Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
February 16, 2003
WCR Letters to the Editor
A different take on labels
Father Rolheiser in "Drop the labels and seek the truth" (WCR, Feb. 2) has drawn several wrong conclusions. Many people search for truth today, and if they are not finding it, it is precisely because they don't think that labels are important.
Most of us aren't blessed with stunning mystical insights that bypass our human nature, and those few who are, ought to be very careful how they interpret them. Thus we have to rely on the power of labels otherwise known as symbols, words or definitions, and on that more widespread gift of God called "reason," which everyone gets.
And even if some do get closer to the mystical truth, they still have a crucial problem of communicating it to us mere mortals using the labels called words. This discovery has forever changed the haphazard search for truth characteristic of most civilizations except the "Western" or "Christian," which adopted the Greek philosophical tradition.
A good label or definition for man might be that we are a complex "animal" with mystical and poetic insights, but we are also a rational animal who, in our search for the truth, need our "hardware" as well as our "software." We could almost summarize by calling this creature a "labeling animal."
The notion that we can somehow search for truth by abandoning all labels and "software", is like saying that an explorer, say Columbus, can discover new worlds by despising and sinking not only his ships, charts and navigational instruments, but also his head. It is like saying that the scientists at Alamogordo had set out to discover the atomic bomb by burning their books with formulas, by throwing away their slide rules, and by cutting off their fingers, because labels and numbers supposedly don't matter.
Countless generations gave their lives for the truth represented by symbols like "cross," "liberty" or "flag," and it is unfortunate that we have forgotten a powerful prayer the Names of God, which is the search for truth via meaningful labels representing God.
Father Rolheiser is mistaken if he thinks that a label, like "liberal" or "conservative" cannot be correctly defined. It can and it has. Once a correct definition is found, like the one given by Chesterton, "a conservative is one who tries to conserve what is right," such definition can withstand any challenge, and it becomes a beacon and a liberating dogma.
Rather than indulging in empty cliches and confusing psycho-babble, Christians would greatly benefit by reading what really explains the nature of things.
Church legal liability prompts ethics debate
I would like to take issue with Bishop Fred Henry's column of Feb. 2, "'Who should pay?' asks bishop." I believe that Bishop Henry completely misses the point, and in doing so, gives the impression that the Catholic Church is trying to shirk its responsibilities. Bishop Henry's comparison of the Church being sued for the actions of its priests to all cities in Canada being sued because of the actions of a few police officers in Toronto is absurd and fallacious.
First of all, I want to state that I have no idea or opinion on whether the Diocese of St George's in Newfoundland or the Catholic Church in Canada shares any responsibility for the sexual abuse by priests that occurred between the 1960s and 1980s in that diocese.
Obviously the diocese's insurance company and the Government of Canada seem to think so. Yes, they have "vested interests," but I would hardly suggest that the Catholic Church, and by extension, you Bishop Henry, do not. At least the Government of Canada has repented and accepted its responsibilities.
As I understand the issue, the Church is arguing before the Supreme Court that it, as an "unincorporated association," "is not an entity capable of being sued." And, to do so, would be to impose "vicarious liability" on the Church as a whole. The Catholic Church is arguing that it should never, under any circumstances, be held responsible for the actions of its deacons, priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals in Canada.
I find this a rather difficult argument to swallow. I agree with the CCCB and Bishop Henry that if the Catholic Church and the Diocese of St. George's acted responsibly and in good faith over the decades of sexual abuse, then they should not be held liable for the actions of a few priests.
However, to argue that the Church should never, under any circumstances, be sued because the courts might incorrectly assign "vicarious liability" is not a valid argument. Further, to argue that the Catholic Church, the largest religious denomination in Canada, is nothing more than just an "unincorporated association" is laughable.
Arguing that the Catholic Church should never under any circumstances be sued only serves to provide more ammunition to the Church's detractors. It smacks of arrogance and infallibility. Why should anyone respect the Church's moral authority if it is refuses to even consider its responsibilities for past transgressions?
Why should the Catholic Church be the only religious organization in Canada which cannot be sued? All other churches, governments, private and public companies, and individuals in Canada can be sued. What makes the Catholic Church special?
Dr. Tim Heaman
Where are the lost '70s sheep?
Hordes of cradle Catholics of the late '40s to the '60s became the scattered sheep of the '70s and '80s, joining other lost sheep who never knew God and don't want to know God.
Why did that happen? How much longer must we wait for them to return? Their parents are worried. They are getting old and want to die in peace knowing their beloved children are safely among the faithful and are being counted by God every Sunday in his sheepfolds (the only church founded by Christ).
A few have come back and for them there is great rejoicing in heaven and here at home. Some are caught up buying bigger and bigger homes and vehicles and boats. Do these people ever think about where they are going in the next world? Do they even believe in the next world? Is immoral entertainment and free love in this world good enough for them? What about their eternity?
Some believe in a God, but they don't know him, don't love, don't serve him. They don't even have time for him. Besides, by their standards he is not cool.
Between both parents working to make more and more money, socializing with their many cool friends and prospective customers, shopping for all the things they need to be cool, being a taxi service to get their children to and from all the things they got their children involved in (but not Sunday Mass) and playing golf, heavens! There just isn't time for God.
But Satan is cool. He invented cool and it's working very well for him. It's just not enough to believe in God - even Satan believes in God. He knows Jesus very well.
When they meet Jesus at their moment of death, will he say, "Begone, I do not know you"? Will they be thrown into the lake of fire, where their worm does not die, with Satan and his demons and all those earthlings who followed his way rather than follow Jesus?
Jesus died to redeem from everlasting death, all mankind who believe in him, are baptized, keep his commandments, confess their sins and repent.
How can we parents die in peace? We love our children but see they are going the wrong way.
There is no hope for them that way. We can't just forget about the lost sheep of the '70s and '80s and say, "Oh well, the new generation is doing better."
Sale of convent raises concern
The Daughters of Wisdom in Edmonton have negotiated the sale of their residence in the city of Edmonton. I am sure their hearts are in the right place, however, the adjacent community has serious concerns about the new residents.
The majority of the concern, in my opinion, is with parents of children attending two elementary schools and two daycare centres across the street or whose children use the community hall, rink and playground across the street - I mean right across the street!
A Christian mission would be operating a group home for homeless women. They would offer life skills classes and some job skill training, and a safe refuge in a wonderful community. Many residents would be attempting to start a new life after leaving an abusive relationship.
One community concern is "what if" an abusive spouse chooses to stalk or approach these women. It seems there is possible risk to the children. Another concern is that they will not offer addiction counselling although some of their residents would be "recovering" alcohol or drug addicts.
It seems again that this situation could arise in harm to children, whether it be simply witnessing negative behaviour to something more serious - I'll let your imagination take you there.
As the zoning is likely correct (yet to have final approval) and the funding to the purchasing party is approved, the transaction will possibly be finalized early this year.
I wish to voice my disappointment with the Daughters of Wisdom, in their choice to offer this property for such a program immediately adjacent to an area which should be relatively free from worry for our small children.
Picture choice questioned
I am puzzled at the way the Western Catholic Reporter quite frequently uses inappropriate photos in its promotion of spiritual life.
A case in point, the young woman in front of the priest receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation (Jan. 26, Page 13). This young woman not only is not dressed properly, she also exhibits a disrespectful posture.
Last year a similar scenario was presented to us. Again, it was a young woman receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation facing the priest, wearing a skimpy top which could have been mistaken for an undergarment.
Why this lack of discretion? We unceasingly witness indecent images on television, at the movies, in magazines -- Catholic papers should counteract these tendencies, not foster them.
This only encourages further desensitization. The WCR should be an example of good judgment.
As Christians and temples of the Holy Spirit, we ought to be watchful at maintaining a dignified attitude.
Modesty in dress is part of this dignity which we are called to affirm.