Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 20, 2000
WCR Letters to the Editor
Moore should read social teachings
Opinion writer Charles Moore says he is a member of the far "Right wing with a social conscience" (WCR, Oct. 30). He obviously hasn't read the Church's social teachings.
He cites the case of a poor 56-year-old invalid. The woman is required by social services - often a formality - to apply for a CPP disability pension. Her medicare premiums (Alberta and B.C. only) and pharmacare (Blue Cross) premiums would not be covered by the CPP.
What he doesn't tell is that disability pensions pay a lot more than social assistance. Since she has been long unemployed she likely won't qualify for the CPP and will have to remain on welfare.
Why isn't she grateful? He writes "even poor people in our capitalist economy are generally better off than all but the most wealthy in Third World socialist economies."
That's compassionate conservativism for the armies of the poor including the disabled - cheer up it could be worse.
Moore blames her plight on public "socialist bureaucracies" along with "relatively well-off people" on "EI handouts." Private corporate tyrannies are not similarly condemned.
He admits that he isn't an actuary and doesn't mind living on a low income. He must not have a family to support.
He can't be an economist either. This country's annual GDP is about one trillion dollars with assets of more than three trillion dollars. If these embarassing amounts were distributed fairly (divided equally it is $133,000 per capita), as the pope wrote, no one would be poor.
The complete social teachings of the Church will soon be available in book form. It will have topics relating to "savage capitalism," "a just distribution of our wealth," the "vigorous pursuit of the common good," and the "preferential option for the poor." Let's pray that Moore reads it.
Gospel living lies an attitude change away
Charles Moore's article, "Right wing with a social conscience" (WCR, Oct. 30), makes sense if based on a belief that the "real world: is about creating material wealth.
I'd like to challenge Moore to neither think too highly nor too lowly of himself, based on his income level. I'd like to challenge his sense of purpose to something other (and more) than "creating wealth."
I'd even like to suggest that sometimes the poor (as in sick, disabled, unemployed) can teach us something about what the "real world" is. This is because often their illusions (political or otherwise) have largely been broken, and their "real" friends discovered.
Moore seems to find it easier to usher in a whole new political and economic system before improving the lot of others right now. There is something not quite right about waiting for the right political system to enable one to "create" the right amount of wealth before using it for others.
Perhaps Gospel living lies only an attitude away. If you can't afford to work yourself into a very low tax bracket through charitable donations, then perhaps you can pay those taxes with more gratitude than resentment.
A change in attitude may even applaud the efforts of those who work through the tedium of bureaucracy to make a very real difference to those on the receiving end.
You may indeed arrive at that end before meeting your wealth target, regardless of your income level. You may then welcome compassion, in many and varied ways.
Mary Anne Schleinich
Don't reduce Gospel to party politics
In his Nov. 6 column ("Why journalists ridicule Christianity"), Charles Moore rightly protests a few recent instances of media "cheap shots" at Stockwell Day's religion.
Unfortunately, by reducing the Gospel to the level of party politics, Moore does more violence to the Christian message than any degree of secular sarcasm could hope to achieve.
The Gospel, while certainly not denigrating politics, always transcends partisan attitudes. But, as if neglecting this fundamental Christian truth were not sufficient, Moore proceeds to ignore historical reality by suggesting that the values of social democracy are necessarily anti-Christian.
In a vain attempt to support this contention Moore simply passes judgment on the faith of some of our recent political leaders.
We can only conclude that he would not hesitate to pass similar judgment on the likes of such great Christian leaders as Tommy Douglas, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Pope John Paul II - to name just a few who have espoused the values of social democracy.
An offensive use of Holocaust language
The article by Charles Moore in the Nov. 13 WCR is offensive to Christians and Jews by the trivial appropriation of Holocaust language and metaphor to rant on about a different issue which is totally unrelated. "Kristallnacht" was a particularly horrific night when mostly Christians began a systematic campaign of terror that was to lead to Hitler's "final solution."
To employ the language of the Holocaust in reference to the financial woes of Church institutions caught in the web of legal actions resulting from their (vicarious) liability in cases of cultural, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated against native youth is most obscene.
There is no doubt that members of the Christian churches and institutions which are currently before the judiciary may question the zeal of police and public prosecutors, and without a doubt the interests of certain legal consultants. To suggest that this is all a part of a conspiracy against the Church is ludicrous and to employ a comparison such as "the final solution to the Christian problem" is to strain the bounds of decency.
To allow the publication of this article at all is a major faux pas on the part of the WCR, but to have done so during the actual week of "Kristallnacht" was most insensitive and demeaning.
Death penalty is a form of torture
I recently read an article by a Franciscan in which he stated he came across a thesis by a Cardinal de Lugo, whom he said was a bright light in the field of moral theology.
This thesis dealt with the use of torture in securing a confession. He came to the conclusion that it would be wrong to torture a man more than twice, unless the first torture had not been too severe!! In that case it is permissible to torture him three times.
I dismissed this as hogwash, until I read the item about the views of a modern moral theologian Jesuit Father Avery Dulles on the death penalty ("Dulles: Church death penalty stand not binding," WCR, Oct. 30).
As a member of Amnesty International and life-long Christian, I do not agree with his casuistry. Is not the death penalty the ultimate torture?
Amnesty International is presently engaged in a campaign to abolish torture throughout the world, but the likes of Augusto Pinochet, and his ilk can take heart in the fact that a Jesuit theologian of no mean stature supports him against sister Catholics and fellow priests.
Is it not a strange world in which Catholics who vehemently oppose abortion (even though it is only a belief that a fetus is a person) have no qualms about agreeing to the taking of the life of another (indisputable) human being, by means of state-sanctioned killing?
When Christ spoke to the woman "taken in adultery," did he not make his teaching clear? "He that is without sin, cast the first stone." If that is the criterion then no human can put a person to death.
With regard to slavery, human rights, including women's and children's rights, the Church has not been a leader, but a poor, and at times, reluctant follower.
Is it any wonder that so many Catholics vote for capitalist parties, like the Canadian Alliance, when they have the likes of Dulles to justify their position?
Article on departing priests was distasteful
Re: "Departing priests attracted by money, women" (WCR, Oct. 30).
I want to express my displeasure on your decision, as editor, to publish the above article. I can see no useful purpose in including it in our archdiocesan newspaper.
It smacks more of gossip than of news. It is distasteful and offensive to the many Polish priests who faithfully serve many parishes in this archdiocese. Surely the paper has more newsworthy and useful articles to publish than this.
I know many priests in Poland; never have I heard such accusations. These are priests with the legacy of over 2,600 fellow priests who were martyred in World War II, the priests who sacrifice their attachment to their homeland and serve the missions throughout the world, including generous service to Canada and our own archdiocese.
The article makes the priests' actions sound criminal! Yet I do not believe that there is a single priest in jail at this time.
If the WCR needs to fill space with such nasty and discriminatory materials, perhaps they should consider publishing fewer pages and reducing the assessment to the parishes.
Father Mitchell Fidyka
Sacred Heart Parish
Eulogies needed at funerals
Re: Good TV funeral was bad liturgy (WCR, Oct. 30).
Bishop Fred Henry insists that there should be no eulogy at funeral liturgies. He suggests, rather, that eulogies be reserved for the vigil of the deceased, the gravesite or the funeral reception.
Unfortunately, if this is strictly observed, the words of remembrance that comfort and lift the spirits of mourning families are not heard by those who are unable to attend the vigil, the interment or the funeral reception.
Too often, homilists do not know the deceased well enough to offer the kind of comfort and hope that well-prepared eulogies provide.
While the funeral liturgy is complete in itself from a liturgical and Eucharistic standpoint, it can seem rather heavy, cold and empty to those gathered if no one is able to speak of the deceased in other than a liturgically correct manner.
Human beings need the opportunity not only to celebrate eternal life, but also to share the experience of their loss, and where better than at a Christian funeral?
Rather than relegate the eulogy to a time and place where the majority of those attending the funeral will not have the opportunity to hear it, it would be better if liturgists could draft solid guidelines for good eulogies.
Otherwise, the Church misses out on living, more fully, one of Jesus' beatitudes: "Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted (Matt 5.5)."
Pomp found at other Church events
I would like to comment on remarks by Bishop Fred Henry concerning the recent funeral of the Rt. Hon. Pierre Elliot Trudeau - "Good TV funeral was bad liturgy" (WCR, Oct. 20).
I question whether Bishop Henry has ever looked in a mirror belonging to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Anyone who has witnessed the formal installation of an archbishop or bishop, or the investiture of new cardinals in Rome will recognize my analogy.
During these ceremonies, we see the upper echelon of the Catholic Church sitting on elevated chairs (thrones perhaps), wearing gold-embossed vestments, pointy hats inlaid with gold trim, and holding bright, shiny sharp sticks (staffs).
They are attended by numerous priests and deacons (deaconesses need not apply) and scores of altar boys (few, if any, altar girls).
The congregation sits on a lower level, and spends an hour or three concentrating on, and paying homage to the pomp and circumstance of such grandiose events.
Does Henry not think that good liturgy would take a distant back seat, to such staged visual effects under these pompous circumstances?
Could he not appreciate that the eulogies given by Mr. Heenan, Senator Jacques Hebert and Justin Trudeau complemented the excellent homily delivered by Father Jean-Guy Dubuc?
Dr. M.I. DeAbreu
Canadian flag should be used as funeral pall
This month being the month dedicated to the holy souls and also Remembrance Day in honour of those men and women who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives for peace and justice, I feel obliged to write regarding our respect for the traditions of our veterans.
With the revised funeral rites guidelines, the use of the flag on the coffin of the deceased veterans is discouraged and the white pall of Baptism encouraged.
For many of our veterans who have served their country in military service, the Canadian flag is the symbol of their baptismal commitment lived out through their service to their country and the world.
Also, many are members of the Royal Canadian Legion who have a meaningful ceremony at the funerals of their members with the last post as a mark of respect for their comrades. This has always been a tradition which we have failed to incorporate into our revised funeral rites.
At present, many Catholic veterans are disturbed that this traditional rite cannot be afforded to them in the Catholic Church. Whether this is theologically or liturgically correct, let us also not forget to consider whether it is pastorally correct.
Let us hope that we don't become too rigorous and legalistic that we fail to be compassionate to the honour of our veterans and those who serve in other security services and who risk their lives in the service of their country.
Did you know that the Archdiocese of Edmonton provided one of the largest number of chaplains to the Canadian military during World War II? That St. Joseph's High School in Edmonton had one of the largest number of young men who were killed in World War II. May we never lose our sensitivity to God and country.
Father Don Stein
Royal Canadian Legion