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Having just heard about Robin Williams, I read with interest Rev. Ron Rolheiser's column (Forum, Aug. 11) about suicide. I also read a letter from Josephine Soublet (Forum, Aug. 11) complaining that women's voices do not seem to be heard by our church.
Soublet tells us of a skeptic questioning her authority to speak about Mother's Day. As our church prepares for a synod on family life, I wonder if the woman's voice will be considered when speaking about motherhood.
In his article, Rolheiser recommends we "reclaim the memory" of the person who committed suicide. I don't need to "reclaim" my memory of Robin Williams. I never forgot him.
I was a great fan of his when he first became famous. I took great joy in the fact that he lived in the Bay Area and married a Mills College graduate. But it seemed I was alone in expressing my sadness when they divorced. I objected to the film 'Dead Poets Society,' pointing out that it offered youth the option of suicide as a solution to family problems. Again, no one else seemed to notice.
I believe that most psychological and moral problems can be addressed within the home through the loving communication with our church. But the woman must be included in this conversation. I don't say this because I am a woman. I say this because Our Lord chose a humble woman to be the Mother of God.
Reply to bishops
So the bishops of California think it is the duty of US taxpayers to support anyone and everyone who walks across the US border. Almost all of the children flooding across the border between Mexico and Texas have come from five Central American countries [Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica].
If the Mexican customs officials at the border with Guatemala were doing their job, these people would never have gotten to the US border. The distance from the Mexican-Guatemala border to Laredo, Texas is about 1,325 miles.
We are being asked to believe that 6-year-olds can walk from Oakland to Denver and then walk another hundred miles to the Colorado-Kansas border with no backpacks, sleeping bags, food, water, maps, or compass and not get lost. This clearly is not a case of some poor, helpless children fleeing a war.
Rather, it is an orchestrated invasion by 30,000 minors aided and abetted by their governments who wish to export people. It is important to note that since they are minors, they are not coming here for employment opportunities. Rather, they are coming here solely to take advantage of the welfare state, and they have been encouraged to do so by President Obama's talk of amnesty. The only way to stop what promises to be a continuing flood of illegal immigrants is to deport them immediately.
We have been down this road before. In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act which granted amnesty to about 2.7 million immigrants who were living here illegally. We now have about 12 million here illegally. Amnesty only encourages more illegal immigration.
Those same five Central American countries have a total population of 41 million, of which nearly 15 million, or 36 percent, are under the age of 15. This should frighten anyone concerned about population growth, and the opposition of the Catholic Church to contraception is a major reason for this explosive growth. Guatemala, the largest in terms of population, has a population of 15.4 million and an annual rate of increase of 2.6 percent. This country, where the per capita gross national product is only $4,900 [US] is adding 400,000 people annually to its population. If Catholic Charities really wanted to do something useful, they would be down in Central American disbursing free birth control pills.
Donald F. Anthrop
Professor emeritus, San Jose State University
On the positive side — our parish is reaching out with God's Word through the formation of small study groups. I've been a Catholic for 45 years; in my parish for 20 years; participating (as a lector) for 10 years but through group experience this has been by far my most "productive" year (and I'm 65) learning and experiencing the sacred power of The Holy Spirit in the Catholic Faith even while the World seems to be falling into chaos.
I highly recommend to anyone considering forming or participating in a Catholic study or worship group do so immediately.
John R. Schaffner
End of Life
Authors Fran Smith and Sheila Himmel (Voice, Aug. 11) present an account of their own fathers' end of life experiences. They suggest starting with planning for loved ones or self.
This is crucial as the nature of hospice care has changed from its original purpose. Since many hospice and palliative care facilities are now for-profit, investigating and planning is crucial to provide Christian care for loved ones.
According to Kentucky Covenant Hospice Founder Greg Patterson, not for profit hospices make up only about 65 percent of all hospices today and are declining. He indicates that some squeeze every penny and cut corners. That can lead to treatment that hastens death, not relief for the patient's pain and suffering.
Ask for a meeting with a prospective nursing home/hospice and ask these questions: What is the average length of stay before death? At what point do you withhold nourishment and liquids? Do you assume all dying patients are in pain? Do you use a potent drug like morphine to control pain or when oxygen reaches a certain level or when a certain point is reached at the point of death? Do you believe that doctors and nurses ever have a right to shorten the dying process?
Then consider how the answers compare with Catholic teachings on end of life care. One can read more in American Life League, Aug. 19 article "Can Hospice Become a Death Chamber," with links to information cited above (www.all.org/article/index/id/MTQxNDE). Also "Are We Not Dying Fast Enough," Life Issues Forum, Aug. 29.
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