Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 4, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Timorese blood on Canada's hands
We have been indoctrinated to what Pope John Paul has called the "culture of death." However, many Canadians, if they knew about the blood dripping from their hands from the killing of millions of innocents abroad, past and present, would be horrified.
One example, from a litany of atrocities, is East Timor. We, through our leaders, are complicit in the recent bloodbath that has "killed tens of thousands of people and left some 200,000 homeless," ("Church seeks end to Timor slaughter," WCR, Sept. 20).
It was the direct consequence of an earlier genocide for which we are also responsible. It wasn't news in the mainstream media at the time because it was committed by Indonesia backed by its accomplice, our "friend," the U.S.
In December 1975, Indonesian dictator Suharto's armies invaded and annexed East Timor two days after meeting with American President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger. They had asked him to delay the invasion until after they left Jakarta.
Ninety per cent of the arms used - arms shipments increased during the Carter administration - were supplied by U.S. manufacturers and their Canadian subsidiaries.
As Western democracies looked the other way, some 200,000 - 30 per cent of the East Timorese population - were slaughtered or starved to death between 1975 and 1978. The UN peacekeeping force there now is 24 years late.
East Timor was a long-time colony hungry for independence until Indonesia forcibly replaced Portugal as the oppressing power. The West could have prevented the genocide, but it gave UN resolutions in support of Timor short shrift.
The freedom-minded Timorese and their good example to other countries in the region threatened Indonesia, which also wanted its rich oil fields. Timor's strategic location, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans was in America's "national" interest of dominating the S.E. Asian sea lanes during the hyped Cold War.
Western interference actually started in the region in the early 1960s. The CIA sponsored the coup in Indonesia that ousted the popular nationalist Sukarno and resulted in the military dictatorship of Suharto.
In the conflict, more than 500,000 Indonesians, mostly landless peasants, were killed. It was the biggest extermination since the Holocaust.
We, like the U.S., have tons of trade and investment with Indonesia. However, there is no connection between an open and relatively free society at home and its external violence and repression. Unfortunately, investors' rights take precedence over human rights.
We aren't taught about the interconnection between big business, war and Realpolitik. We should be asking why, if we believe in democracy.
Cassidy was unforgettable person
With the death of Mary Jo Cassidy in Edmonton on Aug. 25, a life of love and service to others has come to an end. No one who met her could ever, I think, forget her.
It is for those who knew her better and longer to set out the factual details of her inspiring life. This is merely the tribute of one who knew her briefly and intermittently and yet knew her at once as a person who truly believed that all human beings are sacred and who lived the belief.
Her life made the world a better place for hundreds, if not thousands, of people. By her death, the world is diminished.
Her love, warmth, generosity and the healing power of her presence were perhaps best reflected in her smile.
It was a smile, in Scott Fitzgerald's words, that you come across four or five times in a lifetime. "It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey."
The latter part of her life was dedicated to the healing of others. How well she succeeded was evidenced by the prayers and cards, the flowers and visits of the many, many people whose lives she touched and, touching them, made them better.
We are left with a great burden of sadness but we know the sadness is for ourselves. As for Mary Jo herself, if happiness is measured by the love of others, hers must have been one of the happiest lives lived.
M. Naeem Rauf
Laity should lead Communion services
After reading the letter in the Aug. 23 WCR by Collette Fetaz from Halkirk, I experienced a great sense of sorrow for her and the parishioners of her community and other communities, both rural and urban who have had their churches closed and have been told they have to attend services at other parishes.
Our parish was in a similar situation almost three years ago, when our priest took a sabbatical for a year and informed us he would not return.
Fortunately, our beloved archbishop as well as our beloved pastors before this occurred had the foresight and wisdom to realize that the probability of our continuing to be served by the ordained was diminishing very quickly and in their wisdom prepared our parish for this eventuality.
They called upon the laity to step forward and reclaim their rightful place within the structure of the Church as they realized without the laity there would be no Church.
They encouraged the formation and training of lay presiders. When our last priest left we were well prepared and have continued to keep our church open and growing in faith.
We have at the moment a solid base of 50 parishioners actively involved in the Liturgy of the Word and Eucharist along with a minimum of an additional 50 to 60 parishioners involved in other areas of our weekly celebrations.
The community is not without ordained ministering, as we do have a priest celebrate Mass on the first Sunday of the month. As well, there are occasions where a priest is here to celebrate a wedding or funeral and is able to stay and celebrate with us.
We are also fortunate to have a deacon in the archdiocese who is on occasion able to assist.
However, we all know it is getting harder to get priests to come here at any time. They are all getting older and no longer willing or able to do the travelling required to serve this area. For that matter a large number of us are getting older and do not enjoy travelling large distances.
To force or insist parishioners, young and old, some of whom are disabled and unable to drive or travel long distances out of their beloved faith families and communities to attend services in a church (or churches) without a personal feeling to them is a great travesty.
We all know that "family" is very important to us and to expect us to thrive without this aspect of a relationship is failing to understand the true meaning of "faith families."
Those parishes would continue to thrive and prosper in their faith as we have done and continue to do at St. Peter Celestin in Slave Lake with lay services.
It is my hope and prayer that the people involved in the ToPs program would come to realize the damage they are doing to the laity in both rural and urban communities by closing churches.
They are driving the laity away from the Roman Catholic faith into the arms of other denominations or away from the church period. Certainly not a good example for our youth.
We would be happy to have a full-time pastor who is willing to follow or is following the concepts of Vatican II and is willing to maintain the activities of the laity.
My prayers are with Ms. Fetaz and others who are in the same situation. Hopefully those of the hierarchy in the Archdiocese of Edmonton will see the light beckoning the laity to take a much more active role in the diocese and allow displaced faith families to have lay services in their own communities.
Still more Catechism clarifications
Robert Benn may well misunderstand the official Catechism's position on homosexuality. He certainly misunderstood my letter of Aug. 23.
As Mr. Benn's letter gives a (no doubt unintentionally) mistaken impression that the sentence he cites from the Addenda and Corrigenda to the Catechism replaces the whole section rather than one sentence, it is worth repeating in full in the corrected version:
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them 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."
I would here add a phrase from the preceding paragraph which defines the reasons why the Church regards homosexuality as objectively disordered: "Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained."
Put together, I cannot agree that there is a "world of difference" between the old and the new versions.
As a statement of scientific fact, the fact that for this minority, the condition is not chosen, stands good.
To repeat from Paragraph 2357: "Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained." That is, in fact, my own position.
I did not assert that a homosexual inclination is genetically determined, because, as Mr. Benn rightly notes, that is an unproven issue. But, and this is where he errs, it cannot be excluded either.
What is agreed is that the inclination is established by such an early stage of childhood (well before the age of reason) that it is not chosen by the individual concerned.
I quite agree with the proposition that homosexual behaviour can indeed be a choice.
First, most homosexual activity is carried on by people who are not exclusively or even predominantly homosexual in their inclinations.
Second, the remedy advanced by the Church, namely a life of single chastity, is not an impossible option.
It is admitted to be difficult, however, and that difficulty is not underestimated either by the Church or by me.
John Patrick Day