FEBRUARY 21, 2005





Prejudicial use of words
It was distressing to read that a priest we have known and respected for many years, Father George Crespin, has been accused of sexual abuse, supposedly occurring many years ago.

While he vigorously denied the allegations, claiming that the accuser was doing it solely to get money from the diocese, our bishop was reported to have described the charges as “credible.”

Our Webster's dictionary defines “credible” as “that which can be believed; believable; reliable.” Our understanding is that the American bishops have mandated the use of the world “credible” in such circumstances, but we feel the word is prejudicial to the accused in these “he said/he said” conflicts.
How can the charges be “believable” or “reliable” before the truth of the matter has been determined?

In the meantime, we hope and pray that Father Crespin's good name will be restored.

Jerry and Claudia Johnson

In praise of Hanna Boys Center
My son Ryan graduated from Hanna Boys Center (Voice, Jan. 24) with honors on June 13, 2003 and transitioned into a public high school. The devoted hard work of Father John Crews and the Hanna staff with troubled young teens has turned out another young adult who is an asset to his community.

Ryan really experienced some tough times in his life. I remember when he had no friends, no self-esteem and a D/F grade average. His future looked dark. We were at a point where we had exhausted all our options. Then we found Hanna Boys Center. It was our last hope.

Hanna's program was demanding, but Ryan never gave up, no matter how difficult it was. His experiences and challenges there taught him to be self-reliant and honest. He regained his self-esteem from participating in the athletic program, from earning numerous awards, and from his paying job in the maintenance department. He received the drama award at Hanna graduation, and he just got the highest grade in his drama class semester final at Piner High.

Ryan's D's and F's were traded in for Honor Roll certificates while at Hanna and continues as he prepares to graduate from high school in the Class of 2005.
Prior to Hanna, Ryan was never part of a team. His participation in the Hanna tennis, wrestling and basketball programs gave him a chance to be part of the team. He was not the most athletically skilled kid, but he always gave maximum effort. The coaches told me that's why he made the cut over more skilled kids.

The coaches were not just concerned about winning - they were also concerned about turning kids into “winners in their hearts” whether they scored or not. Ryan didn't score a basket often, but when he did, I remember the entire audience coming to their feet and cheering him on.

He also learned woodworking and machine safety that helped him land a job at Animal Lovers in Sebastopol where he manufacturers natural wood toys for pets.
As a family, we were required to participate in the Hanna program - weekly counseling meetings, Sunday visits, church, our son's sports events and plays, parents meetings, and award ceremonies. At times it seemed difficult. Getting time off work, making the commute, giving up leisure time, but in the end I can see it was all worth it.

The Hanna program guided my son into an outstanding young man. I am so proud of him.

Thank you, Hanna, from the bottom of my heart.

Michael McPherson
Via e-mail

A man of faith and fidelity
The Voice ran an obituary in its Jan. 24 issue on Christian Brother Harry Morgan who died last month. Brother Harry was a friend not only to me but to many. At his funeral pins were worn that said “I'm just crazy about Harry.” Although the second half of this refrain was missing from the pin, the reality is that each and every one of us touched by Brother Harry's life felt that he was, in turn, crazy about us.

That was one of his engage people on a personal and spiritual level and thus help those who came in contact with him to reach their potential. I was blessed with the privilege of spending time with Brother before his death and want to share with others the gift of some of his reflections.

Harry never feared death; rather he welcomed it. And through the grace of God and the assistance of Hospice, he died as he lived: present to each person who visited, deeply committed to his vocation as a Christian Brother and to his God.
As we sat together, Harry would come out with some one-liner gems that attest to his great faith in God. He stated:“ Mass is important.” This from a man who went to daily Mass since 6th grade when Sister gave students who attended Mass during Lent stars after their name. Harry got the stars ... and he kept going, stars or no stars!

He also stated: “Mary is important” and “the Word is important.” He had decided that his plan to study the exegesis of the Bible was not really necessary: “The Word is alive and speaks to us...that's all we need.”

Harry was also a man who clung to his vocation. His early years in the Brothers were troubled years. He had a drinking problem and at one time was asked to leave the Brothers. But Harry knew that being a Brother was his way to salvation and he did not leave. In time he opened a treatment home in San Francisco for those dealing with drug or alcohol abuse. By working with these men Harry became involved with AA and found sobriety. By overcoming his own demon he helped numerous others to do likewise.

Anyone who attended his funeral at Corpus Christi Church in San Francisco had no doubt that Harry was a special man -- the church was packed with standing room only.

I am certain that Brother Harry is still “crazy” about each of us here, praying for us, and encouraging us to reflect upon what truly is important this Lenten season. He was a special friend.

Lulu Linebarger
Via e-mail

Hijacking Social Security
The anti-Social Security blitz is on. President George W. Bush, in full campaign mode, is determined to repeat the phrase, “flat broke,” until it is etched in our hyperbole-weary brains.

In truth, it is Mr. Bush's vision of American society that is bankrupt. He encourages generational warfare by telling elders “not to worry” while simultaneously telling middle-agers to “worry a lot.” His reckless words threaten to fracture the community of trust that is at the heart of the Social Security compact; he would “save” the system by destroying it.

Social Security is a government program of, for, and by the common people of this nation. It was never intended to be a “retirement” program. It is a program to protect the baseline economic dignity of average Americans from life's most desperate circumstances.

If Mr. Bush wants to push through his own, new program, separate and apart from Social Security, he should be honest about it. But he must not be permitted to hijack the Social Security System by privatizing it. Social Security will continue to need modifications in the future, but privatization does not qualify as a modification.

James Brennan
Walnut Creek

Hysteria over reason
John K. C. Chen's letter (Truth vs. Propaganda, Jan 10) and Aaron Weinberg's letter (Similarities with Nazis, Jan 24) are in poor taste. The Catholic Voice should not be a propaganda organ for the “Hate President Bush” crowd. There are numerous more appropriate venues.

Comparing President Bush and conservatives like myself to Mao and fascism is over the top. If Chen and Weinberg had their way, Saddam Hussein would still be in Kuwait rather than in prison and 8 million Iraqi citizens would not have voted. Also, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban would be operating freely in Afghanistan rather than being on the run.

I do, however, appreciate their letters. I have made copies and forwarded them to friends and relatives in the Red States as a Bay Area example of hysteria trumping reason.

Earl W. Rupp
Pleasant Hill

Evasive euphemism
Misrepresenting Sharon Arata's Jan. 24 letter, Stan Coppock falsely accuses her of "abuse of logic" and "guile," etc. (Forum, Feb 7). Those are his methods, not hers.

Abortion (unmentioned by Coppock, but the focus of Mrs. Arata's letter) isn't merely "something she disapproves of." As she stated so clearly, it's the Church's unalterable teaching which applies: "abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes," and "the inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislators (Catechism, nn. 2270, 2322,2323)."

As she further said, abortionists (i.e., for-profit murderers of unborn children) don't deserve respect as "physicians." They systematically violate the Hippocratic Oath and professional medicine's prime directive: "First do no harm."

I noticed additionally that the Voice's report on hugely well-attended Walk for Life events in Washington and San Francisco - relegated to page 8 of the Feb. 7 issue - referred gratuitously to counter-demonstrating pro-abortion extremists as "pro-choice." That term, manufactured by abortion profiteers and equivocating "feminists," is a fiendishly evasive euphemism for a diabolical evil.

As an analogue, suppose that 19th and then 20th century rationalists who claimed they wouldn't own slaves or commit genocide themselves, but who endorsed an alleged "right" of others to own or exterminate human beings deemed inferior or inconvenient, had gotten away with calling themselves "pro-choice." At best, they were enablers.

As Mrs. Arata said, semantic maneuvers "always accompany destructive social and moral re-engineering schemes" - mayhem the "Catholic Voice" should not itself be subtly helping enable.

Camille Giglio, Director
Calif. Right to Life Committee, Inc.

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