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placeholder February 6, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Political divisions

Fred Piazza (Forum, Jan. 23) attempts to claim elitist privilege to speak on the issue of political divisions within our country due to his Jesuit education

Division, otherwise known as the two-party system, has been the source of liberty in our country since its founding.

Jan. 22, 1973, the day of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, put a price on the head of every baby waiting to be born in America. Even more, the day that our Congress decided that we citizens without our permission could pay, through our taxes, for the killing of babies in abortion, was an even greater evil.

Piazza demands we honor his opinion on the subject of abortion while at the same time he denigrates our position in this matter. Further, in his letter, he suggests restraining the freedom of the press when he states that The Voice should: "refrain from articles that deepen political divisions."

It comes down to this: Piazza shows great disrespect for individual and innocent human life, preferring Planned Parenthood's way of solving social problems which is the extermination of a life.

The citizens of these United States have spoken in the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. We believe in the intrinsic value of every human life, born and waiting to be born. Even the bible declares, chose life, then, that you and your descendants may live. We invite Piazza to choose life.

Camille Giglio, director
California Right to Life Committee Inc.
Walnut Creek

Effective health care

In thanking God for a pro-life White House and Congress, Jim Crowley (Forum, Dec. 12) describes the immediate defunding of Planned Parenthood as "a non-negotiable issue."

Yet Crowley writes only about abortion, neglecting to distinguish between it and reproductive health care services. In 2016 alone, Planned Parenthood served nearly 5 million men, women and young people, averting not only abortions, but also unplanned pregnancies.

In fact, only 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provided last year were abortion-related. Millions of clients and supporters value Planned Parenthood's primary contributions: education and reproductive health services.

Although our Catholic church maintains an anti-abortion position, we must recognize the importance of effective education and accessible reproductive health services for our families.

In support of Planned Parenthood,

Melinda Erickson

More support

Fred Piazza (Forum, Jan. 23), asks that we respect his opinion that abortion decisions be left to the woman involved. We can respect the man, but how can we respect an opinion that would not protect the life of a baby girl in her ninth month of gestation who, because a male child is preferred, is aborted?

Catholic moral teaching would preserve that girl's life. And while Catholics can and should discuss how they can support laws that protect the defenseless, they should also provide better support for those who may be distressed by past abortions.

Patti Devlin

Seamless Garment alive

Malcolm Drinkwater (Forum, Jan. 23) borrows a term from moral theology, "remote material cooperation," which is often used to justify voting for pro-abortion politicians, and he then applies the term to nuclear proliferation, also a life-threatening issue.

This is further evidence that the Seamless Garment — equating all life issues — is alive and well. However, abortion stands alone and above all other life issues and Planned Parenthood is its largest provider. Hopefully PP will soon be defunded domestically as it was recently defunded internationally.

Fred Piazza (Forum, Jan. 23), a "Jesuit-educated, committed Catholic," didn't like Pastor Walter Hoye's comments in the Jan. 9 Voice when the pastor said he hoped to see a stop to the taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood for the crimes of selling baby body parts, abortions on minors and not reporting rape.

Piazza called Planned Parenthood "a vital source of quality and comprehensive health care for millions of women" and called for abortion to be "kept legal, safe and rare." Incredibly, he then asked The Voice to "stick with matters of faith and morals."

Does anyone not believe that catechesis and the New Evangelization that we hear so much about should start in our own parishes after reading these two letters?

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

School closings

I am writing in response to the Jan. 19 announcement of the closing of five urban schools in the Diocese of Oakland. As a veteran teacher at one of the schools, St. Martin de Porres, I experienced firsthand the unmerciful way Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, current interim Superintendent Rev. Larry Young and the media handled this delicate situation.

The president of our school, Hollis Pierce-Jenkins was instructed to hand out a package from the bishop and superintendent, at 3 p.m. Jan. 19, without any prior warning to staff members, pupils and parents as to the content of the package. Inside the package was a slick, glossy brochure explaining the closure; citing salary costs of staff, low enrollment and operating expenses as the reason. Although Hollis was instructed to not say anything until 3 p.m., the media arrived before 11 a.m., hoping to interview parents and students.

The most harmful insult is the statement "we need to stop the hemorrhaging now." It goes on to state the schools closing "show no true path to flourish."

We at St. Martin de Porres are aware of decreased enrollment. However our school received a six-year accreditation on our last visit from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. I teach Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten, and currently have 26 enrolled in my class. If the base of the school is growing, shouldn't that be an indicator that the school shows a path to flourish?

The five schools now closing serve the families and children who need the Diocese of Oakland the most. We serve the African and Hispanic immigrant communities and African Americans of the neighborhood. Many of our children are being raised by a single working parent, grandparents and even great-grandparents. Some children have a parent who is incarcerated. The mission of our schools is to give these children an education that will enable them to become contributing members of our society. What is to become of them now?

The timing of the closure was most unfortunate. For many schools registration has already closed. Bishop Barber is on reserve military leave until Jan 27. Father Young has not walked the halls of our school or talked with the students and teachers. He only met our supportive and grateful parents at a meeting after the closure notice. Bishop Barber preached to us in The Catholic Voice on Jan. 9 to follow Pope Francis in his year of Mercy. Yet, we were shown none!

Maybe he should now close our church, Sacred Heart Parish, and sell the property to a high end developer. With its walking distance to BART, and location in the upcoming Temescal neighborhood, he could sell it for over a $160 million and pay off the diocese's biggest expense, the loan on the Christ the Light Cathedral!

Please keep our children, families, staff members and church in your prayers.

Kimberly Mikus

Hire teachers

It was breathtaking to read that five elementary schools in the Oakland diocese will be closing in June. On the other side of the coin many dedicated, experienced teachers will be losing their jobs.

It would behoove the neighboring cities to look into hiring these excellent teachers, many of whom live locally.

Mary McMahon

Need to communicate

Pope Francis, in Laudato Si, declared "I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home." An exciting idea — but sadly unrealistic since there is no ongoing forum for dialogue between clergy and laity exists. Communications happens via pulpits, homilies, parish bulletins, news releases, encyclicals, The Catholic Voice, Catholic Legislative Network, bishop's letters, et al. That means all information flows from hierarchy to laity. There are no ongoing interchange or questioning/clarification mechanisms.

Bishops meet to debate issues, perhaps for years, in secret. Then official positions are promulgated, omitting contending perspectives. No laity input is entertained; only acceptance and acquiescence is expected.

The art of discourse with non-clerics seems bred out of priestly life. True dialogue seems to take place only within clerical ranks. Why the reticence to embrace discussion with the laity?

How better to teach, to learn, and to bring non-Catholics to participate? Two millennia ago a teenage Jesus, sans college degree and lacking priestly robes, risked humiliation by engaging Jewish scholars in give-and-take dialogue. These rabbis were unused to be outside their comfort zone; but, to their credit, they did it.

It seems that priests have, over the centuries, adopted the stultifying mindset of the apostles after Christ's death, i.e., fearful of interchange with strangers. Maybe a return visit by the Holy Ghost would embolden our clergy to risk the hurly-burly of open-dialogue about our Faith and societal issues.

For clergy/laity dialogue to be embedded in Church culture, bishops must provide a forum, especially at the parish level. This would be historic, and might even emulate the post 'upper room' 'fire-in-the-belly' zeal of the apostles, who somehow, along the way, changed their world — and ours.

The idea of a proactive clergy seeking-out dialogue with the laity, Catholic and non, an evangelization model should not be readily dismissed. Lay people will not simply walk up to the rectory door to inquire about the Faith. Doors are effective social barriers.

The laity is ready for Pope Francis' dialogue-world. "God's Soldiers," the Jesuits, should easily embrace that challenge. It's in their nature. Fortunately, we have a Jesuit as our Oakland diocese bishop.

Our bishop should push priests out of their hierarchical comfort zone. Create such a dialogue forum. Social and print media and personal interchange can make things happen.

Get them involved, not simply as a Sunday Mass lecturer from the safety of the pulpit — that is not a forum for evangelization; Mass attendees are already Catholics.

Catholic means universal, i.e., engage all people — the converted, the nonbeliever, the agnostic and the drifted-away nominal Catholic (we have many).

Joe Moran

Priest needed

It is really sad that nearly two years after the passing of Rev. Seamus Genovese, a new pastor has not been named for Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Oakland.

Mass now seems empty and hollow.

When will the bishop finally appoint a new pastor?

Leslie Cavanaugh

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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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