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placeholder April 3, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Christian duty

The immigrant community is facing difficult times. As Christians, we all need to look at Jesus, reflect on His message and what he has asked us to do.

Pope Francis has insisted in calling us to reach out to those brothers and sisters in the peripheries. If you say no, then think of these thousands or even millions of immigrants that are escaping violence, poverty, oppression or persecution. Would you deport them?

They saw America as the Promised Land, so they are/were seeking a better future for them or love ones. America is where they can fulfill the American dream. As a Christian do not let the American dream become a nightmare for them.

Support immigration reform in any way you can, this is our Christian duty.

Rev. Ismael Gutierrez
St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Concord





Unfair criticism

I am a proponent of public education. I am also someone who had 12 years of Catholic education. A writer (Forum, March 6), wrote "Violence, disrespect for authority, drugs and foolish sex are common in public schools, neither Christ nor morality are promoted there. You can't expect a good outcome under such conditions."

These things are not only in public schools, they can happen anywhere. Drugs are prevalent in all schools, public and private.

My daughter is a public school educator and she promotes good morals in all aspects of educating her students in a safe environment. Life lessons are taught that will enrich a student throughout his or her lifetime.

To Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, I say, parents are the primary educators of their children's spiritual life. Neither the school, nor the building, can instill faith unless it first begins at home.

To suggest that public school students aren't faithful, respectful citizens is incorrect and uncalled for, and is unfair to them and to their families.

A blanket statement criticizing public education and students attending public schools is insensitive and totally incorrect.

Mary Morrissette
Concord





We are better

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, in his column (Voice, March 6) quotes and affirms the Ash Wednesday Statement on Immigration from the California Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bishops urge us to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable and excluded in our society, namely the refugees, the immigrants and the migrants, even those who are undocumented. They are being unjustly targeted and vilified by the current administration as scapegoats for all the ills of our nation: crime, unemployment, problems in the economy, lack of jobs, moral decay.

This is eerily reminiscent of Hitler's scapegoating the Jews for all the ills of pre-war Germany. The bishops ask us to do all in our power to ease the climate of fear that is being perpetrated by President Trump in threatening mass deportations and the break-up of families and communities. They point out that our current immigration system is flawed and must be reformed. This problem has been with us for more than 30 years and various administrations of both parties have proposed solutions, but have been thwarted by Congress, which prefers to do nothing and "kick the can down the road."

The Trump administration's heavy handed response does absolutely nothing to solve the problem, but promotes fear and makes true dialogue impossible.

This is Congress' problem and requires their courageous, compassionate action. The bishops ask us to welcome and accompany those who are afraid and uncertain. We must act in solidarity with them to obtain for them the same human hopes and desires that we all value and treasure.

In one of the darkest days in US history President Franklin Roosevelt refused to grant asylum to 900 Jewish refugees on the German steamship, St. Louis, in the late 1930s. Those refugees were returned to Nazi Germany and most died in Auschwitz. We cannot afford a similar tragedy in our times. We are better than that.

Dennis Wasco
Clayton





Relativist Luther

With all of the strange things emanating from the Vatican these days, it is no surprise to see that a stamp commemorating Martin Luther is in the works. Even the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity calls him a "witness to the Gospel."

However, Luther is the progenitor of the relativists in our culture today because of his belief in individual conscience, as opposed to conscience formation based on Magisterial teaching. The dissenters to Humanae Vitae and today's promoters of communion for divorced and (non-annulled) remarried can be traced to Luther.

The conscience that tells its owner that contraception and adultery are OK has not been Magisterially-formed. That individual sees self as the authority.

The notion that Luther's intention was to reform abuses within the Church and to return to "Basic Christianity" conflicts with the fact that his goal was to promote a new understanding of Scripture — sola scriptura — namely individual interpretation. This is the root of modern individualism, known today as "The Spirit of Vatican II."

Luther also denied that we fall from grace through mortal sin and that we can grow in sanctification through that spiritual help we call Grace. If you can excuse away sin, there is no need for Grace. Luther's self-indulgence produced much more damage to himself and the Church than the problems of indulgences and "bad popes."

All of the saints accepted the teaching authority of the Church, which G.K. Chesterton called the "democracy of the dead" because of its long history. Thomas More and others died defending the Magisterium. Luther died defending individual conscience, and this should not be commemorated with a stamp.

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek





Facts of life

To speak about pro-life issues, it seems to me that we should first begin with the facts of life, then address the purpose and meaning of life. The fact that a woman is a human being with human rights cannot be dismissed. It is demeaning to even consider that a woman can be raped and forced to bring a baby into the world. I would not even speak about a farm animal that way, much less a human being.

Our Lord put us on this planet with many purposes including the building of the City of God. Prior to modern health care, 30 percent of pregnancies ended in the death of the mother and/or child. The Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare" is a big step toward the protection of life. To repeal or replace this law would put countless lives at risk. Instead we must repair the ACA to make it work even better to defend life.

And, we must remember that only love can give life any meaning. Our current president seems to be full of hatred toward anyone that disagrees with him. But I find hope in seeing people stand to defend the undocumented from deportation, the immigrant from unwelcoming bureaucracy and the refugee from violence.

It is not only the unborn that need protection. We must also stand against the Trump administration to defend the undocumented, the underinsured and the unwelcomed.

Carmen Hartono
Oakland





Critical moment

One of the most important issues that propelled Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016 was his promise to appoint a conservative justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

President Trump kept his promise. Judge Neil Gorsuch, a widely acclaimed and accomplished judge from the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver was nominated by Trump. Gorsuch is facing what is expected to be an acrimonious hearing before Congress, despite having been approved by unanimous vote in 2016 to the federal appeals court. He ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby's right to opt out of Obamacare's mandated coverage of abortifacients because of the religious convictions of the Green family, which owns the company. He also ruled favorably on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which also refused to participate in the abortifacient and contraception mandate.

In his book, "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia," Gorsuch wrote, "All human beings are intrinsically valuable … and the intentional taking of a human by private persons is always wrong."

I believe Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court is an answer to the prayers of millions of Catholics and Evangelical Christians who prayed to God during the presidential election and understood the clear threat to our religious liberties. I also believe we need to continue to pray for Gorsuch as he endures the constant attacks from liberal members of Congress that hate his stand for life and liberty.

Jim Crowley
Walnut Creek





Parishes in politics

I am getting very tired of parishes that get into politics by their "bumper sticker" slogans, or in their case, banner sloganism or bulletin comments. Two examples:

St. Columba's outside banner that said, "Black Lives Matter."

To this sentiment, yes, Black lives matter, but so do all lives — the lives of the unborn, the lives of policemen and fire fighters, the lives of politicians, and so on. A banner bearing the name of a violent political group is not something that encourages the thought that all lives matter.

Secondly, in a recent bulletin from St. Paul's in San Pablo, there was an item thanking the city of San Pablo for becoming a sanctuary city. Sanctuary cities are a hot-button political issue, and should not be promoted, primarily because it involves the harboring of people who are here in our country illegally. Why are we encouraging illegal immigration? The answer is, we should encourage legal immigration.

My stance does not indicate that I want black people to die unjustly. It is true that black people are often targeted unjustly, and we need to be aware of that, sensitive to it and try to make sure we're being just.

And my stance on our immigration situation doesn't mean we should treat illegal immigrants inhumanely, either. In fact, we should make certain that all of these people get fair treatment, and sometimes in extenuating circumstances, we should go out of our way to see to it that we don't break up families.

But, as any other country in the world, our borders are sovereign, and we should request that the rest of the world honor those borders. It's one thing to work inside the system and change the way our immigration system works, it's another to work outside of it and become, by definition, a criminal.

Notice how the pro-marijuana folks are getting more done by working within the system. Much as I don't believe marijuana needs to be legal, I can see that they're working through it the right way. Sanctuary cities status makes the city less safe.

David Thayer
Hercules

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