Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 19, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Henry misunderstands gov't
Bishop Fred Henry's article in the June 28 WCR ("Province squeezes disabled majority") has prompted me to write this letter. But before I get to the crux of it, I would like to make a few comments which, I trust, place my thoughts squarely in the Church of the 20th century.
I understand and support liberation theology when it undertakes to liberate the oppressed from the tyranny of an oppressive government, through legitimate Church intervention in the name of social justice.
Having said that, I also know that we do not live in generally dire, third world conditions. Our poverty is often of another nature and from different causes. We do have a provincial government that takes its responsibilities for the poor and the marginalized seriously.
That is why the government of the day established the Assured Income for Severely Handicapped program (AISH) some 20 years ago. My colleagues and I in government continue to support such programs and our intent is to make sure that everyone can live in freedom and with dignity in our province.
We, like everyone else, are not perfect but, as your representatives in government, we strive to create a just and fair society.
I believe it is my job as a member of the government to work with matters such as social programs and the government policy that establishes them.
I also believe that it is the role of the Church's hierarchy to lead in matters spiritual.
With all due respect for the office, I trust that Bishop Henry will channel his efforts in that area rather than expending his energies on political commentary that is not truly informed. His article was based on speculative assumptions and not on a true understanding of our government's attitudes.
I would like to suggest that we find a way for the Church and state to work respectively and respectfully to ensure that the spiritual and temporal needs of Albertans are met.
Mary O'Neill, MLA
Alberta has crisis of the spirit
Re: "Province squeezes disabled majority" by Bishop Fred Henry (WCR, June 28).
I am deeply moved that a leader in the Roman Catholic Church in Alberta has spoken out in regards to the needs of people with special needs in the province of Alberta.
The attitude of economic rationalism is a blight upon our society. Rather than people with special needs (the handicapped, the elderly, children, parents, aboriginal people, people with medical needs and those who care for them, immigrants, teachers, our brothers and sisters in the Third World) being seen as a blessing, they are seen as a cost.
The crisis is not one of economics. The crisis is one of spirit. We are losing the spirit of why there is government, which is for the people.
We are losing the spirit of God which is "blessed are the poor . . .".
I have laboured in love for more than 25 years at building community with persons with special needs. Over the years I have seen the erosion of funding for persons with special needs.
I am appalled at the downloading of the debt upon the backs of persons who are not responsible for creating the debt. The cry of "balance the budget at all costs" is analogous to "feed them cake."
The Alberta Advantage is a clever PR term that has at its roots the seduction of Christians into a mindset that everything is fine in Alberta. Everything is not fine. People are suffering, but the suffering is often hidden. We do not want to see the poor.
The gift of the poor is that they remind us that ultimately each one of us is poor, that each of us is inter-dependent upon one another.
The crisis of spirit is in the end a crisis of the heart, a crisis of the shrivelled heart, a crisis of compassion. The crisis is about balance - not of budget, but of mind and heart.
Economics that is not driven by the needs of people but rather by the head is simply a form of oppression. And the oppression in Alberta is the oppression of power, consumerism and blindness.
Thank you Bishop Henry for speaking out, for reminding us that the value of people is more than economics - it is about the heart; it is about relationships; it is about justice; it is about love.
Chinook L'Arche Society
Parish restructuring based on secular humanism
Open letter to Archbishop Thomas Collins Re: Implementation of amalgamation of Spruce Grove and Stony Plain parishes:
I would firstly like to welcome you as our new shepherd and say that when I heard you speak at my daughter's Confirmation in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Stony Plain, I was deeply impressed and had a renewed hope for the direction of the local Church.
My hopes however were dashed after reading in the WCR that implementation of the ToPs recommendations were to proceed. In my opinion this plan is nothing short of social engineering through the demise of established Christian communities.
This, followed by a letter to the parishes of Spruce Grove and Stony Plain that the implementation of amalgamation was to begin immediately, left me in a rather unsettled state.
We moved to Stony Plain seven years ago and settled on an acreage next to Ephphatha House. They are good neighbours and we celebrate Eucharist with them when it is not in conflict with our parish commitment.
I have lived in Edmonton and served the Church in various ministries; I have lived in the NWT and worked in some of the missions; I lived in Edson and served as pastoral assistant for a few years before moving to Stony Plain.
My experience of community is wide and varied. It is therefore with dismay that I see the demise of what I experienced as a very vibrant and alive community, which I'm sure you witnessed when you came to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation.
I understand the various models of Church advanced by Father Avery Dulles and it would appear that those who advanced the reconstruction plan are coming from an "institutional" model and ignoring the destruction of the "community" model in their fervour to "fix" a problem.
I believe that we as Christians are called to be counter-cultural and a sign of contradiction to the secular humanist influences in our society. What I see has happened is the social planners of our Church embracing the secular humanist philosophy of "the culture of death" through the closure of vibrant alive communities.
We should as Christians be promoting "the culture of life" and allow God to be the instrument of solutions to our problems rather than some ill-informed social engineers.
I do pray you reconsider the implementing of this plan. I would suggest further that you investigate personally the harm and damage it is causing to community life where the plan is being implemented.
I recently re-watched the movie The Mission and the parallel of decisions based on fear rather than on faith by the hierarchy of the Church then and the resulting consequences to community life seem altogether too real to the decisions being made in our archdiocese today.
Follow Church's guidance on gays
I would like to respond to Frank Kirby's letter (WCR, June 28) on Charles Moore's article (WCR, June 7).
First, I want to state that a close friend of mine is homosexual, but that does not change the fact that I love him as my brother in Christ. However, even though some people may be same-sex oriented, it is still wrong to act on these emotions.
Mr. Kirby, you called this view archaic, but what, may I ask, is wrong with the views that the Church have maintained from the time of Christ?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 2357-2359) recognizes that homosexuals do not choose their orientation, but it also states that they are called to chastity. God's purpose for sex is not self-gratification, but reproduction, which is not ever naturally possible in gay couples.
The Holy Scriptures also refer to gay tendencies, but state that to act on them is wrong (see Genesis 1:19, Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:10 and 1 Timothy 1:10).
Indeed, God's design is goodness, love, mercy, etc., but he also calls us to be responsible with and accountable for what he has given us. We are to love everyone regardless of whether they label people "gay" - or "homophobic" - and not enter into the hatred and pride ourselves.
Mr. Kirby, I found it almost humorous that you heatedly accused Mr. Moore and those "like" him of a "purely emotional diatribe void of any historical, sociological, psychological and sound theological roots."
Is the Catholic Church not sound theologically? I believe that Charles Moore is only doing what we all should: Follow the gentle guidance of the magisterium of our Church.
Toby Lauren Noster
Priests should preach from the heart
Are there any priests who can give a homily without having to read it? I feel at least a two or-three minute reflection from the heart would be better than 10 or 15 minutes of just words.
When Jesus spoke to his disciples, did he read to them or speak from the heart? I must compare to the evangelical ministers who seem to have excellent public speaking skills.
Is there any way our priests can learn from their speaking skills so they can better captivate our attention? A lot of the sermons I hear talk about praying to God, the Holy Spirit (never with Mary), etc., etc., over and over. But I never seem to hear of any results of prayer.
I have had many results myself, but I never hear of the priests mentioning the results of people's prayers. I think this is why places like Medjugorje, Fatima and Lourdes attract so many people - because it's God's way of getting our attention directly.