AUGUST 9, 2004





Moral heretics
In “News in Brief” (Voice, July 5), the item “Kerry: lift restrictions on stem cell research” seems to support belief in stem cell research and the harvesting of cells from early embryos at the Gastrula stage of development.

Does The Catholic Voice support stem cell harvesting from human embryos? That is the planned death of the embryo – and the mortal sin of homicide.

What is it with you at The Voice? Are you moral heretics? It seems so!
Embryonic stem cell research is not controversial among practicing Catholics; therefore, do not say that it is. I think that it is time to fire some of you lay people employed by the diocese.

Needless to say, I will pray for you as I do for myself.

John C. Morris, M.D.

Give leadership to the Church
I am writing you this letter with a sad, sad heart. I am a simple woman, a Catholic, who is so bewildered and hurt by the latest scandal out of Austria.

Who is taking a stand for our Church and our God? Who is protecting the faithful and the Eucharist and the gifts that God has given us? We can say that the Spirit is always with us, and He is, but He needs us to act. Who is keeping our seminaries as places of holy formation?

One only has to go on line to find documented cases of the same sex play in our own seminaries and to find testimony to the homosexual subculture that prevails. Why the hesitancy of leadership? It cannot be fear of losing membership, for are those against whom the bishops would speak truly contributing to the health of the Body?

Please, bishops, be our shepherds, please protect us from those who are destroying the Church we love and who add insult upon injury to our God and to his people.

I look to you for protection…and yet, more importantly, I would guess that God is looking to you for love and service and safeguarding of His treasures to us.

It is my deepest hope that you can tell me that our seminaries are holy places without homosexual activity…and that a homosexual subculture does not prevail.

Cici Leigh

Invalid comparison
Several letters have been written to the Forum recently comparing abortion and the death penalty. A proper perspective needs to be given to this comparison.

Approximately 4,500 abortions occur every day in this country, or one abortion out of every three pregnancies. One day of abortions totals more than the entire loss of life in the 9/11 tragedy. Regardless of one’s view of the death penalty, the comparison is simply out of balance based on the numbers alone.

Our Holy Father has stated that abortion is the greatest civil rights issue of our times. Without life, all other issues are mute.

M. J. McLauchlin

Consider all issues
Some bishops, clergy and Catholic leaders advising Catholics not to vote or give Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights are hypocrites. I do not hear them say one word against the Republican Catholic politicians who speak and vote against the insurance for millions of uninsured who will have pain and suffering and health problems that lead to an early death.

These same Catholic politicians vote against a real affordable drug bill for seniors, a fair minimum wage for those who work so that these politicians can give a big tax cut to the very wealthy.

How would all these wealthy be successful without the people who do the producing — plumbers, electricians, manufacturing workers, farm laborers, truck drivers, etc. and all the skilled workers, all the teachers?

Charles E. Furphy

No clear-cut moral choice
Why is it that our society has so much trouble with sex, identity, behavior, etc.? Why do we find voters either not voting or voting unwisely? Why does religion have so little place in the life of our people? Can it be that we do not discuss these issues in a kind and honest way?

In order to discuss issues we need to be aware of the realities we live with. In this voting season, do we know all that the Republican and Democratic parties stand for? Do we question what their platforms and histories say? It has become almost impossible to be objective in our present climate.

The attempt by one of the political parties to use churches to endorse their candidates has gone over the line. Millions of dollars are spent on mailings that we all receive from both parties and throw in the garbage. Are we to be convinced by the propaganda campaigns now raging?

Will we look at each other and say: “That is a bad Catholic because they have a Democratic bumper sticker”? Will we say there is a good Catholic because their bumper sticker says, “We vote pro-life”?

I would hope that Catholics are aware of the national bishops’ vote in Denver that said they would not issue a national statement about sin or the reception of Holy Communion conditioned on the party you support. That vote was 183 to 6.

This should reassure Catholics that they still have the freedom of individual conscience to vote for what they perceive to be the lesser of two evils. There is not a clear-cut moral choice in this election, as there never has been in the past.

We need to work hard at ridding ourselves of prejudice and judgmentalism. God has given us all freedom and we need to use it prayerfully and wisely.

Terry Snider
Via email

A sad good-bye
I was deeply saddened to see the closure of St. Paschal Baylon School this year, although I do understand the reasons for its closure. I served as principal of St. Paschal’s from 1968 to 1978, when there was a waiting list for every grade, and our WASC evaluation deemed St. Paschal’s a lighthouse school due to its curriculum, liturgy and moral education programs.

Monsignor Augustine Quinan and Adrian Dominican Sister Vicentia vested great time and energy building this school of excellence. What continued to make this school strong was the community of priests, dedicated teachers, hard-working parents, and wonderful multi-ethnic students working together as a family.

As the school closes, I thank God for all of them and for the blessings received serving in this parish for 10 years. I pray that the education and values the students were taught will live on in their hearts and actions.

Patricia Burgess Hyde
Walnut Creek

Praise instead of judgement
I was offended by Harold Verdun’s criticism (Forum, June 21) of this year’s graduates and feel that he missed the point of the article.

These young men and women have accomplished something that not everyone has the tenacity or the opportunity to do: they have graduated from high school and are college-bound. They have shown themselves to be thinking, caring individuals who will be solid citizens in the Church and the world of tomorrow, and I, for one, have every confidence in their potential as future leaders.

Shame on you, Mr. Verdun, for casting a cloud on the happiness and pride of these graduates and their families.

Marjorie Melendez

Be careful how you read
I am very puzzled why “The Da Vinci Code” would be on the summer reading list for students at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward. There are well-documented articles about the misrepresentation of the Catholic faith and the plethora of misinformation that the book contains.

Perhaps the plan is to use this reading as an opportunity to teach the students critical thinking — look at the generalizations and misinformation contained and to sort fact from fiction, and that this is the plan of action once the students return to school. This is my hope. My niece, one of the Moreau students, on her own was not able to see the misinformation. Although I stressed with her that the work is fiction, she takes what she likes and holds it as truth. Fiction can be powerful…especially if read with discrimination.

Name Withheld Upon Request

Value of dialog
In “Beyond Belief,” Elaine Pagels writes about the early Christians being tortured and killed in Smyrna. She then notes that “in Rome other . . . Christians were being persecuted–and not by Roman magistrates but, worse, by their fellow Christians . . .”

Today, of course, we are much more civilized. Christians who are members of Voice of the Faithful aren’t burned at the stake; they are merely suppressed. We’re told that the truth will make us free; the problem is that unless we are free to exchange ideas and vent disagreements, it’s hard to determine what the truth is.

Suppression doesn’t protect the truth; it simply stifles knowledge and discovery. It’s a blunt way of rejecting the Holy Spirit.

Thomas F. Mader
Walnut Creek

Cathedral concern reiterated
In response to Father Ron Schmit’s letter (Forum, June 21), “Cathedral for the 21st Century,” a response to my letter of June 7, I did not ask “Who is Church?” or “What is Church?” I’d also like to clarify that I do not fear the modern world, nor am I rejecting the time in which I live. These arguments are simply red herrings.

My concern is that the current cathedral design denies who we are as Catholics and what we believe. Talk of no cross on this building and wanting not to look like a “hierarchical church” only bolsters my point. What’s next? What else can we do away with?

I’ve yet to have one person explain to me how anyone will know that this is a Catholic church by looking at the outside of this cathedral. This is quite a simple question. It doesn’t involve a lengthy reply on the history of “Church.”

If somebody’s got to read a sign posted outside to know that it’s Catholic, then I think you have failed. Heaven help us if you’re taking the same approach with the inside!

J. Hallett

Unsubstantiated charges
I was quite surprised to see a letter from Maureen Scagliotti (Forum, July 5) that lambasted Voice of The Faithful with unsubstantiated charges of causing divisiveness, using unprofessional and un-Christian tactics, attacking her unnamed pastor (in an unnamed parish outside the Diocese of Oakland), etc. If all of this is true, what is her reluctance to give us the specifics in support of her claims?

Legitimate criticism of any organization is worthy of reporting. However, Ms. Scagliotti did a masterful job of vilification without any supporting facts, names, locations, etc. I was taught in my Catholic education that demeaning the good name of a person (or persons) without cause was a sinful act against charity. Has that changed?

This kind of letter is unworthy of Catholic Voice readership and a surprise to see in a Catholic publication.

Jim McCrea

Both are “works of God”
As a first year student in the School For Pastoral Ministry in the Oakland Diocese, I feel challenged to get to know more of the faithful, and not just those in my parish. With this in mind, I attended two very different events over a three-day period.

The first was the Solemn Mass for the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, at St. Isidore Church in Danville, on June 26, with Bishop Vigneron celebrating. I didn’t know much about St. Josemaria nor could I find out much about Opus Dei. One of the points I heard Bishop Vigneron make in his homily was that “We are all called to do the work of God.”

I have not been able to find out what Opus Dei considers “the work of God.”
I attended my first Voice of the Faithful meeting on June 28. I was eager to hear what the panel of well-known and well-respected priests had to report on the work that our diocese was doing and is continuing to do in dealing with the victims of sexual abuse as well as the perpetrators. I found the priests respectful, empathetic and open to questions.

The moderator asked for a few people to introduce themselves and say why they were there. The church was filled almost to capacity, but there was time for only a few to speak.

One person had not been in a church since a priest sexually abused him many years ago, while another had been raped repeatedly over several years and was working in her home diocese to help other victims. Both said they were thankful to be there.

I wonder how many more people could have begun or continued in the healing process had they known about the meeting. Was not this gathering doing “the work of God?” I am deeply saddened that our bishop has little understanding of the “work of God” that VOTF accomplishes.

Sue Walsh

Silence is consent
Catholic Democrats and Republicans need to work within their parties as agents for change. We cannot be silent on issues of faith, morality, and justice for the poor and defenseless.

Silence is consent.

One of the political issue in the spotlight at the moment is President
Bush’s approval of the ban on Partial Birth Abortion. Will Catholic Democrats stand up to their party leaders and openly applaud President Bush’s action on this bill?

It will take courage for Catholic Democrats to show their solidarity with the President on this issue. It will take even more courage for Catholic Democrats to criticize their own Democratic representatives (especially Barbara Boxer) who fought so hard to deny thousands of children the right to life.

Do Catholic Democrats have that courage? Remember: Silence is consent.

Mike McDermott

Vegetarian Society
I’m interested in starting a Catholic Vegetarian Society for the Diocese of Oakland and want to know if others would be interested in this.
If this is something that interests you, please email me at

Jennifer Walker


Want to write?
Contributions to Reader’s Forum should be limited to 250 words.
Letters must be signed and must include the writer’s address and phone number for verification purposes. All letters are subject to editing.
Mail your letter to:
The Catholic Voice 3014 Lakeshore Ave.
Oakland, CA 94610.
Fax: (510) 893-4734.
Our e-mail address is:
Opinions expressed in letters to Reader's Forum are the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Catholic Voice or the Oakland Diocese.
Official newspaper of the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Oakland, California encompassing all of
Alameda &
Contra Costa counties.