Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
March 22, 2004
WCR Letters to the Editor
Leaders need moral guidance
The March 1 edition of the WCR carried three articles;"The state cannot redefine marriage,""Group ministers to those with same-sex attraction," and"'Rights language' can impoverish our moral discourse" that highlights the value of a Catholic newspaper for presenting the teachings of our Catholic faith, the rationale for those teachings and for informing WCR readers about activities that the Church has initiated to assist Catholics to follow Church teachings.
Although Archbishop Thomas Collins, Bishop Fred Henry and the Vatican have gone to considerable lengths in recent months to clarify the Catholic Church position on the true meaning of marriage these articles have gone that extra mile to further clarify the matter. I must say that unfortunately this information has not been well explained at the parish level for those who do not read the WCR.
There was a time in Canadian society where our Church authorities - Christian and others - were consulted by elected officials and as a result were very influential in setting the moral and spiritual standards of our nation. In recent years however, our leaders seem to have not only not sought such wise moral guidance but have abandoned their responsibilities to others who have no such authority or responsibility.
A prime example of this was contained in an obscure article on page 10 of the Feb. 7 issue of the Edmonton Journal: "Courts must protect minorities: chief justice. Regina - Courts sometimes have to intervene when society is not faithful to its basic values, says one of the judges who ruled that federal laws excluding gays from marrying are unconstitutional. Roy Mc- Murtry, chief justice of Ontario, said judges have to be guided by basic fundamental values rather than public opinion.
While judges should often be guided by public opinion, there are times when the court should lead the way and be a crusader for a new consensus,' he said Friday in a speech to the Saskatchewan chapter of the Canadian Bar Association."
Herein lies a major problem in Canada - a chief justice, appointed to interpret the laws made by our democratically elected members of Parliament or the provincial legislatures has gone outside his mandate and taken it upon himself to "crusade" for new and different laws that will impose "his" moral principals on all of us.
This seems quite incredible and even more incredible is the fact that the premier of Ontario and the Canadian minister of justice has not dismissed or at least disciplined such a misguided leader of a provincial court.
It would surely be in order for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, our MPs, MLAs and any Canadian to challenge the validity of the Ontario court ruling on this matter, given the erroneous vision that this Ontario chief justice has of our courts.
It is clearly this false bias that has led us to the situation in which we find ourselves regarding the SSU issue.
When you make contact, it would be wise to send them a copy of the March 1 issue of the WCR to help clarify their thinking.
A personal letter that was sent some time ago to our federal minister of justice has gone unanswered.
Priest's Kenya AIDS orphanage needs help
Thefront page story of the Feb. 9 edition of the WCR featured Father Angelo D'Agostino's work with AIDS orphans in Kenya ("Drug firms accused of genocide"). There is nothing that is not compelling about these children. The story moved me deeply. After reading it, I did some research into the project, and contacted Father D'Agostino to ask in what way I might be able to help.
The more I found out about the Nyumbani orphanage, the more I admired its well thought out, well organized, efficient and holistic approach to the gargantuan problem of AIDS in Africa. The orphanage offers infants and children affected by HIV the best nutritional, medical, psychological, social and spiritual care possible. They are given education and taken on recreational outings.
The word Nyumbani means "home" in Swahili. It is aptly named. Their misery ends when they enter Nyumbani.
In addition to the orphanage, the staff at Nyumbani has an outreach program which reaches into the slums of Nairobi. It is called Lea Toto and its foundation is home based care. Including the 90 or so orphans at Nyumbani, Father D'Agostino and his staff serve over 900 HIV+ clients.
This too is holistic outreach, covering prevention of AIDS transmission, education and support on the social attitudes towards HIV+ family members, caregiver support, as well as more basic needs such as food and water. There are many more people they could be serving if they had the resources.
The newest arm of the Nyumbani project is the Nyumbani Village of Hope. Given the fact that the middle generation is dying at an astonishing rate, leaving the older and the younger generations with no one to support them, Father D'Agostino and his team have envisioned a way to put the older and the younger generations together in a village.
The village will be built on a rural plot where 400 to 500 AIDS orphans will live with 200-300 grandparents. It will be a self-sustaining environment where all residents will participate in tending the garden, looking after the livestock, or working on handicrafts or other income-generating enterprises. In addition, this village concept will allow the African culture to be passed from the elders to the younger generation.
It is hoped that the Nyumbani Village of Hope will become a model solution for the problem of what may become of the 40 million African children who will become AIDS orphans in the next 10 years.
This has been a very condensed version of Father D'Agostino's work in Kenya. Please read more by going to the website www.nyumbani.org.
Father D'Agostino replied personally to the email I sent him. Of course money is always needed, but medicine even more. Father D'Agostino is able to give these children love, food, medical, social and spiritual care. He is able to give them education and purpose.
But without costly anti-retroviral drugs to combat AIDS, the one thing he cannot give them is a future.
The last sentence in his reply to me was quietly stated this way: "One thing you could do is contact the big drug companies about donating antibiotics, etc., for our community health program which has 900 HIV+ orphans."
This is no small task, but I feel I must try. If anyone reading this feels they could help in some way, or if you would like to discuss this further, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (403) 578-3037 evenings.
Priest calls The Passion a 'cultural tidal wave'
As much respect as I have forFather Clem Gauthier andSister Louise Zdunich, I must disagree with their take on The Passion of the Christ, as indicated in the March 15 WCR.
While it could certainly be argued that more context could have been provided within which to situate Christ's suffering, I have to disagree with their objections to it solely on the basis of it's not being "a pleasant experience."
The movie is indeed extremely violent, but what distinguishes this movie from others produced by Hollywood is that here, violence is portrayed as neither "cool" (as in most Schwarzeneggar flicks), nor "funny" (as in most Tarentino films). In this movie, the violence is clearly a tragedy.
In this movie, Jesus experiences every consequence for every sin ever committed, and it is brutal. Of course this is also the purpose for the brutality of the actual cross: to expose all the brutality that human beings visit upon each other, and put it on display for all the world to see. And to deny that this kind of sadistic butchery happens in the real world would be a sad mistake.
Of course, the other purpose of the cross is to transform that suffering through the Resurrection, also depicted in the movie, although perhaps somewhat melodramatically.
As to whether or not Jesus would have died 10 times over or not (Sr. Louise's basis for implying Mel Gibson's interpretation as heretical), I think it would be better to leave that determination to a doctor.
And the devil was not a woman in this movie. The devil was genderless; in fact, I'm pretty sure it was a snake. Neither was there even a hint of misogyny; this movie is a portrayal of the death of Christ as experienced through the eyes of his mother.
If it does suffer a weakness, personally, I think it's that Jesus doesn't suffer enough, believe it or not. We see very little of the inner emotional struggle, particularly Jesus' feeling of forsakenness by his Father, which would have been far worse than the physical tortures visited upon him.
The Passion of the Christ has its strengths and weaknesses, and there are also better movie versions of the Gospel out there. But the fact is, this movie is a cultural tidal wave. Rather than trying to swim against this wave, again, perhaps we Church leaders aught to try swimming with the current instead, and use the golden opportunity Mel Gibson gives us to provide some guidance and direction.
Rev. Michael Mireau
St. Theresa's Parish
Bishop's office sets example
Yourarticle of Feb 23 on the changes being made to the archdiocesan offices contained much helpful information ("Pastoral Centre restructured"). Some changes are apparently being made during the restructuring of the Pastoral Centre which should improve service to the people of the diocese.
However, there is some vital information missing: What has been done for the staff members who were laid off?
It is important to know this because the diocesan offices serve as a model for parish offices and also for employers throughout the diocese. The bishop's office will lead in demonstrating Christian employment practices.
For example, I am surprised to learn that there seems to have been no attempt made to find other jobs for these people.
In a diocese with so many Catholic institutions, would that be very difficult?
In our zeal to be efficient let us not lose sight of our responsibility to look after one another, to be models for other Christian employers, to be good and loving stewards of the human resources with which we have been entrusted.
Thank you, Sr. Madeleine
We would like to extend our sincere thanks toSister Madeleine Geiger for her many years of faithful service to us as the Continuing Education Liberian. She is a welcoming and generous person who was always eager to meet our needs.
Her wisdom in her position helped us to grow in our spiritual journey. Her efforts
toward making the yearly Scripturefests successful is also greatly appreciated.
God bless you Sister Madeleine.
Dan and Ann Bingham