Justice for the women of Ciudad Juarez

Published September 1, 2005

Dear editor,

I read with deep sadness the story, Observers describe free trade ‘disaster’ (May). The accompanying photo on page one states that the bodies of eight women were found in a cotton field and that in recent times, 350 women had been murdered there. Thus, despite the deplorable work conditions, the women were not worked to death, but murdered.

I trust that Bishop Sue Moxley of Nova Scotia was able to find out who were responsible for their deaths and they would be brought to account. Regardless of the time it will take for such a process to be brought to a conclusion. I hope that those involved will always bear in mind that these women didn’t go to work because they supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). They had simply gone to work in order to support their families and paid with their lives through no fault of their own.

I find it quite amazing that none of the major newspapers, had anything to say about this exploitative free trade agreement that is being pursued with such tragic consequences.

Nevertheless, I think that I speak for most readers when I say that the lingering question that remains is: Why would young women be murdered when all they wanted to do was to earn a living?

Archibald J. Crail


Clear language

Dear editor,

Thank you for your thoughtful editorial in the June issue, (Why can’t we simply say what we mean?) You have taken on a subject of major importance and dealt with it well. Writing teams and committees often fail miserably in communicating their proceedings and/or decisions. The English philosopher, G.E. Moore (1873-1958), called his confreres to task for not using clear, plain language. He was one of the founding members of the linguistic analysis school.

In many ways I equate the search for consensus in our church deliberations with the parallel task of trying to communicate the outcome (if any). The problem is not only lack of direction, but pure mumbo-jumbo.

Malcolm Evans

Metis-sur-Mer, Que.


Dear editor,

I commend you for raising the problem of “waffling” and “weasel words” and ambiguity-by-design with regards to church statements (Why can’t we simply say what we mean? June). This has the inevitable result that clarity of exposition, surely a prelude to informed analysis and discussion, suffers.

While many things in life preclude simple analysis, surely defining the parameters of one’s argument, irrespective of one’s intellectual or religious leanings, is a most desirable goal. If I fail to grasp what someone is telling me, genuine communication is frustrated and misconceptions arise, often of a higher order.

Your comments are particularly challenging for all religious publications where an inherent desire to avoid giving offence to one’s readership renders the message worthless. Balance, mutual respect and fair comment are, of course, also needed to govern dialogue. But as with any discussion, at some point, in order to advance subsequent argument, a conclusion is required. I do not recall too many instances where the apostles, the early church fathers and subsequent great Christian thinkers and believers hesitated to make their positions clear, although not necessarily consistent.

Philipp Straub


Theological drift

Dear editor,

I was disappointed by your obiter dictum (passing comment) on Pope Benedict XVI in your June editorial, Why can’t we simply say what we mean?

When Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was head of the congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, he always gave thoughtful and reasoned responses to the theological questions the church faces today. Those who considered themselves his opponents responded with no more than the sort of name-calling that your editorial repeats.

As for ecumenism, to suggest that his election is a threat to it is the same as to say that serious, honest and respectful theological debate is a danger to ecumenism. In fact, the principal danger comes from the theological drift that has been all too common in recent decades, and which Cardinal Ratzinger strove against.

I don’t know if you have read Cardinal Ratzinger’s Milestones: Memoirs 1927 to 1977. If you have not, you might do so. I think it will give you a more nuanced view of an honest and decent man.

Gordon Cameron Smith


A vindication

Dear editor,

I feel so happy and pleased about the article, A moment of grace for a former principal (May) about Canon Norman Pilcher and his connection with the residential schools.

I remember receiving a letter from him in which he expressed his hurt, bewilderment and anger about the brush of abuse, which tarred all those who had to do with residential schools.

I am so pleased that Norman felt vindicated before he died, in what was an important part of his life’s work.

John Sergeantson

South Bolton, Que.

Language mandate

Dear Editor,

In response to the Journal’s article, Church will ask dioceses to reopen schools agreement (June), as a reserve teacher for Indian Affairs in three provinces during the 1950s and 1960s, I can testify to the fact that it was indeed the Canadian government which mandated that native peoples be taught only in English. Teachers were faced with the threat of losing employment if found learning and/or teaching in native dialects (which varied from tribe to tribe as well as reserve to reserve within a tribe).

I believe the government was more interested in saving money in standardizing English or French as the only language to be taught in Canadian schools. It takes a lot of effort and training to prepare teachers to communicate in a native mother tongue. It also limits the areas in which a public school teacher is qualified to teach.

Mrs. M. I. Gilbert

London, Ont.

Words of truth

Dear editor,

In response to the article A moment of grace for a former principal (May Journal), there are no words which I can draw on to fully express my thanks to Rev. Arthur Anderson and my appreciation for the contributions of Canon Norman Pilcher.

After more than five years of constant and unjustified degradation of the benefits provided by many Indian residential schools, and the immense contribution made to them by so many exceptional people, finally there are words of truth.

As a former staff member at an Indian Residential School, and having worked on the fringe of the residential school system for some time, I am angry and frustrated at the Anglican Church of Canada because of its inability to separate the wheat from the chaff. Indeed, I would be remiss not to state that, in this regard, I have been thoroughly ashamed of the Anglican Church of Canada.

There is an important reflection on the church’s vigorous pursuit of justice and money for former residents of the residential schools. Imagine the immense benefits if the church had, instead, dedicated its time, interest, energy and money to assist the truly abused by working for appropriate convictions through the Canadian justice system.

O. William Steele


Love or fear?

Dear editor,

As an Anglican, I am distressed by the diocese of the Arctic’s decision to give notice about who they would and wouldn’t employ, by asking candidates and employees to give literal allegiance to Canon 18 (Journal Web site, Arctic diocese denounces gay relationships, June 10).

Are the diocese of the Arctic and others who espouse a “literal” interpretation of Scripture which views sex as the sole act of a man and women in a committed marriage covenant speaking out of Christian love? Or, are they merely acting in fear like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who challenged his progressive ministry by questioning his authority to change things?

Jesus ministered to and included in his inner circle prostitutes, betrayers, males, females, the wounded and imperfect. These are individuals who would have been excluded from the temple priesthood and temple worship due to their uncleanliness. Including such in the community of worship struck fear into the hearts of the religious elite. Jesus countered by asking his accusers where John’s baptism originated from: heaven or his own human effort to minister to the crowds? They were unable to provide Jesus with an answer.

And, as in the case of Jesus’ accusers, not everything can easily be sorted out by text and verse; sometimes the fruit of grace is the only indicator that God’s love is at work.

Donald Shields

Markham, Ont.

Losing Anglicanism

Dear editor,

I often wonder what the Anglican Church is coming to. I grew up believing that the great distinguishing characteristic of Anglicanism was its inclusiveness. Queen Elizabeth I spent most of her reign trying to establish a theology that would include both the Catholic and Puritan strains in the early church. Her attitude was that the essence of Christianity was to be found in the two great commandments of love. Everything else was of lesser consequence. Anglicanism, from Elizabeth’s time on, was noted for its capacity to accommodate opposing views. Anglicanism was inclusive and non-judgmental. Not anymore, apparently.

We should be welcoming gay and lesbian people into our church. The usual fatuous response to such a suggestion is that gays and lesbians are welcome as long as they deny their sexuality.

R. S. McKegney


Put youth first

Dear editor,

I find it most disturbing that after many months of deliberation, division, heartache, arrogant priests, and people leaving the church, that the gay issue is still the top story in the Journal (Canadians to sit on sidelines of meeting, June).

At a time when young people need guidance and encouragement and so few of them are in our churches, does that not set off alarm bells? If we do not have youth to carry on when we have passed on, who will be manning the churches? The time has come to put our young people first and the gay issue out of the church. Marriage is for a man and a woman.

Eileen Nattrass

Saanichton, B.C.

Breaking away

Dear editor,

I was born in 1915. I have been an Anglican all my life. I have held offices in all but the early church groups.

During all that time I have seen many people with complete courage of their convictions break away from the Anglican church, forming their own churches with their own faith. Why not the lesbians and gays? No courage.

I have many Lutheran friends who feel the same way I do. God made Adam and Eve (not Evan).

R. Kersey

Langley, B.C.

Broken compass

Dear editor,

Anglicanism has lost its way. It has espoused wholesale the Palestinian narrative, and formed policy that is based on misinformation about Israel and its policies (Council urges pressure on firms supporting Israeli occupation, Journal Web story, June 27). The report, upon which the divestment decision is based, compares Israeli authorities to Nazis, and the Israeli security barrier to the walls of Buchenwald concentration camp.

This is a very sad and shameful moment for Anglicanism. That’s what happens when a church’s moral compass is broken.

Jonathan B. Schrieder


No to divestment

Dear editor,

Regarding your story, Council urges pressure on firms supporting Israeli occupation (Journal Web site, June 27):

Surely you know that the history of Arab hostility and murder of Jews living in Turkish Southern Syria (now Israel) and the Mandate for Palestine precedes the very creation of modern Israel. Surely you know that the Covenant of the Palestine Liberation Organization, calling for the elimination of Israel and removal of its inhabitants was crafted in the 1960s, while the West Bank and Gaza was under Arab rule and had not a single Jew/Israeli living in those territories.

In short, surely you know that you have turned the truth upside down, that you are supporting the random murder of innocent Jewish Israelis by thugs and that you are supporting a worldwide movement, launched by Arabs who refuse to countenance a non-Arab presence in Israel. Jesus was not an Arab. Although belonging to all mankind, he was from the Jewish tradition of his time, and his synagogue still stands in Israel.

I am astonished by the action of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Arnold Flick

La Jolla, Calif.


Dear editor,

A correspondent (History Lesson, Journal Letters, May) said that King Henry VIII established the right to divorce in the Church of England. He received an annulment, not a divorce in the modern sense.

The English universities and courts agreed that the king hadn’t been legally married in the first place, because marriage with a brother’s wife was prohibited by Lev. 20:21. While it was true that the Pope had granted a dispensation to allow the marriage anyway, it was decided that the Pope couldn’t abrogate the word of God. This decision to rank Scripture above papal authority reflected the teaching of the English Reformation.

Alan L. Hayes

Oakville, Ont.


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