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placeholder March 20, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Lenten happiness

Take six minutes out of your Lenten day and sit in front of the computer. Type in "Dynamic Catholic.com" and watch Matthew Kelly speak about the individual chapters of his book "Resisting Happiness."

He does a brief chapter each day during Lent. If nothing else it will make you think about how we choose happiness.

You will feel better.

Mary McMahon

What Mass should be

It was my pleasure to attend a recent Sunday Mass at Corpus Christi Parish in Piedmont.

The celebrant was Father Leo Edgerly Jr., who I had the good fortune to teach with at St. John's in San Lorenzo in the late '70s.

The celebration of the Mass I was a part of was an affirmation of what a Catholic Mass could and should be, but what often it is not. The diocese in general and Corpus Christi Parish specifically should never let this guy retire!

Ron Rubio

A moral contract

Catholic social teaching asks us to welcome immigrants and requires immigrants to respect our laws.

The law gives immigration enforcement power to the president. President Bush let visa holders and economic migrants stay; President Obama funded "Dreamers" and Syrian rebels and deported Iraqi Christians and anti-Castro Cubans.

Immigrants now make up 25 percent of our population and will be 50 percent by 2050. The problem is with those who are not assimilating or law-abiding.

Donald Trump was elected president to enforce the law and deport criminal aliens. People who aid these criminals not only defy the law, they betray the moral contract.

Michael F. McCarthy

Pride, selfishness

Many in France, who are about to vote, are saying "we want France to remain France." They don't want men wearing skull caps, women wearing head scarves or modest wear at the beach. Do all true French women wear bikinis?

Is national pride more important than seeking Jesus' Kingdom of love for everyone?

In the US, President Trump says we must make America great again. Again, pride and national selfishness is the order of the day.

May Jesus help many French and Americans to build a world kingdom of love and brotherhood, and welcome mutual help between all peoples. We are all children of God, who loves and cares for us all. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, your kingdom come.

Cathy Clark

Divided Catholics

Recent letters have presented much evidence of how deeply divided Catholics are. I thought this forum would be a good place to have the people of the Diocese of Oakland reveal the extent of their Catholic education.

In high school, Faith Formation, college — were you taught even the basics of moral theology, philosophy, logic, the difference between intrinsic evils and prudential judgments, the difference between doctrine and discipline and of the sacred obligation to form a "right conscience"?

Have you studied St. Thomas Aquinas? Living from 1225-1274, he is widely considered the smartest man in the Western world since St. Augustine, who died in 430.

He said, "Sin makes you stupid." Literally he put it this way, "Sin weakens the will and darkens the intellect," and a whole lot of other intelligent stuff too. I pray you'll study his writings, along with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And may we all frequent Confession.

His final words in the presence of the Blessed Eucharist are well worth pondering: "I receive Thee, price of my soul's redemption, I receive Thee, viaticum of my pilgrimage, for love of whom I have studied, watched, labored; I have preached Thee, I have taught Thee … if I have taught anything poorly on this sacrament or the others, I submit it to the judgment of the Holy Roman Church, in obedience to which I leave this life."

In a time such as ours when routine disobedience to the teaching of the Church has become the norm among so many, we are rightly amazed and challenged by the sheer self-denial and humility implied in Friar Thomas's attitude at the threshold of his passing into eternal life. Obedience is the only criterion for him, as it was for Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.

David Zarri

Alternative facts

Kim Dicker (Forum, March 6) did a good job of parroting President Trump's campaign social media director, Dan Scavino, about Pope Francis' "unfair" criticism of Trump's "build the wall" campaign promise. After all, doesn't the Vatican have walls to keep people out?

The walls that surrounded the Vatican became known as the Leonine wall in honor of Pope Leo IV who was responsible for their construction. Some of the Leonine wall still stands and makes up a portion of the structure that surrounds the Vatican to this day. But those walls were built with a specific enemy in mind then.

Leo built the walls in order to protect the city against the encroachment of "Saracens," an early term for the Arab Muslims who were hell bent on the conquest of Christian Europe. In 846, a year before the start of Pope Leo IV's reign, the Saracens attacked the outskirts of Rome. The Muslim raiders targeted the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul, which were located outside of the massive walls that defended Rome itself. The Saracens looted the two churches, robbing them of their relics and desecrating the tombs of two of Christendom's most revered saints.

The last time I looked, no Catholic or other religious buildings in the U.S. have been attacked and looted by immigrants, undocumented or otherwise. (Can the same thing be said of the native born?) Yes, the Vatican does have walls, and some are quite large. But anyone can stroll through the Pope's front yard — St. Peter's Square — at nearly any time. Only metal detectors stand between the grounds and the millions of tourists who come to see the headquarters of the Church.

Through the auspices of the Vatican, many refugees in Rome have been housed and fed by the Sant' Egidio community in Rome's Trastevere quarter in facilities conducive to those activities.

"Alternative facts" as proposed by Dicker have no place in a Catholic paper.

Jim McCrea

Let God Decide

Almost all religions proclaim, "We welcome you with love; join us to achieve salvation. God has shown us the way." Not quite so well communicated is often an underlying, less-loving message: "However, if you do not do so, we may, for the good of your everlasting soul, be forced, according to God's command, to kill you, torture you, cut off your offending arm, stone you, beat you, take your property, jail you, shun you, or do other things to convince you to live your life according to what God has commanded us to do."

Actual belief is not really required; external appearances, e.g., approved attire and speech, attendance at rituals, bowing, etc. frequently suffice. But such acquiescence is always suspect. Why would an omnipotent god accept as 'believers' those who profess as a result of coercion? Of greater import, why would a god turn over the judgement and punishments to such venal humans and to the cruelty of mobs?

Throughout history, one would be hard pressed to find any religion that has not, either as a formal part of its tenets, or as a tacitly encouraged, even openly commanded, use of violence against those who "transgress." This, in many cases, applied even to non-members.

Giving this most important task to fallible individuals is asking for erroneous decisions. So why would a just, merciful and omnipotent god do that?

If all religions would flat-out condemn such coercion, and instead clearly state that all such judgement is in the purview of God alone, think how much human misery and wars could have been avoided.

Pope Francis should say to the Catholic faithful and to all religions: use no force to make people say "I believe" or to hurt them if they do not.

Such belief judgements should be left to God, who understands the heart and mind of every person. Certainly, try to evangelize, in accordance with God's command to "go forth, etc." But asking, as an interim step, to ban violence or coercion in religious practices, might be productive.

Joe Moran

Intrinsic evil

As a "lifelong, Jesuit-educated, committed Catholic," Fred Piazza (Forum, Jan. 23) seems to lack knowledge of his Catechism. The Catholic Church does not grant its followers the liberty of deciding whether or not they will support abortion. Abortion is an intrinsic evil, and is thusly a non-negotiable issue.

Piazza states, "abortion is an extremely personal and painful decision to be left to the woman involved (...)" He neglects to note that there, in every abortion, is at least one person, other than the mother, whom the abortion affects: the child. There could be no abortion without the child, and one should remember that the life being ended belongs not to the mother, but to the child. He is correct in stating that abortion is a painful decision: I can think of none other that ends in a helpless victim being dismembered, poisoned or soaked in saline baths.

Paraphrasing Hillary Clinton's hopes that abortion will be kept, "legal, safe and rare," denies certain truths.

First, our law can only righteously exist when it is based on God's law. The legalization of abortion cannot fulfill this requirement, as the procedure is a violation of the Fifth Commandment and of human dignity.

Second, abortion is not safe: no procedure that is directly aimed at ending the life of one of the persons involved is safe. The effect of abortion on the mother is equally as undesirable: women who have had abortions are more likely to die from suicide, and are at a higher rate for cervical, ovarian and liver cancer, have a higher chance of delivering handicapped newborns in the future, are less likely to be able to have children in the future, are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, intoxication, eating disorders, PTSD, become smokers or become child abusers or neglecters.

Finally, the ideal that abortion be rare (though legal) is just that — an ideal. Hoping that it is rare does not make it rare. And if there is nothing so wrong with abortion as to outlaw it, why should it be rare?

Remember the words of Jesus: "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40) Mother Mary, if you had aborted the unborn Child Jesus, where would we be today?

Katelyn McCarthy
El Sobrante

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Letters to the editor provide a forum for readers to engage in an open exchange of opinions and concerns in a climate of respect and civil discourse. The opinions expressed are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the Catholic Voice or the Diocese of Oakland. While a full spectrum of opinions will sometimes include those which dissent from Church teaching or contradict the natural moral law, it is hoped that this forum will help our readers to understand better others’ thinking on critical issues facing the Church at this time.

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