Letters to the Editor.
I am writing to ask Catholic Insight, pro-lifers and pro-life companies across Canada to "lift a finger" to help with MaterCare International's maternal health programs, through a unique and innovative approach to fundraising which will not cost the individual a penny and will gain companies benefit through considerable good will.
MaterCare International (MCI) was founded in Newfoundland and is registered as a charity with Customs and Revenue Canada (see article, C.I. October, 1999). MCI is committed to reducing the number of mothers who die or are severely injured as a direct cause of neglect during pregnancy and childbirth in developing countries.
At the end of April, while I was on a lecture tour to Australia, I was invited by Bishop Deakin of Melbourne to make a visit to East Timor, to evaluate the maternal health situation. I was able to travel throughout the country and to meet representatives of the East Timorese government-in-waiting (CNRT Committee), East Timorese physicians, and the two bishops of East Timor. I was also able to meet the head of mission of the World Health Organization, as well as the director of reproductive health of the CNRT division of health, and representatives of other NGOs, whose main interest seems to be imposing "reproductive health" on the East Timorese.
One year ago, just before the UN peace keepers took over administration, the occupying forces burned most of the infrastructure of the country. The population was 700,000, but during the 20-year occupation 200,000 were killed. There are only 23 doctors in the entire country and no trained specialists. The death rate of mothers is enormous. There is only one general hospital, with one foreign obstetrician on a three-month contract. MCI is planning to develop emergency obstetrical services and also training programmes for local physicians and nurses.
I met with the officials at WHO and CNRT, the latter headed by US officials, and was struck by how aggressive they were in imposing their views and their values on the people. The Timorese doctors I met felt themselves oppressed, and expressed concern about the secretive nature of the activities of WHO and the CNRT committee. They asked for help in developing a separate Catholic system which would provide care in accordance with the values of the Timorese people.
I came to the following conclusions, with which the priest with whom I was staying agreed:
(1) The East Timorese have exchanged the tyranny of the Indonesians for one imposed by the United Nations.
(2) The representatives of the WHO were quite clear in their objectives. They intend to keep a "tight control" (their words) over health care in that country, including the promotion of abortion and contraception.
(3) WHO does not want NGOs involved in health care, whether it be in obstetrics/gynaecology, psychiatry, or surgery, to become established in the country. However, they were quite happy to allow the International Rescue Service (IRS) based in New York to operate. The IRS has taken over the role of UNFPA in promoting so-called reproductive health.
(1) An attempt to embarrass the Catholic Church by imposing abortion on a country which is 99% Catholic.
(2) A desire to maintain tight control over East Timor in view of its large strategic oil supply.
Following my visit, I wrote a report suggesting that a clinic I visited be expanded into a level-one emergency hospital for mothers and children.
I am pleased that this suggestion has been accepted by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Portugal (former colonial power). I will be returning to East Timor in early October with two colleagues to begin the process of setting up an emergency obstetrical service.
How to Help
Although MCI receives funding from the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA), it is required to raise 50% of its funding for projects. To do this MCI has a unique means of fund-raising which relies on donation "clicks" from individuals which will not cost them one cent, on sponsor/advertisers, and on the power of the Internet.
The donation is paid by companies who are sponsor/advertisers on our website, but any donations can be recouped through increased sales to the donor. Individuals are asked to "click" every day on our LifeSaver Website to make a donation towards the care of mothers. Each "click," which is worth up to 9 cents, takes them to the website of the sponsor advertisers. Presently, our sponsor/advertisers include a book store, a travel agency, a car dealership, the Catholic Women's League (110,000), and a winery. A sponsor/advertiser has total control and may remain as a sponsor for as long as it wishes - a day, a week, a month, or a year.
This concept was developed in the United States to feed hungry children, and the originating website presently receives about 300,000 visitors per day.
MCI has developed the first Canadian site, which concentrates on promoting Newfoundland and Canadian tourism, and products and services which might interest women and families internationally. We presently receive around 400 "clicks" per day, having started in late February. However, this method requires us to find both donors and the sponsor/advertisers. This is where Catholic insight comes in.
MCI hopes to set up groups of "Friends of MCI" across the country which will promote the programme by placing ads in church bulletins encouraging organisations and businesses, large or small, to become advertisers. MCI's cause is a good one and our way of funding is of the 21st century, but it does require us to use the structure of the Church in an unusual but effective way. See advertisement below.
Special Note: For donations, click here: http//www.matercare.org/lifesaver.html Bookmark our webpage to make a few donations daily.
St. John's, NFLD
Correspondence re capitalism from Edward King
Joseph Campbell has done Catholics a service in his critical analysis of those bureaucrats who write the publications of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on social and economic issues (CI, March 2000, pp. 16-19; April pp. 14-16). He rightly argues that their idealism cannot be reconciled with the teaching of the modern popes on the family and the principles of subsidiarity in relation to the totalitarian tendencies in modern culture and the modern state. Certainly, no Catholic can quarrel with his conclusion that modern capitalists can be converted.
Yet, for all that, I can't help feeling that he has idealized the capitalist ethos. I winced when I read his comments on Adam Smith's "invisible hand" towards the end of the third article, since the capitalism of the late 18th century in England produced appalling human suffering. What is missing in Campbell's picture is the note of dire prophetic warning in the writings of the modern popes on Western civilization and the perilous road to total secularization. A culture going down the road becomes a demonic, Satanic culture, which has turned its face away from God toward the world of darkness, destruction and death.
Has not capitalism in the 20th century been one of the major forces in this movement of secularization? Has not Madison Avenue for generations preached the gospel of hedonism and materialism? Did not the attack on Christian modesty and on the Christian family and the Christian way of life begin in the 1920s in the world of advertising? Christopher Dawson in Religion and the modern state (1935) wrote, echoing Pius XI:
"It is the horror of this empty and sterile world far more than any economic hardship or political injustice that is driving men to revolutionary action.... The only true solution must be a religious one which will restore man's spiritual freedom and liberate him from the world of darkness and the kingdom of death" (p.144).
Those of us who lived through the greater part of the 20th century with our eyes open to the human and super-human forces of evil in the world know the truth of this statement. The paranoias of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao created the epidemics of ideological insanity in which "whole populations were destroyed for the sake of some irrational slogan." Has the capitalist order in its "liberal democratic" form denounced Margaret Sanger and her disciples, or has it created instead new sources of wealth, new billion-dollar industries which play a vital part in the epidemic they created? I think we all know the answer.
Thus the conversion of the capitalist order in its modern corporate technocratic form has acquired a tremendous urgency. It must desecularize itself or perish. It must recover the power of spiritual vision. The horrors of this empty and sterile world have been recognized by the modern popes and met head on. Saint Pius X and The Restoration of all things in Christ, Pius XI and The Feast of Christ the King, Pius XII and the Doctrine of the Mystical Body have underlined the vision which Catholics must recover in order to combat the hedonists, materialists and revolutionary idealists.
The martyrs in Mexico and Spain in the 20s and the 30s, when facing the firing squads, got it right. Not the vision of Bakunin but of Christ the King. "Viva Christo Rey," they proclaimed.
Joseph Campbell responds
I agree with Edward King about the dangers of total secularization and the urgency of recovering the power of spiritual vision. Capitalism, no doubt, is part of the problem, but I submit that it doesn't have to be. Like much else in contemporary society, \capitalism is inspired by a philosophy that is inimical to religion and morality.
Mr. King refers to the failure of capitalism to denounce and condemn the paranoia of Margaret Sanger and her followers. To Sanger, emotion was a higher force than reason, according to one of her biographers. What we feel, in other words, is a surer guide to action than what we know. Now this world view, which is widespread, departs dramatically from the philosophical traditions that nurtured the West, according to which the intellect has primacy over the will and the emotions. Traceable to the philosophy of Descartes and even back to the humanism of the Renaissance, Sanger's outlook reflects a lack of trust in our ability to know objective reality. If we cannot be sure about the reality outside us, our only recourse is to the activity within. Truth is no longer rooted in existence and common to all; it is established by experience and is specific to each. It is subjective, rather than objective.
A return to the perennial philosophy that supports Christian spirituality and Catholic social teaching should result in a transformation of capitalism as an economic system subject to reason and morality.
I would like to believe that we could restore an authentic philosophy through reasoned argument. I suspect, though, that it will require a religious conversion of quite dramatic proportions.
A key question critics of capitalism must answer is whether any other system can create sufficient wealth to feed, clothe and house at a level of frugal comfort the population which a society open to life might welcome. It is true that much suffering attended the early years of capitalism. Economic history does not necessarily repeat itself, however. In their 1989 book Four Little Dragons, Brian Kelly and Mark London described the low-wage factory system of South Korea, one of Asia's emerging capitalist dynamos, as hard, but not Dickensian. A strong family structure militated against child labour in the teeming sweat shops, where young women produced clothes for export with an intensity rarely seen in more mature capitalist economies. They personified what must be a universal law of upward mobility: in order to prosper, newcomers, whether individuals in a nation or nations in the world, must work harder than those above them.
From Dr. Patricia Rooke on Bishop De Roo's contradictions
(letter in the July, 2000 Island Catholic News)
I am relieved that, at last, we have received an apology and admission from Bishop De Roo for the "misjudgements" that precipitated the present financial crisis in this diocese. Nonetheless, there remain several aspects I wish to address to the readers of ICN and the editorial board because of its publication early this year of the full text of his lecture to a theology conference in the U.S., which explicated his philosophy on the reconstruction of hierarchy, church governance, and the powers of general synods, although at the time it was known by us that much of this text seemed in contradiction to his decision-making processes.
Moreover, the growing acrimonious discussions among laity, some examples of which were published in the Times Colonist (May 16), demanding the Vatican answer to this diocese by paying our debt because it appoints bishops, have further motivated this letter. Let us get the facts straight about this subject.
Well before the aforementioned lecture, Bishop De Roo had always been known across Canada for his views on the democratization of church structures including the election of bishops and lay involvement in church leadership. Moreover, not being particularly receptive to Vatican intervention of any kind, but particularly in diocesan affairs, he chose to bypass canon law by not getting permission from the Vatican to invest specified amounts of money which were much less at the outset in 1988.
I have attended several consecrations of bishops and have been struck by the public vows of fidelity to the Magisterium and the Pope. Had the former bishop been faithful to these vows, freely taken, the diocese of Victoria would not be in the present situation, as the Church provides a universal check and balance in such matters.
The former bishop was appointed, not by the present Pope, but by John XXIII and always prided himself on being a "Conciliar Father," while holding to the spirit of that council with regard to democratization, transparency, and treating his people as adults.
This newspaper reiterated these aspects of his bishopric on numerous occasions, yet it appears that no one on the ICN editorial board, any of his people (apart from those involved), even the incoming bishop, were privy to these extraordinary business deals even if done with the best of intentions. Had he practised what he preached, we would not be in this situation.
Ironically, Bishop De Roo espoused views on social justice that were critical of the exploitations of capitalist systems. Had he followed his own economic tenets and, at the very least, consulted with lay leadership before making risky investments in the U.S., no less, we would not be in this situation.
Moreover, he sponsored one of the most wide-ranging Synods in this country, which involved many lay Catholics who were happy enough to benefit in various capacities from his beliefs in the decentralization of diocesan control. Were he genuinely committed to these processes, he would not have acted in a clandestine manner which embroiled us in this situation.
The Catholic community of this diocese must bear some responsibility in this sorry business and not scapegoat the present bishop or the Vatican. It was that part of the Catholic community, in its enthusiastic support of the former bishop's initiatives, that pandered to a hubris that set the stage for the events that followed.
Ideas have consequences and the bishop's ideas about diocesan autonomy, and not heeding Vatican guidelines, led him into such fiscal imprudence. Had there been more discernment and restraint on our part, we would not be in the present situation.
Now is the time for humility on the part of the Catholic community in its support for Bishop Roussin who, after all, is bearing the brunt of this unfortunate sequence of events. It is audacious of us to expect the Vatican to take over our debts, no matter how regrettably accrued, as if we are wayward and dependent children, or have the same desperate needs as our brothers and sisters in developing countries.
We, in this diocese, who have enjoyed the benefits of lay involvement and prided ourselves on our much-touted Catholic maturity, must now take on its full responsibilities no matter how onerous, and not expect some big daddy to bail us out.
Let us not be mistaken on one matter. The present bishop and his advisors are not asking financially strapped Catholics, struggling families, or those on fixed incomes, for low interest loans until they are able to recoup some of the losses by selling holdings at market value. They have asked for help from those who are in a more viable financial position to assist. Such gestures will represent true Christian generosity in the amelioration of this diocese's anxieties and burdens.
Finally, what has shocked me is that it takes money to elicit the kind of anger and criticism I have been hearing, whereas for many years the former bishop's views were fully endorsed by many of these same critics who do not mind Vatican intervention in this matter but would have decried it in any other. I hope that we will prove ourselves as Catholics not to be as crass as this suggests.
From Andrew Bourque: The intolerance of the tolerant
Ever since Mr. Day popped up on the national scene, many in the press and the public arena have conjured up imagery of intolerant fundamentalism. The message is "Mr. Day is an evangelical Christian. Therefore, he must be close-minded, intolerant and even bigoted. Be afraid, Canada!"
The scaremongering over the evils of Christianity, by members of the mainstream press, manifested an intolerance during the whole Canadian Alliance election, that should give all freedom-loving Canadians a sense of true concern. Canada claims to be a tolerant and open society. In fact, the loudest voices lauding Canada's respect for diversity are often heard from the camps of those who are most dismayed about Mr. Day's faith...
This issue is bigger than Stockwell Day; it points to a philosophy that sees religion as the domain of the ignorant and uneducated; and so now the battle rages against religion in the public sphere. It seems to silence the voices of millions of believing Canadians.
From Hilary White on general absolution & Msgr. Dennis Murphy
I started practising my faith in Vancouver. I learned to love and depend upon the Sacrament of Reconciliation for spiritual guidance and support. Until I moved to Halifax in 1997, I had never been to a General Absolution "penitential service." I had in fact never even heard of it.
I am grateful to God for Archbishop Prendergast and the initiative he has taken to restore the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Halifax. It was a difficult time for everyone but the Spirit is moving and changing hearts. This is why, after everyone here was called to struggle and work out this part of our salvation, it was so hurtful to read Msgr. Murphy's article in the Catholic Register. He effectively said to the Catholics of Halifax that our struggle to practise the faith in union with the teachings of the Church was pointless, foolish, even wrong. I was very happy to see that Catholic Insight has made such a calm, well-ordered response in the July/August issue. I would like to add a word or two.
It was mentioned that part of Msgr. Murphy's argument against proper confession was that it did not conform to the "spirituality of our time". I would like to make a point that even Catholic Insight missed: the spirituality of our time is that of atheism, relativistic morality, and the ethics of expedience. I do not think this is the "spirituality" to which the Church would do well to conform.
I feel also that one of the weaknesses of General Absolution is that it gives no opportunity to the penitent to exercise spiritual courage. It takes a bit of effort to go to a priest and say to God through him, "I sinned. This is what I did. It was my fault and I am sorry."
Advocates of General Absolution would take away from Catholics the chance to be heroic, holy. We want the fullness of the faith: the sacraments unwatered, devotions that are part of our rightful heritage, and the faithfulness of the clergy to the true Church.
From Sister A. Schulte
Enclosed please find my cheque for renewal of my subscription to Catholic Insight. I certainly appreciate your publication which meets a great need as it's an excellent Canadian magazine. Thank you, for we had nothing comparable here and may God bless your efforts always.
Thank you for the two recent comments about our diocese. I remember the editor who was at one time a Thomas More College professor (I think), and a Chesterton fan as he still is.
From Mrs. Fred Cunningham
My husband and I thank you profoundly for publishing Catholic Insight. It gives us the true, factual information on many matters which we could not get from any other source. We share the magazine with our friends and we always keep it for handy reference.
We are renewing our subscription for two years plus a new subscription for my cousin in Richmond, B.C.
From K.S. and M.C.
We greatly appreciate and enjoy such an outstanding Catholic magazine. My friend and I have subscribed to "Insight" for some time. We are both seniors, keep in touch by telephone daily, and say three rosaries daily for all our intentions.
May I pass on our rosary suggestions to those not already into it? At our age, prayer is the one activity readily open to us all.
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|Article Type:||Letter to the Editor|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2000|
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