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What is clericalism?

My heart goes out to our priests and bishops  — the good ones, which is most of them. To say that the Catholic priests in my life have been beacons of virtue and guidance would be an understatement. 

This is why I get disturbed by the simple use of “clericalism” as  an explanation for the abuse crisis. Perhaps a “policy of maintaining the power of a religious hierarchy” has something to do with this cancer, but I wonder to which “hierarchy” this term refers? 

Is it the majority of good priests and bishops who want nothing more than to serve their parishioners while remaining true to their holy order? Or does “clericalism” refer to those poorly formed bishops and priests who either practice an utter disregard for true Catholic sexual morality in general and celibacy in particular, or cover up for those that do? 

If this second definition is what is referred to by “clericalism,” then I’d have to agree.

Mario Loreto,

Toronto, Ont.

Readers Speak Out: September 9, 2018

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Word of thanks

Our ears are ringing with the onslaught of abuse reports and our shoulders sag with the burden we carry for our Church. We’re all appalled, ashamed and saddened to the core of our being. Rightly so. 

As for penalty to the perpetrators, the public media discussions of how to handle this should never have had to occur. It should begin in the confessional with a penance which suits the sin and then subjugation to the laws which apply to any other person, as this abuse is not only a sin in the eyes of the Church but it is also a crime. 

As these cards are laid on the table, we also see much goodness which must not go unmentioned. I would like to give credit to all the priests, bishops, monsignors and popes of my time who have influenced my life. 

They have taught, forgiven, counselled, ministered and been friends. They have never asked for a penny, never laid a hand on me, except in compassion, and have always lifted me up, never condemning or criticizing. They have nourished my soul and enabled my growth, peace and understanding. 

I thank them all from the bottom of my heart!

Lynn Cristini,

Edmonton, Alta.


Readers Speak Out: September 2, 2018

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Please come again

Re: Where are the missionaries who will evangelize today? (Aug. 5-12):

Fr. de Souza criticizes the Cathedral of St. Boniface, Man., calling it “the saddest church to visit in Canada.”

Granted, the new cathedral does not “soar” like the former one, but it is exactly the juxtaposition between the old and the new that makes this an interesting site to visit. The new cathedral enshrined within the shell of the old one respects our past and incorporates the new.

It is not architecture that gives spirituality to a cathedral but, rather, the Christian community that worships within its walls. Perhaps  Fr. de Souza should delve into our history and come for another visit.

Aurise Kondziela,

Winnipeg, Man.

Readers Speak Out: August 19-26, 2018

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Starlight, star bright

Re: Forgiveness is the greatest miracle (July 22-29):

Fr. Rolheiser states that “the miracle” of a starlit night sky “goes mostly unnoticed; we watch television instead.”

Deeper reasons for this may be involved. Humans spill so much light into the sky that few of our present generation have ever experienced what the natural night sky looks like. Most of the lighting industry displays a stunning indifference to this issue. And the amount of  “light-pollution” continues to increase by about six per cent annually in most places.

Sleeping in insufficient darkness suppresses our immune systems. Artificial light disrupts the life-cycles of insects, birds, amphibians and other animals. Many people think responsibility for our environment is a religious issue and light-pollution is certainly included in this. Does your porchlight shine upward?

James LaFramboise,

Thornhill, Ont.

Readers Speak Out: August 5-12, 2018

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Setting record straight

Re: Standing on guard for life (July 22-29):

Your recent story about Fr. Tony Van Hee’s long vigil on Parliament Hill made reference to an incident during which I, then a Member of Parliament, attempted to remove a sign he was holding. I want to clarify what led to that exchange.   

As he confirmed, I always supported Fr. Van Hee’s right to speak out on the abortion issue, including defending him when efforts were made to remove him from the Hill. The sign he was holding that day, however, did not refer to abortion. It attacked gay people, equating us with pedophiles. 

I had told him I found that sign deeply offensive, and asked him to remove it. I had every right not to be confronted by such abusive words as I entered Parliament.

Despite our deep differences, I have always believed passionately in our constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and I always treated Fr. Van Hee with dignity and respect, which was always reciprocated. His incredible commitment to his beliefs over more than 30 years is to be applauded, and I was pleased to read the article in The Catholic Register telling his remarkable story.

Svend Robinson (MP 1979-2004),

Limassol,  Cyprus

Readers Speak Out: July 22-29, 2018

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Prophetic letter

Re: Canada took wrong side in Humane Vitae debate (July 8-15):

Thank you Fr. Raymond de Souza for revisiting Humanae Vitae and the Canadian bishops’ undermining of the wisdom and beauty of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on human life.

It is worth reading afresh this prophetic love letter from Pope Paul VI, readily available on the vatican.va website. 

Artificial contraception/birth control has resulted in worldwide misery. Dr. Janet Smith has done exceptional work in recording this. 

As artificial birth control grew in use, so did the rate of divorces and the rate of STIs. Fr. Silvestre Birngruber in his 1954 book, Morals for Lay People, wrote: If artificial contraception becomes widely practised, abortion on demand will follow as a natural consequence. 

We know the truth of this prediction. Pope Paul VI also foresaw the tragedy if public authorities/governments became involved in artificial birth control. 

One doesn’t need advanced degrees in medicine to realize that one cannot keep pumping chemicals into a woman’s body and not expect undesirable consequences.

David Hogg,

Toronto, Ont.