Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 25, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
Transition takes time . . .
I sometimes wonder whether the laity live long enough to even begin to sense, let alone appreciate, change in the Church, especially when it appears to take an inordinately long time for those in charge to help us cope sensibly with any transition.
I am referring to the article, "Vatican II misinterpreted - cardinal," (WCR Nov. 11).
Forty years on, a cardinal no less, opines to a select gathering at Georgetown University that many of us, laity and clergy alike, may have got the Second Vatican Council wrong on several counts.
And what kind of issues are cited?
Quite a list, including the links with tradition, Church teachings on celibacy, the necessity of the Church for salvation, the inseparability of Scripture and tradition, the unlikelihood of continuing revelation, papal power, the powers of the laity, and the use of the vernacular in the liturgy.
Had I been at Georgetown, I would have certainly had some questions for this eminent theologian, one in particular. I, perhaps, need to put it in context.
Our forebears, for one reason or another, lived in apparently simpler times when it came to knowledge and practice of the faith.
Much else could be said on that subject, but I think most readers will know what I mean.
At this time in the North American continent, the incredible daily barrage of communications of all kinds threatens our notions of continuity and worth in anything. Now, Cardinal Dulles reportedly remarks on the misinterpretations for Catholics, which have been created by the dichotomies between "progressive" and "liberal" interpreters of the teachings of Vatican II. I take him to be a credible, competent commentator.
So here is my question.
Why is this kind of reappraisal of matters which touch directly on how we make sense of being Catholic these days left to a cardinal to unload to a gathering at a Jesuit university?
Put another way, why are the serious issues adverted to by Cardinal Dulles not being made the stuff of weekly sermons and diocesan publications for our guidance?
Not that I am not grateful to the WCR for its coverage, but surely the issues raised by the cardinal are of vital concern to us all.
UNICEF underlines its abortion stance
It is unfortunate that the allegations made against UNICEF in Janet MacLellan's letter to the editor in your Nov. 11 issue, which have been refuted time and time again, continue to circulate and to cause people to question UNICEF's activities and policies.
UNICEF has never provided support for abortion and it continues to be the long-standing UNICEF policy not to support abortion as a method of family planning.
UNICEF sees family planning as an effective method towards preventing abortions and will continue to support efforts to treat the medical complications of unsafe abortions, a major contributor to maternal mortality in many areas.
Ms. MacLellan's letter misquoted the text from a document created over a decade ago. The document, which was the outcome of the International Conference on Better Health for Women and Children, spoke to a broad range of health issues.
The small excerpt of the document quoted by Ms. MacLellan comes from a larger portion of text which reads, "Where abortion services are legal, good quality services must be provided." The point being that if abortion is legal in a certain jurisdiction, and women are legally undergoing this procedure, it must be ensured that the services are safe so as not to jeopardize the lives of women.
The document was endorsed by many organizations worldwide, including many faith-based institutions. It is not a UNICEF-authored document and contains comprehensive views on health which do not constitute the mandate of the endorsing organizations.
UNICEF's mission is clear: to support programs that help ensure the survival, protection and development of the world's most marginalized children. UNICEF greatly appreciates the ongoing support of thousands of Catholic Canadians who know the good UNICEF does.
Kneeling means you're serious
Proverbs 15:33 - The fear of the Lord is the lesson of wisdom: and humility goeth before glory.
Standing, in different situations, has different meanings. This is as true for the days of Augustine and Basil as it is today. I doubt either of these great saints ever addressed a congregation that sat upon pews. Communion rails would be as foreign to them as sound systems and central heating.
Be that as it may, we know today that in public gatherings, such as meetings, there are those who sit and those who stand. Those who stand, do so to draw attention to themselves or to be heard. If a whole group (congregation) stands together, they are either praying, repeating an oath or singing the national anthem.
Kneeling on the other hand means only one thing . . . that you are serious. You can walk up to a person who is standing and start a conversation.
A person who is kneeling is telling you they are involved in something special. A person who is kneeling is a symbol of humility.
Some people are offended by humility.
I want my children to see me humbled before God.
Proponents for standing simply do not take into account that without kneeling, going to Mass is observed by children as being about as serious as a hockey game, probably less so. I simply cannot understand why anyone would wish to remove signs of reverence and fear of God from the Consecration.
Did Mary ever stop her message to tell her visionaries to stand up? I believe we are getting a few things confused here. We should be hopeful because of Jesus, but we still have to fear God. Jesus brings the New Covenant but our God is still a jealous God.
More than 15 books and in 149 instances in the Bible we are exhorted to "fear the Lord." Rejoice and give thanks, but as it says in Psalm 2:11 "Rejoice unto him with trembling." We cannot let our desire to rejoice override our sincere devotion and awe.
There are too many Catholics that rush to open the present but neglect to read the card.
I tell you what - in heaven I will stand with head held high, until that time I prefer to kneel.
Of mutts and monks
A recent front page article tells us about the renewal of the robes of the Franciscans (WCR, Nov. 4). Front page stuff!
Come on friars, get a life! If St. Francis were born in our times, he would certainly concentrate on his mission to "rebuild the Church," and would wear the "cloth" of the simple folk - t-shirts, jeans, running shoes or sandals and a sweater. Clothing and style would be the least of his concerns.
In another article a few weeks ago, I was astounded when I read that a friend and colleague of mine, Franciscan Father Dennis Vavrek, blessed a pooch who was called Clementine.
As a person whose name is Clement, I am not incensed by this canine appellation. My mother would wonder what this world is coming to.
Actually, it's going to the dogs.
Fr. Clem Gauthier
Focus on authentic Catholic teachings
Thank you for carrying the Nov. 11 article by Father Andrew Britz ("Stand, with head held high, in God's presence, says priest").
When so many of us Catholics are using the media to express our personal opinions on everything from endorsing contraception to advocating the need for women priests, it is really important for readers to be able to distinguish between what is merely one person's opinion and what is authentic Catholic Church teaching.
I hope that the WCR will continue to print what is authentically Catholic and, thereby, fulfill its mission statement which is "to help (your readers) deepen their faith through accurate information and reflective commentary . . .".
May youth understand ecumenism
Re: Youth give voice to orthodoxy (editorial, WCR, Nov. 4).
I agree there is a youthful renewal taking place in the Catholic Church. I see it, for example, in the activities of the Catholic community on the University of Calgary campus.
It is encouraging to observe young people are looking for a Christian faith to claim and many find it in the Church.
At the same time, I believe that one of the very positive benefits of the more liberal climate of the past (which Cardinal George of Chicago believes is now bankrupt) was the strong attention paid to ecumenism.
Hopefully in their quest for identity and meaning, young Catholics will not lose the ecumenical vision to which the Church is also committed.