Readers Speak Out: August 5-12, 2018

  • August 13, 2018

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

No more cover-ups

Re: Building Canadian paradise requires faith (July 8-15):

Glen Argan gives several reasons for “the hostility towards Christianity” but does not mention the very damaging scandals of clergy abuse.

People, even outside the Church, expect clergy, especially priests, who have committed to celibacy, to live good lives, holy lives. When they do not, the people who trusted them feel somehow foolish, betrayed and not just disappointed but angry, as though they have been tricked, manipulated. It destroys their trust in the Church.

The damage is greatly increased when those guilty of abuse are not removed by their superiors. A few consistently good priests can more than make up for those lost by abuse. 

No more cover-ups. And then perhaps people, even whole families, will again be drawn to be part of a Church they can trust.

Jean Clayton,

London, Ont.

Disturbing headline

Re: How the West was won (July 8-15):

I found this headline deeply disturbing. I am not Indigenous but, if I were, I would be strongly tempted to stop reading an otherwise excellent Catholic newspaper, at least in protest.

I live in the vicinity of Thunder Bay, Ont., which is fighting racism (mostly against our Indigenous people) that is so deeply entrenched that many people have no idea of the racist slurs contained in their comments, or of the pain caused by comments. 

I trust that this is true of The Catholic Register in regards to a headline that, hopefully, was not intentionally racist.

I am sure Mr. Argan’s article was historically accurate; also, he did acknowledge the mission to Western Canada “helped to destroy Indigenous cultures” and “the Church” became “an active agent in stripping the original peoples of their traditional culture.” However, the article is written from the viewpoint of the dominant white culture. It would be interesting and helpful at this point to have a subsequent article on the same subject written from the perspective of the Indigenous people.  

I pray that The Catholic Register will recognize its mistake and take steps to make amends.

Sharon Low,

Nolalu, Ont.

Language of sheep

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

In response to Fr. de Souza’s article, I was reminded of the many Humanae Vitae talks I gave at pre-marriage courses in the 1980s and 1990s. Most were greeted with cold silence, derisive laughter or outright anger. 

The horse left the barn, not with the bishops’ Winnipeg document, but with the proclamation of Humanae Vitae in the first place. Papal encyclicals and magisterial pronouncements carry very little weight with the average Catholic today, especially when they are addressing an area of such intimacy as sexuality and conception. 

I credit Pope Francis for trying to find a new language to communicate the truths of our faith. When he says we clergy need to know the smell of the sheep he could have added we need to know the language of the sheep, too. 

Had the July 1968 document been written or co-authored by a married couple I suggest the response would have been much more sympathetic.

Fr. Rod McNeil,

Smiths Falls, Ont.

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