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placeholder April 25, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 8   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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No argument

I don't want to get into any kind of argument by letters in The Voice, but some of the claims in the attack on Martin Luther are excessive. Excommunicated in 1521, his death in 1546, at that time at a ripe old age of 64, was not remarkable for his dissipation.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says his final years were marked by refining his editions (more than 200 of them) of parts of the New Testament which, he claimed, had been distorted by our Roman Church leaders in their notions of power and top-down leadership.

"He who is first among you will be the servant of all" (from the Greek "panton doulos" as used by Our Lord to describe what "the first among you" will be like in the new Kingdom). Martin Luther inspired many changes in the world, including the treatment of women the way our Lord did — as equals — much to the shock of the Apostles. "Among the baptized there is no 'male and female'" (Gal. 3,28).

Luther was interred with great honor in the church of Wittenburg, "… in the presence of his stricken widow and children and a great concourse of notables, disciples and burghers."

Frank Nieman
Pleasant Hill

IRS rules

In a statement dated April 28, 2004, the IRS warns tax-exempt charities to "be careful that their efforts to educate voters comply with the Internal Revenue Code requirements concerning political campaign activities." The statement continues: "... religious organizations, including churches, are among those that are tax-exempt under code section 501 (c)(3)."

The statement specifies, "These organizations cannot endorse any candidates, ... or become involved in any activities that may be beneficial or detrimental to any candidate." It also affirms, "Even activities that encourage people to vote for or against a particular candidate on the basis of nonpartisan criteria violate the political campaign prohibition of section 501 (c)(3)."

I have recently seen more and more acceptance of political jargon in religious journals. Some call the pope a "socialist" in conflict with the political candidate Donald Trump; they allude Our Holy Father is following a liberal political agenda.

This is wrong on many levels. Others claim that some politicians are "un-Christian" and therefore should not "be elected to office." (Forum, March 28). This for me is in clear violation of the tax-exempt code.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to "give Cesar what is Cesar's." If the Church in the US is going to continue to encourage people to vote for or against a political candidate, it needs to inform their followers that their donations to the church might not be tax deductible.

Carmen Hartono

[Editor's note: Neither the Diocese of Oakland nor The Voice endorses candidates for political office. There are guidelines regarding the IRS tax exempt provisions available from the Conference of Catholic Bishops, to which we strictly adhere (http://bit.ly/1V5d7hQ). There are provisions dealing with advertising, news and opinion, including letters.]

Politics: Clinton

A Hillary Clinton presidency will be devastating to the pro-life cause. I find it troubling that in a Pew Poll, some 40 percent of Catholics are quite comfortable with a Hillary Clinton presidency.

After a series of undercover videos last year revealed that Planned Parenthood was involved in the sale of body parts from aborted baby parts, Clinton solidified her pro-abortion rights bona fides by standing firmly with the nation's largest abortion provider. "As your president I will always have your back," she said.

Clinton has a lifelong record of abortion rights advocacy. While in the U.S. Senate, she voted against the ban on partial birth abortions, and she called for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment that bars the use of Medicaid funds to pay for abortions.

As first lady she pushed for a global right to abortion and contraception at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. Her failed health-care reform would have expanded access to abortion.

As president, Clinton would be absolutely devastating to the pro-life cause. She is an abortion fanatic. The greatest concern pro-life advocates have is the kind of appointments she would make to the Supreme Court. She said she thought Barak Obama would be a great court nominee. This is her example of the kind of nominee she wouId appoint.

The next president will likely have three new Supreme Court appointments to fill and will set the direction of the Supreme Court for generations. Catholics should vote pro-life.

Jim Crowley
Walnut Creek

Forgiving sin

It has been months since I first heard that the Holy Father shared his authority to priests to forgive sins that, previously, could be absolved by him exclusively.

Please educate me as to what kinds of sins could be absolved by the Holy See and the priests he authorized.

Are these specific sins so commonly known to Catholic Church members that no additional explanation is needed?

Having had seven years in the seminary, I feel awful not having a clue!

Johnny Riguera

[Editor's note: Although Church law generally requires a priest to have special permission, called faculties, from his bishop to grant absolution to a person who has procured or helped another to procure an abortion, Pope Francis extended to priests worldwide the authority to absolve women for the sin of abortion for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Dec. 8, 2015-Nov. 20, 2016. Pope Francis also granted another exception to church rules out of concern for "those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests" belonging to the traditionalist Society of St Pius X. For more information: http://bit.ly/1PIVLkd.]

Politics: Trump

I have a concern about so many negative comments directed toward candidate Donald Trump by some prominent Catholic journalists. Are these same journalists giving attention to Hillary Clinton?

There was a group of more than 100 Republicans from the U.S. defense establishment threatening to vote for Clinton if Trump is the Republican candidate.

Has Trump attacked the Catholic Church?

Regarding Clinton, this is from her talk on April 23, 2015, reproduced by catholicvote.org:

"Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated religious beliefs have to be changed."

And Trump is such a great threat?

Joe Trevors

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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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