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placeholder MAY 6, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Response on vocations

I both laughed and cried when I read the letter from Giorgio Navarini (Forum, April 22). It seems as if he prefers that the Church had not changed at all since the days of Pope Pius XII and that Vatican II had never happened. That made the headline chosen by the editor, "A youth's perspective," rather curious. I truly hope Navarini is not a "youth" since it seems his heart, mind and soul belong to a much older and more rigid man.

It's difficult to believe that anyone less than 70 or 80 years old would hold such attitudes about the exclusion of women from participation in the Church. Christ broke down many social, cultural and gender barriers during His time on earth — remember the woman at the well? I'd like to think that Christ didn't expect members of His Church to maintain those barriers two millennia later even though many of them, unfortunately, remain.

Both my wife and I serve our parish as ministers of the Eucharist, ministers of the Word and lay presiders. Our parish couldn't possibly function without the generous donations of time, talent and treasure made by the women of our community.

I'm virtually certain that very few young men would be attracted to the priesthood if the Church was even more exclusionary of the feminine influence. And the by the way — there are thousands of women serving our country in the Marines.

Mark Roberts


Does Giorgio Navarini (Forum, April 22) honestly believe that the "feminization of the liturgy" is responsible for somehow making the liturgy less Christ-centered, therefore decreasing young men's attraction to Holy Orders? That the inclusion of "altar-boy girls" and female lectors creates a "false inclusiveness," driving away would-be priestly candidates?

This misogynistic position is not only sad to read in the 21st century, it also reveals an unfortunate misunderstanding of the role of the church in general and the Mass in particular in bringing Christ to His people. Connecting people to faith and good works is not accomplished through Gregorian chants and orthodox (whatever that means) hymns. God, to my knowledge, has not drawn a musical line in the sand with chants on one side and — gasp! — jazz on the other, (though I can't say I recall hearing any Dave Brubeck at our church recently).

No, a good priest — indeed a good Mass — draws people in through inclusiveness and relevance so that the people are truly open to the Eucharist and enriched by it. This approach enhances, rather than diminishes the shared experience of Christ in our midst.

Navarini bemoans "congregation-centered, feel-good" liturgies. What would he have? Congregation-rejecting, feel-bad liturgies?

That Christ is at the center of the liturgy is not in dispute. Where we differ is that I believe that when a local church involves and engages people in the Mass — through community participation, compelling homilies and, yes, female altar servers — the more meaningful it will become for everyone. If I were to be a priest, that's the kind of parish that would inspire me to take vows.

Matt Lovett
Pleasant Hill

'War is hell'

From his desire to make the church an all-male club as expressed in his letter (Forum, April 22). I have to wonder whether Giorgio Navarini of Pleasanton is a fifth-grader still convinced that girls have cooties.

If he is serious about the "nobility" of military life, he might give some thought to the remark of General Sherman to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy in 1879, when he said, "I've been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It's entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that someday you can use the skill you have acquired here. Suppress it! You don't know the horrible aspects of war. I've been through two wars and I know. I've seen cities and homes in ashes. I've seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is hell! "

Mary K. LeBlanc

Women in Marines

Re: The letter (Forum, April 22) in which the author attributed declining vocations to the priesthood to what he called "the feminization" of the liturgy. Are there data to support this claim? Certain ministries are open to women now — acolytes, lectors and Eucharistic Ministers — because of Vatican II.

The proper postures and gestures for use in the liturgy and for reception of the Eucharist were given to us most recently by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The folks at Vatican II were mostly men and in the USCCB exclusively male. To suggest that the liturgy should parallel the Marines in "serious challenge and unique nobility" so that young men would again be interested in the priesthood seems to misunderstand the nature of priesthood. The Marines are "the few, the proud, the Marines" and some of them are women.

Marilynne Homitz

Newtown letter

The Voice published (Forum, April 22) a wonderful, heartfelt letter of thanks from Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose Parish, Newtown, Connecticut. He was thanking us all for our prayers and support after the shooting tragedy of Dec. 12, 2012. Many of us had felt moved at that time to send sympathy notes, financial gifts and prayers.

Unfortunately, our horror, disgust and sympathy seems to have waned just a few months after the tragedy. On April 18 our elected representatives in the Senate voted down all of the provisions of gun control reform, even the no-brainer provision of universal background checks. They voted against the will of 90 percent of the American voting public, who were for that provision. Obviously, they are not voting the will of their constituents or even their own consciences. With their spineless vote they caved in to the senseless ranting and bountiful dollars of the NRA. Also, where was the outrage of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on this issue? Even The Voice did not publish an article on the betrayal of Christian values and the disregard for the safety of our children, giving these politicians a free pass.

If we were truly horrified by the tragedy of Newtown, we must join with the parents of Sandy Hook and let our politicians know the shame that they bring on the Senate and on themselves by not taking the steps to avoid a similar tragedy. Our children should be more important than the profits of the gun manufacturers.

Dennis Wasco

Inaccurate reporting

Please. Please! I just read the April 22 Catholic Voice. Your report of "countries with largest number of Catholics" etc., is not current, and worse is not correct.

We desperately need more current and accurate reporting.

The Catholic Church is in trouble. The April 15, Time magazine reported in great detail how the Catholic Church has been seriously hurt by many, many Catholics who have left the Church to join any one of a number of Protestant organizations. They reported primarily of the problem in South America, but we have all read, the growth in the Protestant church (fallen away Catholics) is worldwide.

We need to see and understand this. The Vatican with our bishops have to take the steps to turn this around now!

Helen Peterson

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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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