Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
December 13, 2004
WCR Letters to the Editor
Catholic faith is not a buffet
Re: "Bishop Should look after own backyard" by Joe Gubbels(WCR, Nov. 22)
Mr. Gubbels says many Catholics do not assent to the teachings of Bishop Henry (who, in his pastoral letter on Paul Martin, simply espoused Church teaching) on sexuality. Nothing could be more true. The point is these Catholics should assent to the teachings of Bishop Henry (and therefore of the Catholic Church) on sexuality.
If every man were left to determine what is true and false in the realm of faith and morals according to his own private judgment, a thousand different opinions about the Catholic faith would result, and there would be no certain way of determining which opinion was true. This would be grievously contrary to the unity Our Lord intended for Christians.
Therefore, Christ instituted the Catholic Church to be an infallible teacher of faith and morals, a teacher that would be free from all error, a teacher that would teach with Christ's own authority. The Catholic faith is not a buffet; God commands the faithful to accept all of the Church's teachings, for they are his teachings.
And the Church has good reason for her teachings, including her teachings on abortion, homosexual unions, and the male priesthood (three teachings that Gubbels criticizes). For Christ, the founder and invisible head of the Church, is also the source of reason; therefore reason and Church teaching cannot contradict each other, as illustrated by the following explanations of those teachings that Gubbels attacks:
It is a scientific and philosophical fact that the unborn child is an innocent human person. Therefore, abortion is murder. Murder is wrong. Therefore, abortion is wrong.
In the book of Genesis, God's first command to the man and the woman was: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it." Thus God revealed the precept of the eternal law that the primary purpose of marriage is procreation. Homosexual unions do not allow for procreation; therefore, they are not and can never be marriages.
Christ himself was a man and established a male, not a female priesthood (the apostles, the first priests, were men). That this is not demeaning to women is shown by the example of Mary: the greatest human being that ever has and ever will live, God's own mother, was not chosen to be a priest.
Caesar gives, Caesar takes away
Most curious are the letters in response to the letter titled "Bishop should look after own backyard" by Joe Gubbels(WCR, Nov. 22). No one wishes to deny Bishop Henry the right to speak out on matters for which he personally has strong opinions.
Mr. Gubbels correctly asserts that Bishop Henry nor other bishops necessarily speak on behalf of the Catholic community, especially when they venture into partisan territory during a pre-election period. The bishops as leaders of the institutional Church do have a credibility problem within their own community. But that is another issue.
The original article by Ramon Gonzalez(WCR, Nov 1) titled "Revenue Canada threatens Henry" clearly indicated that the issue was a civil legal matter - the bishop was deemed to be in contravention of the Election Act and the clear guidelines of the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA).
It would seem that the bishop wants "to have his cake and eat it too." That is the issue to which Mr. Gubbels responded.
The Church enjoys certain privileges from the civil state, one of those being designated a recognized "charity" for the purpose of taxation and tax status.
But Caesar does not give without expecting something in return. This is a problem which has plagued the Church since the time of Constantine when the emperor decided that it fell on him to resolve matters of diversity in the ecumenical Church.
Jump ahead to 2004 and we see a bishop biting the hand that feeds him - the Church depends on its status as a legitimate charity for tax purposes but Bishop Henry has crossed the line by using his office to virtually tell Church members not to vote "Liberal."
Now as a private citizen and as a bishop he has the right to do this. But in all honesty, it should be the bishop who volunteers to give up his charity tax status which is a benefit from the civil government which he is opposing.
The bishop should also volunteer to give up the "civil official" status enjoyed by his clergy in performing weddings - as the state allows civil and religious wedding services to be combined.
Maybe the bishop should also consider voluntarily giving up the separate school system - which clearly discriminates against other religious groups in favour of one religion.
Clearly the bishop should volunteer to pay taxes on Church property. Only then the bishop could clearly speak his mind knowing that he owes nothing to the government nor is he voluntarily bound by the rules and regulations of the CCRA.
Irish know Advent is a Christian's 'thin time'
The Irish have a profound sense of a spiritual universe that exists alongside the world of their everyday lives. These two realms, though separate, are so close they occasionally break into each other in marvellous ways.
The old people say this often happens during "thin times" - periods of physical and emotional pain - illness, death, mourning, loss - when the heart feels most vulnerable. At the "thin times" of life, individuals are exquisitely sensitive and responsive to the Holy Presence that always surrounds them, but is unseen and often unfelt.
Advent is the Christian's "thin times." It's bittersweet to some because it marks the dying of the old year of dreams and possibilities, despite its anticipation of the new.
For many, it's a time of sunless days, glacial nights, icy roads and fearsome blizzards. The seasonal darkness invariably depresses and immobilizes the spirit. So do the pre-Christmas marketers who hawk things that fail to satisfy or enrich.
Spiritually, Advent is a time of longing for what is most desired, but absent and seemingly unreachable.
It's our soul's "thin times" and it catapults us into the joyful, abundant realm of the holy. Advent makes us more vulnerable to Christmas - when the boundaries separating the finite and infinite collapse, and God is with us again.
Veronica Marie Rochford
How about proportional representation voting?
Many post-mortems of the recent provincial election called for the institution of political democracy in Alberta.
This could be achieved through an electoral system known as proportional representation (PR).
Under PR, each political party would receive the same percentage of seats in the legislature as they received in votes on election day.
As it was, the ruling Conservatives got 47 per cent of the popular vote, but received 74 per cent of the seats (61) in the 83-seat legislature.
Altogether, the opposition parties received 53 per cent of the vote, but only 26 per cent of the seats (22).
PR is probably a good idea; it is being discussed in five other provinces.
And it might even be a small step toward attaining the "common good" -- one of the tenets of the Church's social teaching.
However, PR hasn't led to economic democracy in Western Europe where it is the electoral system in many countries. It wouldn't lead to economic democracy here either, because the economy is largely in private hands, including the huge profits they take from the exploitation of our vast natural resources.
An all-time low of 45 per cent of eligible Albertans bothered to cast ballots, thereby giving the Tories a mere 22 per cent of the potential vote.
Those who voted may have thought they were making a difference, however the mainstream parties competed mainly on the basis of administrative competence.
None of them stood for a just redistribution of our wealth, which is central to the common good. The mainline contestants talk public interest, but they walk corporate tyranny.
Actually, what passes for democracy in Canada, and elsewhere, is a system of government in which a tiny number of elites based in the business sector control the state by virtue of their dominance of corporate society, while the populace watches quietly.
Having little choice except to vote for the Business Party, or one of its factions, every four years at election time, the public effectively rubber stamps the corporate agenda - private profits over people.
The population has the privilege of paying for its own destruction.
I raise my hands for a hug
Raising my hands during the Our Father has nothing to do with obedience or disobedience(Letters, WCR, Nov. 29). It reminds me that Our Father " who art in heaven" is the one whom I receive everything and it is this receiving that I can give, and yes I ask to be forgiven as I forgive, this being no small feat. Who has grace enough to say the prayer at all?
How can you judge, as you put it, "that I feel inferior in holiness to the priest by imitation his actions at every turn." I am not imitating as a child. I think of the strength Moses received by raising his arms during battle. Me too, I have a battle with the enemy, the counter spirit, when I have trouble forgiving.
To rejoice and be glad is to be. It has nothing to do with doing. After all, Jesus came to give us good news, reason to rejoice and be glad. When I see a member of my family that I have not seen for a while, I raise my hands up awaiting the hug and offering the hug. The spirit of this is being and not doing.
My arms going up is part of my human condition in rejoicing and being glad or it may mean that I am desperate for God's strength and Love. Sometimes this is one of the paradoxes of life.
God welcomes us as we are
Re: Paul Kokoski's letter(WCR, Nov. 29) about raising hands to God in prayer.
Paul, and others like him, would inflict more rules and regulations upon us than even the Pharisees in Jesus time could think up.
I rather think God will accept any and all sincere expressions of praise, thanks, remorse and supplication which our hearts and minds move us to make. These four actions constitute the perfect prayer, however they are said or performed. Period.
Phillip H. Walker
Orans position still open for debate
I feel the need to respond to the letter written by Paul Kokoski of Hamilton, Ont.,(WCR, Nov. 29) when he responds to thearticle by Sister Louise Zdunich regarding people who join the priest in the orans position during the Lord's Prayer.
Mr. Kokoski is correct in noting the rubrics do not call for the use of orans posture by the assembly during the Lord's Prayer, in fact they are silent on this point. They call only for the priest to extend his hands during the prayer. The purpose of the rubrics is usually to be instructive; they tell us how to do something: that they are silent cannot be necessarily construed as prohibiting an action.
History has shown that the orans posture for prayer was common in the early Church, for both the priest and the assembly, but over time the orans posture seems to have undergone an evolution and is now usually regarded as a presidential posture. This view however, is not universal and several respected liturgists (i.e. Peter Elliott and Dennis Smolarski, sj) think that there is nothing wrong with the faithful imitating the posture of the priest during the Lord's Prayer, as was done in the early centuries of the Church.
The practice is even permitted by liturgical law in some countries such as Italy, where the Holy See has granted permission for anyone who wishes to adopt this posture during the Lord's Prayer.
It should be noted that the orans posture is different from holding hands during the Lord's Prayer, which is an innovation without precedent in the history of the Church, and which most liturgists (including the ones listed above) highly discourage.
Thus, there is currently a degree of ambiguity in Canada as to whether the assembly is permitted to join the priest in the orans posture for the Lord's Prayer. To overcome this ambiguity will require a decision on the part of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops or a response from the Holy See.
In light of this ambiguity (even if the missal does not explicitly permit the assembly to pray the Lord's Prayer in the orans posture), for Mr. Kokoski to come out so strongly against it, to the point of saying that people who raise their hands in the orans position during the Lord's Prayer "enjoy being disobedient or perhaps because they feel inferior in holiness to the priest if they are not physically imitating his actions in every turn" is, at the least uncharitable.
Holding up hands reflects spoken words
Re: "It's the Priest Who Holds Up His Hands"(WCR Letters, Nov. 29).
I believe that we hold up our hands in unison with the priest during the praying of the Lord's Prayer for none of the reasons expressed by Paul Kokoski. Rather, this gesture is a beautiful and tactile way to reflect physically the words that are being spoken.
Many of my former Grade 6 students found this to be a very meaningful gesture while praying the Lord's Prayer to begin our school day, especially after I told them that holding our hands in this way while saying the words "Give us this day our daily bread" is a reflection of our openness to receive God's gifts.
Rocky Mountain House
Letters to the Editor
The WCR welcomes your letters. Please write 300 words or less and tell us your name, address and daytime phone number. All letters are subject to editing.
Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily represent the views of the WCR.