DECEMBER 13, 2004





No seeker of peace
Reading the tribute to Yasser Arafat in the Nov. 22 Voice, I am left with the sense of his being a “seeker of peace.” I was troubled by this as it contradicts my memory of Arafat as a terrorist, one who intentionally targeted and killed civilians.

The article appears to overlook Arafat’s extensive record of violence against civilians. It broadly asserts that the press is wrong but fails to identify a single case of media exaggeration or inaccuracy. It offers opinions, quotes from persons whose “recollections” of Arafat are essentially positive but do not address this man’s critical flaw, the murder of innocents.

In 1972, PLO terrorists forever transformed the Olympics by kidnapping athletes and killing them. In 1993, at Oslo, Arafat renounced violence and subsequently won the Nobel Prize. But then, in August 2000 and January 2001, he twice walked away from White House-sponsored peace talks, resumed violence and allowed the Intifada to take over 1,000 innocent civilian lives through suicide bombings.

While some might minimize these acts as “weaknesses,” omitting them from any retrospective of Arafat’s life provides a disservice to the readers and treads on the memories of his victims.

Thomas J. Garvey

Grave publishing error
The recent article extolling the virtues of the now (finally) deceased Yasser Arafat has placed the Catholic Voice at a new low. How such a “holy” publication can merely gloss over the monstrous deeds of this demon is beyond me.

He was the father of modern terrorism, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Jews (and Palestinians). Who can forget the ‘72 Olympics massacre?

My mother often told me, “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.” In that light, the Voice article at the very least should not have been published.

Robert Hespen

Anti-Semitic stance
The front page article of the Nov. 22 Voice is the latest example of this rag’s deplorable anti-Semitic stance that has been evident for many years. Arafat praised as a peacemaker? The two Christian Brothers and you, by running this trash, conveniently overlook his more than 25-year role as a mass murderer of helpless Jews.

Anti-Semitism has been prevalent in the Church ever since Aquinas. I had thought we might get past this regretable part of Church history. But we can’t. Not with anti-Semites like you fanning the flames of religious intolerance.

Bob Villarreal

False information
After reading the Nov. 22 Voice article regarding the two Christian Brothers’ opinion that Yasser Arafat was a “seeker of peace,” I cannot decide whether “naive” or “uninformed” is the better adjective to describe the Brothers.

Two of the three statements in the first paragraph were provably false. If Arafat was truly in search of a peaceful end to the Palestinian conflict, he would have signed the agreement with Israel’s Prime Minister Barak, an agreement that would have, among other things, returned 95 percent of the land seized by Israel. (Source: Dennis Ross, envoy to the Middle East under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.)

Secondly, if Arafat “cared about the welfare of his people,” he would have used all Palestinian Authority funds to improve their lot. Arafat and his wife skimmed millions of PLA dollars for their private use. The French government has been investigating this embezzlement for over a year.

I agree that Arafat did “hold the Palestinians together.” He did it through pure hatred of Israelis. How many times did he condemn suicide bombings of Israeli citizens? I am unaware of a single such condemnation.

David W. Donovan
San Leandro

Delusional Brothers
Apparently the two Christian Brothers in Moraga are not aware that Arafat is the father of modern terrorists. He was responsible for the death of thousands, lied to the West while preaching terrorism to his people, and took American aid money and stashed it away in secret bank accounts for his personal use while his people lived in squalor. That’s love for his people?

Arafat’s Fatah terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He was the most frequent visitor to the Clinton White House, killed a U.S. ambassador when President Nixon did not release Sirhan Sirhan, fostered suicide bombers, orchestrated Palestinian hijacking of airplanes. Need I continue?

Arafat was the only person to visit the Pope wearing his gun. He was two-faced: one of conciliation to the West and the two Brothers, and the other of evil, urging his people to continue killings, especially Jews.

If the Brothers view Arafat as “a seeker of peace,” they are just as naïve and ignorant of the facts as that committee that gave him the Nobel Peace award.

Personally, I am delighted that there is one less terrorist in this world.

Wanda Antonelli
Castro Valley

Social Justice in motion
On Oct. 30 at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Berkeley, Carlos Mauricio, former Salvadoran professor and torture survivor, spoke of his vision to caravan across country from the Bay Area to Ft. Benning Georgia, for the annual vigil commemorating the deaths of the thousands killed at the hands of the graduates of the School of the Americas.

This school on the U.S. Army base and funded by our tax dollars has been training Latin American troops for years in methods of subduing their fellow countrymen. Most current students are coming from Mexico and Colombia. (

On Nov. 6 Carlos and a small band of travelers left Mission Dolores in San Francisco for a 12-day trip to Georgia. They were living the words of their beloved Archbishop Romero, “Those with a voice, must speak for the voiceless.”

They met, ate, and shared their stories and vision of justice with hundreds in churches and schools along the way. It was the first year for the trip, there were literal and figurative bumps in the road, but it was a great success. Carlos was overwhelmed by the welcome they received.

An untold part of the story is that the parishioners of Christ the King Parish in Pleasant Hill sponsored the Veterans for Peace Bus that safely carried Carlos Mauricio and his cohorts from Oakland/San Francisco to Ft.
Benning Georgia and back. They quietly gave the donation to rent the bus.
Without their generosity the trip would not have happened. Others have been generously donating to help cover the cost of the driver. So, on behalf of those many hundreds touched by the caravan, thank you.

Bob Nixon
School of the Americas Watch - East Bay

Wise counsel
Thanks to Julie McCarthy for her column, “Knitting is one of the ways to be in the presence of God” (Voice, Nov. 22).

Archbishop Anthony Bloom’s advice to the woman who was frustrated in prayer to “knit before the face of God” was wise counsel indeed! In the same issue was a wonderful article on Centering Prayer by Barbara Erickson.

I find it easier in the warm weather to sit in my garden and practice centering prayer, but in the colder months, my centering prayer time is also knitting time and I find the two quite complementary.

Often I have turned to prayer by picking up my knitting needles or a crochet hook. The cares and worries of the day melt in my hands as I become more aware of the presence of God in simplicity and silence. If I am making a gift for someone, the love, prayers and intentions are stitched right into the gift and the warmth of the project on my lap is a reminder of the warm embrace of a loving God.

Mary Ann Bachmann

Turning the country around
Regarding the letter from Richard Gregg of Hayward (Forum, Nov. 22), talk about misguided! I would have voted for a Catholic of good faith; however Mr. Kerry is not one.

Specifically point-by-point in the letter:

It is unfortunate that abortion has been the law of the land since 1972. We can and must get it changed. Some things in life are worth the effort; protecting the unborn is certainly one of them.

Too bad if the “liberated highly intelligent and successful women” protest not being allowed to have an abortion. It’s wrong and the law needs to be changed.

It is not their body that is in question, it is their unborn child. Why was it second degree murder if Scott Peterson killed his unborn son, but would have been legal if a doctor had done so?

Oh well, society is in moral decline and there is nothing we can do about it. Wrong! Under the leadership by example of the millions of good people in this great country, we can (and I believe are) turning this around. One of these good people just got re-elected as president.

The Catholic Church has “condoned” divorce via increasing annulments. Like the one John Kerry got after 18 years of marriage and two children? We have to be strong and keep turning this around, we cannot just give up.

Dennis Romano

Let’s ‘rock the boat’
Regarding the Nov. 8 article that the California bishops regret passage of Prop. 71, just what did they expect? With no leadership or guidance from our bishops during the last election concerning Catholic teaching and principles, we got trashed.

It is obvious the bishops don’t want to rock the boat, but what if Christ did not want to “rock the boat”? There never would have been “the good news”.

Robert Zimmerman
Via e-mail

What would Jesus do?
I found Bishop Vigneron’s column, “In voting, we need to return to our basic moral principles” (Voice, Oct. 18) to be very interesting and informative. I feel the bishop did an excellent job reminding readers of their faith when choosing who or what they were going to vote for in this last election.

It is very important for all voters to recognize the problems in our world, but to also keep their faith in mind, remembering what God wants us to do. Many people vote for what they think will benefit their lives, but what about the lives of others?

Bishop Vigneron brought up several important issues that we should take into consideration and realize that we need to vote for what is morally right and just, not for what will benefit ourselves in the future. It’s like the old saying, “What would Jesus do?”

Jill Wackerman

Respecting innocent life
Margaret Loverde’s letter (Forum, Nov. 8) equates war in Iraq as (allegedly) an evil on par with the systematic killing of millions of unborn children through legalized abortion. She condemns a campaign undertaken “supposedly to liberate [Iraq’s] weak, defenseless, and innocent citizens from the ‘evil’ dictates of Saddam Hussein.”

Her quotes around “evil” suggest doubts about Hussein’s guilt in murdering hundreds of thousands of his own citizens. And she attempts to blunt Phil Sevilla’s Oct. 18 citation of the U.S. bishops’ Resolution on Abortion, which stated that “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.”

As Sevilla observed, the U.S. bishops had echoed John Paul II’s 1988 exhortation in “Christi fidelis laici”: “[T]he 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....”

Loverde omits that part, apparently determined to muddle election politics. She invites Sevilla to read the bishops’ statement on “Faithful Citizenship.” I imagine he has read it as he is an uncommonly intelligent and well-informed Catholic. And had space allowed, he would likely have noted that document’s insistence that “Abortion, the deliberate killing of a human being before birth, is never morally acceptable,” while allowing that “All nations have a right and duty to defend human life and the common good against terrorism, aggression, and similar threats.”

Patrick Walt

Good works in Danville
Julianne Fitzpatrick (Forum, Nov. 8) seems not to be informed about the good works surrounding St. Isidore Parish’s prayers for the unborn.
Every year around Sept. 8 (The Blessed Virgin Mary’s birthday) they start to pray for nine months for babies to be spared from abortion.

Approximately seven months later, the Respect Life Ministry hosts their huge annual baby shower. Many parishioners and parish organizations contribute diapers and wipes, baby clothing, blankets, and many other baby necessities and as well as money.

The grateful recipients this year were Birthright of Concord (Pregnancy support services), Birthright of Livermore, Crisis Pregnancy Center of Dublin, and Mary’s House in San Pablo (home for single pregnant women).
We are very grateful for their generosity, and we look forward to receiving these wonderful gifts for the babies, mothers and families we help at Birthright of Livermore.

Pamela Mullenhoff, secretary
Birthright of Livermore

Spiritual adoption is three-fold
St. Isidore’s spiritual adoption program has a three-fold purpose—education, giving and spiritual participation. This is an annual event to educate our parishioners on the developmental progress of a baby. An update is provide weekly in our bulletin.

The spiritual adoption culminates with a parish-wide baby shower in March.
In addition to the education and giving, there is a spiritual aspect of significant importance. The daily prayer of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is recited with the rosary after daily Mass and requested to be prayed every day by those participating in the adoption.

We welcome all to take a look at our parish website to learn more about our ministry and to get involved. We also assist in elderly care, family planning, post-abortion healing and legislative advocacy.

Shelley Britanik

Stop vigilantism
We appear to live in a time when accusation equals guilt without need of pesky trials. St. Albert’s Priory has done nothing wrong in housing seven of their men accused of sexual assault, but none charged with anything. The Priory owes no explanation to any amorphous “community.”

Guilt seems irrelevant to SNAP fanatics or Oakland politicians. Screaming “risk to children”, “targets” and “secure facility” on a picket line seems a purposeful call to unreasoning hatred. Shall we now require neighborhood meetings to damn anyone accused but not convicted? Shall SNAP, not the Constitution, set our new rules for community condemnation?

We can only hope our Church does not wuss-out yet again. To name the men would unjustly brand them forever. Church hierarchy, forever protective of itself, must start insisting accusers prove, not merely accuse. Priests deserve adequate legal defense against pack-mentality.

Joe Moran


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