Letters to the editor

Published September 1, 2000

Need for reverence applies to Anglicans tooDear editor,

As the Anglican co-chair of the Anglican/Lutheran Joint Working Group, I would like to thank William Portman for his Opinion in the May Journal (Dealing With Eucharistic ‘Leftovers’ Can Cause Deep Offence). His outline of what should be done with these elements is informative and fairly accurate; my difficulty comes with the implication that only Lutherans need to be singled out for comment concerning methods of disposing of consecrated elements.

I have seen leftover, consecrated bread taken by a priest to be used at meals at home (as per the directions of the 1552 Book of Common Prayer). I have seen consecrated wine poured back into a wine bottle (and not taken home because the priest would not have what he called ‘sub-standard wine’ on his table). I have also seen consecrated hosts returned to the breadbox from whence they came so they could “be reused next time.” I have seen elements scattered and poured on the ground. In one instance, when I complained about what I thought was irreverent use of the sacrament, I was told, “He can get Himself into it, He can just as easily get Himself out of it.”

My experiences of these practices are few and far between, but they did all take place in Anglican churches.

For Lutheran practice, the 1991 ELCIC Statement on Sacramental Practises states, “The elements offered for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper have been set aside for a specific purpose. Leftover elements are consumed by those present, or disposed of in an appropriate manner.”

I hope your article will remind Anglicans about the need for the reverent disposal of remaining consecrated elements. Implying that these are issues which concern our ecumenical partners alone would be misleading.

James A.J. Cowan

Victoria, B.C.

Surgery well justified

Dear editor,

I am writing in response to the March column by Eric Beresford (Image of Tiny Hand Does Not Resolve Abortion Debate) regarding the photo of an unborn child’s hand and its impact on the abortion issue.

I would like to help clarify the perceived ambivalence of “parents who would never consider abortion, [resorting] to dangerous surgery of doubtful benefit to correct a non-life threatening condition.” As the mother of Samuel Armas, I feel equipped to do this.

The values at work here are not other than the sanctity of life, they are an extension of them. Samuel was my son at 21 weeks gestation, just as he was at four weeks gestation, just as he is today at seven months of age. My husband and I finally chose fetal surgery not based on our desire for a more perfect child ? if that were the case we could have easily aborted Samuel and “started over” ? but rather on our recognition of Samuel as a human being who like most of us, would likely take some risk for a potential (not “doubtful”) benefit.

Should Mr. Beresford research fetal surgery for spina bifida, he would learn that the in-utero surgery has been shown to ameliorate the most life-threatening component of the defect, brain malformation. He might also learn that of the 101 surgeries at Vanderbilt to date, no babies have died as a direct result of surgery. Many U.S. health insurers do pay for this surgery (as mine did) and if not, Vanderbilt is very understanding in arranging payment.

When I was offered abortion for my “defective” unborn son, it certainly felt like a private tragedy rather than a social issue, in which I did not at all feel marginalized or powerless. Furthermore, when we took advantage of the surgeons’ “technological virtuosity,” it bears repeating that we were acting in the best interest of our son.

We are not naive about the social meanings and implications. However, when you find yourself in such a situation, they don’t seem too important. My husband and I consented to fetal surgery because we were empowered by Samuel’s humanity and that was before we ever saw his perfect little hand.

Julie Armas

Douglasville, Ga.

Time for revolution

Dear editor,

Thirty years ago, as a volunteer in Kabul, Afghanistan, I met Father Angelo, a small tornado of a priest based in the Italian embassy, who bade Christians of every denomination welcome.

“Out here,” he used to say, “we are all just Christians,” and he welcomed the expatriate Protestants and Catholics at the altar to share the bread broken in the memory of Jesus Christ. There was similar openness on the part of his two other pastoral colleagues in Kabul, one Episcopalian, the other Pentecostal.

I was delighted. My father was Anglican, and my mother Roman Catholic. I had been brought up a Roman Catholic, not allowed to share communion with my father, a most devout man who had kept his promise, made as a condition of marriage, to have me brought up in the Roman Church, and yet with whom I was forbidden to share my faith in that simple, fundamental ritual.

I had already begun, before going to Afghanistan, to take communion with non-Catholics, and noticed that the sky had not fallen on me. Indeed, I had even married an Anglican.

I write because your photograph in the June edition of Cardinal Cassidy and Archbishop Carey, has stirred in me a sense of frustration, that the two of them can sincerely talk of their respective communities coming together, can celebrate together in each other’s churches, and yet deny themselves the one, absolutely basic mark of unity and mutual love, the breaking of bread together in the name of their saviour. Meanwhile, large numbers of their respective flocks, in response to Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper: ‘That they may be one,’ have enjoyed celebrating our unity in Christ, whether our ordained ministers recognize the fact or not.

It is time for a quiet laical revolution, consisting in nothing more complicated than this affirmation: If we share in one baptism, then we also share in one communion.

Peter Scott

Elora, Ont.

Intolerant of dissent

Dear editor,

Archbishop’s Carey’s remarks (after a meeting of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Toronto) strike me as naive, in light of the punitive measures taken against me in 1983, following my return to the Anglican Communion.

The decree I received from the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy refers to the Code of Canon Law, which imposes ipso facto excommunication on “all apostates from the Christian faith and all heretics and schismatics” (can. 2314, par. 1). This reveals how little has really changed, for all the ecumenical discussion.

Roman Catholic intolerance of dissent constitutes a far more serious obstacle to genuine ecumenism than the doctrinal differences which ARCIC has been debating.

Pope Paul VI showed commendable honesty when he referred to ecumenism as “a new means of evangelization.” Non-Roman Christians whose ecumenical objective is reconciled diversity and not submission to papal authority would do well to bear this in mind.

Rev. Schuyler Brown

Church of the Good Shepherd


Sacredness not upheld

Dear editor,

Re: K. Corey Keeble’s letter (June Journal) critiquing Lucy Reid’s April letter which suggested that the sacredness of nature, femaleness and the body were missing from Christianity.

As a former student at the University of Guelph, who benefited greatly from Lucy Reid’s ministry there as chaplain (and whose witness to Christ in her work prompted me to explore my own call to ministry,) I can assure Mr. Keeble Ms. Reid knows a great deal about her faith and the place of women within it!

I believe she was pointing out the failure of mainstream Christianity throughout history to appreciate the very things Mr. Keeble says are attested to by our Scripture and theology. As Mr. Keeble states, the sacredness of nature, the body, sexuality and women is upheld in the Bible. Yet, as Ms. Reid states, these things have not been upheld by many within the Christian church.

One only needs to read the many letters from Christians protesting the use of nature symbols in worship to see continued Christian hesitancy to affirm the sacredness of creation.

The Mother of Jesus can be a powerful symbol of faith, maternity, strength and courage. Nevertheless there has always been a strong correlation between those cultures in which the Virgin Mary is widely venerated and societies in which women have fewer rights and much lower status than men. This is because the Virgin Mary, like the women saints through history (many of whom were cloistered nuns) is most often valued for her perpetual virginity, her meekness and her silence. What does this say to women both inside and outside the church? That “femininity” is primarily about negating one’s sexuality, one’s strength and one’s voice? I don’t believe that this is the femaleness Lucy Reid ? or most women ? wishes to affirm in Christianity.

It seems Lucy Reid is well aware of the contributions of women in the past to Christianity. More important to her ? and to me ? is the contribution of women’s faith, insight and experience to the church today.

Rev. Daniel Brereton

Oakville, Ont.

Using common cup

Dear editor,

As a lay administrator at St. James Cathedral in Toronto, I can offer A.E. Sovereign two suggestions (Bypassing Common Cup, Letters, June Journal.)

First, the parish could decide to offer an intinction chalice, which is reserved for those who wish to intinct. There is still a risk, in that many people who intinct dip the whole wafer into the wine, and in doing so also dunk their fingers, but perhaps this presents a sufficiently reduced risk. If there are insufficient clergy to do this, perhaps the parish could investigate having lay administrators licensed. If there are insufficient chalices to allow one to be reserved strictly for intinction, perhaps interested parishioners could donate one. (Intinction chalices need not be as big as normal chalices, since intincting results in substantially less wine being needed.)

Second, at St. James, those who do not wish to receive at all cross their arms across their chests (one hand on or just below each shoulder), and these individuals receive a blessing from the minister administering along the rail. Many who wish to receive the wafer only will take it in the usual manner, and then cross their arms to indicate that they do not wish to receive wine.

They then leave the communion rail at the same time they would have had they received wine.

Kerry Lawson


Opinions are diverse

Dear editor,

Re: Strongly Opposed letter from Mrs. Adshead (June Journal.) When discussing the possibility of blessing same-sex unions, please can we refrain from using hurtful, intemperate language?

Diabolical? Is it really devilish, of the devil, to bless a committed, responsible, loving same-sex relationship? I do not think so. Opinions on this issue are widely diverse.

Please can we discuss and dialogue with respect, courtesy and compassion, trusting in the Spirit to lead us into truth?

Winifred Perryman

Corbyville, Ont.

Stifling gospel of love

Dear editor,

I was dismayed to read Primates Remain Divided (May Journal), specifically comments attributed to Archbishop Sinclair of Argentina and Archbishop Kolini of Rwanda, on how to handle disagreements, especially those which refer to blessing same-sex unions and pastoral acceptance of homosexuals.

Archbishop Sinclair wanted “the primates’ meeting (to be) able to exercise enhanced responsibility and ? guidance, on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters.” It seems that in many instances it is the process of decision making at the level of bishop that causes many to despair that Christian love will ever move beyond adherence to rules and regulations.

We feel free to toss out those parts of the Bible which support things which are no longer socially acceptable, e.g., slavery, but we keep those things which shore up our prejudices, even as they flout the true meaning of the Gospel, freedom to be, love for God and the created order, which includes people of a different sexual orientation.

Archbishop Sinclair reminds us of “mutual accountability” but this seems to mean accountability to narrow, restrictive love, not that we should be accountable to God for crippling other human beings. There is no virtue in “keeping the unity” if the basis of that unity is to stifle the gospel of love.

Archbishop Kolini thinks a break in the Anglican Communion is inevitable if “one part of the communion does something another part doesn’t accept.” Who is to decide which part is correct?

I am sickened to read (again) that the church which was until very recently happy to turn a blind eye to sexual abuse, is unnaturally eager to monitor other sexual practices.

Sheila A. Welbergen


Follow Runcie’s lead

Dear editor,

An obituary on the death of Robert Runcie, the late archbishop of Canterbury, notes that he and other bishops were becoming a political force in Britain against the government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

We are witnessing the growing influence of ultra-conservative forces in this country, along with an increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots. Isn’t it time for faith leaders to raise an effective, collective voice on behalf of our many neglected? Perhaps the House of Bishops could lead the way.

Elske Kuiper


Out of this horror, something good may come

Dear editor,

Thank you for the report on Indian residential schools in the May Journal (Sins of the Fathers) and my congratulations to Mr. Napier for a difficult job well done. His sensitivity to people in pain shone throughout the piece.

No amount of money can really compensate for the degradation and destruction suffered by the victims of abuse, and I pray that healing will come for all of the people involved ? both victims and abusers.

Out of all this horror something good can come. The church will be very different when the smoke clears, and we will have to take stock of who we are as the people of God.

Perhaps once we have lost all that is material in the church we may be able to focus on the spiritual. Without costly buildings and property, we will be able to use our resources ? both financial and spiritual ? to do God’s work, the work of building the kingdom.

In light of the Sins of the Fathers, the infighting about Essentials vs. non-Essentials, conservative vs. liberal church, and all the other bete noirs that fill the Journal’s letters page seem petty and nitpicking.

I await the movement of the Spirit in all this.

Rene Jamieson


Solution unlikely

Dear editor,

Sins of the Fathers was most informative. It is sad that we had a number of bad actors in the system. I suspect some people turned a blind eye to the transgressions.

The real sin was the government policy of total assimilation which was supported so strongly by the churches. Hindsight is very clear, foresight is foggy.

I hope a solution can be found but as land claims have gone on and on without settlement, I hold little hope.

I expect the church will pay to the extent of its resources and then file for bankruptcy. Frankly, I think we often get too devoted to our bricks and mortar. Perhaps we would be better off without them.

Bill Davis

Portland, Ont.

Ottawa should pay

Dear editor,

The lawsuits filed by Aboriginals alleging abuse at church residential schools are becoming prohibitively expensive and may result in bankruptcy of the churches involved.

The Anglican Church has asked the federal government to assist it in limiting the church’s financial exposure. However, there is a large segment of Canadians opposed to this idea, saying that the churches should sell their property to pay claims.

This would be working an injustice beyond belief. The federal government should not just assist the churches financially in these lawsuits but should pick up the tab of all the churches involved, in full.

The residential schools were the creature of the federal government, which hoped to bring Native children into the mainstream of Canadian life, and in large measure this was accomplished. The vehicle for doing this was the residential schools and the help of the mainline Christian churches was sought because they had the personnel and means to organize this effort. The federal government should pay for the lawsuits now being prosecuted on the basis that the principal must pay for the wrongful acts of their agent.

To destroy the capacity of the churches to do their legitimate charitable works will result in pain and suffering for the recipients of these charities, without any corresponding benefit to anyone, except perhaps the anti-religious and atheists.

John A. S. McDonald


In defence of the staff

Dear editor,

Sad and shocking are the accounts of life in Canadian residential schools. I wasn’t there, nor were most of us now hearing of this. But surely there are some who will speak in defence of the many caring people involved in staffing and operating these schools.

Those of us who grew up then know that discipline was harshly administered in schools. Children were regularly strapped for minor offences. Teachers were to be feared and obeyed.

Many of the teachers and leaders in the schools of our Native people came from England where discipline in their school system was much harsher than anything Canadians knew. Yet these people left their families and homes to dedicate their lives to teaching and working in this cold and unfriendly climate, and the majority came with the best of intentions. They believed there was a need and so they endured the hardships willingly for little remuneration. There’s no doubt some came with no such high principles and whose actions went unpunished, resulting in the stories we now learn.

As to charges of hardship, let us not forget there were years of hardships for the majority of Canadians, widespread depression, a vast country where transportation was difficult. Many people grew up using unpasteurized milk ? it was what was available.

Many rural schools in Canada were staffed by unskilled teachers, young and doing the best they could with whatever training and help they could get. Let us be careful in our indignation not to condemn all those who worked in and for the church run schools and the agencies that operated them.

What if both parties got together and set about making this country a more forgiving one? If accused and accuser would help each other find a solution rather than wasting manpower, money and resources in courts of law something positive might be the result.

Marion I. Rutter

Wellington, Ont.


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