Readers Speak Out: August 29, 2021

  • August 26, 2021

Cautionary tale

Fr. Raymond de Souza rightly cautions that “Church-state alliances lead to a dangerous path” (Aug. 15), particularly evident in the injurious collaboration between the Catholic Church and state in the operation of residential schools. He acknowledges the 16th-century involvement by the Jesuits with Central American Indigenous peoples as an exemplary and cautionary tale. This involvement saw the Jesuits organize Indigenous people into armed military militias who defeated Bourbon-sanctioned efforts by some Europeans to enslave them. For these and other reasons, in 1759, bowing to Bourbon pressure, Pope Clement XIV ordered the dissolution of the Jesuits. 

Pope Francis has apologized to Central American Indigenous peoples for past Church-state collaborative forms of colonial oppression. Canada’s bishops should follow the Pope’s example and offer a formal apology for the tragic effects of their earlier colonial alliance with the state in the operation of residential schools.

Joseph A. Fardella,

Kingston, Ont.


Action needed

All practising Catholics should know that if their sins were forgiven by a priest here in Canada or in the UK or in Rome, they have the same value of forgiveness. Pope Benedict has apologized for the role of the Church in residential schools and to my mind that is acceptance that injustice was done and that the Church is sorry.

What is more important now is that Canada takes steps to correct that injustice. How? First, payment of compensation to all living students of those residential schools so that they can live the rest of their lives in peace. And second, taking concrete steps to rectify problems at areas occupied by our First Nations people, which are: improve drinking water; improve housing; improve roads and transportation; improve health and education; train First Nation people so they can have a majority of Indigenous people in the police forces in their areas.

Canadians of all colours and ethnic origins have to learn to live in peace, as children of the Almighty God, respecting the rights of their fellow citizens, irrespective of the other’s colour, caste or creed. Let us strive towards this ideal! 

Al Mathias,

Mississauga, Ont.


‘Do something’

Much of the Catholic world is aware of the flagrant misuse by India’s PM of his political power that eventually led to the death of Fr. Stan Swamy, SJ. Fr. Swamy’s mild demeanour and his quiet acceptance of his fate led many to believe that he epitomized the self-sacrificing spirit and passivity that most of us believe are so vividly reflected in the human deprivations of hunger, poverty, etc. referred to in the Beatitudes.

It has been revealed that Christ preached His Sermon on the Mount in Aramaic, which went through two translations, from Aramaic to Greek and then to English. Biblical scholars and theologians have said the translation has been so distorted that the Gospel passages we are accustomed to hearing eviscerate the original text.

Megan McKenna, a theologian, argues that the Beatitudes do not have a passive quality to them at all and asserts that in Aramaic Jesus’ words mean “Get up, go ahead and do something.”

Christianity is not passive but active, energetic and divine. We now have the justification to assert that Fr. Swamy was martyred for his courage as he got up and did something as Ms. McKenna so eloquently expressed “to build a society that cares deeply for the poor, the powerless and the voiceless” and reflects a deep understanding of the Beatitudes and their divine content.

J.E. Sequeira,

Pointe Claire, Que.

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