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placeholder April 17, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 8    •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Too much politics

It is very disappointing to note that The Voice is allowing the poison of partisan politics to crowd into the Forum letters section squeezing out more reasonable discussion.

Over recent years I have noticed that more and more individuals are swayed by the noise of their favorite party leaders and supporting media. The result is they sometimes buy the snake oil that is being sold without researching the facts and both sides of the question/dispute.

This is present in both parties and both liberal and conservative belief camps. It has reached a crescendo of name calling and character assault that harms the conscience of the nation.

By all means argue and discuss, challenge and correct, but do it in a civilized manner recognizing everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter how much you disagree with them.

Most important of all, get your facts straight and stop the demagoguery. Remember, there were even some who had good reason, in their view, to scream "crucify Him."

"Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." is sometimes true.

Cliff Wiesner

Luther reaction

Jack Hockel's reliance on the word "magisterium" to make his case against the "relativism" of Martin Luther and of even Vatican II (Forum, April 3), in two instances referring to "magisterially formed" conscience) provokes an uncomfortable reaction in me.

If I remember the word "magister" from my Latin, it means "teacher." I am much more comfortable with the pastoral notion of the "teaching" Church than the more paternal image of the "magisterial" Church. After all, teaching is more about sharing knowledge than forming conscience (in this instance enforcing what he believes to be hard-and-fast truth).

For the everyday Catholic adult, teaching/learning is the product of dialogue. I'm not sure social media provides the substantial information needed to promote healthy dialogue. We look to our parishes and publications like The Voice (yes, even letters to the editor we may not agree with) to help us stay learners throughout our lives.

James A. Erickson

What I've learned

Late in life I realized that when I was growing up I learned much from my mother's good qualities. But the most important things I learned from her came from her deficiencies. Things I knew I didn't want to be or do.

At some point in the last few months it came to me that instead of reacting negatively to President Trump's deficiencies, perhaps there were things I ought to learn from them — from this man who wears his deficiencies on the outside, and as a public figure, generally conceals what is good in him.

I was curious about the people who relate to his ways. How could they admire and cheer for someone like this?

I also learned more about attitudes and difficulties both for non-Christians who live here and for immigrants. I learned as the campaign went on that a powerful and persuasive leader can move into the spotlight and win approval of the voters in spite of his cruel and insensitive statements.

I couldn't help comparing this man to authoritative leaders in other times and places, when there was an ongoing loss of generosity, welcome and mercy.

So, I lost an illusion about our democracy. It has motivated me to take more interest in what I could do to help all of us move in a saner, kinder, more inclusive direction.

And since I am just one of many millions who are taking the path of kindness towards each other, I think we can be thankful for these indirect ways our fledgling President Trump has blessed us.

How we need more leaders who are very careful about how they speak to one and all. I have learned and experienced the shocking destructiveness of a polarized country. How careful I must be not to reject, and to keep my anger clean and under control.

I don't want to react in scorn, letting President Trump (or anyone else) push my buttons. I learned that he could do that to me. At the beginning, I found myself eagerly waiting to see what he would do or say next that was outrageous. It was a relief to recognize my own behavior

It has been good to be more consciously positive. Not to ignore what is wrong, or to avoid speaking the truth but to mourn in all of us our tendencies toward ill will, and to seek reconciliations.

Because of what I have learned in this scary season in our history, I have also learned that even the smallest acts and words of kindness, comfort and generosity bring peacefulness.

Ann Frobose

Lenten reflection

This Lenten season I took some time for self-reflection and I hope others did as well. While I don't feel enlightened by new revelations, I feel further strengthened by my own convictions. I re-read a simple quote that sums up the hypocrisy of many pro-lifers:

"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed," said Sister Joan Chittister, OSB.

"That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is," she said.

Abortion is a life issue. It's not, however, the only one. What about health care for everyone, climate change, gun control, nuclear weapons, immigration, war and capital punishment? Are these not "life issues" as well? To believe that abortion "stands alone and above all other life issues" comes from Catholic doctrine … none of Christ's teachings place one life issue above another.

Christ's teachings in the bible were simple. He valued and respected the life and dignity of everyone and everything, at every stage and in every condition. It seems we concern ourselves too much with Catholic theology rather than focusing on the words of Jesus. He condemned no one, while we, who claim to be his followers, judge and condemn one another, even through letters to the Forum. It's time for us to reexamine our judgments, align ourselves with Christ's teachings, and exercise our faith by obeying the command of God; to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Joseph A. Maraccini

Thoughtful comments

It is refreshing to see some intelligent letters in response to Voice articles. I was especially appreciative of the comments from Josephine Soublet of Hayward (Forum, March 6).

It is time for the Catholic hierarchy to speak out when it recognizes injustice, and actions contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

There is no way to justify Donald J. Trump and his minions for their actions contrary to the teachings and actions of Jesus our Lord. He was always for the poor and downtrodden, and while on earth, reminded his audience of the importance of fairness and true justice. Sowing hatred and division are not principles upon which I was brought up.

Thanks for opening the door to some thoughtful comments.

Louis Labat

Read Laudato Si

For the past year, Pax Christi Fremont has been reading, studying and discussing Pope Francis's 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, on Care for Our Common Home. This is an important work, which centers on the Divine Incarnation, stresses the Christian obligation of caring for God's world and warns against the "throwaway culture."

In this diocese, there has been a concentrated effort to reflect and act on the Year of Mercy. But there has been very little teaching about the Acts of Mercy as they extend to ecological responsibility.

We urge the clerical leaders of the Oakland diocese and the laity to read Laudato Si. Connecting its teachings — as Pope Francis does — to the Incarnation, Laudato Si is a resource for meaningful homilies, RCIA instruction, youth ministry curricula and parish discussion groups. The abundant themes of renewal that Easter brings and the celebration of Earth Day on April 22 are among the many opportunities for lessons that link to this encyclical.

Pat Buchanan and six other members of Pax Christi,

Women's March

With my daughters and granddaughters, I peacefully participated in the Women's March in San Francisco the day after the inauguration. Therefore, I must strongly disagree with George Weigel's column, "Persuasive Disciples, Not Disrupters" (Forum March 20).

First, we have a constitutional right to speech and assembly.

Second, Saul Alinsky, a man George Weigel seems to distain, began a decades-old mission to empower communities to organize for housing, health care, legal and economic justice. It was Alinsky who empowered me to march. I marched for dignity and respect for women; I marched for equal pay and equal health care; I marched to stop the wall and welcome the stranger. As Pope Francis stated on Nov. 5, 2016, "Build bridges and love, not walls and fear."

I marched in memory of my immigrant grandparents. I marched with Christians, Jews, Muslims, women of faith and no faith, but women with compassion and in solidarity for social justice and Mother Earth.

Mr. Weigel, we were marching and working to rebuild, not disrupt.

Patricia Gallagher

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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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