Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 18, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Justice not charity
We have sunk the Santa Maria with toys for tots, we have filled the foodbanks and we have delivered hampers to the needy.
Christmas is over for another year. We are satisfied. We have been generous.
Charity is a good thing, for donor as well as recipient. It probably is more satisfying for the donor than for the recipient.
The trouble with charity is that you cannot count on it and you are not entitled to it, but you can count on the hunger and misery to continue after Christmas.
Hundreds of thousands of Albertans live well below the official Statistics Canada poverty line. Too few Albertans realize that social assistance for a single adult is $397 a month and $778.50 for a single parent with one child. It is hard to imagine how you can survive on that in this country.
Even worse off are many of the working poor. Low wages, whimsical schedules and insecurity are devastating.
There is a disturbing tendency among otherwise decent Albertans to think that the poor are somehow responsible for their condition. It is considered shameful to be poor. It is assumed that everyone has the opportunity to do well or, failing that, to rely on family or community for support. That is not how it is.
We need to realize that every member of our society, every citizen, has a right to a decent standard of living. Our society can certainly afford that and it is our duty to pressure political and corporate authorities to provide social justice and eliminate the need for charitable provision of basic requirements.
The Edmonton Social Planning Council holds out some hope. It is in the process of promoting a Canadian Social Charter which will legislate minimum standards federally.
We know that provincial premiers are opposed. They want to control social programs. We also know that control by our premier is bad news for anyone in need.
I hope and pray that our spiritual leaders will forcefully support social justice.
Small communities hung out to dry
I would like to express my humble concern regarding ToPs and the recommendations which appear in the Nov. 23 WCR.
The fact of the matter is that 50 per cent of Catholic families are not affected by the uprooting of faith communities within the archdiocese. Instead, we once again follow the way business is done.
Where once the Church spire was the pinnacle of the community, now it is the bank. The bigger (i.e. financially significant) faith communities have gained, and the smaller ones have been hung out to dry and fade away. My faith, and the faith community that I am a member of, has been tampered with, and I don't like it much.
We, the Catholic Church, have digressed 100 years. A hundred years ago, a priest would travel from Winnipeg to celebrate liturgy and the sacraments in the pioneers' homes. The pioneers built churches, and the buildings were consecrated, and faith communities established. Mass was not available every Sunday, and priests were shared.
In the absence of a priest, the faith community gathered in the house of the Lord to pray and celebrate their collective faith.
If we think that these recommendations will permanently solve the problem of shortage of priests, all we have to do is apply these numbers another 10 years into the future, or maybe sooner, another uprooting of parishes will take place. The damage done in 1998 will only be intensified.
I know that we as a Catholic faithful are facing a diminishing number of priests, but that does not mean that we must diminish the number of faith communities. We must abide by the golden rule and share what we have.
The parish of St. Stanislaus was warned about the diminishing number of priests, which we have experienced for the past 10 years. We had lay-led liturgy with Communion every second Sunday. Maybe some larger parishes can do the same and share the priests which are available.
I'm sure our forefathers did not go to hell because priests were not available to them each and every Sunday.
I would like to refer to Genesis 18:20-21 and 23-32. The numbers game that Abraham played with the Lord was also played in ToPs discussions, but with a different result.
The ToPS recommendations would indicate that the Lord should have destroyed the city with 100 good people, and the shepherd who has 100 sheep should have been content with keeping most of the 100. The few forsaken are deemed to be insignificant in the "big picture."
As illustrated by the Biblical examples, the Lord is not a "big picture" person, but loves and cares infinitely about each and every miniscule element of the picture more than the picture itself. The Church is people, and as such the people should be treated equally.
May the Holy Spirit intervene before more sheep are lost.
St. Stanislaus Parish