Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 10, 2004
WCR Letters to the Editor
Love must be bound
I am a fan of Vatican II. I am also an ardent admirer of Pope John Paul.
I was thus quite shocked to read John Zyp's letter in the April 26 WCR("Various viewpoints disconcert") in which he rails against various happenings in the Church today.
Most shocking by far is his statement that Pope John Paul "has dedicated his papacy to neutralizing the blessings of Vatican II."
One would assume that such a scathing accusation would be supported, but it is not. In fact, closer examination reveals that most of the views Zyp expresses are not those of Vatican II.
Zyp seems to think that the job of the Holy Spirit is to protect us from the pope and the Church hierarchy, but according to Vatican II, it is the Church "which the Spirit guides in way of all truth . . . He both equips and directs (the Church) with hierarchical and charismatic gifts" (Lumen Gentium, 4).
Zyp's hope that the bishops rebel against the pope by refusing to institute liturgical reforms is likewise contrary to the spirit of the council, for according to Lumen Gentium 8, the "Catholic Church . . . is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him." Rebellion is not an episcopal attribute. Communion is.
As for the issue Zyp raises with the film The Passion of the Christ, it has already been thoroughly discussed in the WCR. Zyp's idea that the devil in the film is female is simply wrong. Masculinity and femininity reflect the image of the Trinity by revealing that we are to be a gift to another and to bring forth new life (see John Paul's Theology of the Body).
The satanic character is androgynous, and therefore satanic because it is capable of giving neither love nor life. Its androgyneity underlines its distortion of God's image.
Zyp then objects to another article regarding the role of Catholic schools. But Vatican II states that parents (not schools) are primarily responsible for the religious education of their children (Gravissimus Educationis, 3). The purpose of Catholic schools is to teach academics in the light of Catholic faith - not to replace the parish or the family in teaching that faith.
What is at the heart of Zyp's letter? A fear of "the dedication of the institutional Church to power and control." While there can be no doubt that some members of the institutional Church have abused their power and done great harm to many, the solution does not lie in frenzied sword-brandishing. Someone will get hurt.
There can be no doubt that all the faithful must work for positive change in the Church, but we must first learn to deeply understand and love this Church.
We must be critical but first faithful like a spouse. This is not merely blind allegiance, but real love. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, "Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind."
The whole Church is in crisis in Jerusalem
There are many crises in the Holy Land. I write to direct your attention to one, one rarely spoken about one close to home, the crisis of the Christian community in the Holy Land. This is a crisis for the whole Church. At the beginning of the 20th century Palestinian Christians were 13 per cent of the local population, today the Christians of Palestine and Israel are two per cent.
Jerusalem is our hometown. That is where Jesus rose from the dead.
The plight of the Christian families is especially serious and as always in war, women and children suffer the most with 60 per cent of Palestinians now living under the poverty line of $2 per day.
The Christian population of Jerusalem has dropped from 25 per cent to two per cent between 1840 and 2002. Bethlehem in 1863 was a city almost entirely Christian; by 2002 the percentage of Christians has fallen to approximately 20 per cent. Nazareth was a little city populated above all by Christians. By 2002 the number had fallen to 20 per cent. It is estimated that by 2020 Christians will represent only 1.6 per cent of the total population.
Christians are abandoned to their lot - Western governments have not only done nothing - they have made matters worse by their attitude. They say "We don't help Christians; we help Palestinians" so the financial support from the E.C. goes to the Palestinian Authority, but there are no Christians on the Palestinian authority.
So where do we expect the support goes? Not to the Christians. With the help of the western Christian governments, the Muslim majority becomes stronger.
The governments of Muslim/Arab countries exclusively help Muslims. The Americans help Israel. The Christian community thinks that it has no future in the Holy Land even though its presence is vital.
We need to inspire them, promote courage and give them incentives to remain in their country.
The support of schools, universities, institutions and parishes as well as humanitarian help for poverty stricken families is essential.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (EOHSJ) is a lay religious order that includes ecclesiastical members. The order has been in existence for over 900 years. We are committed to sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
A large portion of support is to education in parish schools, the seminary in Beit Jala and Bethlehem University. Education in the Holy Land gives a sense of hope. Christian education in the context of the Gospels helps form leaders with vision, love and compassion.
The Latin patriarch, Michel Sabbah, in his office in the old city of Jerusalem says that the presence of pilgrims amounts to a completion of the natural Christian community in the Holy Land.
The small but notable increase in the number of Christian pilgrims gives hope to our fellow Christians to come and see where Jesus Christ lived. It says to our persecuted brothers and sisters in faith "You are not alone."
Jerusalem is where Jesus was presented in the Temple, argued with the scholars, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers in that Temple. He cured the sick here.
He offered the Last Supper in the upper room of the Cenacle. Jesus was scourged, crucified and buried here.
On the third day he rose from the dead and left the Holy Sepulchre. Jesus Christ ascended to heaven; the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples in the upper room.
All Christian churches derive from here but still our Christian faithful are threatened and in need of support at home in Jerusalem. That support could be in the form of prayer, charitable donations or both in the form of a pilgrimage.
Could we be there for them, at least for a little while? Is a pilgrimage to the Holy Land that difficult?
This generation of Catholic leaders is not going to stand by and do nothing. Support is more than money, it is contact, communication, visiting and caring. We will support our Christian people.
Dr. Declan Lawlor
Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
Read your letter over again for omissions
Re: John Zyp's letter to the editor(WCR April 26).
John, you warn readers about our conniving pope, the fearful and out-of-touch bishops, the malicious Passion of the Christ movie, apathetic women, the sinister clerical establishment and that darned corrupt institutional Church.
Regrettably, you neglected to blame three equally culpable persons.
First, Jesus Christ who founded your corrupt Church and who forever loves his chosen bridegroom.
Second, the Holy Spirit who chose your "desperate" pope as an antidote to the culture of death in our world.
Third, the Father and Creator of all that is good, including those people we scorn as fools but who in fact are saints challenging us to become better than we are.
Remember to follow the money
Federal and provincial government politicians are fond of telling us that health care costs are rising at a rate that is unsustainable.
They rarely, if ever, mention that both federal and provincial governments are pursuing policies which permit wealthy corporations and individuals to get away without paying their fair share of taxes.
The 1996 report of Canada's auditor general included the following observation: "We have observed two advance rulings relating to moving at least $2 billion of assets held in family trusts into the United States from Canada.
"In our view, the transactions ruled on may have circumvented the intent of the law regarding the taxation of capital gains.
Therefore, we are concerned that Revenue Canada may have eroded the tax base by forfeiting a legitimate future claim to many millions of dollars in tax revenue."
It is known that just one prominent wealthy Canadian family was let off the hook for about $700 million in taxes in 1991, when the family transferred a $2 billion family trust to the U.S.
For several years now, Canada's auditor general has expressed concern over the disastrous effects of certain tax provisions and of the tax agreements between Canada and other countries throughout the world which allow for the use of tax havens.
According to a study done by the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute, the Klein government is forgoing billions of dollars of revenue by charging oil corporations considerably less for oil royalties than they would pay in either Alaska or Norway.
As long as right-wing federal and provincial governments view policies favouring the rich as being "sustainable," ordinary Canadians will be deprived of the revenue to fund an acceptable level of health care and other social programs.