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placeholder September 9, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Bet on freedom

May Oakland's Catholics keep the people of the Middle East in their prayers. Better yet, may they keep a clear vision of what really matters at this crucial time.

I am astounded by the wobbliness of our government in the face of the genocide of Syrians by their own fellow Syrians. Sure, lots of jawboning out there about "our national core interests." What, indeed, are America's core interests? Oil? Influence? What really is "core" about America?

It has been pointed out that this core value at times conflicts with Catholic teaching. So what. It's what we are all about. Period. Has the Obama administration forgotten America's core? I think so (if it were ever understood in the first place).

Our "core," what makes us "U.S.," is freedom. Plain and simple: Freedom.

It is no coincidence that kidnapped clergy have been denied their freedom in Syria. It is no coincidence that Syrian children have been denied the freedom to live safely in their own homes. It is no coincidence that both pro-Assad and anti-Assad Syrians have been denied a free and secret ballot, with peaceful democratic procedures.

If the U.S. supports freedom, it may lose influence or control. But the upside is that freedom is unleashed. Justice and peace need the breathing room that freedom provides. We in the U.S.A. would not have all that we have without a freedom won through sacrifice, hardship and true audacity.

President Obama needs to risk all on a toss of the dice. Bet on freedom. The odds are in the favor of the just. Audacity, audacity, always audacity.

Rebecca C. Spencer-O'Hare
Oakland





Jesus values us all

Many are not with the Catholic Church because they haven't actually understood the message of salvation that Christ offers us. People talk about listening, but that is not the same as hearing. With all the noise and distraction in our society it's no wonder that the quiet voice of Truth is not heard.

I think the same problem exists when people of different religions (even between Christians) try to convince others that they know what is going to be said and then confuse sound with allowing actual messages to go into their ears. We can be blind but not see; listen without hearing.

If we are going to bring people to Jesus in these noisy times we need to hear what they're saying whether we agree or not to learn why they are afraid to hear the teachings of Jesus and to better understand what motivates those who embrace the convenient "culture of death."

I think the word validation is important because if you don't value the fact that someone has an opinion the person may not feel valued. Jesus values us all. Let's validate each other.

John R. Schaffner
Antioch





"Real" confession

Please settle an ongoing debate.

At the beginning of Mass we recite "I confess …" Then the priest prays over us. Is this the same (minus mortal sins) as going into the confessional?

Mary McMahon
Livermore


[Editor' note: The priest does not absolve us of our sins after the penitential rite at Mass. So it is not the same as going to the confessional. Venial sins are forgiven during this rite; and are also forgiven by receiving Communion and by the other intercessory prayers of Mass. This forgiveness is due to the general reparatory nature of all positive acts of prayer, sacrifice, devotion and worship which in some way create a positive counterbalance to those common sins, defects and imperfections which plague our daily lives. Since participation in Mass is infinitely the greatest form of reparatory and intercessory prayer that a human being can undertake, it is clear venial sins are forgiven during Mass.

This is not true of mortal sins because the state of grace is necessary in order to receive Communion and fully benefit from the other blessings of the Mass. These sins ordinarily require sacramental confession and absolution to be forgiven.

However, even a person in a state of mortal sin is not deprived of all graces while attending Mass. Such a person may still, for example, receive the grace of being moved by God's Word, by the homily or by one of the prayers and hence gain a deeper knowledge of the state of his soul, of God's great mercy, and thus find courage to seek forgiveness.]





Jubilarians

Thank you for featuring the incredible Jubilarians who have impacted our lives as church in this diocese. I especially appreciate the class of 1963, now 50 years ordained. What an amazing class that was; smart, gifted and capable.

They prepared for an entirely different Church than the one they were to serve after Vatican II and they entered that time with great and infectious excitement. We have all benefited from the leadership of these intelligent men. Fathers Danielson, Chavez, Joyce, Valdivia, Osuna and others in their class each made a mark on our local church as we learned to live the principles of the Council. They taught those values to us, lived by them and, unfailingly, passed them on by their own lives.

Bishop John Cummins, celebrating 60 years of priesthood, served well as the Orchestra Leader he once said was his role. He encouraged, among other things, the development of lay leadership and inclusion of women in ministry. It seems to me he never used a heavy hand, instead letting the Vatican II church unfold naturally, while maintaining his outgoing manner with all the people.

I can never forget a message he gave to new Catholics as they were elected: "For God's sake, look redeemed," he said, and then his smiling interest in each of them served as a living example.

I hope new seminarians and bishops will learn from the example of the group you featured. We, the Church of Oakland, are blessed by their commitment, ability and service. I dream of another generation to follow in their footsteps.

Nora Petersen
Alameda





Thank you note

Imagine getting a thank you note from the pope!

I am sure Archbishop Becciu never wrote a letter like this in his life before. Here he is addressing the laity on behalf of the Holy Father in a letter sent directly to a newspaper so it can be read directly by the donors. Love it!

Thank you, Pope Francis, for acknowledging the rank and file.

Sandy Lione
Martinez





Genderless "marriage"

Conferring fair and equal governmental benefits on same-sex partners could have been accomplished without the legal fiction of extending the definition of marriage. Dictionaries use the words united and union in their marriage definitions — meaning acting as a single entity. But, regarding same-sex partners, Archbishop Cordileone said, "Two men or two women can certainly have a close, loving, committed emotional relationship, but they can never ever join (be united) as one flesh in the unique way a husband and wife do."

Marriage has meant the union of a man and a woman since the beginning of time and it's a specious position held by some that definitions change because language is a "progressive science." It's the world of dreamers, and the end product of the progressive dissection and intentional redefinition of words can be destructive.

The traditional understanding of marriage has endured, been reverenced and is vital to the common good, the preservation of society and provides the best conditions for raising future generations of citizens. It is an example of the "wisdom of the species" as Edmund Burke said. He also said, about reformers, that the individual "who loves change is wholly disqualified, from his lust, to be the agent of change," referring back to the Enlightenment and the Jacobin urge to destroy hallowed traditions which, he said, were a choice not of one day, or one set of people, but a deliberate election of generations over a long period of time, made by the peculiar circumstances, tempers, dispositions, and moral, civil and social habitudes of society.

Many places in the world aren't into this destructive redefinition of marriage. Even in Russia, the deputy prime minister said, "We don't recognize the same gender 'family'…it contradicts all our principles (and) runs against the rules, the traditions of the people of Russia." This from a country that is being re-Christianized.

And Church leaders are speaking out on the truth of the natural moral law. Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, said, "the Church's teaching on homosexuality and marriage is Catholic because it is true, not true because it is Catholic, " and that "truth is the reason same-sex relationships should not be afforded legal status," even though "truth" is offensive to those who "live in a world dominated by what Pope Benedict XVI termed a 'dictatorship of relativism.'" Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Milwaukee said. "When a democracy bases itself on moral relativism and when it considers every ethical principle or value to be negotiable, it is already, and in spite of its formal rules, on its way to totalitarianism."

The quagmire of our culture began in 1933 at the Lambeth Conference when some Christians accepted contraception. It broadened 40 years ago with no-fault divorce and was codified in the sexual revolution of the '60s and Catholics' rejection of Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae.

Many Catholics now see the sacrament of Holy Matrimony as something that comes after they have been experimentally living together, if it happens at all. The acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex (genderless) "marriage" was inevitable, as the respect for tradition has declined. These are the end products of the disrespect that Americans, especially the young, have for human sexuality and the meaning of the body in a culture that is devolving. The two concepts cannot coexist forever, because they are not equal. Something will eventually give and it is the duty of Catholics to defend traditional marriage and Holy Matrimony.

Although the Church has been the target in the marriage redefinition event, the impact will ultimately be on the family and the children who have always needed the secure foundation of a mother and father. Archbishop Cordileone said, "When we as a culture abandon that idea and ideal, children suffer, communities suffer, women suffer, and men are dehumanized by being told they aren't important to the project of family life." Satan has had the destruction of the family in his sights for a long time and this is just his latest victory.

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek





Bishops: Speak up

When are our bishops going to be as outspoken about the atrocities of war as they are about abortion? Why are the lives of the unborn in the U.S. more important than those of the hundreds of children killed or maimed by us in other countries?

Although claiming to have ended its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is continuing to wage its "war on terrorism" by carrying out drone attacks in Pakistan and other countries.

Drone attacks are the very antithesis of Jesus' teaching. As Catholics we should be protesting them with all our might — and not least because these cowardly and immoral attacks, far from "making America safe," are creating more and more enemies of this country and thus guaranteeing future violence against Americans.

Maureen Wesolowski
Berkeley





Good cardinal

I was so very pleased to read of Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley's refusal to attend Boston College's commencement this year because the college planned to honor the prime minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny, who supported a bill to legalize abortion in that country.

God bless him. We need more people to stand up in this way.

Julie Viscovich
Dublin





Pray to St. Michael

I frequently attend weekday Mass at St. Michael Church in Livermore. At some point in the recent past I noticed that at the conclusion of the Mass, the congregation recites the prayer to St. Michael, which begins with "St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle."

The idea I might be in battle intrigued me, and as a matter of fact, disturbed me. As a peace activist I question the very idea that we Christians should ever be "in battle."

The words seemed appropriate for Catholic soldiers, but for most ordinary Catholics in the pew — hard to figure.

I got on the Internet. The prayer was composed by Leo XIII in 1886 after a very moving vision in which he was told that Satan would infiltrate the Church.

Pope Leo was inspired to invoke the aid of St. Michael.

He decreed that all churches throughout the Christian world should say his prayer after all low Masses.

Pope Leo's original prayer to St. Michael was too long. It was shortened in 1934 to the prayer we are familiar with today. Some Catholics contend that Pope Leo's message was lost in the shortening. I recommend all Catholics read up on the history of this important prayer.

Donald F. King
Livermore

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