OCTOBER 18, 2004





Prop. 71 – a fiscal disaster
Barbara Erickson’s coverage of the stem cell controversy was very timely (Voice, Oct. 4). This is arguably the most complex and controversial issue on the ballot.

I’m totally against Prop. 71. To begin with, it is simply too costly —$6 billion over the life of the proposal; $300 million a year. Even John Kerry has proposed only $100 million in federal expenditures.

California is faced with crushing expenses. The infrastructure of roads, transportation, etc. is crumbling. There are tremendous social problems in health care, children’s issues, pollution, etc. which could better use this kind of money. I would rather see the quality of life enhanced for the majority of us than spend it on what can only be described as a boondoggle for the medical and research industries.

The health care industry already sucks up 12 percent of our gross domestic profit, but they are always clamoring for more. An extremely emotional advertising campaign portrays scientists and parents of sick children placing all their hopes on stem cell research.

Stem cell research is already happening. We don’t need to pour billions into a for-profit economy whose demands are bottomless. I’ve always suspected that any significant progress in stem cell research would come from a private company without government welfare payments, anyway.

What happens to the enormous profits the industry may someday generate? Will they give the development money back to the taxpayers? I’d rather see the funds spent on diseases for which we may already be near curing.

Finally, I believe that there is a hidden agenda. The logical outcome of stem cell research is the harvesting of fetuses, the creation of designer babies, and preferential health care for the wealthy. Is the public so naive to believe that we’re not already halfway down the slippery slope? Do they think that we can grow enough cells in petri dishes to create fully-formed replacement organs?

It’s time for people to recover from their fear of analysis of the science and susceptibility to propaganda, and think deeply about this issue.

Brian O’Neil

Respect life outside U.S.
In response to the many articles in the Oct. 4 Catholic Voice related to embryonic stem cell research and/or the rights of the unborn, I ask: Does life end at birth? I am concerned that the pro-life movement is presented as one issue.

The recent national election debates have brought to light the importance of the war in Iraq to the upcoming election. Presently, our problems seems to be related to Iraq. The U.S. has spent $200 billion on this war, and violence there is only escalating. Having 10 percent of the U.S. population, California is paying more than $40 billion a year on national defense.

Is it moral to spend so much on war when more than 6 million people in California do not have health care insurance? Are our budget priorities reflecting our pro-life values of education, health care, and a sustainable economy?

But more importantly, we must ask what is being done in our name in Iraq. Christian communities, who have lived in Iraq for 2,000 years, are now fleeing the area. More than 15,000 Iraqi civilians have died in violence since March 2003. With memories of women giving birth in bomb shelters during the 1991 bombing of Baghdad, women who found themselves pregnant in early 2003 were flocking to hospitals to either be induced for early delivery or to abort the baby they were carrying.

Unless the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops speaks up against the U.S.-imposed violence in Iraq, U.S. Catholics will be seen as not respecting the dignity of life outside the U.S. borders.

Carmen Hartono

Rethink support for Bush
I would like to respond to Dolores Madden’s letter (Forum, Oct. 4) in regard to John Kerry. In it, she takes exception to Kerry’s receiving Holy Communion, and then mentions that George Bush is a “good, decent, honest person.”

People who value the sanctity of life do not start wars based on their own desires, but resort to such horror only as a last resort based on the undeniable facts that without such action, a greater evil will occur. George Bush did not go to war based on the facts.

Good people who believe in the holiness of life would never send soldiers in harm’s way to give their lives to a cause based on dishonest persuasion. As I write this, over 1,062 of our American soldiers have been killed.
Decent people do not have war descend on an innocent population which has seen over 26,000 of its civilians killed.

We are followers of the Prince of Peace, the one who taught us that most radical notion — to love our enemies. How does Kerry have the “nerve” to go to Communion? That is not for me to say; that’s between him and his Redeemer. But George Bush as good, decent, and honest? Think again.

Katherine Avila
San Leandro

Draft deserves debate
On Oct. 5, the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives rushed to vote on a bill that would reinstate the military draft.

The Universal National Service Act of 2003 (H.R. 163) was originally introduced by Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) well over a year ago. Until Oct. 5, this bill had not seen the light of day, nor was there any hint that it would be taken up on the House floor.

Suddenly, with exactly four weeks left before the election, the bill was brought up for a vote. Because the bill was introduced under a special rule, there was no committee discussion or vote, and only a 40-minute debate was allowed on the floor.

The military draft is a serious issue that involves the lives of young Americans, those who are serving and those who may be called upon to serve. It is an issue that deserves real debate, not political gamesmanship.

Our political leaders, beginning with President Bush and Senator Kerry, should contribute to a national dialogue by explaining how they will shape foreign and security policy to address the significant strain that the military is under. The Oct. 5 vote should mark a ratcheting up of the debate, not the end of the discussion as some politicians apparently intended.

Angela Smidt
San Rafael

Note: The Oct. 5 vote defeated the bill.

Another look at Opus Dei
Readers of the recent letter (Forum, Sept. 6) that advocated involvement with the Catholic movement Opus Dei should consider another viewpoint on this group.

When I was a student at Loyola University of Chicago (1984 to 1988), I got a first hand look at this group in action. I found Opus Dei to be more destructive than good.

I felt that the Church needed to move forward and not operate like we are all still in the 1950’s. Their illogical beliefs are mostly based on fear and mistrust that ordinary Catholics are able to make the best choices for their lives.

This elitist Catholic group would like to paint the picture that Jesus wanted people to be conservative and exclusionary. I was a progressive and free-thinking Catholic in the tradition of my Jesuit teachers, and Opus Dei followers at Loyola were dismissive of me.

The Catholic Church has a great tradition of scholarly writing that comes from all spectrums of thought. Opus Dei would like to censure (if they could) any of those on the left of their narrow view of the world.

Jesus’ life transcends the labels of conservative or liberal. I speculate Jesus lived an exceptional ordinary life of work, study, solitude, and free ranging discussion during his first 30 years of living.

His last three years represented the florescence of all his choices. Catholics need the courage to follow their own path of prayerful living and open-minded choices. I think that we can’t be afraid of the more intimate conversation that God wants with us.

Unfortunately, Opus Dei is growing in the United States and Canada because too many would rather have the simplistic unthinking way of living out their faith in the world.

Andrew M. Kloak

Eucharistic spirituality
During this year of the Eucharist, some may be seeking ways to more firmly ground their spirituality on Eucharistic principles. The Pauline family (Pauline Books, Alba House Publications) has the Eucharistic Lord at its core.

Daily Mass as well as daily Eucharistic visits marks the life of its priests, Brothers, and Sisters. This same spirituality is the foundation of the secular institutes which are also a part of the Family.

Vatican II describes secular institutes in this way: “Secular Institutes, although not religious institutes, at the same time involve true and full profession of the evangelical counsels in the world, recognized by the Church. This profession confers a consecration on people living in the world.”

Pope Paul VI on the 25th anniversary of the decree establishing secular institutes (Feb. 2, 1972) noted that if we ask ourselves what has been the soul of every secular institute and has inspired its birth and development, we must answer that it has been a deep love of God and neighbor through the Church as well as a longing to be a transforming presence in the world in order to mold, perfect and sanctify it by sharing the Good News of God’s love for all people through consecrating one’s life to the evangelical councils.

The Holy Family Institute (part of the Paulines) is the only secular institute that is Church-sanctioned for married or widowed individuals. I recently attended a retreat for this group. It is alive and vibrant with members ranging from young married to widows in their 70’s. There were also many energetic children and teens in attendance.

The Pauline family also has institutes for single men and women. For information regarding the Holy Family Institute see or call 330-533-5503. These institutes may be a way to help you live your life in a more Eucharistic manner during this year of the Eucharist.

A. Zegura
Via e-mail

Let deaf ‘hear’ the good news
I didn’t realize how particularly blessed we were in the Oakland Diocese to have Mass celebrated or interpreted in American Sign Language (ASL) every Sunday at St. Joseph’s Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing until my son, who is profoundly deaf from birth, and I were planning to travel one Sunday to a neighboring diocese and found there were no interpreted Masses offered there for those who rely upon ASL as their primary mode of communication.

It is doubly saddening then to learn that our diocese in its budget cuts for 2005 has been forced to reduce funding for SJCD by 50 percent.

This small, poor community, already struggling to supplement the shortfall of the present diocesan funding, must now redouble its fundraising efforts in order to continue weekly Masses and religious education for deaf children and adults in our community. We are prepared to make a valiant effort, but it will be an extremely great challenge.

When our Lord walked among us he made the deaf to hear and to the poor he preached the Good News [Luke 7:22]. It occurs to me that there may be many Voice readers who would be only too willing to aid in perpetuating that same miracle today by donating to SJCD that the deaf may continue to “hear” the Gospel in the coming year.

The offices for St. Joseph’s Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are located at 25580 Campus Drive, Hayward, CA 94542.

Diane Johnson

The most fundamental issue
Oct. 3 was Respect Life Sunday. One month from then, voters will elect our leaders for the highest government offices in the land.

Sadly many of our pastors in Oakland remain silent in the face of the serious questions that confront us as Catholic voters. Sometimes we hear confusing and contradictory messages from the pulpit. Our Pope, John Paul II, has instructed us to be informed Catholics. In his 1988 exhortation to families, “Christifidelis Laici”, the Pope declared:

“The inviolability of the person, which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination . . .”

The human person’s right to life from the moment of conception is his most fundamental God-given right. Other human rights and societal issues about housing, right to work, social welfare, morality of capital punishment and just reasons of war are secondary to the fundamental right to be born.

In their 1989 Resolution on Abortion, the U.S. bishops echoed the Holy Father’s teaching: “For us abortion is of overriding concern because it negates two of our most fundamental moral imperatives: respect for innocent life, and preferential concern for the weak and defenseless.”

For a thoughtful comparison of the presidential candidates’ positions on our fundamental right to life, I implore our Catholic brothers and sisters to read the following website link:

For the candidates’ position on moral and social issues critical to our society’s well-being, please review the following website links: Chapter.aspx?ID=5 and

Phil Sevilla

He who is without sin…
Regarding Joe Trevor’s letter (Forum, Oct. 4), I must be highly unclear on the concept, because I don’t understand why U.S. Senator John Kerry is required to schedule a visit with Pope John Paul II just because Kerry is a “practicing” Catholic.

I stopped practicing Catholicism several years ago because I realized that I had become so good at it that I did not need to practice any longer. I think that the following applies to this situation: I believe that a man called Jesus of Nazareth admonished a crowd by saying, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Bob Allan

Stop baby-killings
With the election day so close, I think it’s time for The Voice to run another article outlining the abortion statistics in the United States. I know the number is around 1 million babies aborted in the U.S. annually. How can we even consider electing a pro-abortion candidate?

I keep hearing Kerry supportors cry about the casualties in Iraq and health care issues. Whether Kerry can make those problems better or not is an unknown. How do the numbers of casualties in Iraq or U.S. people without adequate health care compare to the number of babies killed every year?

The one fact we do know is that Kerry will continue to support abortion and these killings of God’s miracles. The war in Iraq will eventually stop. Who is going to stop the baby-killing?

Karen Reedy
Via e-mail


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