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Key to our renewal, becoming priestly, prophetic and kingly

placeholder March 10, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Thanks for aid

On behalf of the Subcommittee for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, I offer my deepest thanks to Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and the Diocese of Oakland for your contribution of $98,922.23 to the 2013 Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. Because of your generosity, the collection continues to support pastoral projects and Catholic organizations working in areas formerly under Soviet control. The bishops and people of these regions face the enormous task of restoring church structures and rebuilding the life of the Catholic community.

In 2013, the subcommittee awarded $6.6 million to 25 of the 27 countries it serves. These grants were made possible as a result of your hard work in taking up the collection in your diocese and your prayers for the success of our mission.

Your support is invaluable to the continuation of our funded projects. Through your leadership, we can continue to stand in solidarity with the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. On behalf of the subcommittee, our many grantees, and the people they serve who benefit directly from this collection, I thank you.

Bishop Blase J. Cupich
Bishop of Spokane
Chairman, USCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe

Babies belong to all

As I write, it has been one week now since the annual "Walk For Life" and as I watched all of the events on EWTN-TV, I was left with a very sad heart. Knowing that more than 56 million little, innocent lives have been ended before they began leaves not just a sick feeling in my stomach for them but, more than that, a sicker feeling in knowing that there are actually Catholics who still hold on to their Democratic vote.

I cannot understand how one can call oneself a Catholic Christian and at the same time pull the lever on Election Day for any representative who supports the legal right to murder an unborn baby.

These babies belong to all of us and if we fight for them they will fight for us. What is important is not to "be right" but to do what "is right."

I leave you with the last verse of a poem I wrote for the unborn baby:
      The day will come, maybe not today
      When your heart will surely break;
      There will be no amount of comfort then,
      For the life that you now take.

Pam Brady
Pleasant Hil

Judge not …

Thanks to Bob Norris for his letter (Forum, Feb. 17) regarding the denial of Communion to those that priests and/or lay ministers judge as "sinners."

The Bible is filled with tales of forgiveness by Jesus. The most well known is from John 8:7, "The scribes and Pharisees presented an adulterous woman to Jesus, and said, according to law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" The reply that Jesus gave was, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone."

Again in Matthew 7:1-5, "Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?" Again, there is the lesson of not judging others.

As a cradle Catholic with 12 years of Catholic education under my belt, I was taught there was a separation between church and state. Somewhere along the line that teaching has been thrown aside. Our politicians are elected by the people, not just Catholics. As public officials, serving the people, they must set aside their own values and do what they were elected for … "serving the people."

I am sad to say, that we as Catholics seem arrogant at times, believing that the entire world should be judged by our Catholic standards. We should not use those standards to judge and condemn others. Follow the Lord's path and judge not so you may not be judged!

Donna Petersen

Pope's book

This wonderful book was written in Buenos Aires by Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka and translated from Spanish last year: "On Heaven and Earth." This book is clearly written, at about senior high school reading level. It consists of 29 chapters ranging from 3 to 9 pages. The authors each contribute to all chapters. Topics range from God, Religion, Fundamentalism, Abortion, Money, The Holocaust, Arab-Israeli conflict to The Future of Religion. The book begins with a discussion of how it was developed. The former Archbishop Bergoglio and Rabbi Skorka, both leaders in their respective religious communities, began meeting some years ago to try to understand each other's faith and to discuss the need for ethical structures in the contemporary world.

A very important beginning section talks of how to really, truthfully talk to another person, soul to soul. With these parameters in place the authors began holding regular meetings, talked for years and finally recorded their talks. People in Argentina begged them to write up their discussions. This book shows how people who have great differences in political and religious matters can learn to become true soul friends to each other. This is not easy to do. Just as caring for a garden requires constant caring, planning, perhaps new plants, yet brings deep satisfaction, so does true spiritual friendship.

The reader, whether Christian or Jewish or without religion, should not expect 29 chapters of do's and don'ts. There are chapters where one or the other or both apologize for their past ideas or behavior and state ways in which they will change in the future.

Rosemary Bower
El Cerrito

Pilgrimage opportunities

Father Jeffrey Keyes was quoted in an article (Voice, Feb. 17), "In California, you can make a pilgrimage to Carmel," where the Blessed Junipero Serra is buried. "That's it."

Yet there are plenty of great examples of authentic pilgrimage opportunities other than Carmel in California.

The art of pilgrimage is not in how far you go, or how many you see or how much you spend. The essence of pilgrimage is how mindful you are in the practice of renewing and realigning yourself on our path to God.

In our area alone we have St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda, deemed historic by papal authority, we have reliquaries and our oldest churches and historic California Missions from 1769. We have access to the National Shrine of St. Francis where you can get full plenary indulgence with your pilgrimage group. Specific information can be found on its website www.shrinesf.org/indulgences.html.

You don't need to go far away to practice pilgrimage, even a mindful stations of the cross mini-pilgrimage gives the devout pilgrim the indulgence. Often in the Middle Ages, if one could not afford to go on pilgrimage the priest would have the pilgrim do circuits on a labyrinth instead. There are sacred grounds in our midst that are older than the United States.

How about a Black History month pilgrimage to the grave site of William Alexander Lieidesdorff, America's first African American millionaire, buried with full honors in San Francisco's Mission Dolores Church floor.

There are plenty of authentic pilgrimage opportunities in California for Catholics.

Todd Stagnaro
Pacific Mission Tours
San Francisco

Keep them in our prayers

It was laudable to print the photograph (Voice, Feb. 17) of the touching tribute paid to Moreau Catholic High School alumnus Thomas Smith Jr. by students, faculty and staff of his alma mater during his funeral procession.

However, I wish that greater care had been taken in the preparation of the caption that accompanied the photograph. The words "police" and "mistakenly" were nowhere to be found in that caption, although their inclusion would have served to place Tom Smith's tragic death in context for your readers. BART police Det. Sgt. Smith was mistakenly shot, on duty in Dublin, by a fellow BART police officer. Within hours of Sgt. Smith's death, an Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman described the BART police officer as "devastated," and said that it "was certainly not his intent" to shoot the police sergeant.

Despite their own intense grief, Sgt. Smith's widow and brothers have publicly acknowledged the suffering that this BART police officer is experiencing, and have privately sought to comfort him. Let's keep them all in our prayers.

John K. Conneely

Canon 915

Bob Norris is "appalled" (Forum, Feb. 17) at letters urging denial of Communion for public officials who support abortion — and for "regular folks" known publicly to be violating "Church positions on premarital sex, contraception, remarriage without annulment, etc."

After all, Norris argues, "who has the right to interpret someone else's conscience," since Pope Francis himself has said "Who am I to judge?"

But Canon Law precept 915 requires that "Those … obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

Applying Canon 915's general prohibition specifically to public officialdom in 2004, then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote (as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith) that a "Catholic politician … consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws … is not to present himself for Holy Communion" until he's halted that scandalous, "objective situation of sin," and "he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist."

Our Catholic Catechism regards abortion as a "crime" which not only kills an innocent, but also causes "irreparable harm to the parents and the whole of society" (nn. 2270-2275).

As Pope Francis commented in November's Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" (Joy of the Gospel): "Nowadays efforts are made to deny [unborn children] their human dignity … , taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way." So "the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question."

And conscience? It's not simply an as-you-like-it, free-for-all proposition. An individual who "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good," or whose "conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin … is culpable for the evil he commits." (Catechism, n. 1791).

Some will object to Church "legalisms." But like morally legitimate secular laws, Commandments, Canons and Catechism precepts serve as both life-affirming guideposts and spirit-preserving guardrails.

Sharon Arata

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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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