Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 23, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
School site safe, says board
We feel it is important to clarify for your readers the priorities and position of the Edmonton Catholic School District on the location of the new Archbishop Joseph MacNeil Elementary Junior High School in Terwelligar.
First and foremost, the safety of our students and staff in Edmonton Catholic Schools is paramount and a matter we take very seriously.
This school site was carefully chosen for its size, location within the neighbourhood, and ease of accessibility. We have carefully examined the safety issues, including electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) emanating from high voltage power lines in the area.
We have reviewed research data, consulted with experts in a variety of fields and conducted extensive site testing. We have listened to concerns raised by a few parents and invited experts to answer questions and provide information at several community forums. After thoroughly reviewing the research data and consulting with both medical and EMF experts, the results of our investigation process indicates that the site we have chosen is safe.
Here are some figures that may help clarify the situation: The California Department of Education has the only recommendations regarding new school construction and EMFs that we could find. Their recommendation is that new schools should be located 150 feet away from power lines.
Because this board has followed a practice of prudent avoidance with respect to safety risks to children in our schools, we have already moved the location of the school building from where it was originally assigned on the site to a distance that is 356 feet from the power lines.
That is slightly longer than a football field and more than two times the amount recommended in California. Across Edmonton, there are many homes and public buildings - including schools - which have been located much closer to power lines for decades, with no problems ever reported.
The magnetic waves created by the power lines at this site have been measured on several different occasions. These readings varied from 2.0 to 2.2 milligauss (this is the unit used to measure the power of a magnetic frequency).
To put this in context:
This community has never had a junior high school and has wanted and needed this school for many years. We are moving forward with construction and we are pleased that we will soon be able to offer a quality Catholic K to 9 education in this neighbourhood.
- If you're standing a foot away from your household refrigerator, its magnetic field would measure 2.0 milligauss (the same reading as at our school site).
- If you're a foot away from your colour computer monitor, it measures 5.0 milligauss.
- If you're one foot away from your coloured TV, it measures 7.0 milligauss. Clearly, the research points to this school being in a safe location.
We look forward to opening Archbishop Joseph MacNeil School in September 2003 and we are confident in telling the parents of future students at this school that their children will receive a top quality Catholic education in a school that is friendly, caring, and above-all, a safe place for them to learn.
Board of Trustees
Dr. Dale Ripley
Edmonton Catholic Schools
Earth provides for everyone's need, not everyone's greed
It is Sept. 11, 2002 as I write these lines. The sky over Edmonton is bright blue and a flock of magnificent Canada Geese has just flown overhead, honking their melodious reminder that seasons come and go.
Last year on this date, we were suddenly immersed in a season of violence, destruction, suspicion, hatred and fear. I am among the many who pray for peace and who wonder today if we, as a North American society, can emerge from the ashes of 9-11 as a hopeful and redeemed people, working to build better bridges of understanding in a world community torn by strife.
Therefore I was delighted to read Glen Argan's editorial in the Sept. 9 WCR. Yes, the act of the terrorists one year ago was heinous. It was a definite heads-up to a North America lulled to complacency by our wealth and security.
But what was the nature of the message we received? We heard the cries of human anguish as the spectre of destruction unfolded in New York. But did we also hear the cries of, as Argan put it, "the one-fifth of the world's people who live on a dollar a day or less at the same time the amount of self-centred excess is growing in the world's developed nations"?
Grief has an understandable inward focus as we struggle with our loss. But one year later, are we open to the reality that the cries of those whose poverty makes families destitute are equally children of God as are we?
If a parent has 10 children and two of those eat all the food, or consume all the resources meant for the other eight as well, does not the parent anguish over the greed and selfishness of the two and the suffering of the other eight?
We in the First World are the 20 per cent of the world's population that consumes 80 per cent of the world's resources. Therefore I was also delighted to read in the same issue of the WCR that the Vatican is unveiling a book of papal statements on the environment. Pope John Paul's pontificate has been regularly peppered with statements celebrating the revelatory aspects of creation and the moral implications of selfish consumerism.
Argan's Sept. 9 editorial cites the pope's WYD message inviting the younger generation to be builders of a world where peace can prevail. Argan warns of the danger if some "pursue a world where one religion has aggressively pushed all the others aside."
I couldn't agree more. When we feel threatened we tend to pull together in solidarity, but Argan asks us to consider that the us-against-them form of solidarity will not solve the momentous international tensions of our time. I applaud his articulation of that better kind of solidarity "which strives to reach beyond long-established barriers and to build a world where all people are respected and treated equally."
In the light of all this, how do we feel on the Sunday after Sept. 11 when Jesus answered Peter's very human question with: "Not seven times, but, I tell you, 77 times." (Matthew 18:22).
May the wake-up call of 9-11 truly awaken us to the possibility of a new season of human history, a season that will heed the words of Mahatma Gandhi who noted "earth provides enough for everyone's need but not for everyone's greed."
Sharing the earth, respecting other faiths, cultures and traditions, celebrating the gift of God's abundant creation - these, I suggest, are among the "arms" we should be racing to stockpile in this new season.
God gives us free will
A lot of arguments promote homosexuality as just another form of "normal" sexual orientation. The most recent and creative I've run across comes from letter writer, Jay Smith ("Sexual orientation 'gift from God,'" Sept. 9 WCR).
"Like heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality, are gifts from God," Smith writes. "Sexual orientation is not subject to human changing. A person does not 'choose' his or her innate sexual orientation."
God gives each of us a set of organs that distinguish us as male or female. In addition, he gives each of us the will to use physical attributes in whatever way we choose.
God also gives each of us mouths. Some of us have a tremendous urge to use this asset to smoke cigarettes. Does the gift of a mouth and the existence of the urge to smoke imply that God has "gifted" us with smoking behaviour, so it's okay to do it?
Does God's blessing of an arm and a temper mean that the violence we are capable of is a gift from him, too? Not according to Matthew 5:29-30, where the implication is that we are to control our urges.
I don't buy the argument that God gives us our temperament, skills, talents, and physical attributes and the behaviour we personally adopt as gifts. That makes all of us not human, but pre-programmed automatons. Furthermore, that belief contradicts the Church's teaching about God's great gift to all of us - our free will.
Consider it a gift to our youth
WYD, how I wish we had been generous.
So the Catholic Church has a $30-million debt.
How I wish we had said to 30,000 youth, "You, pilgrim, go pray; we'll pay."
Or how I wish we had said to 120,000 youth, "You pay your travel, we'll pay your registration fees."
In each then, a $30-million debt would have been a $30-million gift to youth.
How I wish we had faith and freedom enough to be generous - "the measure you get back" (Luke 6:38).
J. Emmett Crough