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placeholder July 7, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 12   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Lay involvement

I read with interest the article "Pope says women must have voice" (Voice, May 5). This is a call to action! My concern is present Cannon Law (CIC 767) which states that only a priest or deacon may preach the homily during Holy Mass. I believe lay parishioners, both men and women, who are well versed in the Gospel and skilled public speakers, should be allowed to preach the homily at Holy Mass.

Pope Francis calls on all Catholics to evangelize. Vatican II says that the laity should be involved in the Liturgy of the Church. The Gospel should be interpreted in terms of today's meanings, terms and personal experiences. This is not to say that priests do not give good sermons. They do. I have been fortunate to hear lay people give the homily at Newman Hall, Holy Spirit Church on several occasions and found it very enlightening. Recently, the bishop has requested (directed?) that they no longer allow lay people to give the homily.

I don't believe lay people must attend Church in silence: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law." (Cor 14:34). Aren't we all members of the Church? We should all have a voice in how the Church should run. Women, especially, must not be treated as second-class citizens. Let us join the 21st Century!

Lloyd Coyne
El Cerrito


[Editor's note: Can. 767 reserves preaching of the homily to a priest or deacon, with exceptions made by the bishop. The USCCB also says "In providing for preaching by the lay faithful the diocesan bishop may never dispense from the norm which reserves the homily to the sacred ministers" (c. 767, §1; cfr. Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, 26 May 1987, in AAS 79 [1987], 1249). "Preaching by the lay faithful may not take place within the Celebration of the Eucharist at the moment reserved for the homily."]




Music distractions

I am writing out of concern that has built in my mind over a very long time: Too many times I walk into a church to pray and there are distractions preventing me from doing so. Imagine kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament in prayer, a precious and deeply meaningful experience for which people will make time out of a very busy day, and being unable to pray because there are people gathered around the piano honing some musical phrase repeatedly.

A house of prayer is just that: a house of prayer. When people come into a house of prayer, they should not be distracted from their purpose. This is why I am appealing to those in the music ministries throughout the diocese: Please do not use a house of prayer as a house of rehearsal or even a place to entertain people.

If you need to rehearse, please do so on your own time at some other location. If the music is so hard to deliver that so much rehearsal is required, there is either a problem with the music or with the musicians. The music is supposed to be sacred, according to the norms of the Church, yet very often sacred music is not used. The actual sacred music in the church is not that hard to play or sing, doesn't require professional musicians and can be taken care of even by a single cantor without any musical instruments.

We don't need elaborate sound systems, we don't need a six-person band complete with drums and deafening sound systems, and the loudest musicians at a Mass should be the parishioners being led in song. I recently saw a budget at a local parish where 25 percent of all donations went to a music ministry that literally would not stop rehearsing even when people gathered to pray the rosary were interrupted by sound checks and ear-piercing feedback. Can anyone even begin to describe what is wrong with this picture?

When people come into a church to pray either individually or as a community, they often do so for very important reasons. Their moments in church are precious.

James Neiman
Union City





Abortion always evil

In an earlier letter (Forum, May 5), I explained that abortion is intrinsically evil whereas other life issues are not, and that difference may make it uniquely appropriate to exclude pro-abortion Catholic politicians from Holy Communion for obstinately persisting in supporting the manifest grave sin of abortion.

Whether a Catholic politician may (or must) support a particular piece of economic or environmental legislation — i.e., whether it would be good or evil to do so — requires a prudential judgment applying positive principles to a concrete situation.

No such determination is necessary when it comes to abortion, since it is always intrinsically evil to deliberately and intentionally kill a baby. As such, a Catholic politician may never support abortion, and one who obstinately persists in doing so is objectively not in communion with the Church.

Tom Hockel
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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