repenting of its sins. This implies it can be averted if we, as the Angel of Portugal recommended, offer in every way we can, sacrifice to God for the sins by which He is offended and in supplication for sinners. Our Lady also requests we pray the rosary every day.
The second revelation had similar conditions. Our Lady said in 1917 the First World War would end soon, but a worse one would arrive if the world did not repent. We know what happened.
Today we see a majority of people accepting abortion, homosexuality and blasphemies mocking the purity of Jesus and Mary. Many Catholics do not go to Mass or pray the rosary. I think it's time we consider the gravity of Our Lady's words.
Christ have mercy on us all.
Lindon Andrew Sjolander
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