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Holy Land thanks
We are very grateful to Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and the people of the Diocese of Oakland for your contribution of $112,533.30 for the 2014 Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land. We thank you in the name of Pope Francis, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos, and all the Franciscans in the Holy Land. Your generosity will directly help the Christians in the Holy Land itself and in adjoining countries like Syria (where the Franciscans serve).
We thank you in the name of all the Christians and in the name of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world who come to pray at the shrines made holy by Jesus and his mother. Without your financial help the friars would not be able to care for the needy and all the shrines.
Again, thank you personally for supporting the collection. Please continue your prayers for the suffering Christians in the Middle East. May you and your people be richly blessed for your generosity.
Rev. Larry Dunham, OFM
Commissary of the Holy Land
The letter (Forum, July 7) regarding music as distractions to prayer bares response. The writer recommended that those of us in music ministry find some other place to rehearse the music that will be used for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
For many churches the only place for us to rehearse is in the church. When we gather to rehearse we are doing so on our own time. We are not being paid for this volunteer service we are providing to enhance the celebration of the Mass. We are not offering this service to our fellow parishioners for entertainment value. We are there to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord."
We are there in the spirit of St. Augustine who reportedly said, "He who sings well, prays twice" and you can't sing well without rehearsals even if the only songs being rehearsed are the "sacred music" the writer refers to in his letter. It would indeed be wonderful if "the loudest musicians at a Mass" were actually the "parishioners being led in song" but how often is that the reality? I pray that the writer will come to understand that for many the music we provide for the Mass often adds to, not distracts from, the precious moments of many attending the Mass.
Choir member, St. Benedict Church, Oakland
Approximately 35 years ago I was invited to give the sermon (homily? reflections?) on Mother's Day. A skeptic asked, "What do you know about giving a sermon?" I replied, "At least as much as a priest knows about being a mother."
When I read the articles (Voice, July 7) decrying declining church attendance and infant baptisms and a letter bemoaning the church's treatment of women like second class citizens, I see a connection.
If the church persists in ignoring the talents and gifts of its female members and stubbornly clings to antiquated guidelines such as Canon 767, and cherry-picked scriptures like Corinthians 14:34, it will continue to see a decline in attendance and infant baptisms, as well as Catholic marriages and religious vocations.
I have a friend, a former Catholic, who regularly questions why I actively belong to a church that treats me and other women so poorly. Frankly, I'm finding it harder and harder to give her a rational, intelligent answer.
Roughly a year ago, many of us first learned how much spying goes on worldwide, especially by governments against their own citizens. We are also beginning to understand what information governments share with each other — without our knowledge or consent.
This news means we can start debating the limits we place on government mass surveillance, and on the extent to which we allow cooperation by the private sector.
However, a letter (Forum, June 23), about government surveillance programs trivializes the issues. Since God is all-knowing, we should apparently elevate the NSA to a similar plane. In the end, all will be revealed. If it's inevitable that the NSA will also know everything anyway, why not save them the hassle of waiting for the end of days like the rest of us?
The writer implies our right to privacy online is just a perception. Apparently we really don't need passwords, encryption or other bothersome tools to protect our personal information. And he asks, can't we teach this to our kids and grandkids?
Why not? Because now we can see more of the truth about mass surveillance: It weakens human dignity, wherever we live, whatever we believe. These are not mere "temporal concerns." In the same issue, Pope Francis described corruption as "the sin at the fingertips of the powerful."
In my view, mass spying is a facet of the same widespread corruption.
Kamala Harris' society
Extrapolating from Tom Hockel's letter (Forum, July 7), we can speculate whether a "Catholic politician may (or must) support a particular piece of — legislation — i.e. whether it would be good or evil to do so?"
This appears to apply particularly well in the recent case of the legitimization of same-sex unions. I recall reading that Gov. Brown ordered city and county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on a lying statement from the attorney general, Kamala Harris, that Proposition 8 (which was the will of the citizens of California), was invalid. In the judgment of the governor, Proposition 8 was, therefore, valid at this time.
It would seem, therefore, that Harris sees it as her mission in life to form the perfect Utopian society, in which women are not dominated by men. The consequences to the existing society do not seem to concern her.
Frederick A. Arend
This is an invasion! If the children crossing our border were true refugees they would have found refuge at the American Embassy in their home country. There are millions of children south of the border suffering neglect, abuse or abandonment.
However, we only encourage more human trafficking, sexual abuse and gang recruiting when we allow people to enter and move freely in our country. Our government relief agencies and church social services are already overwhelmed and are on the verge of collapse. We have to act now! Hold these people at military bases in this country where special immigration services and courts can process and adjudicate their cases. The vast majority of them are social or economic immigrants who need to be relocated first to camps at military bases in their native countries and then, to foster care facilities, education programs and adoption services in their native countries (funded through our foreign aid).
Totalitarian regimes and terrorist groups around the world are persecuting political and religious minorities. The few political and religious refugees seeking refuge need to abandon ties and be adopted into American homes and society (through church and nonprofit placement agencies). We need to properly allocate our limited resources.
Finally, the media have begun to report on the horrible anti-Christian persecutions that have been happening around the world for quite some time. They now report that Christians are by far the most persecuted group in the world.
Our government, under the current president, preaches to the world about women's rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, Muslim rights, etc., demanding that they be respected. However, there is barely a peep out of him or his administration regarding the persecution and slaughter of Christians which occurs on a daily basis. A number of actions can be undertaken. Much of the world looks to us as a voice of reason, compassion, ethics and morality. President Obama, as the alleged leader of the free world, has a worldwide audience if he would speak out.
He recently announced a diplomatic undertaking using the American ambassadors and agencies around the world to secure more gay rights. We have great economic power that can be applied. Free trade treaties, foreign aid, military equipment and training, opening our institutions of learning and research to foreigners and bilateral defense treaties/actions are all within his power.
Obama made the statement early in his presidency that the United States is not a Christian country and he acts that way. He should stop using his domestic powers to infringe on those religious rights and beliefs he does not like and turn his attention to helping God's people, regardless of religious affiliation.
Clifford R. Wiesner
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