Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 29, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Jesus would have withdrawn services
The following is my response to the article entitled "Let the children come to me" which appeared in the Oct. 25 WCR.
Yes, Bishop Henry, I do believe that if Jesus had been a teacher for the Calgary Catholic School Board in 1999, he would have withdrawn voluntary services.
The Gospel gives us many examples of how Jesus undertook actions that were contrary to the beliefs of the establishment of the day. He did this to teach the people how to treat others fairly. Calgary Catholic teachers did nothing more than that.
Teachers believe that good working conditions make good learning conditions for students. Calgary Catholic teacher's actions in September 1999 have resulted in long-term gains both for the teachers and for the students in the school system.
While it is true that the end does not always justify the means, one must realize that there must be a means to an end. In this case, Calgary Catholic teachers chose the least harmful, but most effective means available. No student was deprived of an education.
It would be helpful if an easier way of negotiating were possible. Bishop Henry referred to what is commonly called "mutual gains" bargaining. While this method has some proven success, those successes have not been in the area of teacher/Catholic school board negotiations.
For "mutual gains" bargaining to be successful, it must start with the premise that both sides have an equal right to solve their concerns, or interests. It cannot be successful if one side starts from the premise that it is in control.
In closing I would like to remind readers that the term "work-to-rule" was a creation of the media and the school board in this labour dispute. Teachers' actions concerned the withdrawal of voluntary services.
Calgary Catholic Teachers
ATA Local #55
Pope raised some unsettling issues
The reports about the pope's visits to India and Georgia raise some unsettling matters for many Christians and non-Christians (WCR, Nov. 15).
The pope is quoted as saying, "The Church's one ambition is to continue Christ's mission of service and love." Wonderful.
There is a lot of "service and love" practised by many Christians and non-Christian people and yet the global village is in dire need of experiencing the values and example of the earthly Jesus.
Convoluted values, economic dictatorships, exploitation, militarism, unemployment, poverty, starvation, dehumanized working conditions, diminished social programs prevail.
The Asian people have reason to question where the service and love of the one billion Catholics, not to mention the other Christians, is.
They are also aware of what Christian Europe inflicted on Africa and the Western Hemisphere. Mahatma Ghandi was impressed with Jesus, his values and example, but had trouble with the Christian exploiters and oppressors. The problems haven't disappeared, merely changed.
Evangelism sounds too much like proselytism, a process not welcome in India and Georgia. Is religious affiliation the focal point and is it necessary to promote and live the values and example of the earthly Jesus in order to transform the world into a semblance of God's kingdom?
The Church in Asia document states that the Church must proclaim Christ as the "only saviour." Is this an assumption made by the official Church? The Muslims will never accept that. Why would the Hindus? Their religion predates Christianity by centuries.
God is one. Why make assumptions? St. Paul in Romans 1:20 says, "Ever since God created the world, his everlasting power and deity, however invisible, have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made."
Ever since humans have inhabited the earth, they have been in search of their origin which has led them to an ultimate reality. This is how the great religions developed, including the human values we all share.
Considering the precarious human situation globally and our seeming inability to drastically transform the world, a fresh examination of our relationship with Jesus seems in order.
The core of the problem seems to be an overemphasis on the divinity of Jesus at the expense of his earthly humanity.
I sometimes wonder whether Christianity and the world wouldn't be better served if we were to recognize Jesus simply and lovingly as an extremely great prophet and left the divinity to the one Jesus called "Our Father."
A surprisingly defensive reaction
Re: "Letter shows ignorance of Alta. francophone reality" (WCR, Nov. 8).
It is surprising how a congratulatory letter, celebrating Saint Joachim's centenary, can elicit a defensive response such as Jocelyne Belanger's.
I am unconditionally supportive of the survival of Saint-Joachim Parish. It is precisely for that reason that I made the "modest proposal" for Saint-Joachim to celebrate one Mass each week in English.
I think that that would attract new parishioners and help to alleviate the concern about diminishing attendance and participation. Your Church could become merely a historic site and a museum, if you don't attract enough people.
I am not "ignorant" of the Alberta francophone anxiety about maintaining cultural identity. Many of my best friends are francophone Albertans and, believe me, they have made sure that I understand and sympathize.
Furthermore, I am a first generation immigrant and, as such, I have experienced the agony of maintaining cultural identity.
I wish Saint-Joachim's well and hope the parish will enjoy vitality and abundant blessings. I fear though that francophone Masses in anglophone parishes, and particularly in the basilica, as Jocelyne suggests, would be the end of Saint-Joachim's.
Whatever you do, I may join your parish anyway, because I like you.
School board should have been sensitive
I would like to express my deep regrets for the actions of the St. Albert Catholic school board on their specific action in the last two weeks. That is, when they failed to notify the student who was sexually assaulted that the boy was returning to school. On that day, she was told by her girlfriend.
Thank goodness that she had someone who cared enough to tell her. Imagine the shock and horror she would have endured if she would have encountered that young man face to face. This should have been the responsibility of the school board.
The Catholic school system, as your paper describes it in the Nov. 8 WCR is different, has morals, and is especially sensitive to their students and the values they teach them. If that is the case, why were they not sensitive to this young girl? Common sense should have told the board, that they need to tell the girl that she could encounter this young man.
I was saddened when I heard this on the news, that she was not told.
I hope and pray, now that the young man has been expelled, that the board has learned something valuable in being sensitive to their students.
At least, I hope they have given this girl, her family, and others involved a letter of apology to help soften the blow. They have a moral obligation to make this situation right with this young woman.
Church has medicine for ailment
I am writing in response to the letter by Darlene Starrs, "Church too reliant on old theology" (WCR, Nov. 22).
Minding that I wish my reply to remain brief, I could otherwise very easily, and point by point, illustrate the numerous misconceptions, indeed heretical statements, that Ms. Starrs spouts in her diatribe against Holy Mother Church.
For example, according to Starrs, we no longer need male celibate ordained priests, at least certainly not to consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord Saviour, or essentially for any other purpose.
The suggestions Starrs puts forward have been around from the time of the Protestant Reformation. They are as heretical now as they were back then.
Since Starrs has no place for the teaching and tradition of Holy Mother Church, one wonders why she remains in the Church.
Thankfully, the Church has the right kind of medicine for this ailment which she has used throughout her earthly pilgrimage to protect us from such infections: excommunication.
If there is any shred of truth in Starrs' letter, it is that it is true there is no shortage of priests in the Catholic Church, although not as Starrs understands it. There are plenty of vocations to the religious life and the priesthood (myself being one).
Where there is orthodoxy and orthopraxis, loyalty to the pope and magisterium, and where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated with the dignity and sacred reverence that is due to it, there will you find seminaries and religious houses bursting at the seams.
It would seem to me that if you are prepared to publish letters like that of Darlene Starrs (WCR, Nov.22) that you should also be prepared to publish a critique or disclaimer immediately following them.
Some of your more credulous readers may have the mistaken impression that Darlene is Catholic and what she wrote has some relationship to truth.