Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 11, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Comments not forceful enough
"God is father, Gervais insists," proclaims the title of an article of that name on page 6 of your Dec. 14 edition. But does he really?
He states that it is a fact that God is the father of Jesus, but is later reported to have said that although God is called Father, his behaviour is female, without qualifying why that is so.
It's a theory I have never heard before. Is it a concession to the feminist forces in his archdiocese which, considering the considerably less than forceful "insistence" on the truth that God is Father and considering the obstinacy of Sister Mary Ruddy that God is a being who is both man and woman, would make one almost believe that the archbishop's subordinate is wearing the pants in the hierarchy of the good archbishop's diocese.
The term that Gervais used to express his "insistence" was "should," per the following quote from your article: "The language that Jesus used should be the norm for Catholics." The word "must" wasn't forceful enough?
Gervais further "insisted" that "I would really shy away from using the word 'mother'" (as a name for God). Now that's "really" telling them. I'm sure that there'll be tens of thousands of Catholics who won' t dare to use the word "mother" to label God, for fear that it might make the bishop feel shy.
However, what made me "extremely uncomfortable" is the male-bashing that was prevalent in a number of statements in your article.
Gervais rationalized that it is the fact that some people had experienced abusive fathers that moves them to call God mother. Whereby he ignores the fact that biological mothers are nine times more likely than biological fathers to abuse and even kill their children, not only that, but they are also far more likely to abuse their sons than their daughters.
He said "the father has to reveal himself to this child," thereby totally ignoring that half of each child "is" part of his father.
He ignores that it is completely up to the mother whether she allows the father of her child "to reveal himself" - by granting him access after a child's birth, indeed, that is entirely up to her whether the child is even allowed to live and to be born.
Gervais said "We have to get at the cause." However, he didn't say the cause of what he wants to get at.
I suggest that he and others like him may be part of the cause that bring about the priest shortage that is troubling the Church, an example of which is given in your brief "S. Carolina faces priest shortage" on page 2 of your Dec. 14 edition.
Why should real men be moved to submit themselves to bishops who don't speak up more forcefully about the nature of God, and who placate the feminists in their diocese by sacrificing all fathers and other men through making an offering of male-bashing on the altar of feminist idolatry?
Stories missed conference's spirit of celebration
Re: "Conference ignored rights of unborn" (WCR, Dec. 7).
On Nov. 26-28, 1998 Edmonton hosted the international conference, Universal Rights and Human Values: A Blueprint for Peace, Justice and Freedom. It was the world's largest celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The 700 delegates from 36 countries heard first-hand reports from such famous human rights activists as Doan Viet Hoat, imprisoned for 19 years in Vietnam and Wei Jingsheng, imprisoned for 18 years in China.
The three days were filled with impassioned presentations from victims living the human rights issues under discussion. Human rights victories were applauded.
Continuing violations of the declaration's principles created a living awareness of the scope and urgency that demands our commitment, and that of our children to work for global recognition and compliance with those principles.
Although your reporter commented on Tutu's address at the banquet, she seems to have missed the full impact of the three-day conference.
Article one of the Declaration of Human Rights states: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and right." The conference was indeed a celebration of life and, most importantly, of human dignity and all of the inalienable rights that flow therefrom.
Unfortunately, your reporter chose to ignore, almost as irrelevant, that wonderful celebration of life and the recognition of human dignity that has been achieved as a result of the declaration. She reported solely on the fact that the unborn child's right to life was not on the agenda.
A more objective analysis of the good achieved by the conference would have provided a positive springboard to remind the delegates of work yet to be done to provide true and full protection of human dignity by officially protecting the foundation of that dignity - human life from conception to natural death.
We too applauded the pro-life demonstration which sent a powerful message to the delegates that human dignity flows from human life from the moment of conception to natural death and beyond.
The dream of 50 years ago started us on a journey that still leaves much to be attained - that all human beings be accorded their human rights.
Social Justice Commission
Don't denigrate rural school boards
The Nov. 30 WCR carried my letter to the editor the point of which was simply to state that public schools in this province make a significant contribution to Catholic education.
My purpose in writing was to make better known what I perceive to be a little known fact, and to suggest that those schools, and the parents who make it happen, deserve recognition and support.
Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association president Lois Burke-Gaffney's response (WCR, Dec. 21) indicates that she missed the point.
Parents in rural communities seeking a faith dimension to education, depending on circumstances, may have up to four choices available to them.
They may 1) transport their children to the nearest separate or private school, 2) opt for home schooling, 3) if in a minority, gather supporters and petition the government for permission to establish a separate school district, or 4) take advantage of section 33 of the School Act and work with the local school and the divisional board of trustees to have religious instruction and exercises become an integral part of the school program.
The parents in the public schools I speak of have chosen this past option with the faith dimension being Catholic. The Logos program, for instance, has been the choice in other public schools.
As to whether the fourth option is a "half measure" and that parents and children are being "short changed," as stated by Burke-Gaffney, that judgment is best left to the parents.
It may very well be that parents feel that certain qualities characteristically present in rural communities - strong families, a sense of community, solidarity, neighbourliness, to name a few - compensate for any lack of the "permeation" a Catholic school may offer.
Moreover, implementation of this option not only can respond to the needs of the Catholic families involved but can provide many benefits to the entire student population, many of whom are searching for spiritual meaning in their lives.
To denigrate what rural school boards and Catholic parents may do in sincerity and good will to provide a component of faith to the education of children is unworthy of an association whose mission I should hope includes the promotion of Catholic education in whatever form its delivery may take.
I would respectfully suggest that a more helpful response from the president of the ACSTA - and one more in keeping with the Christian ideal of service - would have included a question along the following lines: How can the ACSTA support trustees and Catholic parents in rural Alberta to achieve to the fullest degree possible the fourth option presented above if that is the option of parental choice?
Asking such a question might well initiate a dialogue which could prove beneficial to all.
Sturgeon School Division
Questionable inference about Jesus' intentions
In a recent article published in the Western Catholic Reporter (Nov. 16) an august conclave of bishops issued a list of 10 points to justify the exclusion of women from the priesthood.
Essentially, the 10 points include what I consider an erroneous inference based on one argument of fact: Christ chose all men and no women to form the initial 12 Apostles.
Of course, that position is more than somewhat undermined by the fact that there were women apostles and leaders in the early Church.
But the bishops proceed to articulate that if Christ wanted women to be part of the 12 Apostles he would have chosen them. To say the least, it seems that the bishops infer Christ's intention from one obvious and undeniable fact: He chose 12 men, ergo, he wanted only men as priests to shepherd his Church.
But, as human and divine, it is safe to say that it is impossible to grasp Christ's motive concerning this one fact. God is inscrutable until he chooses to make clear his motives and actions.
To suggest that because Christ chose 12 males demonstrates that he desired only men as priests is both presumptuous (in presuming to know Christ's motives) and a most questionable inference.
Astounded by readers' reaction
I simply cannot believe the reaction that there has been to those of us who have expressed support for the ordination of women.
The Anglican Church held a vote on it, and a majority voted in favour. As a result, there has been a flow of defections of macho Anglican priests who are opposed to it, and our Roman Catholic Church, in all its divine wisdom, has accepted them with open arms.
Pope John Paul has declared it "no longer open to discussion," and North American bishops have followed suit. Such oppression of free speech is most unbecoming of Peter's successor and Christ's present Apostles.
To the gentleman who has asked "Who in hell do they think they are?" I say, "Who in heaven's name does he think he is?" If the demand for silence in this is justified by papal infallibility, I am not aware of any ex cathedra pronouncement by the Vatican on the subject.
God created us in his image, with a free will and the gift of individuality. As a product of the Jesuits, I quite adhere to the emphasis that their order places on the vow of obedience, but I firmly believe that it is incumbent upon us all as Christians, to persevere in righting things that we think are wrong.
If we are forbidden to discuss this matter publicly, maybe we can at least do so privately. My fax is (403) 468-0016 and I can be reached at e-mail benoird@Hotmail.com.
Catholic schools alive in Que.
In your editorial of Nov. 2, you talk of the "annihilation of Catholic schools in Newfoundland and Quebec."
Catholic schools continue to exist, even if some are endangered, in Quebec. The government has replaced Catholic and Protestant school boards but parents can decide that a school will be denominational or not.
In most of the province, schools will remain "Catholic" since parents support religious education and pastoral care. In Montreal and Quebec City the future is cloudier because a sizeable group of parents want to remove religious education.
The French language teachers' union is on record as being against religion in the schools.
At the moment, religious education texts are approved by the Catholic committee of the Conseil superieur de l'education.
I ask that you pray that Catholic schools remain in Quebec and that their Catholic character be strengthened.
Parish is backbone of our community
In response to restructuring of our parishes:
Besides being in total shock, we are in disbelief. We know of the declining number of priests, the empty seminary. But I also read in the WCR not long ago, about vocations of young men in what have been the Communist countries, also many young men in the Philippines like to go and study for priests.
About 35 years ago we sat down with our parish priests making up a request for priests from Europe to come to this country. We gained six priests here in Alberta.
Is there no hope to try this again? This time the request should go anywhere in the world.
We would like to ask John Acheson to answer some burning questions. According to the Nov. 30 WCR, $934,000 is put aside to help train lay ministers. How much is spent trying to get young men from other parts of the world to come and study for the priesthood in the Edmonton seminary? For communities like Sundre and many like us, our Church is our lifeline.
Forty-five years ago with a handful of Catholics and a fresh formed CWL we built a church, plus an addition to it and paid for it all. We are debt free.
In the meantime we grew to 90 families and are still growing. Our parishioners live for our Church. We are not looking for a "super church."
We would have to risk our lives for an hour on an isolated road with a heavy population of wildlife to get there. Then we would have to look for 20 minutes to have found a parking spot, carrying two sleeping toddlers to this super-church.
We would sit downstairs three in one seat, watching the Holy Mass on the overhead. We would see some strange people coming down to give out the Holy Communion. "Lost sheep in a strange place."
After this we would have to risk our lives again for an hour to get safely home. We will lose 50 per cent of adults and 90 to 95 per cent of young people, the backbone of our tomorrow country. It doesn't make sense.
Why can't we go in with the Calgary Diocese? We did have many of those priests helping us out in the past.
We don't want to give up our church where we worked so hard to the mice. In opening up our wallets and our hearts and a lot of sacrifice we have paid for our church, the backbone of our community.
Recruit priests from other lands
I have been following with interest the suggested parish changes. I wonder why John Acheson did not make an effort to contact priests from either Europe or the Philippines. Unless his attitude was like it is in some parishes.
A Filipino lady I know, suggested they try to contact a priest from the Philippines and was informed that it would not work "because he would not be of our culture." Not a very Christian attitude, or maybe that is the way some would like to see our Church move towards.
I know a Filipino priest who is very well liked in his parishes and missions, and is very active and well liked by the young people. They are the ones we are losing and will lose more with the way the changes are being made now.
I grew up when we had Mass every second Sunday, but it was Mass at which the priest gave the homily as required by Vatican II and the Catechism, not somebody from the congregation.
He had to cover from Alix to Blufton, Blackfalds to Ponoka, but we survived.
The money spent on this manoeuvre could have been spent contacting priests of other lands, some who would love to come, as far as culture and language.
I live in an area where there is a lot of Europeans coming, some speak better English when they arrive than lots who were born here.
The priest that married my parents and baptized me was from Holland. He served this area from Wetaskiwin. He was not of our culture but we survived.
On merging banks and churches
Re: Parish restructuring.
From the merger of banks to the merger of churches! Our finance minister is not permitting the merger of banks since that would leave many rural communities without ready access to banks.
Following the pertinent letters to the editor in the Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 issues of the WCR, is it too much to hope that Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, John Acheson and the ToPs committee would take a second look at what appears to me to be a very short plan (five years according to Acheson as reported in the WCR Nov. 23 issue).
Since some of those mergers are not foreseen until 2000 to 2002, it appears to me that the trauma of uniting parishes and the expense of building new and larger churches will soon be replaced by some other transitions. What will those be?
May I humbly suggest that the new model of Church to which Acheson refers at the end of the same article be the object of immediate discussion and action rather than entering into the short-term process recommended by ToPs, which will soon be obsolete.
If in five years the number of priests will be insufficient to assure weekly Masses in the new and/or newly amalgamated churches, would it not be wiser to direct our energies immediately to planning the implementation of a new model of Church that will have a shelf-life of more than two to five years?
We already have a long way to travel
Re: "Parish plan drawing little negative input" and letters to the editor (WCR, Dec. 7). What a contradiction! Politicians consider one letter is worth 100 voices.
The letters express my opinion exactly. I think John Acheson must be very out of touch with the rural Catholic community. He has no idea how far (long) we already travel.
What about our catechism classes, Bible studies, CWL, K of C, youth involvement, and community spirit? Are they just to end without local gathering and worship?
I cannot imagine a parish of 2,000 families being a faith community. Rather we would be one among a sea of faces. Let us import priests and seminarians from other countries and provide for their education.
I read that some seminaries cannot accept any more applicants because they are full.
A lament for our lack of priests
I'm writing this on Dec. 28, the feast of the Holy Innocents. In today's Gospel we find these words Matthew 2:18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation" which actually is a quotation from Jeremiah 31:15.
Last Nov. 22, these same words from Jeremiah came to my mind when on that Sunday the priests of the archdiocese had the painful task of announcing to their people the pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Faithful into the Future.
I had a feeling on that day that in many parts of the archdiocese there was loud lamentation from priests and parishioners alike.
Since then, many thoughts have come to me. I remember that each year, during Holy Week, parish priests and representatives from every parish gather at the cathedral to celebrate the Mass of Chrism.
For the past number of years, the archbishop has been asking the parish representatives to return to their parishes and to give him one priest from each of their parishes.
People always seemed to be mildly amused by this request, not knowing quite how to handle it. Was he serious? What was this all about? Nothing much was ever done about Archbishop McNeil's request.
But when the pastoral plan was revealed, surely it must have dawned on some people that the archbishop was hoping to avoid having to ever enact the pastoral plan.
Now that its full implications have had a chance to sink in, I realize that we have reason to lament. We did not heed the archbishop's plea.
We used to sing a hymn in church and in some circles some years ago in which we found words to this effect: "You are the potter and we are the clay. Mold us, shape us, fashion us . . .".
The Lord is the potter and in order to be able to mold and fashion vessels, the potter must have some clay.
I see an application here to the shortage of priests. If we want the Lord to fashion for us some priests, we have to give him some clay, some suitable material, some people to work with, so that he can fashion them into members of the ministerial priesthood.
A voice cried out in the wilderness: "Give me one priest from each parish . . ." and then we will have a different pastoral plan.
Fr. Clem Gauthier
St. Matthew Parish
Rocky Mountain House