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placeholder July 13, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Vantage points

'Who am I to judge?'

Rev. Ron Rolheiser (Forum, June 8, "Who am I to judge?"), makes some good points. It's true we "judge ourselves" in the sense that we choose whether to love God, to put Him first in our lives, or not. Those of us who die choosing God will be with Him forever. Those of us who die choosing ourselves first, or anyone or anything else, will live for eternity without God.

Our Lord says, "You are not worthy of me." The way we live has a tremendous impact on how we make that final choice!

Father Rolheiser writes, "Beyond this, it is a strong challenge to us to be less judgmental in our lives, to let the wheat and the darnel sort themselves out over time, to let light itself judge darkness, to let truth itself judge falsehood, and to, like Pope Francis, be less quick to offer judgments in God's name and more prone to say: "Who am I to judge?"

It's important to know the context of Pope Francis' words, and of his intention. It's vitally important to see the full picture. As the saying goes, "Even the Devil can quote Scripture to his advantage."

We must not judge people. Only God knows our hearts. But we must judge their actions. One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is "To admonish the sinner." True charity (without which we are not saved) informs us that we must care enough about our brother not to simply look the other way when he is living a lifestyle dangerous to his salvation.

Half-truth: "God loves us just the way we are." Full truth: "But too much to leave us that way." Our Lord tells us we must love the sinner, but hate the sin.

At every Sunday Mass we ask God's forgiveness "For what I have done and for what I have failed to do." But human nature is like water; it takes the path of least resistance. How often have we failed to speak to a brother or sister because we didn't want to "rock the boat" or "upset anyone" or perhaps jeopardize the Sunday collection.

Is this why we never hear a homily on the evil of contraception? Contraception is truly the root of the evil of abortion — the destruction of the lives of the most innocent and helpless. How often do we speak out? How often do we hear homilies about our obligation to pray and act?

And what of the "dicey issue" Father Rolheiser mentions, the subject of Pope Francis' "Who am I to judge"?

Do we know the truth about "the homosexual condition?" Is it "the way I was born" or is it a disorder? If I experience these feelings, how do I act on them? Must I live chastely, as all are called to do?

We come to know the truth through science. Study at www.narth.com. Ultimately the truth comes from God. He is truth. Learn about Courage and Encourage — www.couragerc.org and to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

We can often see things more clearly when we look at them from the perspective of children. Can it ever be right to purposely deprive a child of their mother or father, or of a mother and a father, by placing them in a home with two men or two women?

We must have these conversations. We must hold one another accountable for our actions.

Am I my brother's keeper? We know God's answer to that.

"Charity, then, is not a mild philosophy of 'live and let live;' it is not a species of sloppy sentiment.

"Charity is the infusion of the Spirit of God, which makes us love the beautiful and hate the morally ugly."

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

David Zarri

Come back

I understand the diocese has or is starting a program to re-attract people back to the Church. May I suggest that they look into the venue of the God loving community of about 30 men at St. Monica Parish in Moraga.

We are known as the Saturday Morning Men's Fellowship. The community was started in 1985. (Rev. Brian Joyce was our pastor at the time).

This is a venue not generally available to men where they can open their hearts and share their thoughts with each other.

The meetings are open to parishoners, non-parishoners and people of other faiths.

We review the scripture readings for the current weekend and comment what effect, if any, they may have in our lives.

The meeting starts with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. At about 7:50 a.m. a facilitator introduces the readings and opens the meeting for further discussion. The meetings conclude at about 8:40 a.m.

If you are interested join us at about 7:15 a.m. on any Saturday.

John Di Palermo

Thank you, Father Jeff

I am a member of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Union City and a recent graduate of the St. Francis de Sales School for Pastoral Ministry. Father Jeff Keyes, CPPS, taught our Introduction to Liturgical Theology class during the second year. I wrote this poem as a gift for him and gave to him after he celebrated the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Edward Catholic Church, Newark, on June 28.

      Faithfully living the truth each day
      Reminding your flock of the Catholic way
      Jesus to help you – whether the challenges are many or few
      Easing your burdens while carrying you through
      Finding the path for you to follow with much care
      Freeing you to help unwrap your gifts to share
      Keys to heaven are within our reach
      Ever patient to guide us with all you teach
      You have planted more seeds of faith than you may know
      Evangelizing each day while helping us to prayerfully grow
      Sent to continue your mission both near and far
      A disciple of Christ wherever you are

Kathleen Mary Sao
Union City

Marriage views

A few comments regarding Mike McDermott's letter (Forum, June 22):

Business owners who hold "traditional views" of marriage are not being prosecuted for that reason. If they are being prosecuted, it is in cases of refusing to provide service to the public when they hold a license that obliges them not to discriminate in areas not allowed by law.

Furthermore, they enjoy certain tax benefits (equipment depreciation and reducing the taxable income by the deductible costs of doing business, to name but two) which are paid for by all members of the public, not just the ones they like.

Advising marrying couples to "skip the civil marriage paperwork altogether" is nonsensical. There are 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of civil marital status in federal law. None of these are granted by virtue of a religious wedding ceremony.

I agree the state should not be deputizing religious organizations or figures to act on its behalf. This is the case in most European countries where official marriages are provided by a civil authority.

Anything religious the couple chooses to have after that is "religious frosting on the marital cake," not an intrinsic part of the state-recognized marriage ceremony. The Catholic Church has learned to live with that situation for many years now and the world has not come to an end.

Jim McCrea

'Laudato Si'

The encouragement by the world's major religions to overpopulate the Earth ("Go forth and multiply") is a contributor to environmental change. Undoubtedly evolution has also greatly predisposed us to reproduce in a plentiful way.

If we decide to cultivate and care for the earth, we must decide whether we want a very large human population living at the subsistence level, or a moderate size human population living at a comfortable level.

Since it would be very difficult to get everyone to agree on this, I believe that religion could have an important role. This would be to advise those of us who choose to limit population growth of our very limited responsibilities to those who choose to ignore their own population growth.

The Lord never said "Make the world safe for the ignorant." It is one thing to care for the poor among us. It is another to encourage the culture of poverty.

Harry Vantine

Climate encyclical

Pope Francis, in "Laudato Si," declared "I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home." Exciting idea … but: No forum for dialogue between clergy and laity exists. Communications via pulpits, bulletins, The Catholic Voice, Catholic Legislative Network, bishop's letters, etc., only go from hierarchy to laity.

Bishops debate issues, perhaps for years, in secret. Then official positions are promulgated, omitting contrary perspectives. No laity input is entertained.

Discourse with non-clerics seems bred out of priestly life. Why the reticence? Two millennia ago a teenage Jesus, without college degree, risked humiliation by engaging Jewish scholars in dialogue. These rabbis were unused to such chutzpah. Jesus prodded them to explain, argue and defend. Perhaps even learn?

Has Church hierarchy adopted the stultifying mantle of Jesus' rabbis? Or maybe they have "upper-room" mindset of apostles after Christ's death, i.e., fearful of open interchange with strangers Perhaps a return visit by the Holy Ghost would embolden them to risk the hurly-burly of open-dialogue. Perhaps even learn?

The Pope has acted with his encyclical, not in his infallibility-role, as a Church leader with societal views amenable to thoughtful challenge.

For clergy/laity dialogue to be embedded in Church culture, leaders must provide a forum, including within parishes. This would be historic, considering the hierarchy's top-down organizational style.

So, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, the laity is ready for Pope Francis' dialogue-world. "God's Soldiers," the Jesuits, should readily embrace that world. It's in their nature.

Will the hierarchy accommodate such change? Prediction: No.

Joe Moran

Pope's love

I admire the pope for his love of the poor and all of God's people. I agree with his encouraging us to become involved politically. However, he left out a very important point — to be informed about the issues. This is where he has failed. He is not informed and some of the policies he embraces will hurt the poor and, possibly, force many into poverty.

He has accepted the hypothesis that climate change is the result of man's activities as though this were an absolute. It is not! I am one of those skeptics.

I was appalled that the Vatican refused to hear from those whose research did not support that hypothesis. I am a skeptic because I believe, in the scientific method. I believe, in honest and open debate. I believe in allowing the data to determine whether the hypothesis is correct or incorrect, not manipulating the data to support the hypothesis.

I do not believe in name-calling, threatening or firing a perfectly good scientist simply because his or her research does not support the current narrative.

If the pope is going to be politically involved then he needs to be much better informed.

Nancy Hudson

'Rejoice at progress'

My godchild graduated from a Catholic high school in Colorado. He read The Catholic Voice (June 8) and of the many local graduates who expressed the necessity to "make Church life more engaging," "keep youth engaged," "the Church should listen to what the kids have to say," etc.

He said this was his philosophy, and personal belief until a priest met with him and other graduates to remind them of a teaching Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen gave this priest and fellow high schoolmates many years ago:

God calling
Down through the ages the Power of the Lord alone has kept millions of souls brave and true and strong who else would have fallen by the way.

This life is not for the body, it is for the soul, and man too often chooses the way of life that best suits the body, not the way that best suits the soul. The Lord permits only what best suits the soul.

Accept this and a wonderful molding is the result, reject it and the purpose of the Lord is frustrated, your best prayers unanswered, progress (Spiritual progress) delayed, trouble and grief stored up.

Try, each of you, to picture your soul as a third being trained by us — by you and the Lord — and then you will share, and rejoice in sharing, in the discipline and training.

Stand apart from your soul with the Lord, and welcome training — rejoice at progress.

Rich Peterson


Immigrant statistics

Denouncing three May 18 Forum letters, Rev. James Schexnayder (Forum, June 8) says "Statements that many immigrants are ‹drug and sex traffickers, terrorists and criminals,' that compare Cardinal Walter Kasper and other German bishops to Nietzsche, Freud and Hitler and that imply that most of those convicted of child abuse 'followed a gay lifestyle' are erroneous."

A 2011 Government Accountability Office study belies the first claim, counting legal and illegal aliens together as 8 percent of US residents but 25 percent of federal prison inmates.

Forty-three percent of 399 individuals convicted in terror-related domestic crimes during 2001-2010 were alien U.S. residents. And in California alone during 2008, the federal Department of Justice subsidized incarceration for 27,000 illegal aliens in state prisons, equaling 10 percent of all inmate days. Half of those convictions involved drugs, assaults and sex offenses.

Cardinal Kasper? Last October, he tried to deny — until confronted with a recording — his belittling of African bishops' traditional Catholic perspective on marriage and homosexuality as a primitive "taboo," thereby supposedly discrediting their Synod on the Family contributions. Several commentators characterized Kasper's outlook as overtly racist.

A 2001 American Psychological Association article claims "homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are."

But the APA is itself highly compromised. A July 1998 article in APA's Psychological Bulletin sought to legitimize the North American Man-Boy Love Association's support for "consensual intergenerational experiences."

The article itself sought to re-label a "willing encounter with positive reactions as simply adult-child sex, a value-neutral term," arguing further that "the term child should be restricted to nonadolescent children ..."

And the U.S. bishops' National Review Board found: "81 percent of the reported victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy were boys," showing "that the crisis was characterized by homosexual behavior."

Michael 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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