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placeholder April 6, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Belief without proof

Attention atheists and Christians: You have the ability to believe without "proof." However, if someone feels compelled to "prove" to me the existence of nothing (or is it the non-existence of something?) I will not presume to be capable of "proving" the existence of God since this is (and I believe always be) beyond my ability to even comprehend!

I simply choose to believe that there is an all-knowing, all-loving and all-forgiving entity that exists throughout all of time and space. I do not wish to be responsible for any intentional or unintentional act (sin) that might distort that comforting belief for any innocent human being.

Are we so arrogant we think human beings to have reached our full intellectual capacity or can we be humble enough to believe things said to be true today (e.g. "proof") may not also be true to science for all time?

I cannot and am not capable of debating the existence of God. I will, however, simply continue to believe and try to conform my life accordingly.

John R. Schaffner

Marriage definition

James Marples (Forum, March 9) is mistaken about the redefinition of marriage on two counts. First, it is not "obvious where our national trends are heading." Second, the chaos will not end if marriage is redefined in all states.

Voters have rejected a radical redefinition of marriage in 32 states. Judges have arrogantly overstepped their constitutional authority in dozens of cases, purposely creating the present chaos.

The chaos is real in the destruction of children's and parents' rights. Marriage is a natural institution the state has historically served to recognize, thereby recognizing parents' rights and responsibilities toward each other and their children, and recognizing children's rights to know and be known and nurtured by their mother and father. The state did not need to interfere unless something went terribly wrong.

Now, however, because our state officials have refused to defend our constitution, marriage has become the sort of thing that separates children from their mothers and fathers. And now the state decides who the parents are as a matter of course.

Here's a dilemma: Married lesbian birth mothers now have fewer parental rights than single birth mothers or than married heterosexual birth mothers. Will that inequality be settled by the state taking away the rights of all birth mothers?

Another problem. California no longer has any unique institution connecting fathers with their biological children. Is that a good thing for the future of our state, considering the effects of fatherlessness?

I'm praying that the Supreme Court will recognize that retaining the time-honored definition of marriage is rational, just and necessary.

Catherine Norman

Let love govern

The letter (Forum, March 23) entitled "Cast the first stone" makes an important point. Our Lord indeed warns us that the measuring stick we use will be the one used to measure us, so we should always let love and mercy govern our view of others.

But the warning against judgment is often misunderstood or misrepresented. It means we cannot judge the soul of another person, or even imagine how God sees another person's guilt. It does not mean we are prohibited from distinguishing right from wrong.

Indeed, we must do this often in order to live a moral life. And the command not to judge others individually must not prevent us from witnessing in favor of truth, and against evil, whenever we encounter it in the world. This evil could be racism, injustice toward the poor or unborn, or any other offense against God's designs for humanity that our Church teaches.
If we fail to do this, we miss the chance to encourage others to turn to God and encounter His mercy. Authentic love wants the best for a person, and the best for anyone is reconciliation with God based on a humble and contrite heart.

To be contrite, one must recognize their sins. So encouraging one along a path that leads them away from God, in the name of being non-judgmental, is not loving — it is an indifference to their relationship with God that is equivalent to hate.

Daniel Mahoney

Good letter

It was heart-warming to read Wayne Mortenson's letter, "Cast the First Stone," (Forum, March 23).

Way too many of your letter writers sound like biblical stern judges who punished Susanna, an adulterous woman, and a poor widow. Pope Francis commented on this kind of judgment in his March 23 Mass in St. Martha's House, at which he said: "justice without mercy does not exist."

"Did no one condemn you?" — "No one, Lord." — "I do not condemn you, either."

Then he went on to say this:

"Corruption drew them (the judges) away from an understanding of mercy from being merciful. And the Bible tells us that the right judgement is found in mercy. … When God's people come of their own will to ask for forgiveness, to be judged, how often, how often do they encounter figures who resemble these judges." They encounter depraved people "who are capable of trying to exploit them" and this "is one of the most serious sins" that exist; they find "wheeler dealers" who "give no oxygen or hope to that soul"; and they encounter "the rigid who punish penitents for the sins that they hide within their own soul." All this "is called lack of mercy." (From the Vatican Insider of La Stampa, March 23.)

A short, and much earlier version of this, can be found here: "Always let mercy triumph over judgment." (The Rule of St. Benedict. Chapter 64, 7-19: The role of the abbot.)

Jim McCrea

Didn't like column

A column in The Voice (Forum, March 23) makes a rather strained comparison of a beehive to the Catholic Church. It compares the queen bee to Mary and the male drones to the bishops and priests, who "make sure that the queen remains healthy so that the hive is always productive and growing."

In reality the function of the drones in a hive is to fertilize the queen. I find the analogy (and the article) to be outright bizarre.

Tom Savignano

Government hot water

The highly respected Pew Research Center's March 25, 2015 study of Government Restrictions and Social Hostility of and to Religion charts the 25 most populous nations and reveals some disturbing trends.

In 2007 the United States was not in the "low" rankings, but well within the "moderate" with a GHI of 1.6 and a SHI of 1.9. However, by 2013, although still in the "Moderate" rankings with a GHI of 3.0 and SHI of 3.1, it ranked just below the "High" ratings which begin at 3.5.
We are now rated higher in government restriction of religion than the United Kingdom, Brazil, Italy, Philippines, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa.

There is an illustration of a frog placed in a pot of cool water. A flame is turned on under the pot. The frog never notices the water heating. Is it getting warmer in here?

Clifford R. Wiesner

Send the message

Fellow Catholics, send the message: Abortion is the killing of a baby!

When I read that Pope Francis said, "we were obsessed with the subject," referring to talking of abortion and gays, I am embarrassed for him.

Our Pope and the rest of us Catholics have to be reminded and read of the young woman who was working in an abortion clinic for eight years, until the occasion she was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion, something she had never done before.

As she held the probe over the stomach of the young woman having the abortion she saw the image of a perfectly formed baby appear on the ultrasound screen. The baby was about 13 weeks; she saw the clear profile from face to feet.

She held the probe over the stomach and saw the insertion of the cannula (a straw-shaped instrument attached to the end of the suction cup); she saw the baby react — a sudden jerk, the baby was kicking, struggling to turn and twist away as if trying to move away from the invader, then the suction was turned on, she could see what she described as one of the most horrifying scenes a person could describe, the baby began to crumble and disappear into the cannula.

Horrifying, but this goes on every day in hospitals across the world.

Since 1984, more than 1.6 billion innocent babies butchered.

Rich Peterson

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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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