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Letters to the Editor.

From Richard Tyndorf re "English-speaking Catholics, 1900-1920" (June 1999)

In the section dealing with Polish immigrants, I would like to point out that St. Mary's Church on Bathurst Street, in Toronto, did not become a Polish parish in 1915. Actually that was the year a new Polish parish, also known as St. Mary's (Matki Boskiej, in Polish, or Mother of God), was established on Gillespie Avenue, in what was then West Toronto.

As for the term latynnyky, this applied to Ukrainians who belonged to the Latin rite but also included Poles from predominantly Ukrainian areas who spoke a dialect of Ukrainian, yet because of their origin and rite considered themselves to be Poles.

Oakville, ON

From Camille Goutier re native book reviews

In the June 1999 edition of Catholic Insight, you reviewed two books on Canadian natives. Both were flowery portraits of the two books.

I enclose for your balanced reading a critique of Raymond Huel's book (Proclaiming the Gospel to the Indians and Metis) which I found very biased towards the native people. His thesis is based on an ethnological premise: "We should judge the European colonial cultures in offensive terms."

Joussard, AB

From Marcy Millette re Janet Smith videos

After reading your article on Janet Smith videos and books, I tried to get her works and was unable to find a supplier in Canada. I was finally successful in locating the head office in the States. The video is so very impressive. I would like to get one in the hands of every priest and parish in the country. I've given a push for it at our local Alliance church as well and it was surprisingly well received. She is convincing because she argues that contraception is against the natural order. Who can argue that? I have a box full of her videos and tapes and am looking to distribute them around.... I would hate to send the box back unsold. Janet Smith books and tapes can be purchased from me at: One More Soul Canada, do Marcy Millette Box 2961, Nipawin, SK, S0E 1E0 Phone: 306 862-2338.

From George Mealey re Catholic schools

I read the letter from Richard Hudon (June, pp. 4-5) and the other articles on education. I am most shocked and very sad.... Of course, we should not be surprised at the teaching in our schools, for are not the teachers those who received very poor teaching in the Holy Church in the past? However, when one reflects on Western society since the Second World War, the slipping in morals and ethics and understanding of what and who we are is quite visible.

Where in the name of God are the bishops? These pastors are by their consecrations and promises obliged to care for the children of God....

The bishops are in control of the separate schools, are they not? If not, then close [the schools] down but do not try to show them as "Catholic" when they are anything but. These are our children, and the future example of, and members of, the Holy Church for all men to see.

Let us hear from our bishops. Let us hear their discussions with those would be Catholics in the legislatures and Parliament; let us hear our bishops warn the "Catholic" teachers of their future in the Church if they continue on the path chosen.

Edmonton, AR

From Hugh Ballantyne re loss of Latin

My old Ma, nearing 90 and no Latinist, reports to me the following conversation. She was in a Catholic bookstore operated by an order of women religious. She picked up a prayer book with Latin and English on facing pages, while one of the Sisters looked on helpfully.

The Sister pointed to the left-hand page. "I wonder what that language is," she said.

"It's Latin," my Ma replied. "Latin is the language we used to pray in before Vatican II."

"Did we?" the Sister said. "I wasn't aware of that."

My question to Catholic Insight is this: how did we become so ignorant so fast?

Fergus, ON

Editor: It's 35 years ago that we changed to the vernacular. So anyone 45 to 50 years young wouldn't necessarily know anything about Latin in the liturgy.

From Brian Moccia re same-sex benefits at Catholic hospitals

Further to your editorial "The duty to discriminate" and your news item on "Catholic hospital sponsors 'gays"' (July/ August 1999), I can offer a personal experience in a local Catholic hospital.

In April 1997, I met with the then director of human resources at St. Joseph's Health Centre (SJHC), Toronto (where I had been employed as a respiratory therapist for over 30 years), to discuss why and how same-sex spousal benefits were being provided to homosexual staff at SJHC. Our meeting lasted about an hour.

At the end of this meeting, I was advised by her that:

"...Brian, this issue appears to be a matter of conscience between you and your Church. The human resources department is legally bound by the union-staff ONA collective agreement, Article 17.01 (g), which reads:

'For the purposes of health and welfare benefits under Article 17.01, dependent coverage is available to the nurse, to cover her or his same sex partner and their dependents, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the plans.'

She also stated: "This clause in the union-staff collective agreement has been extended by me, as director of the human resources department, to non-union staff in acknowledgment, deference and acquiescence to sociological/organizational trends."

Earlier in our meeting, she had informed me that "....not one Catholic hospital in Ontario is refusing to provide same-sex spousal benefits to its staff. I took this issue to senior management and we decided not to refuse a request for same-sex spousal benefits and therefore not to go to a Human Rights Tribunal. We were 100 per cent sure that SJHC would be required to 'comply' with any requests."

Legal advice

In February 1998, I asked a knowledgeable lawyer two questions.

1. Could SJHC have taken this issue of not extending same-sex spousal benefits to non-union staff to a Human Rights Tribunal with any hope of "winning"? Was "losing" a foregone conclusion?

2. In the union-staff collective bargaining process, is it not possible for member hospitals to "bracket" certain sections of a proposed collective agreement (similar to the United Nations' "bracketing" procedure)? That is, could SJHC have identified Article 17.01 (g) as not applying to or binding on SJHC?

I received the following answer:

"I think it is possible that SJHC would be able to argue before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal that it was not bound to provide same-sex spousal-benefits. This conclusion is based on the fact that the Ontario Human Rights Code does provide that religious organizations may 'discriminate' in regard to their own beliefs.

"What probably happened was that SJHC did not want to spend the time and money and endure the hassle that would be involved if it declined to provide such benefits. It is certain that some of the employees would have laid a complaint with the Human Rights Commission if the hospital had refused to provide such benefits. Although there may be a valid argument as to why the Catholic hospital should not provide such benefits, one is never certain of the outcome of these Human Rights Tribunal hearings....

"In view of this, it might have been better if the hospital had negotiated the contract with the nurses, requesting that this controversial provision be deleted because it contravenes the religious beliefs of the owners of the hospital; i.e., the Sisters of St. Joseph. This may have raised the ire of the union, but religious organizations are still entitled to their beliefs, regardless of the Human Rights Code.

"As you stated, I think St. Joseph's Health Centre could have 'identified' the controversial article as not applying to SJHC."

As the reader can see, resistance to the "gay" agenda at our hospitals has already been undermined since 1994 by people unwilling to follow Church teaching.

Is it possible for the Ontario hierarchy--or for the Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto in the case of Toronto hospitals--to revisit this issue with senior management? After all, isn't this a case of, at least, material cooperation with moral disorder? And if we don't even claim what by present law is still our right; i.e., the right to exercise our duty to discriminate, when and where are we going to take a stand against homosexuality in our institutions?

I am sending a letter to the conference of Ontario bishops, asking what they intend to do, fold or resist.

Mississauga, ON

From Fr. Brendan McCarthy re Anglicanism

The recent Report from the Anglican-Roman-Catholic-International Commission (ARCIC) on the place of the Roman Pontiff in any possible union between the Catholic Church and the Anglican communion raised more questions than it settled (see C.I., July/ Aug.'99, p. 20). There is a formidable array of questions which I feel must be addressed in all sincerity and humility by both the Church and any group approaching it with ideas of unity.

There are insuperable difficulties where any union with the Anglican communion is at stake. Many of these difficulties stem from the so-called impression that unity is possible between "two equal partners". Indeed one of the most objectionable impressions was one that was given by Paul VI when he presented his episcopal ring to the "archbishop" of Canterbury. A spontaneous gesture, prompted by anglophilia, made for bad theology. The Church must face up to the reality which Leo XIII faced when he was confronted with the results of the commission set up to study the validity of Anglican Orders. Much as he personally admired England, the Pope did what was called for: he made it clear for all time that Anglican Orders are not valid.

The situation is not made any clearer when we find the Canadian bishops response to the Final Report of ARCIC on the question of ministry. In 1986 the bishops wrote:"...we would wish to add to other pertinent data our own spontaneous recognition of the genuine character of the episcopal ministry and priestly commitment of our Anglican counterparts in Canada" (CCCB Response to ARCIC Final Report, Ottawa, 1986, p.12). What went unreported was the fact that, in the final draft of their response, the Canadian bishops had to acknowledge that there were still outstanding questions regarding the Eucharist and Orders.

The question affecting the return of Anglicans to the unity of the Church is not one of two Churches uniting. Rather it is the question of a mass conversion of individuals to the one true Church. If it happens, it will not be the result of theological wrangling, or cleverly worded statements. Rather it will be the outpouring of God's grace won by prayer and sacrifice on the part of all concerned.

A first step must be to persuade the Anglicans that the old "root and branch theory" convinces no one. Only the recognition that they are Protestants (witness the Queen's coronation oath to "uphold the Protestant and Reformed religion") will ultimately orient them to admit there were errors in the sixteenth century and then to dispose themselves accordingly.

Port Union, NF

From Lise Anglin re Gandhi

Thank you for Professor DeMarco's compelling article about Mahatma Gandhi and his less fortunate contemporary, Margaret Sanger (June 1999).

I was delighted to learn about Gandhi's insight into the fruit of the Holy Spirit as self-control, and his further particular insight into the relevance of this virtue to the practice of a fully human sexuality. It is great to know that Gandhi was a defender of the principles of Humanae vitae, even before this glorious and much maligned document was written.

However, my understanding is that Gandhi himself did not practise celibacy, except on an intermittent basis, despite his insights. Shortly before his death, he lamented his own lack of sexual self-restraint. He believed, quite rightly, that a consistent and wholehearted practice of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God would have increased his spiritual power. With greater spiritual power, so he reasoned, he could have done more for India.

I mention these biographical details not to detract from Gandhi's reputation, nor from Professor DeMarco's article, but rather to highlight the distinctively supernatural character of the virtue of celibacy. It is to be remembered that virgins share the same status as martyrs within Catholic hagiography. Indeed, the Queen of Martyrs herself was most renowned for being a humble virgin.

Toronto, ON

From Fr. J. H. Gulls re Humanae vitae

One should not be left under the impression that all Canadian Catholic bishops dissent from the Church's authoritative teaching on contraception in the encyclical Humanae vitae. Yet a false impression is always inevitable as long as three pertinent facts rarely, if ever, find place in discussions public or private.

The first of these pertinent facts is that the decision of the CCCB (the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) to issue that infamous Winnipeg Statement in 1968, was not unanimous. The second is that, under the leadership of Archbishop Adam Exner, then their Metropolitan, the bishops of the province of Manitoba publicly dissociated themselves from that Winnipeg Statement. And the third is that the vote, which the CCCB took in its plenary session recently held in Niagara Falls not to allow a re-assessment of its stand on Humanae vitae to be part of the agenda, was not unanimous.

In 1991, I undertook to have printed a critique of that Winnipeg Statement, and for the sole purpose of my being able to send a copy to every bishop in Canada. Only a few of them acknowledged it but those who did--by then retired from active service--assured me that the Winnipeg Statement never did have their full assent.

The stark truth as to why the Holy See has never published the Winnipeg Statement in its customary official L'Osservatore Romano is simply that it could not bring itself to do so. In the meantime, loyal Canadian Catholics in the thousands were left to fend for themselves, pondering what the true answer could be to that annoying question of Pontius Pilate, "What is truth?" To that question there can be one and only one true answer, and this is it: "Truth is always to be found in only the complete conformity of creatures to the mind of the One who created them, and for the simple reason that He is actually Truth Itself."

St Francis Xavier University

Antigonish, NS

From Paul Lysaght re Catholic schools and OECTA

I was distressed when I read your June 1999 issue because the impression is given that a true Catholic school system no longer exists in Ontario and that OECTA is at least partly to blame.

In his article ("Catholic teachers' union: leaping toward apostasy?") the editor accuses OECTA of being a threat to the survival of the Ontario Catholic school system. He should realize that Catholic teachers, like all other workers, deserve decent working conditions along with a decent standard of living. OECTA has fought for the rights of Catholic teachers and for the Catholic school system in Ontario. During the past year, while the Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto has remained virtually silent with regard to the Catholic school system, OECTA has been on the front lines defending the system.

The editor is correct in arguing that OECTA has not provided a proper defence of Catholicity in Catholic schools. There is much of value in the Witnesses to Faith document and I can assure him from my experience of over twenty-five years in education that, despite the hesitancy on the part of OECTA to endorse the document, the majority of teachers are living the principles which it spells out.

I would also like to assure the editor that many Catholic teachers did not support OECTA's past defence of Joanna Manning, nor the awarding to her of the Marion Tyrrell Award of Merit in 1995.

In addition, I would also like to reassure Hugh Ballantyne from Fergus, ON (Letter to the Editor re schools) that, in fact, Catholic schools are alive in Ontario and that many dedicated Catholic teachers are working extremely hard to insure that our schools continue to function as places where traditional Catholic principles are not only taught but are modeled by staff each day of the year.

I would encourage OECTA to work with teachers, administrators, trustees, students, parents, and clergy to ensure that our Catholic schools continue to be centres where everyone is a true witness to the faith. Let us demonstrate to everyone that we are the Church--we are the living body of Christ.

Richmond Hill, ON
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Sep 1, 1999
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