Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 4, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
Gov't should invest its 'huge surpluses' in education
I must say that the current dispute between teachers and government in the province will have extremely serious implications for the future of education for all children in public and Catholic schools.
The issues for teachers remain unchanged: improved classroom conditions, salary increases which reflect our value to society and attracting and retaining teachers.
One day out of school is too long but sadly, 10 days out of school will have an enormous impact on student learning. Despite this, government has not only placed teachers in a box where they have to resort to strike action but they have abandoned their duty as a government to successfully intervene and invest the huge surpluses.
This is a government that has lost all perspective on what is right for education in the province. Rather than working toward solutions, the minister of education has chosen to put down the profession by denying the decade-long funding problems for schools and classrooms by avoiding important school board funding questions and by throwing a few crumbs at projects which have no guarantee of future funding.
Teachers have turned a corner in their struggle to build education and their profession. We will not rest until a clear effort to improve classroom conditions has been achieved.
Compassionate laws would aid the poor
At this moment, there are millions of people living literally in garbage dumps and millions dying from malnutrition and diseases. Why? We are long on charity, but short on active compassion.
Why, after two millennia of Christianity, did Pope Paul VI find it necessary to lament the absence of a "world where the poor can sit at the table with the rich"? (Populorum Progressio).
Charity is noble, has a spiritual quality and is indispensable in emergencies and even in special cases of a permanent nature, but, in reality, is neither the right nor efficient instrument of Christian compassion.
Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, wrote in 1837: "Help the poor, not with alms which humiliate, but with social and ameliorative measures which will free and elevate them."
In modern jargon, this means compassionate legislation and certainly not charity from the profits of gambling.
It does not take complicated theology to understand that Christ's call for universal brotherhood can be summarized in two words - love and compassion. Acting on these words is what the Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin calls the divinization of our activities.
Compassion is today being substituted by indifference. Consumerism and propaganda of the mass media controlled by corporations are taking us back to the laissez-faire philosophy of the last century (today's right wing conservatism which glorifies profit).
In brief, this is what laissez-faire stood for: "Public charity is both harmful and unjust, for to use taxes for relief is a violation of the rights of people: it interferes with operation of nature's law of the survival of the fittest."
Indifference and selfishness in affluent countries make people vote for rabid conservative governments which foist the needy on charitable organizations. Let us listen to Mohandas Gandhi; "Indifference is the highest form of violence."
Work action too controlled
It appears that the Alberta government wants to play every possible role it can in the current teachers' work action and I fear it will try to go too far.
(1) It is the paymaster, having stripped school boards of any role in raising funding for schools.
As a result, the school trustees have told the government that they are unable to negotiate a settlement with the ATA on money.
(2) It is the boss in setting education policy overall.
(3) It is the "big bully" as per the premier's insulting remarks about teachers.
(4) It is the referee with the power to order the teachers back to work and to set up a public tribunal to impose binding arbitration.
And that brings me to the key question - will it try to play Olympic-style judging by tying the hands of the tribunal in any way such as limits on monetary issues, classroom sizes, pension issues or other items which are on the negotiating table right now?
If the government orders binding arbitration, then it had better be prepared to let the issues be settled without any interference or strong arm tactics, and to pay whatever price comes out of that arbitration settlement.
Speak out and support our schools
Our community newspapers proudly highlight events in all our children's schools. That is why it is so important to thank all those principals, teachers, parents and volunteers who make those events happen.
However I wish this message would get through to the government because I believe we all realize the effect of the teachers' strike will be felt by both local school boards.
As a frequent volunteer at our school, I can see first hand the dilemma teachers face each day. There simply isn't enough time to spend one-on-one with a student when there are 30 of them in a class. The future does not look bright if salaries do not improve. We will no longer be able to attract or sustain teachers in the profession.
No one wants to see a strike, but if we don't speak out in support of teachers and funding of our schools, we will all surely lose out as a community.
Boys as altar servers fosters vocations
To compare the Vatican to the Taliban is nothing short of preposterous (Letters, WCR, Feb. 11). The Holy Father's advising bishops and priests to encourage more boys as altar servers in order to foster priestly vocations is not at all a putdown for girls. It just makes sense.
Frequently the pope has expressed admiration for the roles women assume in the Church and many women find satisfaction in fulfilling these roles.
Once, speaking to Peter and the Apostles, Jesus said: "Whoever is not for you is against you . . ." This is not quoted verbatim; however the words aptly apply to this situation.
The Catholic Church has enough detractors outside it without its own being so. The kind of people the Holy Father most needs are those who loyally stand staunchly by his side.
Besides, he is well situated to have a global vision of the world and world events. We, in our very small and limited areas, may tend to have a biased or blinkered view and for this reason, may create personal mini-Vaticans.
Evildoers involved in divorce system deserve their fate
Regarding "Vatican off guard" and "Vatican learns from Taliban", from the WCR of Feb. 11, I say "What?" The WCR has their letters or titles mixed up.
Interestingly, Italian adolescents are more in tune with the world's divorce courts than the 1,000 people the Datamedia Research poll found.
The pope, and I too, expect those involved in the unjust "divorce system" are (hopefully only) going to spend extra time in purgatory. It has been said, "Evil can only survive if good women and men do nothing."
In my experience, there are few involved in this family-breaking and adulterous system doing anything to fix it. Lawyers have admitted that in divorce specifically, they don't know if their own clients are lying and so how can the judges.
Therefore dishonest and selfish persons are supported in an antagonistic system expensive in many ways to both the families and the taxpayer. The WCR title should have read, "Vatican on guard."
I am very sure the pope knew exactly the response he would get, and why he would get it.
Prince George, B.C.
St. Maria Goretti booklet offered
If any of the parishioners of St. Maria Goretti Church, in Devon, Alberta would like a free copy of our new booklet Novena to St. Maria Goretti Edition 2000 with the new icon picture of St. Maria Goretti, designed especially for the cover of this 50th anniversary of her canonization edition by an icon painter in Germany, they may write to me and I'll only be to happy to mail them one.
St. Maria Goretti Novena Apostolate
111-2400 Carling Ave.