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placeholder November 7, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 19   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Yes on 60

Proposition 60 on the Nov. 8 ballot is to offer protection to the so-called performers in pornographic movies. Proposition 60 will also put more government regulations on pornographers and subject them to more lawsuits.

Proposition 60 will lower the profits and make life difficult for everyone in the porn business, perhaps forcing them to move out of California.

Vote yes on 60.

Douglas Rose

Less, worse candidate

Assessing current election-season disputes, Bob Conlon asserted correctly that properly formed consciences can generate differing prudential judgments regarding various policy issues, including "capital punishment, immigration, taxation, health care," and other concerns (Forum, Oct. 10).

Conlon then listed grave "moral evils and disorders," recognized as such by the Catholic Church: "abortion [on demand], assisted suicide and euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, so-called same-sex marriage, homosexual behavior, human cloning, transgender legislation" — all "aberrations to common sense and traditional values" which are "promoted by the Democratic Party."

Judicial decisions and governmental dictates which are destructive of human lives and civil society at large are the result — from 59 million abortions since Roe v. Wade (1973) to punishments being imposed upon bakers, photographers and others whose deeply held religious beliefs disallow participation in "same-sex" weddings.

A bizarre recent development is the Obama administration's perverse insistence that 1972's Title IX sex-discrimination prohibitions, affecting schools receiving federal funds, allegedly now require "transgender"-chosen restroom and locker room access, based on 2016's self-declared "gender identities."

Agreeing with polling majorities, Conlon characterized both leading presidential candidates as "very flawed," leaving us thereby to consider party platforms in making electoral decisions — i.e. choices that will affect America for decades.

The Supreme Court, for example, regularly endorses presidential and congressional transgressions of the Constitution's strictly defined and enumerated powers, and ignores the 10th Amendment's requirement that powers not delegated to the federal government "are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

One presidential candidate's judicial nominees would rapidly accelerate that reckless degradation of liberty under law, hastening a time when America would look and feel more like today's Venezuela. The other has pledged to nominate judges who respect Constitutional limits instead.

Joseph Maraccini, a local union treasurer, answers Conlon with three long paragraphs condemning Donald Trump, but nary a direct word regarding Hillary Clinton (Forum, Oct. 24). He implies, however, that supporting her means aspiring "to treat others as Christ did, with the respect and dignity that each person deserves." Further, he says, "Our vote in this election … will define us as a people."

Indeed it will. Hillary and Bill Clinton's numerous Arkansas scandals, Hillary's vicious treatment of the women her husband abused (more recently hypocritically telling other such victims that "You have the right to be heard, the right to be believed"), her disastrous foreign-policy blunders as Secretary of State (from Libya to the "Russian reset"), destruction of official e-mails and related systematic lies, corrupt Clinton Foundation maneuvers — the cynical attitudes behind all those improprieties and many more, in combination with the Democrat Party's moral bankruptcy, would assure nationwide chaos under another President Clinton.

Stipulated: Donald Trump is a terrible candidate. But all things considered, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are considerably worse.

Michael Arata

Saint's message

A message from Pope St. John Paul II from the past:

"We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think the wide circle of the American society, or the wide circle of the Christian community, realize this fully.

"We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence.

"It is, therefore, in God's plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously ... It is possible to mitigate the coming tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it, because only thus can the Church be effectively renewed."

Pope St. John Paul II warned us. His warning was prophetic then but even more urgent now. When will we, and especially our leaders, awaken to this threat? It comes from outside our country but is slowly spreading and growing within.

Pay attention to what some of our own politicians privately think about Christians, especially Catholics, and their moves to intrude into our beliefs with changes in laws and regulations; even punishing and forcing believers to go to the courts for protection. One recently said that we need to change our positions (beliefs?). St. John Paul II warned; I believe he was guided by the Holy Spirit. Will we heed and take action before it is too late?

Clifford R. Wiesner

Mercy and forgiveness

In the Gospel for Sept. 25, 2016 (Luke 16:19-31) we find the familiar tale of the rich man who ignored the suffering of Lazarus. Both men eventually died; Lazarus went to heaven, while the rich man was sent to hell. The rich man asks Father Abraham to send Lazarus with a drop of water to ease his thirst. Father Abraham declines to help.

The rich man then sees that he had wronged his fellow man and asks to be allowed to visit his brother to warn him of the doom awaiting him if he does not reform, much like Scrooge and Marley in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

This shows that the rich man is contrite. He accepted his punishment and showed charity toward his brother, at his own expense. Again Abraham declines to help, much to his discredit.

This narration is not in keeping with the concept of Divine Mercy. We should not seek mercy and forgiveness from other mortals, such as Abraham or the Saints, but directly from God, who never withholds His forgiveness.

This Gospel also raises the question of forgiveness of sin after death, a topic for further discussion.

John Kearney

Meaningful Mass

I heard of a priest who was new in a parish. During the homily, he told a little about himself and his background. He asked if there were any questions. A little boy asked him, "Are you a personal friend of Jesus, or do you just know him from your job?" The priest thought this was a very profound question; one that required a lot of introspection.

I wonder if a lot of Catholics should ask themselves the same thing? Does the Mass they attend every week really mean something deeper than just a superficial habit? Does going to Mass something they do just because they always go to church on Sunday? Do they go for the right reason?

Has it become a social event, a chance to see other people and be seen? Is it to draw attention to themselves? Is it a chance to catch up on the latest gossip? Do they want to appear pious in the eyes of others? Have they lost the true meaning of their faith?

I see many people in line for communion, but very few in line for confession. They walk forward, many looking around to see who's there. They have all the excitement of people in a bank line. All these things while waiting to receive communion. They sometimes arrive late and leave early.

Have people forgotten how wonderful it is to receive the Holy Sacraments? Have the lessons learned in catechism been forgotten? The purpose of Mass seems to have been forgotten. We are there to give thanks, praise and glory to God, to humble ourselves, to reflect on our sinfulness. We are there to prepare our minds for the great communion with our Lord, and receive the Body and Blood of our Redeemer.

We are there to reflect on the great gift we have received, to think about Jesus and his great sacrifice, to give thanks for all the graces and blessings we have received. This is something we should all think about, and resolve to make Mass more meaningful.

Yvonne M. Estrada

When will we hear?

The Church is losing its influence on its Catholic brethren, and as a result, on our society. The other night a political figure, responding to criticism that the party was critical of Catholic beliefs said, "Most Catholics don't even believe in the teachings of the Church."

We are about to have a new president that may have a great impact on the Catholics in this country. It is very possible that we will see a continuing erosion of those things that we hold sacred, and given the division in our ranks about what importance these things have, we will be powerless to do anything about it.

Since the 1960s, we have seen a significant value shift in Western societies from an authority-centered society to a person-centered society. In the process, "truth" has become something that the person defines for herself —- not something that someone in authority tells us is true. The teachings of the Church have gotten caught in this shift.

Have the teachings of the Church about things like "the real presence," end of life, abortion, marriage and sex, become issues that each individual should interpret for himself? Or are they absolutes that we should continue to accept as divine truths? And does it matter?

Some of us believe it matters greatly. We need once again to become a unified body that can influence the direction of our society.

This starts with taking personal responsibility and educating ourselves on the strong basis of our beliefs. Secondly, the priests need to take responsibility in the education of our laity and to rally them in support of who we are and what we stand for. The pulpit is a powerful medium that can be used for this purpose.

Sadly, the world swirls around us, but Sunday after Sunday we leave church without the guiding strength that might be provided to us.

Pete DeLisi

Thanks to our priest

Thank you for being the priest you are. One I trusted to accept my tsunami/Mt. Vesuvius outpouring of Confession. I left no stone unturned.

As a Catholic convert I especially thank God for the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation.

During Reconciliation you gave me these gifts — of examining my actions not for self-attack but to be more helpful to others; of letting the love of God flow over me; and that God accepts me as I am.

The effects of these gifts continue to grow inside me. I know if God's love and acceptance flows over me, it also flows over everyone.

Patricia Paul

Legal clinic thanks

I needed help with some legal issues recently, and called the Pope Francis Legal Clinic operating out of the cathedral center.

We were treated with great warmth, and matters were explained clearly to us. The lawyers, who volunteer their services made sure to follow through until we had completed the whole process. They simplified my life, and took anxiety away from this foreign world of legal paper. I am most grateful.

Wendy Jose

Ecumenism exposed

In reply to letters from Carl Brodt, Rev. Basil De Pinto and Frank Nieman, (Forum, Oct. 10), I would confirm that Richard Peterson (Forum, Sept. 19), is absolutely right.

I would invite them to contact St. Michael's World Apostolate, P.O. Box 514, Bayside, NY, 11361, www.smwa.org, and ask for information on ecumenism, or search "ecumenism" on the website.

I have been to Bayside several times in the past, and have seen the sun spinning and pulsating and have taken numerous miraculous pictures. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Veronica Leuken over a period of about 20 years and gave her many messages.

Even today in Oakland, the sun sometimes comes out of the clouds and shines on me.

Also, during the pope's recent visit to Poland, I was watching the ceremony on TV and noticed part of it resembled a circus. Men were climbing over one another's shoulders, etc. It didn't look very sacred to me. I am wondering if any of the holy popes in the past would have tolerated this.

Nina D'Souza

[Editor's note: In 1986, Bishop Francis J. Mugavero of the Diocese of Brooklyn, wrote, "a thorough investigation revealed that the alleged visions of Bayside completely lacked authenticity" and "the messages and other related propaganda contain statements which, among other things, are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church." The St. Michael's World Apostolate has disputed the bishop's findings.]

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