Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 2, 2001
WCR Letters to the Editor
Elections, but no democracy
The results of the recent provincial election showed that a silent majority refused to vote for "Ralph's World": 66 per cent of the eligible voters (add the 45 per cent who didn't bother to vote to the 21 per cent who voted for the opposition).
That left 34 per cent who cast ballots for Klein, which was converted by the servile media and a gullible public into a "landslide" and an "overwhelming mandate" for the Conservatives.
There is a new government and it's the same old government, but it's not our government, those of us insulted by the campaign promises of the three mainstream political parties.
Their platforms related basically to administrative competence, while continuing to sell our oil and gas reserves to corporate tyrannies at fire sale prices (collecting royalties at half the amounts of the Lougheed years, in the case of the Tories).
Citizens are losing billions of dollars, because these policies are not designed for economic democracy, the equitable redistribution of our astounding wealth and resources. As everybody knows, no government in Canada belongs to the poor, some 20 per cent of the population.
No matter how democratic elections seem to be, they are only fleeting and widely separated moments of popular participation in matters of public importance. In the long interval between votes, people remain passive to the state-capitalist ideology, and captive to its practices.
We will again watch obediently as a specialized class of elites manages our affairs for the principal benefit of the already rich and powerful.
In Catholic social teaching, the "vigorous pursuit of the common good" can only be realized through true democratic means, but we have that for just a day or so every four years.
Poverty, for instance, will not be attacked on the scale that is required until the ease of the well-off is punctured in a more brusque and relentless way.
Chretien, Clark undeserving of bishop's criticism
It is with some reluctance that I reflect openly on the public comments of Bishop Fred Henry who wrote about the question of Catholics, and in particular prominent Catholics, who support the "pro-choice" option in the abortion debate (WCR, Feb 26).
The decision to single out Canada's two most prominent Catholic politicians, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Tory leader and former Prime Minister Joe Clark, by suggesting that their conduct is "scandalous" is offensive and unproductive.
As I am neither Liberal nor Tory, I am not seeking to defend either leader.
The good bishop is correct to insist that there is a need to seek "a consistent ethic of life" that translated into action seeks to "sustain, enhance and protect human life from conception to natural death."
Perhaps these same politicians could be challenged on the wide range of policies that they support in this new era of open markets, free trade and globalization.
When some of the most liberal abortion legislation was first introduced to Canada, it was done by what will probably be recorded as the most "Catholic" government in Canadian history. All of the major players - prime minister, deputy prime minister, minister of justice, minister of health and others were Catholic.
From the official Catholic Church at that time there was no condemnation of these eminent Catholic leaders, nor has there been any personal attack on their successors who have inherited a system that recognizes other "rights" including the "right to choose."
More than 10 years ago I participated in a panel discussion on abortion. I was speaking from a "pro-life" position.
Panelists from other Christian churches also gave eloquent and passionate deliveries. After some time a woman who appeared older than her years spoke to the group. She thanked us for our thoughtful insights and our careful analysis of the issues.
But she had been a parent of a severely handicapped child. She told of the love and dedication that she and her husband, and other children had given in caring for this child until his death in early adulthood.
She was able to look back and assess the "total cost" to her family in all aspects - of which the financial was the least consideration. She concluded that if she now would face the same decision, about abortion - knowing what she now knew and with the information that science and medicine now provides - she would choose the life of her family first and in doing so would make that difficult choice.
As a white privileged male, with my middle-class value system and education, it has been too easy to judge and criticize others who have chosen abortion, or even those who support the "pro-choice" position.
It is a little bit late and unproductive at this time to single out the two most influential national politicians and to suggest that their conduct is "scandalous." Far more scandalous is the head-in-the-sand approach of Church leaders to major issues of population and fertility.
Covenant House has been prevented from providing condoms to street youth whose sexual activity is risky and dangerous. In the name of some Vatican-centered ideology, the Church would rather that these street kids be exposed to disease and inappropriate pregnancy. In Africa the Church has opposed anti-AIDS programs that included birth control.
I would imagine that Thomas More would really find these situations truly scandalous, and my hunch is that he would not side with Rome on this issue because, as Bishop Henry reminded us, Thomas More "was eager to eliminate the causes of injustice."
Women have long had high status
In his recent article, "Edmonton women paved way for change" (WCR, Feb. 5), Ramon Gonzalez chose to present a narrow view of the status of women in the Catholic Church.
He seemed to think that before 1971 women in the Catholic Church played an insignificant role, and therefore enjoyed very little status as compared to a Catholic priest for example.
I disagree. Let's start with a significant precursor to status, leadership. Edmonton Catholic women were very involved in their Church and demonstrated leadership in a variety of areas.
In 1946, they were involved in teaching catechism, and assisting parents in their responsibilities regarding the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation. I personally was in instructor for marriage preparation courses.
Moreover, the Catholic Women's League assisted with the Marian Centre, visited the sick, distributed Holy Communion to the sick, organized parish funeral receptions, and helped with the homeless and abused families.
In these various roles, Catholic women were indeed increasing their status in the Church as educators and coaches of future parents, priests and nuns as well as generally caring for others.
Furthermore, using the priesthood as the ultimate indicator of influence and status is misleading. The status of women in the Canadian Catholic Church is more than about women becoming priests.
Service to others in all its forms is a powerful indicator of the real status women enjoy through the contributions that they have made and continue to make to the Catholic Church. Who would dispute that Mother Teresa did not have global status through her tremendous commitment to the care for others?