Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 23, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Self-righteousness blinds Alta. gov't
MLA Mary O'Neill, finds it incomprehensible that the "not truly informed" Bishop Fred Henry would dare to question the attitudes of her government ("Henry misunderstands gov't," WCR, July 19).
Attitudes are one thing, actions quite another. Surprisingly, the government's popularity (50 per cent of voters in the 1997 election) remains high despite the punishment it has administered.
Deep cuts were made to health care, "learning," and to the civil service through imposed buy-out packages.
The unkindest cut of all has been the technique of inducing fear in the electorate. We have experienced near-panic over the hyped deficit and seen real and threatened cuts to welfare recipients, the elderly, the disabled and people on AISH, and recently to mentally ill children.
This is not compassionate rule, let alone social justice.
The privatization of registries and other agencies has meant more money for a few owners and no savings for the rest of us. Excepting doctors' salaries, none of the cuts have been fully reinstated when inflation is taken into account.
There may have been some justification for austerity had the province been in the financial straitjacket claimed by Premier Ralph Klein.
However, contrary, well-documented evidence in Kevin Taft's 1996 book, Shredding the Public Interest, and subsequent bloated budget surpluses have exposed that deceit.
Alberta has scandalous abundance and a very high poverty rate (19 per cent in Edmonton). O'Neill is flatly wrong in stating that our poverty has different causes than that of Third World countries. The chief cause of poverty anywhere is lack of income in consequence of concentrated wealth.
Meanwhile, corporate welfare continues unabated. Big business, as everyone knows but sometimes forgets, is a mighty determinant of public policy.
When the Parkland Institute pointed out the shrunken middle class and the fact that here the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer faster than in any other province, the premier reacted.
He accused the institute of being "anti-Alberta" and wanted the University of Alberta to withdraw its funding. Who can be proud of assault on free speech?
One function of good government is to see that the conditions of life are tolerable, including freedom from fear. Its proper goal is social justice starting with policies that assure the fair redistribution of our wealth while protecting the environment.
When Bishop Henry contends for "the vigorous pursuit of the common good" (as opposed to private gain), he is accused of having "not a true understanding of our government's attitudes."
There are none so blind as those who will not see the injustices perpetrated in the name of democracy.
In a real democracy the citizens would control the government, not the other way around. Their role is to participate as much as possible in their own governance.
That means constantly debating issues to shape public policy for the good of all and not just at token "summits." It means opposing the self-righteous attitudes and unjust machinations of any government and its accomplices.
Henry right to link faith, justice
In the July 19 edition, Mary O'Neill, MLA for St. Albert, essentially responds to Bishop Fred Henry's critique of certain government programs by saying that the Church should stick to spiritual matters and the government will handle temporal needs.
How can you separate the two? My views on poverty, morality, education, economics, health care, etc., are all understood and seen through the eyes of faith and through my belief in God.
You cannot separate your life into spiritual and temporal divisions. For Henry, or any Catholic, to not speak out on all issues would make their faith simply empty words and meaningless.
We are compelled by our beliefs to speak out and act against injustice, inequality, and evil in society.
I would like to commend Bishop Henry for his work in bringing issues into the public forum and making people aware of issues that affect all Albertans.
Church's full teaching on homosexuality
There is much dangerous nonsense in the article which Charles Moore has put into the article you published on June 7: so much, indeed, that it discredits any legitimate point he might be making.
Keith Johnson repeats some of it and adds more of his own making on July 12 (letters).
Both Moore and Johnson make the entirely unfounded assertion that a homosexual orientation is a matter of choice. Whatever else is established (and there's a lot that isn't), it has been quite definitely established that for a substantial number of people, it is not there by choice.
The official Catechism of the Catholic Church, states the situation as it presently is known succinctly and fully:
No. 2358: "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
"These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
No. 2359: "Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."
I would add that Johnson goes on to a second basic error: that homosexuality, by tendency or practice is addictive. If it is, so is heterosexuality. There is no evidence to his assertion and much that is against it.
Of course, the great world seems to think that all sexuality is addictive, which is why it regards the Church's views on chastity and celibacy to be, if not impossible, then unnatural and unfulfilling. I am disappointed to see Johnson buying that argument in part.
I had better quickly add that I'm not a homosexual, and that I do accept the Church's teaching on this topic . . . all of it.
John Patrick Day
Letter was bigoted towards gays
The definition of bigoted is: holding fast to an opinion, belief, party, church or other position, without reason and not tolerating other views; intolerant, prejudiced, biased, narrow minded, (World Book Dictionary).
What better word to describe correspondent Keith Johnson (WCR, July 12). Yes, let us look at his "facts."
To deny evidence of genetic, biological or physiological factors connected with homosexuals reminds me of the magisterium's denial for 400 years that the world is round.
Innumerable scientific studies have verified such factors about homosexuals that are indisputable.
To quote Dr. G.J.M. van de Aardweg, of the Evergreen Society, as a scientific source regarding the non-existence of different genetic factors in the make-up of a homosexual manifests Johnson's ignorance.
The process Aardweg uses to convert homosexuals to heterosexuals through "therapy" is not only unethical, but also just does not work. Just ask a few homosexuals who went through such a demeaning process.
Aardweg's testimonials of successful "conversions" are selective, biased and far from scientific.
To equate homosexuality with necrophilia, pedophilia and sado-masochism is insulting, debasing and offensive to the estimated 10 per cent of the human race who are homosexuals and God's creation.
To hide under the cloak of the magisterium's letter to the bishops, misquoted gobbledygook, shows a serious lack of understanding of any sexual behaviour.
I am thoroughly astounded that the WCR would print such a bigoted letter that only incites intolerance, derision, hatred and, often physical violence against homosexuals.
Lillian E. McDonald
Order courageous in defending sister
I applaud the response of the School Sisters of Notre Dame to the Vatican's recent treatment of one of their members. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has permanently barred Sister Jeannine Gramick, as well as Salvatorian Father Robert Nugent from further pastoral work with lesbians and homosexuals (WCR, July 19).
In a July 13 statement, the SSND's Baltimore province said Gramick helped people margin-alized by society "live whole lives with human dignity."
With her province's support, it said she also helped "foster the reconciliation of many gay and lesbian persons and their families with those institutions from which they are alienated."
Provincial leader Sister Jane Burke announced establishment of a fund to support "an individual in pastoral ministry to those who are gay and lesbian, standing firm in our commitment as women of the Church."
Courageously, the SSNDs are upholding the church's time-honoured focus on "the priority of the person." They also demonstrate how, in the face of absolute pronouncements, women religious continue to prophetically express hope and compassion in the midst of God's people.
Roma De Robertis, SCIC
Judge lifted limits on news coverage
Re: "Court upholds injunction on abortion news" (WCR, July 12), we are most appreciative of WCR's ongoing interest in this issue - the right of media to report "inside" information about eugenic late-term abortions of the handicapped.
Shortly after your news deadline, Justice Ged Hauko ruled that he was considerably narrowing the injunction which had gagged the media since April 30. It now prevents us only from naming or otherwise identifying patients and staff.
Alberta Report had been agreeable to this restriction since breaking the story April 12, before we were taken to court. Under the order as it now stands, everything we published earlier we could publish again - unauthorized interviews with nurses, the nurses' allegation that victims of abortion sometimes survive and are left to die of neglect, the allegation that the CRHA's fetal diagnosis is often tragically wrong, and the allegation that nurses have been forced to participate in this odious business.
The only remaining restriction on publication is of the same sort that stops media from identifying minors charged under the Young Offenders Act, victims of sexual assault, children apprehended by Social Services, etc. We can live with this, and said from the outset that we would.
In short, the Calgary Regional Health Authority failed to get what it wanted: to prohibit media from publishing anything about "patient experiences."
They were trying to expand the legal definition of medical confidentiality to an absurd breadth; so widely in fact as to make whistle-blowing by doctors and nurses legally impossible. That was their game. I'm pleased to report that they lost.
Editor and publisher