Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 30, 2001
WCR Letters to the Editor
Bishop a John the Baptist
It was a pleasant surprise to recently read Bishop Fred Henry's columns questioning the logic of politicians who claim to be Catholic and yet at the same time claim to be pro-abortion (WCR, March 26, Feb. 26).
In these confused and troubled times we can see many examples, but two of the most obvious ones are Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Joe Clark. Clark is a special case in that he represents a riding within Bishop Henry's own diocese of Calgary.
Now abortion is an abhorrent evil that a good part of society has been conned into accepting. How could people so gullibly be conned into seeing their own sons and daughters as enemies?
Abortion proponents have successfully and deviously tied abortion to women's freedom and women's liberation. To be pro-abortion suddenly carried the connotation of being "progressive."
Ownership of reproductive rights is one of Joe Clark's own catch slogans. Not only did Clark publicly profess to be pro-abortion, in the last election it was one of the main arguments that he used in his attacks on Stockwell Day.
With venom dripping from his jaws, he lashed out that no large group of men should vote in a referendum concerning women's "reproductive rights."
In regards to Clark, while I cannot judge his relationship with God, his abortion actions are quite another. They are evil, and not reflecting the teachings of the Son of God.
If I was the bishop, I would have been outraged that a nationally known political figure in my own diocese was making such scandalous statements. Bishop Henry is just in criticizing Joe Clark's pro-abortion beliefs and challenging him to a debate on it.
I think that if one goes and publicly denounces Catholic teachings, then that person should be excommunicated.
I applaud Bishop Henry in speaking out. Can you imagine what would have happened if John the Baptist was so full of human respect for Herod Antipas, that he would not have condemned his actions in public? We need more John the Baptists to take the correct (from a Christian perspective) and sometimes politically incorrect way.
Abortion is an atrocity that is indefensible. However, with the exception of some priests, one could go to Mass for years without hearing any mention of it.
As a result of the silence, there is no doubt that the Church has lost the confidence of many women on issues such as abortion, and has a huge task to convince them that the pro-abortion option is the wrong one.
Other places have year-round RCIA
Re: The article entitled "The long way home" (WCR, April 9) concerning the RCIA process at St. Theresa's parish in Millwoods:
I was delighted to see your coverage of this parish's RCIA ministry.
However, your article erroneously reports that St. Theresa's Parish is the only one with a year-round program. The northwest Edmonton parishes of St. Angela Merici and St. Pius X (where I work as a pastoral minister) have a year-round RCIA. I also believe that there is at least one other parish in the archdiocese which is following a year-round RCIA process.
A year-round process is true to the vision of the RCIA and allows for flexibility in adapting it to the different situations and needs of the people who come to us: baptized and unbaptized, catechised and uncatechised. One has only to read through the rite itself to see this. Each person is unique.
Yes, it is sometimes harder to do it this way. For those of us just making the change, it is a learning and growing experience. Opening ourselves to the mystery that is each human being requires some conversion on our part. Going with a program is more in tune with our program and product-oriented society.
I look forward to seeing more parishes turn (or should I say "re-turn") to this way of "doing" RCIA. In the meantime, perhaps those of us who have chosen a year-round process can support one another in this work.
St. Angela Merici and
St. Pius X parishes
Public must be convinced of seriousness of abortion
After reading Phillip Little's letter (WCR, April 2), I felt a need to respond to some of his comments and opinions.
To begin with, reference to Mr. Little's comments alleging the silence of Church officials when leading "Catholic" politicians first introduced abortion legislation in Canada, we can only speculate. I would suggest that perhaps it would be for the same reasons many would not get involved if they saw someone getting beaten and robbed for fear of bringing some risk to their secure orderly lives.
This does not mean that because you failed once or many times that you cannot come to terms with your mistake and speak out against injustice for it is an ongoing problem.
I would like to further suggest that during the revolution in social values during the turbulent '60s and '70s, it would not likely have provided any meaningful checks and balances at that time.
In any case, it is unfair to only blame Church officials for silence. In that, we must all share the blame, or more appropriately, "share the shame."
As to Mr. Chretien and Mr. Clark, among others, one thing remains very clear.
They are very unwilling to take the type of risk which has been alluded to that would jeopardize their political careers, for after all, the prestige, the power and the money that goes with the territory just looks too darn good to pass up.
In conclusion, I think that as Catholics, we have not done a very good job of convincing the general population of the seriousness of this issue. Most pro-life arguments seem to be going across as "Catholic" or "Christian" morality, when in fact, it is a fundamental issue that is definitive of the values of a civilized democratic society.
If somebody wants to define freedom to the extreme, it will be the cause of another one's oppression.
L. A. Biollo
Lac La Biche
Newman critics should take advantage of college's offerings
Re: WCR April 9 letters to the editor concerning Father David Norman and Newman Theological College.
As a last semester master of divinity student at Newman Theological College, I took grave exception to the manner Ann Walsh, Mike Kilbride and Jeremy Laurence spoke of my professor Father David Norman as well as the negative comments made concerning the education offered by Newman Theological College.
After reading the letters written by these three individuals, I couldn't help but wonder if they had ever had the privilege of taking a class at Newman Theological.
I came to Newman as a mature student already possessing two other academic degrees (B.Sc. in accounting and a master's degree in education) as well as over 20 years experience in the international corporate business world.
In addition I also have teaching experience as a professor of accounting at St. Joseph's, a Roman Catholic liberal arts college in the United States. After attending numerous academic institutions in Canada, the United States and Europe, I feel qualified to state that in my experience the education offered by Newman College is excellent.
However the professors at Newman offer students more than just academic excellence. All the professors I have studied with at Newman live their Christian faith in a tangible, visible, concrete way. Their lives are grounded in a passionate love of Christ that is expressed not only in the words they teach but also lived out in their interactions with students, staff and other faculty members.
Father Norman is no exception. I have just completed a course with Father Dave entitled the Theology of Revelation. In this course we spent considerable time on the themes of beauty, love, truth and faith as revealed in Scripture, sacrament and Roman Catholic tradition.
In reviewing my notes for semester exams, I find Father Dave again and again stressed that love and truth cannot be separated. Love flows from truth and truth flows from love. Through out our class discussions Father Dave repeatedly stressed the connection between the Church and the revelation of God to humanity through Jesus Christ.
So rather than judge the orthodoxy of Newman College or Father Dave Norman from a newspaper article, I would encourage the writers of the critical letters and all the readers of WCR to take advantage of the classes offered at Newman to deepen their personal relationship with God.
Oceanna Hall Heston
Truth is only provisional
Re: "The 'offence' of the Cross" by Charles Moore (WCR, April 9).
It seems to me the column starts with a conclusion that Christianity (or is it even more restricted to the Catholic Church?) is superior to other religions. Witness "the only route to the kingdom of God," and similarly "it is absurd to claim that other religions and teachers are his (Jesus Christ) equals in any sense."
The column considers whether or not Jesus rose from the dead to be the central question. Suppose that (a) Jesus did rise from the dead.
Why does that make Christianity the only way to God? Why could not God reveal or have revealed himself, herself or itself, to different peoples in the different parts of the world in different ways?
On what basis does the writer of the column (as other "fundamentalists" do) claim to know how the infinite God "operates"? Surely it is not good enough to simply to say "Because I say so." Neither is quoting an authoritative person really a compelling argument.
Then, suppose that (b) Jesus did not. Why does this make Christianity "a fraud and a sham"? Surely, Jesus' teachings, such as loving your neighbour, helping the helpless, being compassionate, etc., are good things to follow.
Moore is using the same circular logic used by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. It does not make sense to me, except for the implied "believe it or else" threat.
Is it not also possible that (c) Jesus did rise from the dead, but not in the physical or literal sense? After all, Jesus' teaching did rise from the dead. His apostles and followers did come out from hiding. Furthermore, could not "I am the truth. . . . No one goes to the Father except by me " (John 14:6) also refer to Jesus' teaching, and not the Church?
Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead. But can one use that belief to "prove" that other religions are inferior? Let us see. I am sure that there is at least one Taliban Muslim in Afghanistan who is equally convinced that his religion is superior to others and can prove it, in a similar way, by reference to authority or divine revelation.
He and Mr. Moore would both claim that his respective religion is the only true one. Rather confusing, is it not?
God is a mystery. Reducing mystery to simplistic "yes or no", and "if . . then" exercises is, in my opinion, somewhat načve and dangerous.
Look back at history. Can one find the truth? Only provisionally, I think.
Moore shouldn't denigrate Wicca
Charles Moore's poorly researched article ("'Ancient religion' concocted in 1950s," WCR April 2) misses the point entirely as to what Wiccans believe or how they view their history.
It is clear that his knowledge of Wicca is negligible. What is more interesting than a debate as to what Wicca is or is not, is the petulant and mean spirited tone of the article.
That the author seems to feel that his own faith is somehow enhanced and justified by the "delicious" denigration of another philosophy tells us much more about the author's intolerance and bigotry than it does about Wicca.
One can only hope that his attitude does not represent the mainstream Catholic position. If it does, then the future of the Catholic Church is bleak indeed.
Pre-Christian accounts of resurrection existed
A response to "'Ancient religion' concocted in 1950s" (Charles Moore, WCR April 2).
It is not my intention to prove whether the modern neo-pagan movement has any real connection with the religions of antiquity.
It is, however, my intention to point out my disagreement with Charlotte Allen in general and with Ronald Hutton in particular who told Allen that "There is still no proven pagan feast that stood (stands) as an ancestor to Easter."
It is my contention that long before Christ many mystery religions, such as paganism, existed.
Their spirituality was inferred to by early Christians as some primitive rural superstition. This is not true, as paganism inspired the unequalled magnificence of the Giza pyramids, the exquisite architecture of the Parthenon and the sublime philosophy of Socrates and Plato.
Paganism thrived in a society that was able to estimate the circumference of the Earth to within one degree of accuracy.
It was this religion that worshipped a mystery godman. This mystery godman was known by different names in different cultures.
A spring festival called Megalensia celebrated the mysteries of Attis, which lasted three days. During this festival the myth of Attis was performed as a passion play, like the story of Jesus was performed as a passion play in the Middle Ages.
An effigy of the corpse of Attis was tied to a sacred pine-tree and buried in a sepulchre. On the third day Attis rose again. His open grave was lit and a presiding priest anointed the lips of the initiates with holy oil, comforting them with the words. "To you likewise there shall come salvation from your troubles."
The spring festival called Anthesteria celebrated the mysteries of Dionysus while the festival of Adonis infused the air with sweet aromas of incense and filled the air with loud lamentations from the faithful at the death of the godman. The embalmed image of Adonis was laid in a coffin and borne to his grave. The faithful consoled themselves with the assurance that the godman was alive.
The Church father Origen refers to Osiris, the Egyptian godman, as a young god, who was "restored to life, and went to heaven."
Easter rites observed in Greece, Sicily and southern Italy still bear a striking resemblance to the mystery rites of Adonis.
With all this evidence, it is difficult to explain away these extraordinary similarities and not see them as a mythical pagan feast standing as an ancestor to Easter.
Rocky Mountain House