Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 7, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Restructuring needs kinder, wiser solutions
Week after week we see letters from Catholics, living in various locations in the archdiocese, agonizing over the restructuring plan that is now being implemented without discussion or consideration by Catholics who worship in these parishes.
Ken Eshpeter's letter in the May 17 WCR is an example of the frustration that exists.
A letter I wrote on Dec. 12, 1998 to the WCR resulted in 28 people either writing, telephoning or making personal contact.
Many of them stated that they had participated in the meetings that led to the report and could not believe that the input which they had heard could possibly have resulted in the final report's recommendations.
The question raised over and over was: Was the outcome already predetermined before the study began?
If you read the April 5 WCR, "Restructuring c'tee responds," in the section that refers to the terms of reference, we are told in paragraph two that: "It is important that all appreciate the limited terms of reference under which the pastoral plan was prepared."
As you read on you learn that "vocations" was one of the areas not included in the terms of reference!
As you read further, in the second column under "1. Number of Priests," we are told in the second paragraph in reference to various possible options available to address the short-term priest problem: "The simple response to these suggestions, regardless of their merit, is to point out that these options were not available to the report's author as solutions or alternatives - they were placed outside his frame of reference." !!!
How possibly could a valid study that is to determine the very future of many parishes, the sacramental and spiritual services, that will be available to Catholics in these parishes, be undertaken if the matter of priests and vocations was to be excluded?
This is at the very heart of the issue being addressed. In fact, as we follow the writings each week in the WCR, the lack of priests is continuously referred to as the issue that is driving the rush to implement.
This is a most serious matter, so much so that, in the long-term best interests of the parishes, why can we not just stop for a moment and reflect on where this is taking us?
Have the options been clearly considered? Could a pool of priests be named to cover affected parishes for a short period until all the options are thoroughly reviewed?
Is it that urgent that the recommendations of an admittedly very incomplete/flawed study be implemented in such a rushed manner?
As for the suggestion that Catholic schools take on additional responsibilities for evangelization, and other parish or priestly functions, anyone who knows anything about what is happening in the schools of our province today knows full well that they are already stressed out, overloaded, understaffed and having difficulties with their present responsibilities.
Our teacher training institutions are not Catholic, some would say not Christian, and have no programs for preparing prospective Catholic teachers to teach religious education let alone assist them in their Catholic faith development.
Take a look at the Newman College's annual enrollment records and you will get a picture of how many of our Catholic teachers are being supported to attend classes there.
Is not now the time to call a halt to this "restructuring" before it is too late? New ears and eyes and a lot of prayers may well find more kind, caring and wise solutions.
Milosevic mythology stalls work for peace
The misconception that Slobodan Milosevic is another Hitler seems to be keeping many people from speaking out against Canada's participation in the illegal war in Kosovo. Perhaps people are not aware that the rivalry between the Serbians and the Albanians has been going on for decades with "ethnic cleansing" executed by both groups at different times. For example, in the Second World War the Albanians slaughtered the Serbians.
Thus, the recent atrocities carried out by Milosevic toward the Albanians are only one episode in a continuing story of ethnic score settling. This is in contrast to Hitler's extermination of the Jews which was not preceded or followed by a Jewish slaughter of the German people.
Another point is that during World War II Germany had the military capacity to conquer most of Europe. In contrast, Milosevic's military has no such capability and is very much inferior to that of NATO.
The majority of countries within NATO are not participating in the military attacks in Kosovo, with some, like Greece, even vigorously opposing NATO's bombings. Despite this, Canada has abandoned her traditional role as an international peacekeeper and has dropped the third largest number of bombs thus far in the war.
As well, not only are illegal bombs being dropped, but NATO's attempts to get Milosevic to sign a treaty were linked to threats of military aggression if he did not sign. Such coercion contravenes both the Vienna Convention and the UN Charter.
Action needs to be taken in Kosovo. However, bombing is not the answer. The problems are too complex for such a simplistic solution. In fact, no one person, or country, is going to be able to solve the crisis in Kosovo.
Peace will only come when each of us takes responsibility to do what we can within our sphere of influence. We must make the sacrifice today to get involved in some concrete way, however small. Perhaps we could go to daily Mass or take a few extra minutes each day to pray for peace.
Many of us could take time out from one of our TV programs to write a few sentences to our MP to let him or her know our viewpoint on this critical issue.
Another consideration might be to help the refugees who are coming to our community through volunteer work or donations of money. Some of us might even be able to open our homes to these suffering people.
In every crisis there is an opportunity. Let us make the war in Kosovo an opportunity to restore true compassion to our land.
Book ignored those who fought for Nfld. schools
Recently I have had the opportunity to read Catholic Education: The Future is Now by Holy Cross Father James Mulligan (WCR, May 10).
In particular, I have considered the chapter which deals with the Newfoundland context in which Mulligan presents certain opinions and analysis about the "demise of Catholic education" in this province.
While he did hear the voices of 10 "experienced educators," I would note that at no time did Mulligan discuss with the "Catholic educational leadership" directly involved in the discussions and negotiations which led to the loss of Catholic schools in Newfoundland.
That alone, in my opinion, makes the analysis he presents a seriously flawed one.
Frankly, I am surprised that any writer, especially a writer from within the Catholic community, who is researching the situation of education "reform" in this province, would ignore the story of those who were directly involved when they were so readily available to tell their story and/or to provide the documentation that supports their story.
Roman Catholic Education Committee
Dioceses of Newfoundland
St. John's, Nfld.
Grateful for 2 years of study at Newman
It is a few days before Pentecost Sunday. The Spirit has invited me to write this. I will listen and obey.
I have spent the past two years at Newman College in the Formation for Pastoral Service Program. It is grounded in theology, Scripture, spirituality and pastoral practice.
This program has enriched my faith, deepened my Christian commitment and has developed practical skills for ministry. It has always been my keen interest to enhance my God-given gift of faith.
For this gift I have been grateful all my life, as a very young child I loved to sing and pray, oh how I found peace that I embraced.
As a teen and then as an office worker I would leave at noon, not for lunch, but to attend Mass.
Many co-workers found this a strange thing to do, but I did it anyway and invited them to join me.
In my marriage of 35 years I find myself serving in the Church and community plus raising six daughters and one son. Soon to see the empty nest.
I again was invited by the Spirit to study at Newman. God is great and oh so very good. My faith has led me to trust more and God will lead me to serve.
Thank you to the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Newman Theological College and all my wonderful Spirit-filled fellow students. God bless you for enriching my life.
Schools guarantee rarity of critical thinking
Many parents with children in the Edmonton Catholic and public school systems are concerned that they may not be getting the best education possible.
The under-funding issue is centred on such questions as: 1) Are students doing better on tests? and 2) Does it make any difference (see question 1) if class sizes are slightly larger?
Principals and the Alberta Teachers' Association want more public dollars for teachers' salaries and new computers.
Is the current education system a sacred cow? Off the table for debate is what is actually taught and learned in schools in consequence of the imposed curriculum. Its subject matter, reflecting the larger society, falls well within the strictures of received wisdom.
It guarantees the rarity of independent thought either by well-intentioned teachers or by students who have no say in it. Schools' manifold rules and regulations ensure that obedience and conformity remain the order of the day.
The sacrosanct curriculum is written in a government department with input mainly from special interest groups - academics, corporate and professional representatives. The resulting agenda is then approved by the minister of education and his or her pro-business colleagues. Students must learn to become productive, specialized and efficient. Like machines or, at best, to follow orders.
Schools teach careerism and not energetic citizenship for the common good. They are essentially vocational training centres for business and industry. The value identification, deeply internalized, is with consumerism.
The schools, business contends, must prepare students to serve the "global economy." As if that were moral and cast in stone. Economies are based on decisions made by the ruling elite and don't serve us all fairly.
Where is the evidence that computers help students to learn better than, say, the Socratic method? They've actually put legions of people out of work. Pupils are trained how to operate them more efficiently though. Rather than the development of their minds for real democracy and spirituality.
The greatest welfare recipient ever is Bill Gates, the owner of Microsoft and the wealthiest person in the world. He is richer than the governments of B.C. and the three Prairie provinces combined.
It it estimated that in a few years he will have more money than the Government of Canada. And all from public funds. Computers were first developed by the Pentagon. Then the technology was privatized.
In Canada, we too keep the rich dependent on corporate welfare.
In fact, Canadian public policy is still haunted by the Victorian legacy that a guaranteed, decent income for the poor must increase laziness, immorality and illegitimacy.
If parents want more money poured into schools, they should advise their goverment to collect more taxes from the chief beneficiaries of the schooling industry, the largest in the land. Or, vote to change it.
In 1998 in Alberta, business paid 8.7 per cent of the provincial income taxes and received 100 per cent of the benefit of a skilled work force.
But we've not been taught to analyze government or corporate budgets, if available, to see where the fantastic wealth is and where the profits go. Or learn that great wealth is accumulated, not by hard work, but by investing.
Crude oil royalties, about two per cent of the provincial budget, are undertaxed. A wealth tax would pay off schools' debts many times over.
More money thrown at poverty would cure most of it. However, it won't help students very much given the limited capacity of schools to truly educate them. It's clear that they teach the corporate ministry and not the Christian one.
Catholic students should, in religion class, have the opportunity to learn social justice for a moral economy in accordance with the Church's social teaching. The chance to find the truth and expose the lies surrounding conventional assumptions.
But don't bet on it. True social justice is outside of the curriculum.
Realize God is the Creator
I read the many articles on pro-life and the evils of abortion, in the May 24 WCR.
I was also astonished that not one mention was made that the fetus has an immortal soul given to it at conception, that God loves it, for he created it.
This makes him or her different from an animal, who God also loves, but which does not dare to address itself to its God and Creator.
The pro-life movement seems to be inclined that physical life is all important rather than the salvation of the souls. It's almost like they think they will live forever. They don't seem to realize that God himself will abort our physical lives and our wordly lives and bring us to judgment.
I noticed an article in the same issue of your paper "Court rules pro-life group not a charity" and the statement "Two days earlier the court ruled that Alliance for Life based in Winnipeg, was too political to be given charitable status." Horse feathers!
A prominent U.S. general once stated when dealing with the Russians over peace "You have to stand up to them before they will sit down with you."
It only takes 100 members to form and register a political party in this country. So why, I ask you, hasn't someone formed the "Pro-Life Party of Canada" instead of sniveling at the garden gate. I'd vote for them!
Surely we can find enough just and upright men and women who would allow their names to be on a ballot for the just and upright cause of respect and protection of life from conception to natural death. You won't get any support from the multinationals.