Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 3, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
Proportional representation reflects electors' wishes
A nation serious about calling itself a civilized democracy must be both politically and economically democratic.
Catholic teaching on social justice tells us that it is our duty to vigorously pursue the common good, and to redress the theft from the poor that "deprives them of life."
That means working together for a real democracy, because we are far from that, and nobody cares.
No matter how democratic elections seem to be, they are only fleeting and widely separated moments in which the status quo is ratified. In the long gap between votes, people remain passive to the savage state-capitalist faith, and captive to its practices; profit has become truth and justice.
The 2000 federal election has the lowest turnout in Canadian history; only 61 per cent of eligible Canadians bothered to vote. The Liberals won about 39 per cent of the popular vote, but received 52 per cent of the seats in Parliament.
Once obtaining such a majority, the government can pass practically any bill it wants to, because there is no real opposition.
Some five million poor Canadians, and much of the (shrinking) middle class, are on the bitter end of a vicious class war. The enormous growth of unaccountable, private tyrannies (corporations) has concentrated power in the hands of affluent elites. There is over $100 billion - without interest - on the federal books in deferred corporate income taxes.
StatsCan's 2001 census revealed that only people in the top brackets had a net wealth increase between 1984 and 1999.
The country's wealthiest 10 per cent of families received 35 per cent more, for an average annual income of $628,100.
While profits and stock prices surged upwards, the employed worked longer hours, produced more and earned less.
Here, in the richest province per capita, the poor have become poorer. Between 1993 and 1997, the number of single parents in Edmonton in absolute poverty - earning less than half of the Low Income Cut-off line - increased 300 per cent.
However, the fate of "democracy" is not fixed. Like any human invention it can be changed. We should be constantly controlling our public servants, rather than allowing them to coerce us.
For genuine political democracy we need the sensible proportional representation (PR). Australia, New Zealand and almost all of the European democracies, where social programs are more advanced than here, use a form of it to pick their politicians.
With PR every vote counts; if a party received 40 per cent of the vote; it would get 40 per cent of a legislature's seats.
Fair Vote Canada (FVC) is a fledgling citizens movement promoting the PR concept across the country.
Unless we revitalize the voting system, the prospect of democracy - rule by the "demos," the people - is indeed dim.
Large families bless community, Church
I do not believe in the myth of overpopulation.
Holland is a more densely-populated country than India or China, for example. Holland, of course, like Canada, is a dying country, with less than two children per family.
And recently Holland and now Belgium have made the mistake of legalizing the murder of their elderly citizens by introducing euthanasia, a crime according to the Church.
Canada now murders more than 100,000 babies per year. (Another crime according to Holy Mother Church.)
When I was born in 1959, the average Canadian female had about four children per family.
I remember growing up in Edmonton in a family of six children where our family was not out-of-the-ordinary in terms of size. Many families, even in our immediate neighbourhood also had anywhere from four to as many as 12 children!
Vocations to religious life traditionally come out of large families. Large families teach the individuals in them to share, to be unselfish, to think of others.
We will not get more priests or nuns without encouraging Catholic mothers to have more than only the two or three children most of them are having these days.
Perhaps everyone's material expectations have increased; we are ruled by our appetites.
Appetites for larger and larger (and more expensive) houses, more expensive cars or vans, better food - nothing but the best for selfish Canadians!
Welcome to the priesthood
With so many of us worrying about the shortage of priests, we would have welcomed with open hearts a headline that read, "Worthy candidate welcomed by archdiocese." To such a solemn, holy and gratifying occasion, we did not need or appreciate the headline, "Archdiocese embraces pony-tailed priest" (WCR, May 6).
Welcome to the priesthood, Michael Mireau.
Chris and Marguerite Christensen
'Zero tolerance' usage clarified
Please do not use the phrase "zero tolerance" in the context of policies in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal in the United States. To do so gives it a credibility which is does not deserve by linking it to a crime which we rightfully want to stop immediately - the sexual abuse of children.
Normally, the phrase zero tolerance is used by mostly American law enforcement and government officials to describe policies that incarcerate mostly poor Latino and black young urban males for petty crimes. These are policies such as California's three strikes law.
One case recently overturned in California involved a man sentenced to 50 years for stealing three videos on this third strike. His two previous convictions had all been non-violent.
Normally, the theft would have been a misdemeanour punishable by up to six months in jail, but his previous record enabled the theft to be upgraded to a felony under the three strikes rule, hence the harsher penalty,
Zero tolerance is a phrase which means abuse of power by the government to imprison people because of their race or economic status and we should be working to eliminate it.
The political lexicon of increased militarization, policing and incarceration, while lowering social systems, which is common in the United States is pushing its way into familiarity in Canada. But it is the abusive zero tolerance we should be eliminating.
Calls for a Catholic approach to justice are ignored on both sides of the border. However, in the case of the sexual abuse of children, of course, we want immediate action and we want to eliminate the sexual abuse of children.
Church being forced to admit abuse reality
How dare Ron Rolheiser compare Christ's suffering and death to the consequences the Church is reaping today because of the abuse inflicted on victims (WCR April 29, "Abuse controversy a crisis of soul").
The Church has consistently tried to cover-up horrible abuses to children by priests.
These crimes are now being exposed.
Will sincere apologies and restitution be made to victims who have been manipulated, disbelieved, discredited, ignored, paid to remain silent and frequently re-victimized by a system intent on maintaining its image?
Even now, what compassion is being shown to victims of these crimes?
All I can hear is "poor me" from the hierarchy.
I would like to hear "mea culpa."
The Church is not being "dis-privileged" as Rolheiser states. The Church is simply being forced to admit to reality.
I hope the "people of goodwill" will remain angry and continue to demand changes.
Democracy does not exist
Voting in an unrepresentative electoral system every four years to ratify the agenda of a few dominant (and Christian?) elites who own and control the country is an extremely weak form of political democracy and not worthy of the name.
If we had an economic democracy, the population would, for instance, enjoy significant income equality. But we are far from that.
In theory, in a real democracy, all individuals can participate in every important decision that affects their lives. Collectively, they determine how taxes are collected and spent, what they want in their medicare and welfare systems, and in education curricula, to mention some of the most important areas.
A simple test will show the gap between democracy's theory and practice. Analyze honestly the mainstream media and see what gets reported and what is left out; try to understand what information schools allow and what they don't - the systemic causes of poverty for example.
Look at who makes the decisions, and who are the chief beneficiaries of those decisions.
Daily newspapers are censored in various ways, because they must follow the corporate agenda (profits over people). Seventy per cent or more of their content is ads.
Religious newspapers that don't know what poverty is tell us to respect those who indoctrinate us to be apathetic political spectators, and the politicians themselves.
However, less than one per cent of Canadians belong to political parties.
TV exploits the emotional needs of vast audiences by feeding them mindless shows designed as entertainment.
They divert citizenry from understanding the sources of their problems, hence no solutions to them.
By subscribing to the world view of the business-run media, passive consumers can't make informed opinions about the common good, let alone articulate them.
Having succumbed to commercial propaganda, they deal with empty lives by buying more and more stuff. This keeps them disconnected from encountering the needs of others.
Democracy is outside the experience of our political servants, their corporate masters and the servile media.
Popular participation in forming public policy is actually a threat to the established order.
Pray that Hank Zyp's silence be broken
On behalf of our family I want to thank the Sava Family for their thoughtful homage to Hank Zyp in the May 20 issue of the WCR. I write this on the feast of Pentecost, when we celebrate the Holy Spirit empowering the disciples to speak the Good News in tongues.
It breaks our hearts that Hank is no longer able to speak or write in any tongue. A prophet has been silenced.
I wonder if this might be a good time to start planning an anthology of the "best" of Hank's Just Desserts. It could be illuminated by Hank, because he still draws as well as ever and that is exceptionally good.
I have written a blessing for Hank and I know he does not mind if I share it with you. Please pray for Hank.
Blessing for Hank
May God be in your heart
And on your lips
So that you may proclaim
Your inner thoughts
What you have on your mind.
We pray that you will find
Your lost ability
To share your wisdom verbally
And bless us with your prophesy.
In the beginning was the Word
Would you believe
The Word was God,
Stirring the darkness of the deep
And eager to relieve
The static state of cosmic sleep?
The glory of the word will be
When you will finally be free
Of your unspoken agony.
John & Bettie Zyp
Catholic Church hymns sung with great joy
As a woman who left the Church for 12 years and who joyfully returned months ago to full participation in the community of faith, I would like to provide my viewpoint on the subject of music in the Church.
There is not a Sunday or weekday Mass I have attended in these past months where I have not gratefully raised my voice in song to the Lord!
I find the hymns in the Catholic Book of Worship and Breaking Bread beautiful, prayerful and biblically and liturgically inspired.
Years ago I served as both an organist and leader of song and felt the same way then.
I was privileged to sing for 17 seasons with the Richard Eaton Singers and have sung many sacred works of the great composers. Church music compares favourably and is more accessible to all voices.
It is appropriate and uplifting and I thank the excellent and dedicated musicians - especially at St. Joseph's Basilica and St. Alphonsus Church - who lead us so reverently in this wonderful way of praising God.
As St. Augustine so aptly put it, "He who sings prays twice!"
Church must maintain her moral integrity
Re: The recent controversy that arose over a homosexual male taking his lover to his graduation at a Catholic high school.
One comment was made against the Catholic Church - that it should "Judge not, lest you be judged."
This comment deeply distressed a number of us, as it was entirely out of context.
Let this be understood. It is not a judgment against an individual to not allow or support displays of certain behaviours. A mother is allowed to prohibit any behaviour she considers a threat to the integrity of her household. This in no way is a judgment against any individual.
The Church is no different and has the same obligation to maintain the integrity within its institutions.
This is not prejudice or discrimination against any individual. It is the paternal obligation of the Church to maintain moral integrity.
Define meaning of celebrant, presider
Re: Eileen Walker and "Stand and join in the Entrance Song" (WCR May 13).
In reply to Eileen Walker, I feel she has missed the whole point of Father Joly's letter.
The purpose was to distinguish between celebrant and presider. There was no suggestion that the sole purpose of the entrance song was to welcome the presider.
I'm sure Father Joly and the vast majority of the congregation at St. Peter Celestin parish in Slave Lake did not interpret the invitation to stand and sing in this way.
There is more than one way to refer to the entrance song, the opening song, or, as with our lay-led liturgies, the gathering song.
We are blessed to have and have had over the years a very special group of people in music ministry who have used a variety of ways to indicate that we are about to begin our celebration.
That's what Father Joly referred to - presiding at our celebration.
Attention war veterans' widows
This is written to the attention of all war veterans' widows receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs or who were receiving benefits up until one year after the death of their husbands, at which time the benefits were discontinued.
Many Canadian war veterans' widows want to stay in their own homes, but are finding it financially difficult to do so once their Veterans Affairs benefits are discontinued.
The cost of maintaining the home is exactly the same as when their husbands were living.
We are trying to get the same amount of pay for the Canadian war veterans' widows as their husbands would be receiving if they had survived their wives.
If you are interested in joining the effort, please send your name and your deceased husband's name and regimental number to:
Joyce (Murdock H.) Carter
99 Carter's Lane
St. Peter's NS, B0E 3B0
or phone 1-902-535-2308