Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 13, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
Reality check: You cannot separate church and state
With all due respect to Bishop Fred Henry, I feel I must comment on his column "Please don't separate Church, state" (WCR April 29, 2002)
In reality, separation of church and state is no more possible than separation of a person's body from his or her soul. In neither case will you continue to have a living organism.
To make public decisions (state), one has to have a basis of beliefs, values, morals (church or religion of some sort, external or internalized). If there is no such foundation in the leadership, you will end up with a dead country, such as the U.S.S.R. was when its rulers severed its soul from its body.
It is true that "members of . . . churches or religious bodies are free to accept or reject . . . the government's position," as Bishop Henry notes. However, these same Church members also have the responsibility that is inseparable from the right to freedom of conscience — the obligation to be well-informed about an issue before taking a position on it.
"He (the learning minister) proceeded to inform the media," writes Bishop Henry, "that he believed the parishioners of the Catholic Church in Calgary were entitled to know the facts and wanted his letter circulated to the parishioners. . . . There was virtually no chance I would accede to his request." It seems this matter is being approached from a double standard. It is acceptable for churches to criticize government; however, government is banned from providing information to Church members.
Unfortunately, because of recent scandals, the Roman Catholic Church is experiencing a crisis of trust in North America. To ensure our input is seen as credible, should we not accept the responsibility to become as well-informed as possible about issues that affect our faith? If we want the state to listen to the Church, we'd better be prepared to understand all the state is saying, as well.
When religion and state work together, we will have a healthy, vibrant province. Objective, credible input will enable good decision-making. Perhaps the province's leadership will then also have the class, perception, wisdom and self-control not to publicly blabber inappropriate aspersions on Church leaders, as the finance minister is alleged to have done.
The ball is in our court.
Let's change the tune to singable melodies
I've got to say this — the North American Roman Catholic Church's music is awful. I swear, the majority of the stuff in the CBW series is specifically designed to chase musical Catholics away and into Protestant churches. Internal sabotage!
I was raised Protestant, with a tradition of music that was truly congregational. If you went to church and had a voice at all, you could sing it, and harmonize if you had a good ear.
What I've been exposed to in the last five years as a Catholic makes my heart sink. I'm sure this isn't what was intended by Vatican II. The melodies and rhythms are themselves often less than accessible to the average pew-warmer, the lyrics seem to be expressing a touchy-feely agenda rather than springing from heartfelt faith, and the chord progressions are bizarre, rendering harmonies almost impossible in many cases.
I've been pondering this for quite awhile, and I think I've finally come up with a word that expresses my thoughts. Synthetic. It's as if someone who'd once heard of music did some research on the subject, found a formula and tried it out. Yuck.
I took 10 years of classical piano, performed a cappella British folk music and spirituals and spent years playing by ear as part of a Pentecostal worship team. I'm not against the old hymns. I like 'em.
I'm not against popular, folksy music either. I like that, too, if it's congregational music. I don't like what's being offered as music by the authorized modern Catholic hymnals. It's medicinal.
Folks who aren't deeply in love with the sacraments that the Church has to offer need to be wooed. All in favour of popular piety (wasn't that John Paul's phrase?) please rise and join in the chorus.
Respect means kneeling
In the April 1 issue, there were so many letters that struck a chord.
Coming from Austria as a child, I noticed a big difference in the Canadian churches and worship.
Although after almost 30 years I have adapted and acclimatized, there is something to be said about the awe and respect one feels when worshipping in an 800-year-old church.
Specifically, I remember how the stained glass windows would come alive as the suns rays streamed through them. There is nothing wrong in showing God our love, respect and awe by using only the best and most beautiful in his house.
Secondly, coming from the Notre Dame Parish in Dawson Creek, the standing versus kneeling at the Lamb of God was a dividing issue among other things.
On arriving here, we went to Camrose, Stettler and Lacombe, where to my horror I found no kneeling at any time during the Mass.
My children were confused and wondered why we were the only ones kneeling. I explained that kneeling is our way of showing respect for Jesus' sacrifice for our sins, just as we do not touch the host with our unclean hands. After the Mass, one elderly gentleman beside me said, "It was so nice to see you kneeling."
I think we are losing an important element here, when man does not show his submissiveness and respect to God in public anymore. It is humbling, is it not, to kneel before all?
I thank God for finally directing us to the Bashaw parish where people still believe this to be true and follow the pope.
Catholics should worship comfortably anywhere.
Stand and join in the entrance song
Re: Fr. Maurice Joly, "Celebrate and preside mean different things" (WCR May 6).
While I agree with Father Joly that the entire assembly celebrates the Eucharist while the ordained priest presides, I take exception to the fact that the leader of the liturgy is instructing the assembly to stand and welcome either the celebrant or the presider.
The purpose of standing is to join in the Entrance Song, the first element of the Introductory Rites whose purpose in turn is to integrate the people and the ministers in the mystery of the celebration that is about to take place.
The Entrance Song gathers the people together, unites them in heart and mind and prepares them for what is to come, namely the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
It also opens the celebration and accompanies the procession.
I am impressed that Father Joly and his team at Slave Lake completed a graduate course in pastoral and biblical theology but surprised that they are still using the antiquated stand and welcome Father format before Mass.
If anyone is welcomed, it should be the assembly.
St. Michael-Resurrection Parish
Resolution targeted unwed pregnancy
Thank you for the comprehensive coverage of our CWL diocesan convention. However, I was disappointed no mention was made of the the defeated resolution that the government of Alberta be approached about funding Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Alberta.
Our Lady of the Foothills CWL Council in Hinton put this resolution forward.
I think it is deplorable that Alberta pays for abortions across the board, but when we ask for its assistance in covering the monetary costs of giving help, direction and moral support to distressed and/or unwed pregnant women, we are promptly told that our request is futile.