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placeholder October 24, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Hold your nose, II

I read Bob Conlon's "Hold your nose" letter (Forum, Oct. 11). He stated "we have to choose between two flawed candidates and must look at the party platforms as an indication of where each candidate will take our country." He says any party that destroys Catholic values is not one that should receive the support of a practicing Catholic. The letter leans right throughout but at the bottom he seems to lay it all out there; if you're a good Catholic, vote for Trump?!

I understand voting a certain way based, in part, on your religious beliefs, but to suggest that because Donald Trump is on the Republican ticket, his values and positions are Republican, or that they are in better alignment with those of the Catholic church than Hillary Clinton's, is laughable. Donald Trump is a hypocritical, elitist demagogue who believes in money, not Jesus. He has taken people's fears and capitalized on them, using the "big liar" technique to lie long, large and often about statistics, grossly overstating unemployment and inner city crime rates. He has proposed deporting millions of people from this country and forbidding entry to others based on religion, which he claims is all in the name of national security but sounds more like ethnic cleansing. He's commended his supporters' violence against protesters, and threatened riots if he's not elected.

He has expressed his affection for Vladimir Putin, and his admiration for Kim Jong-il, Bashar al Assad and Saddam Hussein. Trump has insulted Muslims, Christians, Jews, African Americans, Latinos, Democrats, Republicans, independents, veterans, war heroes, military families, world leaders and U.S. allies, Mother Teresa, scientists, refugees, our current military leaders, Jesus, women, babies, Pope Francis, journalists, poor people, judges, polls, polling groups, the American voting process, the poorly educated, 4-star generals, rape victims, disabled people, supporters of a world economy, the United States, and many more in his attempt to "make America great again."

Donald Trump's language is prejudiced, xenophobic, sexist and misogynistic, and he aspires to be the leader of the most powerful country in the free world. To suggest we hold our noses and vote for him anyway is disgusting. There may not be another group in the US more opposed to the ideals of the Democratic Party than the Republicans but many of them have even refused support or withdrawn their support for Trump and I commend them for doing the right thing.

I am a practicing Catholic, but more importantly, I am a human being and I believe that we should aspire to treat others as Christ did, with the respect and dignity that each person deserves. Our vote in this election will not define us as Catholics; it will define us as people.

Joseph A. Maraccini

Presidential stress

The Presidency is a stressful job. Events like war, recession or hurricanes present crisis situations and national and international power politics and politicians are stressful as well. The president needs to handle stress.

The primary and general election campaigns serve the purpose of stress tests. Hilary Clinton showed signs of stress eight years ago; then, again, in March as Bernie Sanders gained delegates; and, now, as the email controversy festers and disillusioned voters turn away. Her recent debilitating medical problems can be attributed to stress.

Donald Trump used stress as a tactic in the "Art of the Deal" and as a strategy in knocking out 13 of his competitors in the primaries. For 14 months, most of the media, political pundits and political class tried to stress him; yet, this stress has invigorated him.

President Obama is said to be "No-dram-Obama." So, as Russia takes the Crimea, China builds a navy, Iran builds bombs and terrorists crucify Christians, President Obama plays golf. By Inauguration Day the world economy may slip from recession to depression and the presidential stress level go from multiplies to exponentials. Who can best handle this stress and lead us through crisis?

Michael McCarthy

School dream

I was privileged to have had the opportunity to have my four sons educated at Moreau Catholic High School, so it was with deep regret that I read about the closing of St. Elizabeth High School and the disruptive challenges for many of the existing students (and their parents) as it transitions in a new direction with the Christo Rey model.

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, asked for our help "to make this dream a reality." (Voice, Sept. 19). I would gently remind the bishop that the whole Tri-Valley community of Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin has been dreaming for decades about the promise of a high school in their area to come true.

Susan Lanferman

Cristo Rey good thing

Reacting to Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ's, announcement of plans to open a Cristo Rey high school in Oakland, William Beiriger (Forum, Sept. 5) opens the scab on an old wound. He asks why create a new high school in Oakland before honoring the long-standing promise to build a high school in the Tri-Valley.

Donated land near the Altamont Pass sits available for this purpose. Beiriger correctly points out that construction plans were halted to allocate all available funds to the new cathedral. He also not subtly mentions the diocese could lose major financial supportif it "doesn't give our area more support" (like a high school).

These are really two separate issues.

First, a Cristo Rey school in Oakland, following a nationally successful model, can largely offset tuition by student part-time jobs. Presumably the diocese has carefully studied the extensive evaluation a few years ago which concluded that the necessary pieces were not in place at that time. With the recently announced closing of St. Elizabeth High School and bold decision to open Cristo Rey in that location in two years, key challenges remain: finding sufficient part time jobs nearby, securing additional funding, hiring top quality teachers and administrators and convincing largely inner-city parents to send their children there.

Thousands of Catholic families are within reasonable commute but most have been unable to afford full tuition. If viable, a Cristo Rey high school can become a gem within the diocesan school system, reaching out to the population Pope Francis has been stressing we have a responsibility to help.

Secondly, building Pope John Paul II High School on donated land near the Altamont Pass has many obstacles and should be re-considered with caution. It is remote, lacks public transportation and most importantly has only one nearby Catholic feeder school.

If parents are satisfied with free and nearby public elementary schools, how many would suddenly want to pay high tuition and deal with long commutes when their children reach high school?

Before committing to a new high school, the diocese should do a current and extremely careful survey to determine realistic parental commitment to both a high school and additional Catholic feeder schools. Education in Catholic schools is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children.

Bob Norris

Prudential judgment

I am dismayed by the letters that say we must vote Republican because the Democratic platform supports the right to abortion. The bishops' document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship warns against one issue voting and says we must use prudential judgment when voting.

Mr. Trump has advocated the proliferation of nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea, has asked why the US should not use its nuclear weapons since we have them, and believes in the US right to use nuclear weapons in a preemptive first strike.

Moreover he has shown that he is prone to retribution and impulsive in his behavior. My prudential judgment is that nuclear weapons in his hands endanger the right to life of millions more people than abortion.

Barbara Cortese
El Cerrito

What Teaching?

A Catholic News Service writer (Voice, Sept. 5) noted that "church teaching holds little sway in the election at the polls," and that "(Catholics) look for teachings of the church that are consistent with the party affiliation that they have." (The reference was to the Catholic Church.)

The article didn't inform the reader just what that "teaching" might be. This was an opportunity for catechesis that was missed.

A quote from Raymond Cardinal Burke would have been instructional. He recently told reporters, "I think that what we have to do in this time is to look at both candidates to see if one of them will not, at least in some way, advance the common good, both with respect to the good of human life, the good of the family the freedom of conscience, the care of the poor, and to look at that very carefully."

Voters need to look at the platforms of their party if it is true that they want teachings that are consistent with the Church. The Democratic platform supports abortion. Its provider, Planned Parenthood, uses federal funds for promoting contraception at home and abroad. The Republican platform asserts the sanctity of human life and the unborn child and opposes the use of public funds for Planned Parenthood, banning the sale of fetal body parts. All 10 points of the GOP platform are oriented toward protecting women, unborn children, the elderly and the infirm in health care, the courts and Congress.

The Voice could be a more effective "voice" for educating Catholics what the Church teaches and how it applies to this election.

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

Proposition 64

The main objective of Proposition 64 is to allow the promotion of recreational marijuana use with aggressive advertising. This is all about money. Like Big Tobacco, Big Marijuana wants big profits. If Proposition 64 passes, you (and your children) will start seeing TV ads and Internet ads designed to encourage you to start smoking.

According to the California Catholic Conference website: In Colorado, (where recreational use is now legal) reports indicate many children are accidentally ingesting edibles with the drug's active ingredients, traffic accidents have increased and marijuana businesses are mostly locating in low-income neighborhoods.

The American Lung Association reports marijuana smoke contains 33 cancer-causing chemicals. Like cigarette smokers, marijuana smokers are subject to cancer risk and COPD. Recent studies also show a risk of permanent brain damage in young people who regularly use marijuana.

What about Church teaching? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2291): "The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense."

This is not a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats (including Gov. Brown and Sen. Feinstein, D-Calif., oppose Proposition 64. Don't buy the "benefit" of more tax revenue. This will be blood money. Those supporting this proposition won't mention the social cost of lives shortened and lost due to intoxicated drivers and lung disease.

For more information http://noon64.net.

Mike McDermott

Repeal death penalty

We have an opportunity to vote on a clear moral issue Nov. 8.

If passed, Proposition 62 will end the death penalty in California. The 743 men and women now on death row in California will remain in prison under a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.

Through the words and reflections of Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, as recommended to us by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, we are presented a clear moral foundation for abolition of the death penalty in California and elsewhere (Voice, Oct. 10).

Their perspective is this: In opposing the death penalty we are witnessing to the sanctity of life. Even the most sinful and guilty lives are precious to God and should not be taken by others. An execution denies God's plan of mercy and justice, denies the condemned a full opportunity for repentance and atonement.

There is an opposing initiative on the ballot, Proposition 66, which proposes to "fix" the death penalty by removing various legal safeguards to speed the process. On moral grounds, the death penalty process cannot be fixed. Nevertheless, if Proposition 66 becomes law, it will increase the likelihood of executing someone who is innocent. Currently, in the U.S., 156 men and women have been exonerated and freed from prison, serving an average of 11 years on death row before their innocence could be established.

David White

Follow the money

I oppose Proposition 64 and it's legalizing of adult use of marijuana in California, because all Law should seek the Good and avoid the bad. This law does neither. It's about money … money for the government, money for marijuana growers, money for marijuana sellers, money for marijuana providers and not much else for the public except problems.

Colorado, which recently legalized adult marijuana use, now has the highest rates of youth marijuana use in the country, from No. 14 in 2005 to No. 1 today. Up 36 percent even though their law said, "adult use only."

Statistics show that young people see no difference between adult use and teen use. Traffic fatalities due to marijuana use are also way up in Colorado [62%] since legalization. Let us remember that the human brain continues to develop until age 26 and deserves the utmost respect and protection.

It is a Precept of the Catholic Church to do no harm. This proposed law will do harm! That's because it's entire regulatory scheme is to drive up business and product use. It's a business approach to a legal problem.

The text itself is 64 pages long [32 pages of double columns] which speak of licenses, sales, taxes, cultivation and delivery systems etc. What it doesn't speak of however is limited use, and how that can be accomplished.

Several years ago California passed the State Tobacco Control Act which took a different approach and now California has the lowest smoking rates in the country. This proposed law will do the opposite. It will drive up marijuana use because it's money-driven. It must therefore be opposed.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns us of the grave damage to human health and life from the use of drugs outside their therapeutic value [section 2291]. California has bent over backwards to accommodate patients seeking medical marijuana. This law is not about that. It's nature is about money and how much can be made from legalization.

I strongly urge a no vote on Proposition 64.

Thomas Greerty


Sharon Svitak (Forum, Sept. 19) criticized Mary Ramirez (Forum, Sept. 5) of judging the homosexuals, but I disagree. It is right for Ramirez to warn them of their evil behavior. Although judging people is wrong, warning people of what is wrong is a spiritual work of mercy.

In the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, it says, "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor boy prostitutes, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor 6:9-10)

In the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul states more clearly, "Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity." (Romans 1:26-27)

Sodomites are among the sinners that St. Paul admonishes, and warns them that they will not inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore, I think Ramirez did the right thing.

Stephen Lo
Union City

Lives matter

David Donovan (Forum, Sept. 19) takes issue with the Black Lives Matter Movement and the slogan, "Black Lives Matter." It may surprise Donovan to know that those of us in the Black Lives Matter Movement do, in fact, believe that ALL lives matter. No one is saying that other lives don't matter. What we are saying is that black lives are not being treated as if they matter.

When I say that women's lives matter, I am not implying that men's lives don't matter. When I say that children should be protected, I am not implying that adults should not be protected.

Racism against blacks in our country is blatant and obvious. We are not willing to accept that as business as usual. We are not going to stand by silently while blacks are murdered by police who act as judge, jury and executioner. The officers are almost never brought to trial or convicted.

Black men earn 22 percent less than white men when the black man has the same level of education, experience in the same area of the country. Black women earn 34 percent less.

Racism permeates our institutions, economy, housing, education and churches. Black lives matter, David Donovan. No one is saying yours doesn't.

Mary Barnes

Jesus' banner?

I was surprised by David Donovan's letter (Forum, Sept. 19) criticizing St. Columba Catholic Church's "Black Lives Matter" banner as divisive.

If Jesus would have had a synagogue what kind of banner might he have posted? Perhaps his banner would have professed "Lepers Lives Matter" or "Samaritans Lives Matter," which would have certainly outraged his fellow Jews.

Jesus never said or implied that the lives of financially stable, healthy, married Jews did not matter or that outsiders' lives mattered more. He spent most of His time ministering to the oppressed not because He valued them more, but because the facts of oppression indicated that society valued them less or not at all.

It is society that is divisive. Jesus was always very aware of oppression and stood with the groups of society who were considered "the least of the least."

As our Irish priest, Father Aidan McAleenan, asks the parish and community, "Are we not called to be like Christ? Do Black lives matter?"

Kara Wilber

Banner an invitation

Rather than seeing the banner "Black Lives Matter" at St. Columba's as divisive (Voice, Sept. 19), consider it an invitation.

In mid-August, I attended Sunday liturgy at St. Columba's Church, Oakland. During the offertory prayers, a voice rose from the back: "Pray that I can forgive the person who killed my son last night."

Did I hear right? I turned around. Bent over in the last pew, a man had come to St. Columba's — perhaps his first refuge after a grievous night. He was asking the church to pray with him what Jesus had taught: "Forgive one another." Women in Sunday finest were gathering round him, ministering.

This past Sunday I returned to pray with this racially-mixed parish, in part, to learn, in part to sing and praise with a vibrant believing congregation, and yes, to stand with a predominately African-American Catholic community.

During the kiss of peace, the celebrant and pastor, Rev. Aidan McAleenan, greeted the African-American elder next to me, "Peace, Mother Superior." Not a mother superior, I thought, not with the two men in their late forties standing next to her.

"Guess you've got quite a household to look after," I said to her. She bent close, and in a low tone said, "Yes, they killed my grandson on Webster and 14th. Next to me, that's his uncle, and then his dad. We're just keeping on."

The figure of the crucified Jesus, carved in ebony, hangs above the baptismal font. How many mothers of sorrows stand, like Mary, by the foot of that cross? Around the Eucharist table, the congregation stands, sings and proclaims: "I will praise You, O God, all my life."

At St. Columba, I find a particular palpable Catholic witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus, a witness that is often invisible, yet strengthens the entire Church. These lives matter to us all. Come and see.

Jean Molesky-Poz

'Black Lives Matter'

I am pleased the Voice has introduced the topic of Black Lives Matter (Forum, Sept. 19). The letter reflects a common misunderstanding — the Black Lives Matter movement does not devalue all lives. Rather it is trying to draw long overdue attention to ways our country has devalued black lives.

I wish every white person in our country would read "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson. The stories she recounts, and the documentation of the systematic denial of rights of black citizens in the 20th Century United States is compelling and overwhelming.

I think we should thank St. Columba Parish for bringing the message of "Black Lives Matter" to our attention.

Claire Broome

Come visit

David Donovan (Forum, Sept. 19) is dismayed a Catholic Church (St. Columba in Oakland) is hanging a banner "Black Lives Matter," and not a "religiously themed banner saying something like All God's Children Matter equally".

As a proud member of St. Columba, I would like to invite Donovan to our parish for a service and meet our fellow parishioners who would probably like to share their thoughts.

When I (white, middle aged woman) came to this predominantly African American parish, for the first time at any Catholic parish, I experienced the feeling of being a "minority." However, I was welcomed with open arms and hearts, and I mentioned to a fellow parishioner (African American woman) that I liked the tradition of having people from the last few pews signaled by the ushers to go to receive the Eucharist first.

I shared that I thought it was to honor scripture (The Last Shall be First). She smiled and said, "yes, but we are also honoring our parents, grandparents and other ancestors who were not allowed to come to the front to receive Communion like white people. My ancestors were only served in the back."

Mr. Donovan, please come and hear current stories of fellow African American women of my age being pulled over for minor traffic infractions (burned out rear brake light) and being handcuffed.

Come hear stories of their sons, grandsons and great grandsons being pulled over and abused by police officers.

Come hear about the schools with very limited resources; the neighborhoods where guns are so prevalent.

Come hear about poor health due to limited food resources (many live in food deserts).

Yes, God, and all of us, want ALL LIVES to matter, but until there are no discrepancies, we ALL need to be educated about the injustices that happen to people of color and low economic resources and we must ALL work to make sure that ALL are treated as equal children of God.

Meg Bowerman

Phyllis Schlafly

Your news item (Voice, Sept. 19) on Phyllis Schlafly's death was far too short and far too dismissive. To say that she immersed herself in a host of conservative causes is simplistic: if we looked at some of her causes we might quickly conclude that there was something very wrong with the "liberal" movement in the United States.

In particular, given the activist judiciary we have in the federal courts — and have had for quite a long time — and the nature ("liberal" and secular-inhumanist) of that activism, we can see why anyone of any political color who believed in human rights as the purpose of government would oppose a constitutional change like the Equal Rights Amendment, for it would have been interpreted as compelling government funding of abortion.

Even The Economist, as secular-inhumanist a periodical as can be found in the serious press (why is there no truly humanist periodical of the same quality?), gave her a more balanced obituary.

John A. Wills

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