Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 15, 2006
WCR Letters to the Editor
Re: Priests Retirement-Finances (WCR, May 1)
I read the article in the WCR with mixed feelings. Appreciation for Msgr. Hamilton's honesty in the salaries, benefits and pensions paid to diocesan priests. For single men who took a vow to follow Christ with only sandals and a cloak, it suffices.
Ironically, on the second page is a small news piece about the Church concentrating too much on money and not on being a Church of the poor. I also had a good chuckle reading the comments by Father Gauthier. Still the rebel saying what he wants and not what he should.
But $1,000 a month rent? Wow!
My mortgage for a small house that houses a family is only $559 including taxes. The $1,200 a month for room and board blew my mind too.
Time to think outside the box boys. Perhaps the diocese should consider purchasing houses/duplexes. The down payments can be from the retirement funds or from donations. Each parish, group, etc. coming up with the down payment.
Each house could accommodate three or four priests who could make up the monthly payments at a lot less than these expensive retirement homes. They could also pay a housekeeper/cook or possibly free room and board for a college student to handle the heavy work and housecleaning.
The diocese would also have assets that would belong to the Priests Retirement Fund. Also, each house could have a community car.
I cannot help but wonder if you are aware of how the majority of your parishioners are facing retirement? What I have suggested above is just like the group home my son lives in due to his limited mental capacities. He now receives a generous $1,000 a month from AISH and CPP Disability. He also washes dishes at a restaurant and keeps the $400 he makes.
He has a better lifestyle now than he has ever had. Once he is 65, however, he will have to live on OAP, CPP and, if he qualifies, the subsidy. At this time, that would be approximately $1,200 a month. It is very unlikely he would be able to access any other income through employment.
I started working at 15, and as an adult working for small companies who could not afford pension plans. My choice. There never seemed to be enough for RRSPs with three children. In three years I will have to live on OAP, CPP and the subsidy for a maximum of $1,500 a month.
I am looking at subsidized apartments where one pays 30 per cent of their income. I hate apartment living but there is no choice on a limited income. I will have to give up pets, which have been a big part of my life.
Nor will I be able to afford a car and will use free public transportation. There are also gifts for children and grandchildren to squeeze out of that. I will have to do what I have done all my life. Trust my God to give me what I need.
Think about it. Brainstorm. You have a problem; find a solution. Don't be like the government and run to the taxpayers as soon as you need money.
I do not mean to sound harsh and I am grateful that you were there when I needed you. I appreciate your lives of dedication. However, that is what you were called to do for your love of God and his people.
As Father Gauthier said, he knew what he was getting into when he became a priest. What about religious orders who have taken the vow of poverty? No pensions for them.
If people want to contribute to your retirement, by all means do so. But have a plan B.
Letter to the Editor - 07/17/06
Priests' pensions are a 'matter of justice'
Re: Priests' pension fund facing hard times (WCR, May 1).
Is there not something essential missing from the commentary on the shortfalls of the clergy retirement fund? Consider that the priest is the front line worker of the diocese, the first and usually only representative of the institutional Church that most Catholics will interact with in most matters regarding the practice of the faith.
Yet somehow the welfare of the priest after retirement is not considered to be a matter of justice, but rather a cause for charity.
Bishops as chief administrators of the diocese have been morally absent in providing for adequate care and financial security for these men, some of whom have worked 40 years in the service of the Church.
If the priests of the diocese count for so little once they retire, what about those other employees of the diocese? What about the legion of "housekeepers" who kept the rectories functioning smoothly, acting not only as cooks and cleaners, but often as secretaries, appointment coordinators and receptionists.
Paying a just wage is not an option but a moral requirement. Numerous official Church pronouncements have paid lip service to this reality. Part of a just wage includes the establishment of a financially sound retirement package that ensures dignity to the worker in his/her senior years.
The statement by Father Jozef Wroblewski that "there are priests who can't retire because they can't survive on the pension" is a condemnation of the poor administration that has led to this reality.
No wonder so few young men aspire to the priesthood. Give up companionship and family. Work every weekend. Be "on call" for most of your life and then retire to a life of insecurity and neglect. In the old days a priest might hope that some convent would give them lodging in return for daily Mass and a few services.
Is it not about time that the administration of diocesan programs become the responsibility of competent laypersons who have some expertise in these matters, because it is obvious that previous administrators (bishops) cannot be held accountable for their lack of concern or interest in such mundane (worldly) needs.
retired and married priest
Letter to the Editor - 07/17/06
Be wary of all garbage
Our greedy godless civilization is turning the Earth into hell, but it is doing it in more sinister ways than just producing physical garbage, as Suzanne Elston suggested (WCR, April 10).
Garbage, in many forms, is a necessary by-product of our physical life (which should be reduced or recycled) although, ultimately, we cannot defeat God's wise law of "entropy" by which he doomed this universe to the "thermal death" and annihilation.
We should not succumb to the myths of the population control freaks, who want to scare us that we are running out of space.
Due to the industrial nature of our civilization, there are other more serious problems with garbage dumped en masse into our ecosystems in all sorts of hidden ways, be it the by-products of industrial processes, or of the physical and spiritual "goods" we consume.
Canadians want to live a long and comfortable life, and the recent study showed that our rivers are full of drugs and pharmaceuticals flushed down the toilet, one particular concern being the hormones in the birth control pills. The implications are not hard to imagine.
Gehenna Jesus talked about wasn't meant to be a punishment for physical pollution or ecological offences, as the liberals who don't believe in real hell would like us to believe. (Origen's doctrine which turned hell into purgatory was condemned in 553 AD.)
Gehenna is a New Testament concept with respect to getting angry and calling your brother a "fool" (Matthew 5:22); it is a place reserved for sneaky serpents, poisonous vipers and hypocritical Pharisees (Matthew 23:33); it is the Tartarus reserved for the fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4).
According to Homer, Tartarus was an abyss of eternal punishment deep down below Hades, into which Zeus hurled the rebellious Titans, the sacrilegious king Tantalus, and the misguided ruler Sisyphus who wanted to live forever in this world by tricking Zeus.
Hades is like the sad place into which Jacob wanted to go to mourn his beloved son Joseph (Genesis 37:35). It is Hades Jesus conquered by his resurrection, as the Eastern rites are reminded in their joyful resurrection tropars.
Jesus tells us not to be afraid of physical destruction (Luke 12:6), for unrepented sin and the culture of death is the stuff of Gehenna.
Eternally burning garbage is a perfect metaphor for the everlasting hell, which no liberal theologizing can undo, but Gehenna Jesus warned about has a deeper meaning yet.
Ge-Hinnom (or Ben-Hinnom) was a valley outside of Jerusalem where the idolaters practised all sorts of depravity and witchcraft, with cults of female and male prostitution, and where children were offered as sacrifice to Moloch (2 Kings 23).
If Christians like Mrs. Elston are concerned that Canada is turning into Gehenna, they should be more worried about the spiritual garbage we are swamped with.
They should ask their bishops to return to a perhaps unpopular but more effective "fire and brimstone" approach, because God is not only love, but he is also the supreme judge of all.
Beware of the language trap
Re: "Grits bereft of pro-life nominee" (WCR, May 1).
Pro-life. Pro-marriage. Pro-family.
I think it is truly unfortunate that these catchphrases have sunk into the vernacular of our society. While they sound so positive and affirming, they are not linguistically accurate.
Pro-life really means anti-abortion.
Pro-marriage really means anti-same-sex-marriage.
Pro-family really means anti-same-sex-family.
I am not surprised that people who support these causes have used these catchphrases. After all, who can argue against life, marriage and family?
But in reality, they are all subterfuges.
Personally, I believe that abortion should only be considered when the life of the mother is in jeopardy, and never as a method of birth control. I also believe that marriage and family are wonderful societal institutions, both for the individuals involved and for the society at large.
I think that everyone, including homosexuals, should have the opportunity, the right, and indeed the society's expectation to get married and start a family.
By my logic this makes me pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family.
Language is a very powerful tool. It has the power to inform, to persuade, and to motivate. It also has the power to obscure, to indoctrinate and to incite.
I implore upon the WCR to stop taking part in this deception. Lets call a spade a spade. "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it still is a pig."
Dr. Tim Heaman
Letter to the Editor - 05/29/06
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