Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Letters to the Editor

(From the Nov. 13, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

Papal elections


Alvin Toffler wrote in Creating a New Civilization: “Today’s spectacular advances in communications-technology open, for the first time, a mind-boggling array of possibilities for direct citizen participation in political decision-making.”

Applying this insight to our Catholic Church, one wonders why the Internet and WorldWide Web are not used to elect our next pope. In the early day of the Church, it was customary for the faithful and the clergy to elect one of their own to be the bishop of the diocese. After the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the office of cardinal, modeled on the elite lords of the secular world, was created. The pope took charge of selecting “safe” candidates as cardinals, who in turn became the electors of the next pope.

This new system has to this day removed the voices of the bishops (successors of the Apostles) and that of the faithful and priests. It is time for the Church to enter the 21st century and to use the modern technology. Why not establish a system to elect the next pope by which 2,500 bishops of the world will cast their vote via Internet, rather than having 130 princes (cardinals) do it? Cardinals are irrelevant.

Oh, I know you’re saying: Where is the Holy Spirit in this process? The Spirit can inspire us in and through any place or means. The Spirit can use the Internet as well as the ballot box. Let’s get modern. Let the successors of the Apostles vote again.

Frank Yuse, Spokane

Ignoring vocations


I was mystified by the emphasis on vocations in the Oct. 2, 2003 edition of the Inland Register, in spite of Bishop Skylstad’s well-written and thoughtful article (“Vocations: mysterious grace”). For me, the mystery is how the Church (male, theoretically celibate, hierarchy) can continue to ignore the vocations present in the church (faith community, People of God). While I am glad we have 19 seminarians in our diocese, in our small parish alone, I could probably name 20 people who have prayerfully discerned a call from God to an ordained ministry of service (not power) but who cannot live out that call in the Catholic Church because of their gender, marital status and/or sexual orientation. It is our great loss that many have left the Church to follow that call.

And what have others done who feel they have a vocation to ordained ministry but who cannot follow it in our Church? They answer it and live it anyway in our churches. They feed, clothe and give shelter to the poor. They comfort the sick, the lonely and the dying. They balance budgets and run parishes. They teach children and adults, forming them in faith. They write, counsel and offer spiritual direction. They lead prayer and share the Gospel message. They share their gifts and talents and follow Jesus as best they can, trusting that their ministry is valid in the eyes of God, no matter how it is viewed by the Church hierarchy.

There would be no shortage of priests if the Church could accept and celebrate the vocations already alive and flourishing in our church.

Shonna Marie Bartlett, Spokane

Abuse, healing


Did we really think anything would change?

In a recent article, the diocese indicated “since bringing a misconduct complaint to the diocese can be a frightening experience” there would be three options for reporting child sexual abuse: call the assistance coordinator, call the vicar general or write the diocese (“Spokane Diocese eases process for reporting abuse,” IR 10-23-03).

First, the “misconduct” when involving a child is a crime and it is evil. When there is probable cause to believe such conduct has occurred, it should be immediately reported to law enforcement authorities so there can be an independent investigation and not a cover-up. The Washington mandatory reporting law used to require such of the clergy until they somehow had themselves removed from this responsibility. Perhaps they said it was for the good of the children! Why does any thinking Catholic not believe the hierarchy would continue to be more concerned about the scandal to them and want to cover it up?

Second, have the priests who molested children and those who aided them suffered any meaningful consequences? Have they been thrown out of the priesthood and had their pensions stopped? If the hierarchy is so concerned with what has happened to children and sorry for their behavior in covering it up, why haven’t these steps been taken? Why haven’t all the deceased priests who molested children been identified? Aren’t the victims entitled to the vindication that the hierarchy knew? Why hasn’t the bishop publicly apologized to the victims for the actions of the hierarchy in transferring and covering up for those who engaged in this evil and criminal behavior? Why hasn’t he opened up to us rather than hiding behind his committees?

Will thinking Catholics ever become shocked at the outrageous actions of the hierarchy and demand anything, or will they simply continue to have the wool pulled over their eyes?

Don Brockett, Spokane

(Editor’s notes:

• The Spokane Diocese’s first step is always to report any information regarding abuse or potential abuse situations to the authorities.
• Earlier this year Bishop Skylstad changed the policy regarding the reporting of complaints against deceased priests: If there was one credible charge of abuse by a deceased priest, with the concurrence of the Diocesan Review Board, the name would be published in the hopes that other victims might come forward and begin a process of healing (“Releasing the names of deceased priests accused of sexual misconduct: Spokane Diocese policy changes,”
IR 6/12/03).
• Bishop Skylstad has apologized on numerous occasions and in numerous media, including “A Message to Unnamed Victims of Sexual Abuse” (
IR 6/12/03; on the diocesan web site) and during public visits to parishes.
• A policy of transparency is in place in this diocese.
• The law will mete out punishment to those still living who are convicted of crimes. In the meantime, the bishop has removed priests from ministry for inappropriate conduct pending the outcome of trials, either under Canon Law or U.S. and State codes.)

‘Not very well thought out’


The article on St. Francis Xavier Parish on 10/23/03 was not very well thought out (“After [nearly] 100 years, St. Francis Xavier considers cleaning house with ‘the mother of all garage sales,’” IR 10/23/03). It didn’t mention the biggest promoter of the new church, rectory and school, Father Joseph Pineau. With all his years in the parish I don’t see how he could be left out. My brother and sisters and I were born and raised in the school and parish.

Wilfred J. Hoover, Spokane

Contraception: the big lie


This letter is to all young couples. Please, do not make the same mistake that we made.

We are the 40s crowd. We grew up in a turbulent time, truly in retrospect, a very unholy time. And we bought into a big lie. That lie has made us and all of society miserable, and will continue to for the rest of our lives.

The lie is contraception. It is an act described as “intrinsically evil” by the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2370).

Most of us realized that it could lead to a host of problems, including divorce, promiscuity, STDs and even abortion. But we thought we were strong enough. What we didn’t realize is that it also leads to loneliness and alienation, since it is at heart a selfish decision.

The Church is right! The procreative should never be separated from the sexual act.

We used various artificial methods. The “pill” made it so convenient. Quite a few of us decided to get sterilized. Pills and operations usually make the body function properly. But these cripple the body – they destroy something beautiful.

There is plenty of blame to go around as to why we bought the lie. Our local diocese, to this day, sadly chooses to remain quiet about it. We aren’t sure why. Contraception is undoubtedly the biggest sin that has been committed for the past 30 years. Don’t be foolish enough to listen to the dissident theologians that surround us. Don’t join the fate of these lost souls as they try to tickle our ears with lies.

We are now too young, our kids are too old, and there are too few of them. We opted for big houses, more things and small families. There are no little ones to care for. Our big houses are becoming increasingly empty. We are learning that money and things just don’t satisfy like living family!

Our children suffer from our mistake as well. We should have filled their lives with younger brothers and sisters to love and grow with. Instead, we gave them things and signed them up for events. What a poor substitute!!

So please, don’t buy the lie.

Opt for smaller houses, fewer things and bigger families! Become beacons of light and hope to a culture that loathes children. Careers can wait! Money and things are shallow substitutes for a loving family.

Learn from our mistakes. Embrace life!

Greg Fazzari, Walla Walla, Wash.

(Editor’s note: To suggest the diocese “sadly chooses to remain quiet” on the subject of contraception is contradicted by numerous examples, among them the many issues of the Inland Register promoting Natural Family Planning classes at Sacred Heart Medical Center, and annual Respect Life editions, as recently as Oct. 2, dealing with a number of life issues, including procreation (“Women deserve better than abortion,” IR 10/02/03).

Valiant president


God bless our President!

A light has been lit by President Bush in the tunnel of abortion darkness. Abortion is simply the right of a mother to murder her unborn, helpless, child. We need more valiant men like George W. Bush.

David I. Proctor, Elk, Wash.

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