Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 21, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
Catholic schools are civil institutions
Re: "Catholic Education: Becoming Salt and Light for the World" (WCR, Sept. 16).
The recent letter of the bishops is a helpful addition to the conversation about schooling in Alberta. One important matter requires clarification at the moment.
The bishops refer often to "Catholic education" and "our (Alberta) school system." There is reference in the bishops' letter to "the general principles enunciated by the Second Vatican Council" and The Catholic School, produced by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, in 1977. It is important for readers to remember that the Second Vatican Council and The Catholic School focused on education as an integral role of the Church.
Catholic separate schools in Alberta, which are in the control of Catholic electors, are not parochial schools. That is, they are not owned by the Church, they are not financed by the Church, and they are not an institution subject to direction by the Church.
Arguably, separate schools in Alberta have obligations to the civil community which override their informal attachments to the Church. Catholic separate schools are a civil institution.
For example, separate school buildings are built with money that comes from every Albertan, Catholic and non-Catholic. Consequently, separate schools are subject to exactly the same statute and administrative law as public schools, provided that the province meets three conditions: it must allow members of the religious minority faith exclusively to make up the local electorate; it must allow them to elect trustees locally; and, it must allow them to tax themselves for the support of such education and facilities as they believe are necessary.
Interestingly, the Catholic community is not arguing that it will tax itself to pay for the facilities it wants reserved for its exclusive use.
This necessary distinction between "Catholic education" as it is meant in the context of the Church and "Catholic separate school education" helps to explain why many people are not averse to thinking of public and separate schools sharing a facility.
After all, many of us make our homes in duplexes, townhouses, and apartment buildings. We do not imagine that we need to live in a single family house in order to maintain the integrity of our home. The very idea of Canada as a multi-cultural community conflicts with the idea of separate but equal development.
There are real and outstanding issues which need to be addressed in consideration of public and separate school jurisdictions sharing facilities. The PSBAA has not yet taken a position on these issues, but we do insist that the issues need to be resolved in a civil and political debate.
Joan Trettler, President
The Public School Boards' Association of Alberta
Look for allies, supporters
I have been actively involved over the past 15 years as a parent with an Edmonton Catholic school I would describe as having built and maintained a strong Catholic atmosphere. The teachers, school council, and student council take seriously the responsibility for displaying a strong faith within the school. They all have standing faith committees to support and enhance Catholic education within the school.
I have noticed a key element of this school's success has been the former Catholics and parents of mixed faith who chose to send their children to our school.
Many faith-filled families practising in other denominations (that is, Anglican, Lutheran, United) chose this school for its strong Christian atmosphere. They are often the biggest supporters of faith committees and activities within the school. They recognize the privilege that exists within the Catholic schools to publicly express our Christian beliefs.
I encourage all Catholics committed to supporting the Catholic school system to ask for support from Church leaders and individuals of other mainline Christian faiths. To keep the unique identity of the Catholic school system we will need allies and supporters from outside the Roman and Ukrainian Catholic community.
I encourage us all to remember Catholic means universal.
Sacred Heart's Fr. Jim wins Jubilee Medal
Credit should be given where credit is due," my grandfather always said. Yet we read so much about how this cop messed-up, what a bad cop, gee cops are bad.
And doctors, another group that we place our full trust in get "Look at what he did. How can you trust a doctor?
And teachers. How can our kids get an education? Did you hear about that teacher?
And how about priests. My goodness, they sure have been in the news as of late.
Cops, doctors, teachers, priests, so much to write and read about. There must be the good side that we don't hear too much about.
"Officer, I need help. I am afraid. "
"Doctor, I don't feel well please help me."
"Please teach me I want to learn."
"Father, please help me to believe."
There are so many good stories out there, we need to hear and credit them.
So meet the pastor of the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples in the inner city of Edmonton. He is Oblate Father James Holland, who besides his regular priestly duties, serves on several boards and committees that deal with the needy in our community.
I could not begin to record all his involvement of hours, day and night, from finding food for some, with his truck moving some. It just goes on and on, and all this is besides his regular priestly duties, hospital visits at all hours day or night, marriages, baptisms, weddings, funerals, Masses.
One statement sticks in my mind when he said: "No matter what his or her religious belief is, there is a problem here that need addressing, so what are we waiting for?"
Well I am happy to report that finely Father Jim is being recognized for his community service on Oct. 25 when he will be awarded Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal from the queen's direct representative in Alberta - Lt. Gov. Lois Hole.
Kimo Trent Sr.
Let he who is without sin pause before judging
Jayne Buryn (WCR Letters, Sept. 23) is right in pointing out that homosexual acts are serious sins. Yes they are objectively wrong. But so are a lot of other things, like: pride, adultery, masturbation and calumny.
And yes, I'd really like to know how many pious Catholics out there fall into these sins and then race to the confessional line week after week. And once they have their absolution they immediately start ranting and shaking their fingers at same-sex couples who - mistaken as they may be - are trying to do the best they can.
Give me a break!
There are many other attachments to sin out there besides homosexuality. Is a man who struggles with same-sex attraction any less of a disciple than a divorced man who has a problem with alcohol or a woman who cannot give up her incessant gossip or a priest who constantly falls into the sin of pride? I don't think so.
Jesus warns us that the sins of the flesh are nothing compared to the sins of the spirit, not only in the parable of the prodigal son: the elder son "was angry and refused to go in (the house)," but also in Matthew when he says "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you."
And so we should keep this in mind before we start scrutinizing people, as we are all failures to one extent or another - and that is why we all need God's mercy every day.
Catholics who are eager to help (homo)sexually active people give up their sin should tend to their own wounds first. Shooting "doctrinal arrows" at these people isn't the answer.
Love them. Pray for them. Fast for them. Befriend them. Listen to them. Try and understand where they are coming from.
And when they perceive that you love them, then they might just listen to what you have to say. But that takes patience and I'm sorry to say that there are too many Catholics out there who would rather tear up a small shoot than wait for it to mature and bring forth its flower.
There is a Christian support network for students who struggle with same-sex attraction and who want to talk about Christian alternatives. They can contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Church does not hate homosexuals
Re: "Why would anyone choose to be hated?" (WCR, Oct.7).
I would like to clarify for Ryan Arndt what the Catholic Church does and does not teach, as I am a 14-year-old female being raised in the same Church that he was raised in.
The fact a person feels inclinations towards someone of the same sex, does not make them "wrong and disgusting" in the eyes of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided" (n. 2358).
But it also says "Homosexual persons are called to chastity" (n. 2359). Whatever "feelings" he experiences, he is still free to choose his behaviour. This is what the Catholic Church teaches, and those values do not promote hatred.
Look inward before condemning Islam
Charles Moore's article of Sept. 30 ("Islam and the West's schism fundamental") is a very disturbing one. He negates Jesus' mission to build and reconcile the human family when he states Islam and Western Christianity are on a "collision course, irreconcilably alienated."
Who are the ones promoting the collision course?
Islam has its own diverse, internal problems. Western Christianity has an even greater problem insofar that it upholds the superiority of the individual over communal responsibility.
Western Christianity thereby in effect has dismissed the Gospel Jesus lived and taught. Jesus has become a hollow divine entity, a mental exercise without consequence.
Islam started on a militant note which continued periodically. Christianity started on a very peaceful note, but its militant history in the West has been devastatingly inhuman.
Before we condemn Islam, let us Christians look in the mirror and recognize who we truly are.
Get your facts straight
I refer to MLA Thomas Lukaszuk's comments regarding shared facilities (WCR, Oct. 7).
Lukaszuk shows his total ignorance when he states, "Indeed a Catholic education is a right granted under the Alberta legislation."
Like heck it is. If it were, there would be no Catholic education in Alberta much less French education.
Lukaszuk should get his facts straight before pontificating.
Past Chair Edmonton Catholic School Board