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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.

Editor: In our Jan/Feb 1999 issue we published an exchange of letters between Mr. John O'Callaghan and Mr. John Huggett, executive director of the Calgary branch of Operation Eyesight Universal (OEU) in which Mr. Huggett stated that OEU is "involved in supporting population control through our family health education programs". Mr. O' Callaghan's letter expressed his dismay as well as his intention to dissuade people from contributing to Operation Eyesight Universal because of these activities. We have since received a copy of a letter from OEU's National Director of Fund Development to Mr. O'Callaghan. The following are the relevant passages:

Dear Mr. O'Callaghan,

First let me state that Mr. John Huggett was wrong in the information that he passed along to you.... The mission and mandate of Operation Eyesight Universal has and will remain blindness prevention and sight restoration for those in the greatest of need.

While Operation Eyesight does support family health and nutrition education in conjunction with its sight restoration work, these programs are aimed at preventing potentially blinding conditions such as Vitamin A deficiency, and hygiene to avoid the spread of communicable eye diseases such as trachoma.

Please, let me assure you that donations made to this worthy organization are not used to subsidize population control or distribute birth control products. I would also like to assure you that there is no hidden agenda involved nor any intent to mislead the public.

It is truly disturbing to Operation Eyesight Universal that, after 36 years of working to bring the Gift of Sight, one individual can cause such confusion and lead to so many doubts about our mission.

I hope that this will clear matters up, and that you will accept that OEU is in no way involved in population control or birth control. I also hope that you will be as diligent at spreading the truth about OEU as you have been about the misinformation.

Dawna Crawford, CFRE Calgary, AB

From Adolph McCarthy re "Monica: time morality play" (May '99)

I wish to comment on the article written by Paula Adamick (May '99). Being a Catholic magazine, it is read by children and parents alike, and most parents who subscribe, encourage them to read it.

We don't need Monica Lewinsky's life story to show up in a Catholic magazine for any reason. She spoke of Monica's photos, portraying her as a sweet and innocent young girl reaching out "to be loved." That is true. Monica made some terrible mistakes in her life, for which she is suffering today. After all, she is human.

I noticed in the whole article that there was not even a hint of forgiveness. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to condone these wrongdoings, instead, maybe a prayer could be of some consequence. Then again, if Paula's closet is clean, and I hope it is, she could try another article.

Burlington, ON

Editor: Our contributors' task is to analyze the important issues of the day from a Catholic perspective as best they can. That certainly includes the life of the president of the world's most important political country.

As for forgiveness, has Monica shown any contrition for her sins? Has she admitted the extent of her wrongdoing and asked the American people for forgiveness? Or is she merely exploiting the publicity she has received for her own best advantage?

From Monique Feist re Fully Alive

An Open Letter to Catholic Parents

For the past eight weeks, members of the communities of Wilkie and North Battleford have been fighting for the right to protect our children's innocence. Without first consulting parents, our separate school board has decided to implement Fully Alive, a family life/sex education program from grades one to eight.

In the apostolic letter The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, the Pontifical Council for the Family reiterates the Holy Father's statement in his encyclical Familiaris Consortio: "The right and duty of parents to give [sexuality] education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others, except in the case of physical or psychological impossibility."

It goes on to say "parents should politely but firmly exclude any attempts to violate children's innocence, because such attempts compromise the spiritual, moral and emotional development of growing persons who have a right to their innocence."

Similar sentiments are encountered in the Holy Father's encyclical Familiaris Consortio, as well as in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Our parental rights are being taken from us.

If you have had any experience in trying to keep Fully Alive out of your Catholic school, we would like to hear from you. We are also interested in any information you could provide if you pulled your children from the Fully Alive program, or if you removed your children from a Catholic school because of this program.

Please contact: Monique Feist, Box 328, Wilkie, SK, S0K 4W0.

From David Hogg

The major concerns raised in the June Catholic Insight Letters each deserve to be addressed. Let me just take up one: sex education.

Pages 99 and 100 of the Fully Alive text for 13-year-old Grade 8 students describe contraceptive devices. For example, one of the points is: "At the moment, the barrier methods of contraception do not appear to place people's health at risk. They are not, however, highly reliable."

What is some 13-year-old supposed to take away from this? That barrier devices are OK to use, but they may be taking some risk?

Making the situation even worse, the minimal and supposedly anti-contraceptive comment on the pages is trivial. Don't take my word for it, please read the pages and in context: "A husband and wife may love each other deeply, but their sexual intimacy is incomplete. It is for this reason that our Church teaches that contraception is wrong." Whom is this going to convince? Please remember, this is for 13-year-old students.

Point 2370 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "every action which ... proposes ... to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil". Clearly, devices which have the sole and specific purpose of rendering "procreation impossible" are therefore "intrinsically evil". Such devices are not morally neutral.

In January I wrote the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops (OCCB). I asked, "Can some approving bishop, for example the OCCB President or Chairman of the OCCB Education Committee, explain to faithful Catholics how this 'intrinsically evil' material was approved for student consumption and continues to be approved?"

I received the following reply:

"At their meeting on March 10, 1999, the members of the executive examined these pages, to which you have drawn their attention. They discussed them in the context of the whole program and in the knowledge that the Fully Alive program is taught in conjunction with the religion program. In this context we assure you that the material is appropriate and is in conformity with the Magisterium, both local and universal, of the Church. The Fully Alive program continues to have the confidence of the bishops with regard to its conformity to the teaching of the Church."

Given this non-explanation and the current general situation, it is my firmly held belief that if faithfulness is to come to the Catholic Church in Canada, it will come from the bottom up, not from the top down.

Toronto, ON

From Alain Bernier

Please find enclosed a brief overview of the Fully Alive family life program which I felt compelled to prepare after fruitless correspondence with our bishops on this matter.

My intent is to inform busy parents, priests and teachers of the legitimate and unaddressed criticisms levelled against this program in a format that takes little time to read. My sources include the Fully Alive Student and Parent Books, Grades 1 to 8, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Family Association for Catholic Education brief on Fully Alive, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other sources mentioned in the pamphlet itself.

For anyone who would be interested in receiving a copy of this flyer, entitled "A parent's response", please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: A. Bernier, 919 Allandale Dr., Sarnia, ON, N7S 3E3.

Sarnia, ON

From Agnes Haggerty re annulments

Further to my letter in the May issue and Father Kennedy's response re annulments:

I fail to see how Father Kennedy can interpret the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:3-11 as referring to common law unions. The question the Pharisees put to Him was, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" There is no question of divorce if there is no marriage. Furthermore, I did not choose the word "unfaithfulness" or misinterpret it; it was a direct quote from the Good News, New Testament (British edition). There are various translations in bibles and liturgy since Vatican II. The N.R.S.V. Canadian edition says "unchastity", the New Amen can Catholic Bible says, "lewd conduct is a separate case"; the old pre-Vatican II Catholic Bibles say "fornication". Basically, they all mean the same thing--broken marriage vows. My point is Christ's words, "for any cause other than"--which clearly state an exception.

I did not say that any marriage that was not ideal could be annulled--I was simply comparing the ideal with the hopeless cases who seek annulment. While I did not seek one myself, I understood those who did.

My explanation of an annulment was not the exact words of the tribunal but was based on that of an articulate man from our Separated and Divorced Catholic group who had just got an annulment. I thought it was a most plausible comparison between a Catholic annulment and a civil divorce. The marriage tribunal, in their talks, did not elaborate on causes but rather explained how to apply for an annulment.

Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Father Leonard Kennedy replies:

It seems strange to me that the marriage tribunal would not deal with the reasons for an annulment but only with how to apply for one. Despite the articulateness of a man granted an annulment, an annulment, by definition (Code of Canon Law, #1629), cannot be granted for hopeless cases but only for invalid marriages.

One might easily think that the text of St. Matthew mentioned contradicts the many other texts reporting the teaching of Jesus on divorce. Situations like this show us why Christ gave his Church the power to interpret the Scriptures authentically. And the Church has interpreted these texts to mean that divorce is not allowed. The Church uses all the biblical texts, studying them in their context, in their historical and original meaning, and in the light of the teaching of the Fathers of the Church and the rest of our tradition.

The Navarre Bible: St. Matthew (2nd. ed., Dublin, 1993, pp. 65-66) says: "The phrase 'except on the grounds of unchastity' should not be taken as indicating an exception to the principle of the absolute indissolubility of marriage which Jesus has just re-established. It is almost certain that the phrase refers to unions accepted as marriage among some pagan peoples but prohibited as incestuous in the Mosaic law (cf. Lev 18) and in rabbinical tradition.

"The reference, then, is to unions radically invalid because of some impediment. When persons in this position were converted to the true faith, it was not that their union could be dissolved; it was declared that they had never in fact been joined in true marriage." To speak of a "wife" in such a case is to speak of a woman in such a situation, as we often use the word "wife" loosely today.

The Council of Trent (1545-63) decreed (Canon 7 on Matrimony): "If anyone says that the Church is in error when it has taught and does teach according to the doctrine of the Gospels and apostles (see Mark 10; I Cor. 7) that the marriage bond cannot be dissolved because of adultery on the part of either the husband or the wife; and that neither party, not even the innocent one who gave no cause for the adultery, can contract another marriage while the other party is still living; and that adultery is committed both by the husband who dismisses his adulterous wife and marries again and by the wife who dismisses her adulterous husband and marries again; let him be anathema."

This is repeated in the encyclical Casti Connubii (Of Chaste Marriage) of Pope Pius XI (1930): "First of all, let this remain the unchanged and unshakable foundation: Matrimony was neither established nor restored by man but by God. It has been protected, strengthened, and elevated not by the laws of men, but by those of God, the author of human nature, and of Christ who restored that same nature. Consequently, these laws cannot be changed according to man's pleasure, nor by any agreement of the spouses themselves that is contrary to these laws. This is the teaching of Sacred Scripture (see Gen. 1:27 f; 2:22f; Matt 19.3 ff; Eph. 5:23 ff); this is the constant, universal tradition of the Church; this is the solemn definition of the holy Council of Trent, which in the words of Sacred Scripture teaches and reasserts that the permanent and indissoluble bond of matrimony, its unity and strength, have their origin in God."

The unfaithfulness of a spouse is a great cross to bear, but the unhappiness caused by allowing divorce, as God saw, and as we see today, is very much greater.

From Fr. Brendan McCarthy re Novalis missalette

Further to the revelation that the Novalis people have never inserted a petition against abortion in their Living with Christ prayer books (C.I. May '99, p. 28), may I remark that we are still the victims of that horrible translation of the Scriptures which is more a tribute to the effectiveness of feminism than to the powers of translators to render the word of God in an accurate manner.

Since 1975 the people of Great Britain, Ireland, and South Africa have been able to purchase beautiful editions of the Sunday Missal, or equally lovely editions of a Daily Missal. We here in Canada are the victims of cupidity on the part of Novalis. Week after week, month after month we are showered with a cheap publication, printed on poor paper, lacking any dignity or lasting value. The bishops who must allow this to continue seem to be blind to the terrific waste of paper involved. When can we have a dignified Missal, printed on proper paper, legible without eyestrain, and at a moderate price?

The Lectionaries containing the still-unapproved texts were dumped on parishes without any warning, and payment was demanded before the approval of Rome was even thought of. Are we not free to use any past translation which has been approved by Rome? Or have the modernists and the feminists got us into a corner from which there is no escape?

Port Union, NF

Editor: The CCCB publications office in Ottawa did publish a very fine Sunday missal in 1976 at about the same time as the one in Britain (Jerusalem Bible translation for the Scripture readings) but apparently it did not sell well. People much prefer the missalette which is easily carried about in purse or pocket.

As for the last question, as far as I know, we still live in a free country.
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jul 1, 1999
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