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placeholder May 9, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Why praise Luther?

I am sorry, and I am very confused? Why give any praise to a man who opened the door to Protestant Churches?

I read the letters (Forum, April 11 and 25) that appear to support Martin Luther, "who inspired many changes in the world ..." Let me remind our fellow Catholics, Martin Luther started a new religion, the Lutheran Church.

There are no reasons for any Catholic to praise this man. Martin Luther was excommunicated (Pope Leo X in 1521) from the Catholic Church, because the teachings he taught were contrary to Catholic teachings. And to remind one and all again, The Catholic Church is the Church Jesus Christ founded. Christ did not start the Catholic Church with Lutheran teachings.

We Catholics should remind one another of this fact as often as necessary.

John Jone
San Leandro

Odd couples

With The Voice and other periodicals I usually turn first to the letters pages, interested in what my fellow readers have to say. April 25's letters give us plenty to think about. Henry VIII's despising Martin Luther, for instance.

Is it because Luther managed to acquire only one wife while Henry, "Defender of the Faith," set himself the task of marrying (divorcing, burying ...) six? Henry is usually given the edge on gluttony as well.

Jesus vs. Che Guevara? President Obama's 2009 speech at Georgetown University was thoroughly discussed in the press at the time. Fellow readers might want to see factcheck.org/2009/04/obama-at-georgetown/ for a summary of that reporting. Meanwhile, Che Guevara and George Washington would seem to be a more logical pairing.

As to Pope Francis and Donald Trump: Recent remarks by the pope indicate that he, at least, doesn't think first of "courage" when he thinks of Trump.

Jackie Pels
Walnut Creek

Appalling letters

I am appalled and actually depressed by the three letters (Forum, April 11). All three were written by men who appear to be ill informed, narrow minded, angry and bitter about life.

The first man criticizes a letter from a local religious scholar (Forum, March 26), that provided information about Martin Luther.

This writer apparently wants to warn us against any interfaith dialogue, citing nasty material, written more than 150 years ago, about Luther when religious divisions and power struggles were dominant.

Whether true or not, please remember that many of our popes, bishops and other clergy hardly led pure and innocent lives over the course of history. Let us not close our hearts to those who seek to heal this divide with other Christians.

The second man criticizes President Obama for following accepted protocol when speaking to all American citizens on U.S. policy while at Georgetown University and having the backdrop of the speech be religiously neutral by covering a symbol of Christianity. He actually tries to compare this event to the president's speech in a foreign country's public square in his historic trip to Cuba, where a statue of one of their revolutionary heroes, Che Guevara, was visible. If the White House had covered a statue of George Washington for a speech he made while in the U. S., I could understand the writer's distress but I don't think that covering a symbol of one religious denomination in our secular country, founded upon diversity, is at all comparable.

Lastly, the third male writer once again uses Forum's platform to criticize our president and unbelievably to infer his support for the "mad dog of the Middle East," Muammar Gaddafi, who was recognized by all free peoples as an oppressive dictator guilty of torture and collective punishment of his people!

However, the final and most abhorrent statement he makes is in his complement of Donald Trump, a blatant womanizer, misogynist, bigot and bully! This writer actually had the audacity to compare this egomaniac to Pope Francis, who is our model to the world of humility, love, mercy and the true message of Christianity.

I do firmly believe in freedom of speech, but this paper should use some discretion in promoting truth telling. It should not serve as a platform for haters and those who thrive on insulting good people and mocking our faith traditions.

In my opinion, these three men really need to do some fact checking and spend lots of time reading the Words of Jesus before they submit another letter to The Voice.

Carolyn Priest
Walnut Creek

Compassionate message

We have all seen the bumper sticker that says: "Christians are not perfect, just loved."

This seems to be the message Pope Francis is relaying to us in his encyclical "Amoris Laetitia." He is saying that we, as Catholics and Christians, are not perfect because we are human beings, but nevertheless we are loved by our God for trying to do good.

He is saying the same thing about the Church. It is a human institution that is prone to flaws and missteps, but it is the People of God working for good. In this letter he is applying this principle to the family and marriage.

Living this paradox, of being imperfect yet being loved, is the theme of Pope Francis' papacy. We see it in his call to mercy, his stance on the refuge problem, his reaching out to other religions and his acceptance of gays. "Who are we to judge" has become his mantra.

In the current encyclical he shows this same mercy toward divorced Catholics. He is calling for compassion for people in this difficult situation. The Church should not ignore, banish or exclude them, but welcome them as brothers and sisters in the People of God.

Many have faulted the pope for not going far enough to change the doctrine or the teaching of the Church in regard to remarriage. That is not Francis' style, he is not doctrinaire. He prefers to bring about change on the practical side and in our attitudes, to deal with these issues in a compassionate, merciful and pastoral way.

He sees this as the truth of the Gospel for us to live. He is leaving it for others to further structure and codify.

Dennis Wasco

Wrong facts

Bob Conlon's letter (Forum, April 11) claims President Obama demanded that Georgetown University cover up the crucifix before making a speech in 2009, a sign of the president's "hypocrisy."

The real story, according to factcheck.org: Georgetown covered all university signs behind the stage where the president was to speak to accommodate a presidential backdrop of American flags, which is standard for many presidential events. CBS news noted that while the IHS behind the president's podium wasn't visible, the letters are posted around the hall approximately 26 times. Religious paintings are visible high above the president's head in MSNBC's video of the speech. In the speech, the president mentioned the Sermon on the Mount.

Michael Radding

Caesar's Law, God's Law

Oakland writer Carmen Hartono believes The Catholic Voice publishing politically oriented letters risks IRS revocation of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status for the diocese and its parishes (Forum, April 25).

It's true that 501(c)(3) entities may not legally support or oppose candidates. But as the editor's note appended to Hartono's letter explains, "neither the Diocese of Oakland nor The Voice endorses candidates for political office."

Further fortifying The Voice's scrupulously legal position is a notice that Forum opinions "are those of the writers, and not necessarily" of the paper or the Diocese — a formalized statement of the obvious, but the kind of disclaimer required in an age of politically correct mindlessness.

Today's customary double standard should be more concerning. At a Philadelphia AME church in January, for example, 28 black pastors prayed over Hillary Clinton, "…President-to-Be Clinton, we decree … that the favor of the Lord will surround you like a shield, in Jesus's name." No IRS penalty will be imposed for that overt, church-based candidate support.

Meanwhile, as stated in the USCCB's comprehensive guide referenced in The Voice editor's note (http://bit.ly/1V5d7hQ): "lobbying" for or against legislation, including ballot measures, is permitted so long as it doesn't constitute a "substantial part" of total activities — defined in case law as 5 percent to 15 percent of time, effort, expenditures, etc.

In fact, and particularly at this time of moral disorder, Catholic pastors and lay faithful are required to impart and promote Catholic doctrine and the proper ordering of societal affairs under God's plan (e.g., Canon Law 225, 768), and "have the duty and right to condemn writings which harm correct faith or good morals" (Can. 823).

There can be prudential-judgment arguments over environmental stewardship or how best to help the poor. But Catholic teaching is clear regarding abortion on demand and such bizarre current phenomena as "same-sex marriage" and "transgender"-dictated restroom/locker-room access.

Combatting such iniquities necessarily places the genuinely faithful in opposition to schemes that have become Democrat legislative and regulatory priorities.

Michael Arata

Bad Voice

You published two letters (Forum, April 25) headlined:

Politics: Clinton.

Politics: Trump.

Sorry, but they were mistitled. They should have been:

Politics: Anti-Hillary Clinton.

Politics: Anti-Hillary Clinton.


Jim McCrea

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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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