Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 27, 2000
WCR Letters to the Editor
Health care system needs radical change
Re: "Repair the public health system," by Bishop Fred Henry (WCR, March 6).
Key points of your letter addressing proposed Bill 11 appearing in the WCR are puzzling. As Calgary Catholics and Albertans, we were very surprised and very disappointed to read about your attack.
You said health care is becoming increasingly "mechanistic, commercial and soulless."
We recently returned from two years in London, England where we were subjected to the UK's "public" health care system; it is truly "soulless." There are much, much longer waiting lists than here in Alberta and old, unpleasant, run down hospital buildings symptomatic of a system in decline.
The Canadian "public" health care system is heading in the same direction and we should be learning from the UK's experiences.
You condemned "the shift towards a bottom-line." Our families are responsible for their household bottom-lines, the diocese (I hope) is responsible for making its ends meet and, whether you agree or not, I would expect that our governments play by the same rules and act fiscally responsible by making their ends meet.
The facts are:
Given nos. 2 to 4 above as true, anyone who states that we can continue to pour more and more and more taxpayers' money into a purely so-called "public" system to achieve no. 1 above has not done his homework. It is not sustainable.
- Canadians and Albertans want a good health care system where good means full, rapid access to all required health services on demand. This may or may not be achievable.
- In recent years, the amount of money available for most government services including health care has dwindled given cutbacks at every level. These cutbacks were long overdue in a country that has lived well beyond its means for too long.
- Federal governments, provincial governments and unions are not good custodians of service institutions. There is a wealth of evidence to support this statement. While our health care professionals are good people, the "public" institutions they work for and the union organizations that direct them have not been, are not and never will be models of efficiency or be committed to achieving continuous operating improvement.
- Our population is aging, baby boomers are retiring and there are fewer taxpayers supporting a rapidly growing demand for health care services.
There isn't enough money (even at US$30+ oil which could drop to US$12 again sooner or later).
Why are we not working together and finding innovative ways to address this growing crisis? The critics of Bill 11 are putting the blinders on precisely at a time when we desperately need creative new ideas.
If you want to see more "soul" in our health care system, I suggest your next letter make positive, practical suggestions on how we address the difficult challenge of health care funding in the future.
Marie and John Lentsch
Bishops voiced Catholics' concerns
As I read the article "Bishops take heat for opposing gay rights" (WCR, March 13), I could not help wondering at the direction in which our elected politicians seem to be pushing our country.
I do not recall hearing any great hue or cry from the Canadian public demanding attention to the issue of granting "spousal" benefits to homosexual couples, which of course is what Liberal MP Anne McLellan has been busy doing with Bill C-23.
This bill, as I read it, appears to do nothing more than mollify a small, but extremely vocal, special-interest minority group. This bill requires the government to amend over 68 federal statutes to give homosexual couples in committed relationships (they must have been together at least one year in a "conjugal" relationship) the same benefits as those of common-law partners.
When McLellan was challenged by a group of angry constituents at a recent town hall meeting concerning this legislation and its impact on families, it was an affront to watch Councillor Michael Phair at her side, cheering and clapping his hands, oblivious of the effect he was having on the many people who were opposed.
MP Real Menard asked Bishop Brendan O'Brien "who was consulted in preparing the bishops' brief?" I ask who of the Canadian public was consulted?
The reality is that even debate with the justice committee is limited, and a free vote in the House of Commons will not be allowed by the prime minister.
Thankfully the representatives of Canadian bishops were able to voice the concerns of Catholic Canadians regarding Bill C-23. We know they were listened to; question is: will they be heard.
School reform pushed through hastily
On March 10 the three presidents representing Alberta's public and Catholic school boards made public a collaboratively developed proposal to radically change the way Catholic education is delivered in our province (WCR, March 20).
The proposal would seem to be an attractive alternative to the unsatisfactory four-by-four legislation now in effect when Catholic jurisdictions wish to extend their boundaries. However, Catholics and public school supporters alike need to think very carefully about the possible implications if these proposals become law.
Under the proposal the Catholic boards would be allowed to extend their boundaries selectively, and all parents, Catholic and non-Catholic, would be able to choose between the public and the Catholic school.
This says something very significant about the notion of Catholic education.
The Alberta Act addressed the right of the religious minority, Roman Catholic or Protestant, to separate from the public school system in order to educate their children in the heritage, beliefs and values of their faith apart from the influence of the dominant culture.
Under this proposal Catholic education becomes an educational alternative available to all. How much compromising of Catholic education will occur in order to attract and retain students?
Also, since there will be no interest on the part of Catholic boards to extend their boundaries to include less densely populated areas, will the Catholics in those areas continue to remain deprived of Catholic education?
Since urban centres are already served by public and Catholic school jurisdictions with generally co-terminus boundaries the impact of the proposal would be felt primarily on rural boards, particularly those adjacent to urban jurisdictions.
How much disharmony and mistrust will be created as communities see the viability of their local school threatened?
St. Albert presents a special problem. The proposal would have Greater St. Albert Catholic Public become the separate board and the existing St. Albert Protestant Separate District would become the public board.
De facto, the separate school rights of Protestants would be extinguished. Should we not all be concerned when constitutional rights can be so cavalierly abolished?
Further, when rural boards, already faced with serious sparsity and density concerns, become further decimated and fragmented by the extension of the Catholic boards, and are no longer viable, they will have no alternative but to regionalize.
Since boundaries are to be co-terminus, 16 Catholic boards and 16 public boards would soon be the reality.
The changes would not necessarily stop there. Given the present government's enthusiasm for centralization and with Catholic education now but an optional alternative, for how long would two governance structures serving the same population be considered necessary?
The haste to have the proposal brought to the legislature, the lack of prior consultation with the jurisdictions most affected and the lack of information needed to determine all the ramifications if the proposed changes are enacted in law should give us all strong cause for concern.
Sturgeon School Division
Let's use married priests, sisters
Re: "Wives welcome at deacon's jubilee" (WCR, Feb. 21).
The article about deacons has to bring a great deal of pain to our many men who have relinquished their priesthood to be married. Also included in this are the many sisters of religious communities as well.
I personally am troubled by the fact that our Church in its wisdom shows such kindness to deacons who are as your article of Feb. 21 states "in the margins" in a parish and not to our "ex" priests and nuns.
Anyone with any degree of knowledge about our Catholic Church knows the huge need for deacons in part is because our beloved priests are spread so thin that we are closing parishes and at the same time doubling the workload on our pastors.
The question begs to be asked by we lay people, if we are so generous to deacons and in this case deacons' wives, why can't we afford the opportunity for our married priests and sisters to return to the parishes.
They have the vocations and with their families would number in the thousands across Canada and they are the essence of Christianity.
They have the training, the experience and the vocation and for the most part they have participated in the sacrament of marriage.
We will take ordained married clerics from other religions who want to convert to Catholicism and welcome them to the Catholic priesthood.
I speak of our sisters as well when I think how many have been lost from their religious communities because of our lack of Catholic generosity to keep them working with we the lay people married or not.
No modern science in Bible
I much enjoyed being interviewed by Anh Hoang and her article on St. Joseph's College (WCR March 6). However, a number of my colleagues and students have pointed out an error that needs correction.
I am quoted to have said, "But people don't realize how much science is in the Bible." Stated that way it gives the impression I think that the Bible is a book of science.
Not true. To be sure, there are many references to nature in God's Word. However, these reflect an ancient science. For example, there is a dome or firmament overhead (Genesis 1:6-8, Psalm 19:1) that upholds a sea of water (Psalm 104:1-4, Psalm 148:1-6).
My statement should have read, "But people don't realize how much ancient science is in the Bible." My point is that because the science is ancient there is no reason for us to go to the Scriptures looking for modern science.
St. Joseph's College
Forgetting not part of forgiveness
I would like to correct June Miller's statement which appeared in the Feb. 21 WCR.
She states "To fully forgive, we have to also forget."
The fifth commandment says, "Do not kill."
How can we possibly forget what happens to ourselves if our child has been kidnapped, tortured and killed?
Iren Ibolya Juhasz