Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 5, 2004
WCR Letters to the Editor
Reproduction law seriously flawed
The editorial "Imperfect law suffices for now"(WCR, March 29) was seriously misleading. It failed to mention many serious objections to Bill C-6 (previously Bill C-13). These include, among others:
- That it legalizes in vitro fertilization, a procedure which is condemned by Church teaching as intrinsically immoral.
- That in vitro fertilization results in the death of at least nine out of 10 embryos.
- That it fails to prohibit many forms of cloning, e.g. pronuclear, mitochondrial and artificial genetic cloning.
- That it allows human/animal (hybrid) embryo creation.
- That it allows embryo creation for the purpose of "improving or providing instruction in assisted human reproductive procedures." This would allow embryo research if it were merely represented as "improving assisted reproduction."
- That it allows surrogate motherhood.
- That it allows parents to consent to the use of their unborn offspring for the purposes of research.
- That it mandates the killing of an embryo at 14 days after conception if it is not implanted in a woman's uterus, or preserved by freezing.
Some claim that a Catholic may, in good conscience, propose or vote for a bill which allows an intrinsic evil.
They try to justify that claim by an inaccurate interpretation of the meaning of Pope John Paul's encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, no. 73.
This error was pointed out by Archbishop Adam Exner of Vancouver (Jan. 16, 2003). Pope John Paul signed a doctrinal note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, (Jan. 16, 2003), in which he taught that Catholics may never collaborate with those laws which attack the person.
Bill C-6 is not better than, but far worse than, no law.
It will act merely as a springboard for further evils in the future.
John B. Shea, MD
Many reasons for water shortage
The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) has got it all wrong on the issue of the inaccessibility of clean, safe, reliable water to the impoverished people of Africa.
I picked up your Share Lent publication at my church and read your article captioned "Water: A sacred gift and a basic human right." You state that water has "been under threat from pollution, overuse and waste. Now, people's access to fresh water is subject to a new stress - the privatization of public water systems." With your backdrop as Africa, and judging from the picture attending to your article, I find your assertion to be erroneous and misleading.
In theNov. 3 issue of the WCR, Bob Schmidt, Alberta animator CCODP, is quoted as saying that "a whole lot of people, especially in the developing world, are being deprived of water (which) is the essence of life." And "he places the blame squarely on the privatization of water delivery, which increases the cost of water without satisfying the thirst of the world's poorest people."
He goes on to say that "millions of poor people find the tap turned off because they cannot pay their water bill. So in desperation, they turn to unsafe water sources."
You have got it all wrong. Your assertion may be the case elsewhere in your "Global South," but not quite correct in the African context. At best you may have taken an infinitesimal particular case to make a dangerous and sweeping generalization that "about 300 million African people do not have access to safe water" because of water privatization. You may have trumped up a slight aberration as a norm, and that's not fair to the African people.
The generality of "African people do not have access to safe, (clean and reliable source of) water" because water has not been made available to them by their governments or the NGOs.
Millions of African people turn to unsafe unreliable sources of water supply, infested with pollutants: pools of ground water; brooks and streams that are fertile breeding grounds for all manner of water-borne diseases, not because they "find the tap turned off." There are no taps in these rural towns and villages, in the first place. The few taps in the cities are not "turned off" either, but are simply dry.
Mannir Dan-Ali, a BBC News Online correspondent in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, writes in December 2003: "In spite of the posh buildings which dot the capital's skyline, many parts of the capital are without pipe-borne water.
The pipes are there but no water comes gushing out when you open them. This is mostly the case all year round but it gets worse in the dry season, when residents cannot get nature's assistance via rainwater."
Abuja, established as the capital of Nigeria in 1991, was planned for 250,000 people, but "the population is now more than one million and rising by the day." The minister for water resources, Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari believes that this phenomenon "has stretched the city's resources, thereby leading to problems such as those of water shortages."
For the minister "the problem will persist until a huge new dam in the neighbouring Kaduna State is completed sometime next year."
The correspondent continues: "An angry resident, Alhaji Ibrahim Baba Jimeta, said all their complaints to the municipal water authorities had not brought any relief. 'It is either sabotage or a deliberate policy to expose us to water-borne disease,' he said. 'We cannot attest to the hygiene of the water we buy from the hawkers. It is unbecoming of a federal capital city,' he adds."
The water shortages of Abuja are a microcosm of the preponderance of Africa. Nowhere in Mr. Dan-Ali's writing is blame placed "squarely on the privatization of water delivery," or on "a private for-profit water company (who turns the taps off on the poor residents of Abuja because they) are not able to pay skyrocketing water bills."
I know that Mr. Dan-Ali's observation is accurate because I have just returned from Nigeria. I have travelled extensively in Africa and know that the situation he describes resonates in all of Africa.
Your case is a typical example of outsiders - the so-called experts on Africa - arrogating to themselves the right to tell Africans what their problems are instead of listening to Africans tell their story as to how best they can be helped.
Africa We Care
Letter to the Editor - 05/24/04
Celebrate our Catholic identity
Thank you for printing the CNS article covering Cardinal Avery Dulles' recent lecture at Fordham University, under the bold title: "Time is ripe for new apologetics" (WCR, April 5).
From the gist of the cardinal's lecture calling for a rebirth of apologetics, it seems that Cardinal Dulles is not referring in any way to the kind of apologetics that has characterized our Church in the past: a rigorous intellectual defence of the faith in the face of an impending persecution or some other external threat. In this sense, the qualifier "new apologetics" seems most appropriate for the article, and for living out our faith at this point in our Church history.
As Catholics, we have never had so much clarity (or at least clear articulation) about our Catholic identity as we do right now in the Church. The Second Vatican Council published (among other things) both a dogmatic and a pastoral constitution on our identity as a Church.
Subsequent Church documents, and here I point to the Code of Canon Law (1983) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992-93) as examples - have taken the guess work out of interpreting the conciliar texts. With precision and erudition, our Catholic identity is now widely available for all to see and read. What further defence of the faith is required in the face of such comprehensive works?
Like Cardinal Dulles, I am continually inspired by the example of Pope John Paul, who from the first year of his pontificate, proclaimed to the world the need for a new evangelization; one which calls all Catholics to a greater awareness of their Christian identity and their participation in the mission and ministry of Christ in the world. I have never understood this call to be one of defending ourselves against persecutory forces "out there" in the world, but rather of discovering our true identity in Christ and conducting ourselves in accord with this identity.
Consequently, and looking again to the example of the Holy Father, the time seems ripe in the Church for apologies (read here repentance and conversion to the Gospel of Christ), not apologetics (in the sense in which this term is traditionally understood).
Does this "new apologetics" amount to weakness in the eyes of the world or even in the eyes of our sisters and brothers in Christ? By the testimony of the Apostle Paul, it may be precisely in such weakness that we will find our strength to boast (see 2 Corinthians 11-12).
Thanks be to God
Maybe I could say something on the evangelizing of the laity, and how my motto has come to be "Deo gratias!" - Thanks be to God.
I am happy to have received the missionary spirit along with the pioneer spirit from my parents, who made big sacrifices when they came west from Ontario and Nova Scotia (as teachers) when European immigrants were colonizing the land.
They raised their family in poverty and hardships, (for which, incidentally, I am ever grateful).
I feel that gratitude is a little hint of heaven on earth, a gift of joy.
When I feel inspired to share my faith, I have noticed a wealth of relevant and helpful material at hand (The Lord will provide).
At this time, I am grateful for the music of Mark Mallett, the courageous messages of Mark Pickup in the midst of his sufferings from multiple sclerosis, the kindly clarifying of the teachings of the Church by Archbishop Thomas Collins and the remarkably gifted service of Father Raymond Guimond in St. John the Evangelist Parish.
And, we have Pope John Paul II!
Yes, indeed - the Lord will provide.
Thumbs down to violence
The Vancouver Canucks' Todd Bertuzzi incident is but an ugly indicator and revelation of how society tolerates violence against men.
The proof's in the proverbial pudding: Whether it be a female Hollywood-movie character slamming her knee into a man's groin, a male character fist-cuffing another male character almost to death, or sports (e.g., hockey and boxing) in which men beat on each other as the audience cheers them on.
I'm of the school of thought that as long as society tolerates - even celebrates - violence against men, there will always be male violence against females.
Frank Sterle, Jr.
White Rock, B.C.