Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
January 26, 2009
WCR Letters to the Editor
Catholics respect those of other faiths
I am a priest from London, Ont., currently finishing a PhD in biblical studies and interreligious dialogue.
I was disappointed to readHelen Ferguson’s letter in the Jan. 19 WCR regarding education about world religions in Quebec public schools.
Sadly, she misrepresents the teaching of the Catholic Church as regards other faiths, particularly Judaism.
Although many centuries of Catholics were raised believing that Judaism was “only meant to exist until the Messiah came,” 40 years of official Catholic teaching have made us significantly re-think that idea.
Vatican II reminded us of the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans (11.29): “God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable” — that is, God’s promises to the Jewish people have not in any way been cancelled or made superfluous by the coming of Jesus.
Because of its unique covenant relationship with God (a relationship which continues today), Judaism exists in a special category, different from every other world religion.
Indeed, no less a voice than Pope John Paul II spoke of “the people of God of the Ancient Covenant, which has never been revoked by God.” Pope Benedict has reiterated those sentiments on several occasions.
Our faith in Jesus as God’s Son, and the promised Messiah, does not require that we treat other religions as useless or unimportant.
As Vatican II’s Declaration on the Church’s Relationship to Non-Christian Religions clearly states: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all people.”
Fr. Murray Watson
Polygamy law will stand up to court challenge
Re:Polygamy Law May Face Religious Freedom Challenge (WCR, Jan. 19).
Polygamist Winston Blackmore is in for a shock. Mainstream women who have been battling for years to force the B.C. government to put a halt to the sexual exploitation of young girls at Bountiful are looking forward to this case coming to court. Many of them will be asking for intervener status.
While a few lazy lawyers have claimed that the law proscribing polygamy will be declared unconstitutional, those lawyers who have done their research state the law will be upheld.
They base their claim on the fact that in 1976 Canada ratified the Protocol on The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that everyone has the freedom to practise their religion, but only up to that point where those practices start to contravene the rights of another.
Secondly, in 2002 Canada ratified the protocol on the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which states that polygamy contravenes women’s equality rights and also harms their children.
Thirdly, in 1982 Canada brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states in sections 15 and 28 that women have complete equality with men. Canada is legally obligated to uphold these documents. Result: Women: 3, Polygamists: 0.
Polygamy is a patriarchal practice come down to us from the dark ages when women were regarded as chattels. After the Bountiful case is settled, it will be kicked into the garbage can of history.
Church has dynamic notion of tradition
Matthew Hysell (“Tradition calls for us to stand for Eucharistic Prayer,” WCR letters, Jan. 19) claims that tradition calls for standing during the Eucharistic Prayer – citing selected Church fathers and two councils to support his position.
The problem with Hysell’s argument is that he ignores the notion of development of tradition. Faithfulness to the tradition does not mean repristinating the practices of an arbitrarily chosen period of history (why not celebrate the Eucharist while reclining around tables? – that’s the way Jesus did it).
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as authentically interpreted by the magisterium, the tradition develops organically and without disruption. The acorn becomes an oak.
For centuries the posture taken during the Eucharistic prayer has been kneeling. The Church was guided by the Holy Spirit to recognize that this reverent posture is most in accord with the reality that, in the Eucharist, we are in Christ’s real presence (his body, blood, soul and divinity).
Certainly, if at the mere mention of Jesus’ name “every knee should bow” (Philippians 2.10), then how much more should we kneel when he is made present on the altar. Vatican II did not stipulate or encourage standing during the Eucharistic prayer.
Pope Benedict (see The Spirit of the Liturgy) and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal call for kneeling. In 2002 the Canadian Bishops called for kneeling during the Consecration and this will become the norm when the new missal is published.
Why would Hysell associate kneeling with Jansenism? How is kneeling opposed to Easter joy as he purports?
For heaven’s sake, in faithfulness to the tradition we rightly trust and obey the pope and those bishops in communion with him. Don’t try to whittle the oak back down to an acorn.
Gunn’s writing gives justice higher profile
I’m writing to congratulate you for carrying the Journey to Justice column by Joe Gunn. Social justice is a crucial aspect of our Catholic faith which certainly needs a higher profile in our Church.
Gunn is extremely knowledgeable in this area, having worked for many years in the social affairs office of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
There are many social issues which raise questions of justice in Canada and the world. I’m sure these articles will help us in evaluating these issues in light of the Gospel and the social teachings of the Church.
Evil intentions must be brought under control
Besides all the good things that the collective soul of mankind contains, there is also all the evil that has been deposited there by us. All these sins and negative emotions that are there, we tend to suppress as much as possible.
As Jesus said, “The things that come out of a man, come from the heart, and it is these that make a man unclean. For from the heart come evil intentions: murder, adultery, fornication, theft, perjury, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19; Mark 7:21-23).
Freud must have been right when he said that we tend to suppress our sexual desires, but he was wrong in assuming that we should give it free reign over our behaviour.
Jesus asked us to gain control over our sins, which is what in fact fornication is.
What’s more, we won’t be able to slow abortion rates until we convince people that “free love” is not desirable and that we always end up paying in some way for violations of the law.
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