Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
November 3, 2008
WCR Letters to the Editor
A Catholic doctor makes the case for Gardasil
I'm a Catholic trustee for the Conseil Scolaire Centre Nord (North Central Francophone School division). I'm also a family doctor.
On Oct. 14 I made the motion to allow the administration of the Gardasil vaccine through our schools. This motion was passed unanimously, with one trustee absent. As for any other vaccine, parents may choose not to have the vaccine administered to their child.
As a doctor who has on occasion cared for patients with cervical cancer, I simply cannot refuse the opportunity to do what I can to prevent this disease.
It is a serious and cruel illness. Once it has started to spread, it is relentless and incurable, leading to significant suffering before death.
I will try to address a most critical question to this debate: Can a monogamous, observant Catholic woman really assume that she is at no risk of getting this illness? What in fact is her risk, if there is any?
A study from the University of Washington published in December 2007 tried to answer this question.
The researchers followed a group of 130 women who were closely monitored for HPV over a period of three years. These women entered the study after they started their first and only sexual relationship. If a subject ever started a relationship with a second partner she was discharged from the study.
The results were startling. By one year, 28 per cent of these women showed evidence of exposure to HPV. This increased to nearly 50 per cent by three years; still while with the same first partner. Obviously the risk correlated significantly with the degree of "experience" of their male partner.
It also drives home the point that HPV is a very common, ubiquitous infection. Fortunately, for most people the immune system kicks in and eliminates the infection naturally. Other women aren't so lucky, and for a few the infection may slowly change into cancer as years go by.
It is therefore very naïve to believe that if a woman remains with one partner over the course of her life she will never be exposed to this virus. It is erroneous to assume that the vaccine would offer no additional protection and is therefore not needed. It is misguided to advise Catholic women that they shouldn't ever benefit from the vaccine.
By extension of this same faulty logic, observant Catholic women who have had only one partner shouldn't need to have a regular pap test. After all, HPV is detected through an abnormal pap test. It is practically the sole purpose of the pap test.
Are we prepared to officially tell Catholic women not to go for their test? I believe most reasonable people would find such a position indefensible and foolish.
I also wonder what debate we will have once a vaccine for HIV and AIDS becomes available. Who will we allow to be vaccinated?
Who will decide?
Vaccine detractors will also state that the vaccine isn't effective or is potentially unsafe. They allude to supposed ongoing controversy about the vaccine even among medical professionals.
I warn everyone that this is a smokescreen advanced to create confusion. The medical consensus regarding the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine is very strongly favourable. Anyone who says otherwise is either seriously misinformed or dishonest.
Ultimately, as a trustee I have to do all I can to safeguard the future of Catholic education in this province. It is a part of my mandate as trustee as it is for all Catholic trustees.
From the evidence available it is clear that HPV/cervical cancer is a disease which does not discriminate. Unavoidably, there will be innocent victims.
Where there are innocent victims, there will be lawyers and class action suits. There will be costly settlements and empty bank accounts.
The financial blow to our boards could be massive. This could potentially lead to the end of Catholic education in this province.
We can't let that happen.
May I conclude by stating that I didn't decide to take this position without an extended period of thoughtful prayer. My mind and heart tell me that it was the right thing to do.
Denis Vincent MD
Letter to the Editor - 11/17/08
Letter to the Editor - 11/17/08
Congregation moved by Baptism
This autumn has been for me and no doubt for you the readers an endless spectacle of what Mother Nature in her best array was able to concoct daily ever-more beautiful and spectacular varieties of autumn colours.
And that pregnant Mother Nature poured it out endlessly provoking in one's heart and one's eyes ever-greater beauty and joy.
It's interesting that our pope has jumped into the fray, opening for us new dimensions of life by inviting us to take "beauty" evermore seriously. Indeed, the pope suggests that our faith is not meant to be true only, but importantly, we have to see it as "beautiful."
So as Catholic people we are invited to recognize that our faith is primarily to be seen as beauty and then also truth.
I've recently witnessed a family presenting their little child for Baptism during Mass. The whole congregation came alive, wanting to be closer if possible to the ceremony that was taking place in the sanctuary of the church.
People were visibly touched by this young family proudly presenting the baby to the whole congregation after the priest, along with the parents and godparents, had celebrated the Baptism.
I personally was moved by the family proudly presenting their little child as a new member of the congregation as it was just baptized by the priest with the parents and godparents participating.
Autumn may not be one's favourite season but it is certainly a beautiful time of the year. It also moves us to gladness and rejoicing.
The sacrament of Baptism is a profound life-giving ritual inviting all to rejoice and affirm the young family that presented to all the great gift of new life, new hope and awesome joy.
Jacques Johnson, omi
Abortion torch must be kept ablaze by prayer, protest
Thursday, Oct. 9 was a sad day in Canadian history. Henry Morgentaler was given the Order of Canada when all he did to earn the award was kill unborn babies and make a fortune while doing it.
If this is all that is required in this country to become great, we have indeed reached the lowest common denominator.
Although most of our politicians refuse to deal with abortion and our former prime minister, Jean Chrétien, stated that the question of abortion has been settled in Canada, that is certainly not the case.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet and many bishops have issued strong statements about it. Archbishop Thomas Collins addressed all Canadians on the subject in his homily during the Mass broadcast over Vision TV that morning.
Perhaps this outrageous award to Morgentaler is what it will take to rouse us as a nation. There must be a groundswell of prayer, protest and action for the cause of the unborn. Our young must take up this cause.
I was impressed by a young man named Billy Valentine on EWTN. He spoke with clarity and assurance about the moral issues of today and works to organize pro-life groups on campuses.
His website iswww.studentsforlife.org.
I hope that our young will look up this site and get inspiration there. Our young people are the hope of the Church. Their generation must join the battle and embrace the cause of life.
Many are interested in it already.
Meanwhile, all of us must persevere with our prayers, sacrifices and efforts to turn this tide of death.
In time, and with the help of God's grace, the victory will be won because God will prevail over evil.
We must also remember to pray for all those who are suffering after an abortion, and also for the conversion of all abortionists and those who condone abortion.
Catholic Church preaches universality
Re: "Local Italians call Santa Maria Goretti 'their church'" (WCR, Oct. 6).
It was with great curiosity that I read of the frustrations of Santa Maria Goretti parishioners over the issue of not having an Italian-speaking priest.
One would think that the bigger issue for the parish would be that it had no permanent priest at all.
As I read the article and saw quotes such as "It was our own church" and "The parish belongs to us," I couldn't help but get the sense that this is a very exclusive community.
To my thinking, this is not a posture of acceptance and certainly does not mirror the universality of our faith and our Catholic Church where all should feel welcome.
With our shortage of priests, parishes should feel blessed by any and all priests who are assigned to shepherd them.
Indeed, our archdiocese has been extremely blessed by the multitudes of priests who have willingly left their homes in Nigeria, Poland, Philippines, Germany, India and Central and South America in order to fill the void left by our lack of homegrown priests.
We should be grateful that they have made this sacrifice and we should welcome them with all our hearts. They are following God's call.
One interviewee goes on to further explain: "One of the goals of the parish is to preserve the Italian language and culture."
While that is an admirable endeavour, it is an endeavour that should be the focal point of a cultural community centre and not a Catholic parish.
The goal of a parish, first and foremost is to welcome all to our universal Catholic faith, to celebrate the Eucharist together as a community, to break open the Word of God, to evangelize our faith and to foster vocations.
If you want to build community, you need only open your doors and your hearts to all and especially those sent by God to minister to you.
Why are we so incensed and concerned about all the stabbings and other killings that go on daily in our society? The victims just shouldn't have been where they were. Then these poor killers get the privilege of free room and board in our jails.
Many doctors perform abortions daily in our society. These unborn babies just shouldn't have been where they were. Then the doctors get paid for their "work" by the health care system. What ethics do we live by? On one hand, killing is a crime. On the other, we can be awarded the Order of Canada for promoting it.
Talented Polish sculptor lives here
The front-page story of your Oct. 13 issue gave me an unpleasant shock ("John Paul II stands tall by Polish church").
Transporting a 1,200-kg statue from Krakow, Poland to Edmonton by plane is the kind of environmentally irresponsible act that could be considered immoral by contemporary standards.
What is particularly galling is that we are fortunate to have a talented Polish sculptor in Edmonton who unfortunately was overlooked or ostracized.
Danek Mozdzenski is an Edmontonian with Polish credentials who displays artistic genius.
Anyone can check Danek's work. Here is a short list:
- Crucifix in St. Joseph Basilica.
- Madonna in St. Theresa, Millwoods.
- Ukrainian centennial memorial in legislative grounds.
- Ezio Faraone in Ezio Faraone Park, 97th Avenue and 110th Street.
- Rescue at Fire Station One, which is at Walterdale Playhouse.
- Lois Hole at the new west-end Lois Hole Library.
- Official statue of Lester B. Pearson in Ottawa.
My judgment is based on more than 70 years of aesthetic study and experience and serious dedication to the Catholic tradition of visualizing the spiritual mysteries.
The upshot of all of this is that parish priests and parish councillors tend to suffer from the unfortunate "foreign is better" syndrome.
We have been blessed with a wealth of local artists and craftpersons. Check the Design for Liturgy and Worship document, which was distributed to every parish library free of charge.
Letter to the Editor - 11/24/08
Letter to the Editor - 12/08/08
Tories our only hope
Re: "Pro-life leaders dismayed Harper Tories have abandoned them" (WCR, Oct. 13).
Stephen Harper and the Conservative government are definitely pro-life and pro-family.
I sent a petition in 2006 calling for protection for the unborn victims of crime to our now-retired MP Myron Thompson (Conservative). He wasted no time in bringing it forward.
Conservative MP Ken Epp then brought forward a bill, the Unborn Victims of Crime Act. It passed 147-133.
From there, it was sent to a committee to be voted on at a later date.
When the election was called, the bill was declared void, as were all the other bills.
Another petition has to be done. Now that the Conservatives have more seats, I pray that it will pass.
Do not underestimate the Conservative Party. They are our only hope.
Letter to the Editor - 11/10/08
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