Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Letters to the Editor
(From the July 3, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)
The Inland Register welcomes letters to the editor. Letters should be no longer than 500 words. Letters must be signed, with address and phone number for contact, but names will be withheld upon request. Letters may be edited for length or clarity. Remember to be charitable.
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(Regarding “Schools Office seeks input from Eastern Washington Catholics,” IR 6/12/08), The survey gave me the opportunity to express my support for Catholic schools in our Diocese. I could answer each statement with a 4 or a 3, but the statement, “Catholic schools are one of the best means of evangelization in the Church today,” although true, begs the question: Are they fulfilling their mission?
Judging from the number of graduates we see at Mass on Sunday, my opinion is that the answer is no. Our schools need to create a more prayerful-spiritual environment. The Lord said “Praise me, and glorify me and your reward on earth will be to know my love; and when you know my love you will love me.” This statement should be the center of our school’s religious studies program. School prayer, studying the spiritual aspects of the Word, building a feeling that going to Mass is not simply an obligation, but a gift given to us to listen to the Word proclaimed and receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus, and participating in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: these activities should be part of the program. Principals, teachers, pastors, and parents, all should be part of the program, and if necessary, a spiritual director should be assigned to help implement the study program.
With the help of the Holy Spirit and dedication of the diocesan school administrators, our Catholic schools can truly be the best means of evangelizing the Church today.
Pete Ficalora, Spokane
On June 7, 2008, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson from Australia gave a talk in the Roosevelt High School Auditorium in Seattle that I attended. The bishop was introduced by Robert B. Kaiser as a modern Martin Luther. Kaiser himself is an accomplished writer and his description of the bishop served in my mind to bring into focus what it means to be Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus, the book authored by Bishop Robinson about which some 300 people came to hear.
The bishop thanked those in attendance for “coming along” to hear him. He made reference to Archbishop Oscar Romero, who became a voice for those who have no voice. He stated his book is a response to revelations of sexual abuse nationally, that he had spoken to hundreds of victims and many perpetrators over a period of 10 years. That work changed him in so many ways that even if he wanted to, he couldn’t go back to being the person he was before. He called for change in the Church and recommended:
• That there be a profound study of the immediate causes of abuse.
Bishop Robinson stated those steps will lead to a study of power and sex and insisted that we must be free to ask questions about the issues of power and sex. He stated bishops who object say “You must not question the teachings of the Church.” “I am starting at the other end,” said Bishop Robinson. He referred to Chapter 10 of his book, titled ‘The Return to an Original Sexual Ethic.”
In the aftermath of our diocesan bankruptcy, the emergence of Bishop Robinson and his writing is very significant.
Ron Eberley, Spokane
(Eberley is president of the Spokane chapter of Call to Action.)
I certainly hope the “edifice-builders” are happy that ground has been broken for a new seminary building (“Ground broken for new seminary; May 1, 2009, is target for completion,” IR 5/22/08). I am not. Apart from the fact that moving an historic house from its traditional location seems downright wrong, what we really need is not a new building but a new way of training priests.
We need a program that selects candidates who have both college degrees and work experience, then trains them in the midst of the church community they are active in and will be serving, not a continuation of the approach that cloisters young men who lack the life experience to understand what their future parishioners face in their daily lives. The preparation model for the permanent diaconate is a good model.
If I had my way, priests, like U.S. presidents, would have to be at least 35 years of age, and they would have to have proved themselves through active parish involvement before being accepted into a formation program. They would meet for evening and/or weekend classes in theology (with emphasis on liturgy and homiletics), counseling, and organizational management. A diocese could either absorb tuition costs for candidates or reimburse them after ordination. Meanwhile, the candidates would be working, and thus self supporting, as well as continuing to be involved in their parishes as they pursued training that would focus on their role as sacramental ministers. They would not be expected to also be administrators, a role better left to lay people who have the background necessary for that task. This approach is comparable to how many graduate programs are currently run.
This approach would result in priests who have both the time and the skills necessary for serving the spiritual needs of their communities, priests who would realize that they serve those communities rather than ruling them, and would free them from the onerous burden of having to be experts in two fields. It would undoubtedly result in healthier priests; it would definitely result in healthier congregations – and therefore a healthier church.
Let’s think outside the box –or in this case – the building.
Suzanne Harris, Spokane
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