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placeholder February 3, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Peter's Pence gratitude

As the personal representative of the Holy Father in the United States, I write with gratitude for the check in the amount of $116,497.16, which you sent to the Apostolic Nunciature as the Peter's Pence contribution from the Diocese of Oakland for 2013.

"The Pope ... must open his arms to protect all of God's people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (Mt 25:31-46)."

I assure you that this sum will be transmitted to the Secretariat of State on your behalf.

May God, who is infinitely generous, reward you and continue to bless you and the faithful under your pastoral care.

With prayerful regards, I am sincerely yours in Christ,

Carlo Maria Vigano,
Apostolic Nuncio

Thanks for aid

Through Bishop Barber, we want to express our deep gratitude to all those in our diocese who decided to go an extra mile for our brothers and sisters affected by the super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

We are overwhelmed and moved by the generosity shown to our people, who, until now, are still struggling to face the challenges and pain imposed on them by this disaster. True, nobody can escape the trials and other givens of life. However, things become bearable when we realize that helping hands are there ready to uplift and support the needy and the poor.

Through this act of generosity, we are continually reminded that, indeed, God is Emmanuel — He is always with us through persons and acts that are life-giving and sustaining.

Once again, please receive and convey to the people of our diocese our sincere gratitude. Maraming, maraming salamat po! (Many, many thanks!)

The Filipino Priests and Religious
Diocese of Oakland

History lesson

In response to the letter (Forum, Nov. 18), Israel became a state by order of the U.N. in 1948 under the British Mandate. The Arabs objected and attacked Israel. They lost the war and have been angry ever since. (see Wikipedia) Israel did not steal the land.

The Jews were scattered after the fall of Jerusalem, 76 A.D. but now have been gathered from the ends of the earth as prophesied they would be Ps 107:1-7. They are still loved by God because of the Patriarchs. Their call is irrevocable Rom. 11:28-29. Who blesses them will be blessed by God.

Yes, we are God's chosen, but we are a branch grafted to the root which is Israel. Rom. 11:17-18. One day we will be reunited with the Jews (also God's Chosen) and reign with Christ. Eph.3:6 New American Catholic Bible.

Yes, Jesus denounced the Jews of His time for not following their Father Abraham in the spirit their laws intended, but He mourned Israel's destruction (Lk. 19: 41-44). The prophecy is that they would be scattered, but not rooted out.

Christianity, which is the grafted on branch, can easily be cut off (if they are not faithful) and replaced again by the Jews (Rom 11: 17-24).

Barbara Meistrell

History lesson

Richard Vincent (Forum, Jan. 6) seems to have a lot of misinformation on the Holy Land. But let me start on a point he has — almost — right: the acquisition of Christian- and Moslem-owned land by the Zionists has for the most part not been theft: it has been robbery. For some details of the robbery a good source book is "Foreign Relations of the United States 1948," Volume 5, Part 2, stock number 044-000-01607-9 at the U.S. government book store. This book gives all the relevant telegrams and other missives that went flying around the State Department and its offices abroad on the subject at the time. If that seems too heavy, try the more focused "Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappé.

Vincent qualifies the Israeli state as "one of two fully functioning democracies in the Middle East." But the Israeli state keeps more than 40 percent of its citizenry in disenfranchised exile, so it is not a democracy. Furthermore, the Basic Law of the Knesseth prevents any party opposing "the Jewish nature of the state" from submitting a list of candidates for legislative office.

Why has the U.S. not joined the International Criminal Court, originally a U.S. idea (curiously, Richard M. Nixon, of whom we are taught to think as a chauvinist, was in favor)? I could give other examples.

Also, the Israeli state should not be called "Israel," unqualified. The true Israel is the church commonly called Catholic.

John A. Wills

Denying Communion

In the letter (Forum, Jan. 20), Dennise Burgess quotes Pope Francis and then implies that no one should be denied Holy Communion because of their sins that might include using birth control or following other teachings that go against Church law. She then quotes Jesus (Luke 6:37). Interestingly enough she has no problem judging God's Church that Jesus established. When one receives the Eucharist and is manifest in sin they are actually condemning their own soul. A priest that knowingly gives Communion to anyone, and especially a public figure who is advocating the murder of the innocent also puts their own soul in jeopardy.

The tragedy is the average Catholic today has lost a sense of sacredness and understanding of the Eucharist.

In regard to birth control, even though a majority of Catholics use this does not justify receiving Holy Communion. The birth control pill according to the World Health Organization is a class one carcinogen, contributes to the high rates of breast cancer, and is also an abortifacent (it kills fertilized eggs/babies). Its use also leads to a variety of other sins, none which help women or the family.

I think it is important to remember the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. It is a sin of omission if we let our brothers and sisters stay in a state of ignorance of their sins. At the end of our lives we will all be judged by God.

If we are not in a state of grace, and not in Communion with the teachings of the Church, then yes we should refrain from Communion, as if we are not in a state of grace it will harm our souls. Remember Jesus ate with the sinners not to keep them in a state of sin but to change their hearts to turn from sin. This is why Jesus established Sacrament of Reconciliation.

If we want to have a deeper spiritual life, I personally think a better approach to our faith should not be an angry, defensive and demanding "Judge Not" approach, but a more open and loving how can I follow Christ?

Jim Gilheany

Yes, deny Communion

Dennise Burgess argues against denying Communion to "legislators who support abortion rights" (Forum, Jan. 20).

Catholic moral teaching, of course, regards the term "abortion rights" as already begging the question.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops offers on-point guidance in "Living the Gospel of Life": "No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life."

And "no appeal to policy, procedure, majority will or pluralism ever excuses a public official from defending life to the greatest extent possible."

Further, says the USCCB statement: individual Catholic citizens must "defend human life, especially those of God's children who are unborn, disabled or otherwise vulnerable. We get the public officials we deserve. Their virtue — or lack thereof — is a judgment not only on them, but on us."

So we must confront abortionists and their enablers — and USCCB identifies that duty as a particular obligation of bishops and priests.

As Canon lawyer Edward Peters has observed, to ignore Nancy Pelosi's abortion support (for example) "is to provide her the veneer of ecclesiastical fellowship even as she invokes her Catholic faith to justify her cooperation with and promotion of evil public policies."

Writer Burgess equates legislative collaboration in the objective evil of on-demand abortion with votes endorsing "unjustified military actions" and poverty-worsening laws.

But those are matters of studied opinion and prudential judgment. (Meanwhile, the 50-year, $20 trillion "War on Poverty" has left us with multi-generational cycles of family dysfunction, dependency, illegitimacy, illiteracy — and murderous criminality.)

"Judges who uphold the death penalty"? The Church's teaching here is not absolute.

Denying Communion to those involved in "premarital sex or using birth control"? If the sin is as defiantly, proudly public as Nancy Pelosi's abortion patronage, then yes.

Michael Arata

Common Core

I recently attended a meeting of my daughter's school Common Core Advisory Committee. This committee will give advice on the content of the computer program curriculum. Forty minutes was spent on how previously selected nominees should be re-qualified according to the 25 page bylaws; and, 20 minutes was given to describing the computerized math program.

I did ask why they were doing Common Core. And, I was told that it was needed to fairly evaluate students. I asked if they would talk about the Social Studies curriculum. Their answer: No!

I did my own research to learn that students will use this computer program to be taught, tested, assessed and re-assigned problems until they can demonstrate that they have learned the math, science or social studies material. This is fine for math, and maybe for science; but, I have questions about social studies.

The people on this Advisory Committee will select the content of the readings. The text we use, the stories we tell, give order to what we know and how we communicate; and, they can also limit what we are saying and how other people hear us.

Common Core advocates say that the content is not important; rather, the objective is to make students critical thinkers. This computer program has each student keep a diary about their practical experiences in critical thinking and how they are able to link the issues in the text to their own lives.

The student is to reflect, formulate and take action. My concern is that much of the intuitive, spiritual, non-quantifiable aspects of people, history and our lives will not compute. Are we to expect students to have the wisdom to understand someone writing in some particular time and place, interpret the meanings and challenges of that time and translate these insights into their own lives?

Just at a time when students lack the inclination to ask profound questions, how can they be expected to have the wisdom to critically think? We are a mystery to ourselves (2 Cor 4:8). Words are not adequate to express the multiple levels of meaning present in Scripture so Christ will be too controversial and complicated for many Advisory Committees to make Christian texts essential reading on Western Civilization or used by students to develop their critical thinking.

Students will be enmeshed in politically correct ideas and personal predilections instead of dialoguing with the great minds and grappling with the eternal questions found in the classics.

Michael McCarthy

Ecumenism at its best

I recently experienced an amazing demonstration of interfaith and ecumenism at the Memorial for Dr. Michael Dobbins, an Alameda chiropractor at St. Joseph Church.

This experience was shared interfaith at its best. Although I was not there for the Friday viewing, I was told Calvary Christian Church of Alameda (Dr. Dobbins was a member there for years) set up food for all during the viewing hours and Rosary at St. Joseph's. Wow! What ecumenism! After Mass the next day, which was a touching celebration of life, Standard Process, a whole food nutrition company, invited the whole congregation of least 500 people to the reception they hosted.

Dr. Dobbins lectured for them on weekends; they obviously loved him and respected his beliefs. The Golden Gate Boys Choir, and St. Joseph's Choir lifted us all up in song.

This coming together of different groups brought me to tears of appreciation of sharing and the recognition of love. For me, this is what interconnectedness is all about.

Sandra Russum

End-of-life decisions

It is disappointing to see the National Catholic Bioethics Center standing with the utilitarian palliative care promoters including Oakland Children's Hospital officials and against the parents of Jahi McMath.

No one seems willing to question the hospital's perhaps deliberate misapplication of medical ethics in declaring Jahi brain dead after a tonsillectomy procedure to correct a sleep apnea problem went wrong.

Did the hospital rush to its legally protected diagnosis of brain death?

The McMath family has only one lone attorney defending their right as parents to protect their daughter from the utilitarian declaration of brain death.

The mantra of palliative care only, the financial burden to the hospital for lifetime care of Jahi, if she lives, and the protected right of organ donation groups to access patients are at the bottom of Jahi's distressing situation.

Prayers for 13-year-old Jahi and her parents are needed now.

Camille Giglio, director
California Right to Life Committee

Pray for rain

California is now in another drought period with very little rain falling this winter so far.

The reservoirs are very low and time is running out for them to get replenished.

As we know these occurrences happen quite frequently and normally there is enough water in the reservoirs to tide the state over in regards to farming and daily customer usage.

The population is now just short of 40 million people, all who expect to take daily showers, water their lawns and buy all the locally grown vegetables they want. This time could be different.

The state has done very little to prepare for this upcoming event such as more reservoirs, desalination plants, mandatory usage limits etc. All that I have read about is some lame-brained idea to build some peripheral tunnels around the Delta to more effectively use up what little water we have.

What needs to be done is ban all unnecessary farming, greatly limit customer usage and construct additional facilities to store more water when the rains return, hopefully next year.

Any loss in agriculture is not needed since we still waste about 50 percent of all food products in the US today.

Additionally, since many people in the US are obese a little less eating is highly desirable.

Contrary to the prayers for rain that were published (Voice, Jan. 20), I hope we don't get any rain this winter and that our elected officials will be forced to take the appropriate actions.

David Brusiee

Praise Catholic education

Here we go again. All Catholic public school children and their parents are slighted.

Faith Formation programs provided by non-Catholic school parishes give an approved religious education. As a retired public school elementary teacher, I know because I taught in the Faith Formation program for 10 years in my church.

All Catholic children receive the same religious education. Let us praise the religious education received by all Catholic children.

Lillian Silver
Walnut Creek

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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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