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 Oct. 2, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Regarding Letters to the Editor

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.

Send letters to:

  • Inland Register | P.O. Box 48 | Spokane, WA 99210-0048
  • E-mail:
    Fax: (509) 358-7302

    Initiative 1000


    As a lifetime Catholic, I am disheartened that physician-assisted suicide will appear on the ballot in November. As a practicing probate attorney, I am alarmed at the prospect of I-1000 becoming law.

    Over the past 30 years, I have observed numerous instances of financial abuse of the elderly by relatives, caregivers, and new “best friends.” I-1000 will create a new opportunity for the worst form of exploitation of the elderly and vulnerable. Even those with no philosophical or moral objection to assisted suicide should find this initiative so lacking in protections that it warrants a “no” vote. Please consider the following:

    No witness at death: I-1000 does not require the death to be witnessed. After the lethal dose has been issued by the pharmacist, there is no oversight whatsoever. A patient who secured the lethal dose may have done so on a “just in case” basis, not intending to use it immediately, or ever. The patient who once wanted to die may change his mind. The lack of a requirement of a witness to the death creates an opportunity for someone other than the patient to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent or knowledge. No one would know if the deceased was coerced or tricked into taking the lethal drug by a greedy heir or misguided caregiver willing to rationalize mercy killing.

    Euphemistic provisions: A self-interested heir who encourages, coerces and/or administers the lethal dose may actually convince himself that his actions are on a high moral plane because of the euphemistic provisions of I-1000, which state that the death is “humane and dignified.” I-1000 would expose the most vulnerable in our society to the grave danger of being pushed by loved ones, however compassionate they may be, who are unable to resist a temptation which dovetails with their own financial self-interest. Those with assets are at risk of the ultimate financial abuse. Those without assets are vulnerable as well. In Oregon (the only state which has legalized physician-assisted suicide), the Oregon Health Plan routinely advises patients who have little chance of surviving more than five years that the health plan will pay for assisted suicide, but not for treatment that could help them live for months or years. (See “Oregon’s Suicidal Approach to Health Care,” by Rita L. Marker, American Thinker, 9/14/08.)

    No requirement of disinterested witnesses: I-1000 requires two witnesses to the suicide request. However, I-1000 provides that one of the witnesses may be the patient’s heir. By contrast, the probate code provides that when a witness to a Will is also a beneficiary under the Will, the law presumes that the witness/beneficiary “procured the gift by duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence.” I-1000 provides fewer safeguards regarding a life and death decision than the probate code provides to a mere gift of property. Allowing an heir to witness the suicide request invites coercion, overt and subtle, to which the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

    False death certificate: When the attending physician signs the death certificate, I-1000 actually requires him to state that the death was caused by the patient’s underlying illness. This requirement provides “cover” for any wrongdoing, and undermines all accountability for abuse. Abuse pursuant to I-1000 would be hidden under a cloak of secrecy and false reporting.

    I-1000 is antithetical to measures that protect the elderly and vulnerable. I-1000 is opposed by disability advocates. The Washington State Medical Association opposes the measure. You should oppose it too.

    Theresa Schrempp, Bellevue, Wash.

    Of politics


    The controversy continues to swirl around Catholic politicians such as Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and their positions on such matters as abortion and stem cell research and whether they are “real” Catholics.

    A recent letter to the editor (“Letters to the Editor: Do not defile Faith,” IR 9/11/08) expressed the opinion Catholics should be true to “our Catholic faith, a priceless gift given to us by Christ,” and oppose “misrepresentations” of the faith as expressed by Pelosi.

    I have no objection to the Christian position on abortion, one shared by both Catholics and Evangelicals – that human life begins at the moment of conception. However, nowhere in the Bible does Christ, either by action or word, comment on the subject of abortion, much less, any “culture of death.” It is, though, a defensible position,   morally  and  intellectually, one that has evolved out of Thomistic natural law teaching and has been refined over the centuries in the light of medical and scientific discoveries.

    Catholics need to be informed on the historical background of their position on abortion; it is not simply enough to rely on unexamined “faith.” Faith of that kind crumbles all too easily.

    Edward Ring, Spokane


    Many of us knew we couldn’t vote for the Democratic platform, but it took the nomination of Sarah Palin to give many of us the enthusiasm to get behind John McCain. He must have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Sarah Palin could be the “Joan of Arc” of Alaska. Many of us supporting Right to Life feel our prayers have been answered.

    Her life exemplifies that she is the real deal. She not only talks the walk – she walks the walk.

    Some folks think McCain is for the war. He’s no fool and has had more experience and inside information than most. No one can accuse him of wanting to feed our most patriotic men and women into the war machine, or wanting to spend billions in Iraq. No “American” wants that. We all want our troops home.

    Sarah Palin will bring rational thinking and moral values to that equation, including all the other economic, political, and social moral values confronting a confused and indifferent America.

    Don and Patricia Heinzen, Spokane


    Profound thanks to Maureen Kirby and Mary Riehle, whose letters to the editor in the Sept. 11, 2008, edition so profoundly stated the concerns of many other Catholics in this diocese. In particular, Catholic politicians who openly profess beliefs which are unequivocally anti-Catholic, especially concerning abortion.

    I too pray that the Holy Spirit will guide our politicians and bishops and most especially, our Bishop Skylstad, to act responsibly on this issue to preserve the integrity of our Catholic Faith.

    Virginia Just, Waitsburg, Wash.

    Political advertising


    Thanks for putting out such a fine, well-balanced paper. I look forward to receiving each issue throughout the year.

    I also support the policy of accepting the advertising of all candidates for political office. It is the one way we know Catholic candidates and thus we know who to get behind, especially when the advertisers include the name of their parish in their ads, as they usually do.

    Marge Brewer, Spokane

    The name of God


    Upon first reading the piece from Catholic News Service titled “No ‘Yahweh’ in songs, prayers at Catholic Masses, Vatican rules” (IR 9/11/08), we had to check the publication date of the newspaper to confirm that it was indeed 2008 and not 1954.

    While attending St. Mary of the Rosary School in Chewelah in the early ’50s, we were, for a time, not allowed to sing the “Protestant Version” of familiar Christmas songs such as “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Instead, we had to sing the “Catholic version,” with the same melody but different words. Thank God, that practice died out after a couple of years.

    Now we cannot use the word “Yahweh” in Mass. Why? More to the point, why now? Perhaps if the entire text of the Vatican promulgation had been included in the news article the reasoning might have been more clear, but it certainly isn’t clear in the brief quotes included in the article as it was written.

    This prohibition appears to date from a Vatican letter dated June 29. Why did it take over two months for it to be promulgated?

    To quote the response we received when we told a dear friend of this report:

    “I do believe that the name of Yahweh is holy and powerful and sacred… To say his name with understanding is to say the word that encompasses all he was, is, and ever will be… The name Yahweh in particular – also pronounced Jehovah – evokes God’s covenant with us, his faithfulness to his promises toward them that believe in that covenant, his great love to make a way for us through his covenant to get back to him, and his knowledge and remembrance of everything about us – our needs, our hurts, our dreams – and his desire to fulfill and bless us in every way. Yahweh is indeed a name that should not be ‘taken in vain’ – used lightly or insensitively, or in cursing someone out.

    “But the way I learned all this about his Name was not by being forbidden to say it, but by learning what it means, and what he himself has to say in his Word about it: That we should bless his name, that his name is a strong tower that I can find shelter in, that calling upon his name brings salvation, and much more. I learned to honor Yahweh and to love him, and likewise to love and honor his name, not to fear it.”

    We realize that one letter to the editor of one Catholic newspaper will have no effect on a decision made at the Vatican, but we would certainly like to see some explanation in the Inland Register, either as an article in its own right or as the subject of one of Bishop Skylstad’s columns.

    Personally, we love the name “Yahweh,” as much as we love the names “Jesus,” “God” and “Holy Spirit.”

    Dick and Maria Waitt, Spokane

    Be aware of disabled


    Pathways Awareness Foundation urges parishes and dioceses to schedule Sept. 28 to raise awareness of problems faced by disabled members.

    Our parishes have done well to provide physical access to worship. However, they need to ponder ways for the handicapped to participate at the altar; e.g. .lector, distribution of the Eucharist.

    The typical parishioners may not realize how many handicapped there are in a parish A recent estimate is that 20 percent qualify as disabled per definition of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    The late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin estimated that one in five American Catholics has a disability, and many would like to take part in the liturgy.

    The Louis Harris survey of 1994 breaks down the disabilities as follows:

  • Physical disability, 54 percent.
  • Sensory impaired, 8 percent.
  • Mental disability, 7 percent.
  • Serious problems (cancer, heart, and so on), 26 percent.
  • Unclassified, 5 percent.

    Assuming 60 million Catholics in the United States, 12 million can be classified disabled. In a parish of 2,000, there may be 400.

    In summary, the purpose of the Pathways Awareness Foundation is to raise awareness of the needs of disabled church members to take part in liturgy and expanded social events. For information and education materials contact, and www.

    Kenneth O. Lindblad, College Place, Wash.

    To be pro-life


    While we Catholics are vigorously anti-abortion and working hard to defeat I-1000 and rightly so, many of us don’t seem to be aware of an even greater pro-life issue: War.

    It grieves me to think of all of the babies in the wombs of pregnant Iraqi women, as well as their mothers, fathers, sisters, cousins, grandparents – all innocent human beings created by God just like us, killed by our U.S. military. While we’re given a head count of our own war casualties, we’ve no idea how many thousands of Iraqi humans have been murdered and maimed when we invaded a sovereign nation that had done us no harm.

    If we claim to be pro-life, how can we continue to ignore the commands of Jesus? He wasn’t just mouthing words when he said: “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you.” And he wouldn’t have commanded thusly were it impossible for us to obey.

    War has been glorified, and “patriotism” has been used as an excuse to ignore Jesus’ teachings. I watched every night of both conventions, and noted that the focus of one party was mostly on war, and re-instilling fear by showing videos from 9-11, bringing back the fear that originated then. Many times throughout scripture, Jesus said: “Fear not!” “Do not be afraid.” Many of us seem to ignore these clear commands. War has been glorified, and one isn’t “patriotic” by believing and following Jesus.

    And neither convention hardly mentioned the most important pro-life issue of all – the killing of our natural environment. God created a perfect Earth with all the living systems working together to meet our human needs, and provide joy and pleasure. God gave us dominion over all, which means to nurture, cherish, and protect, not destroy and kill. And with God’s gift of free will, we began to destroy this marvelous system from which we receive everything we need for life: food, pure water, pure air, clothing, housing, and joy in abundance. We are like a hospital patient gradually pulling out the tubes from his life support system, in ignorance of what he is doing.

    A thoughtful look at the picture of Earth from space, would give wise and foresighted persons an awareness that oil is limited, and will run out sooner or later, no doubt about it. “Drill, baby, drill” – (off- shore drilling, Arctic Wildlife Refuge drilling, etc.) – would merely be stop-gap measures, a real waste of time and money and a short-sighted refusal to get free of our addiction to oil. Alternative energy technologies are already invented and ready now to be used to prevent further destruction of Earth, which, if carried to its logical conclusion, would result in the extinction of the entire human species. All it takes is our will to change.

    Our life support systems are gradually diminishing. Famines and diseases are already killing many thousands. At this crisis point in time, we humans are called to change our choices, our life-styles, and most of all, our ways of thinking, to truly be pro-life, the Abundant Life promised by Jesus.

    Bernadine Van Thiel, Spokane


    Pro-life used to be the make or break issue with me. It still is. But I now realize that pro-life goes far beyond the first nine months of life. It also means supporting all parents and their babies from the cradle to the grave. Pro-life means access to health care. Pro-life means sustainable, livable wages. Pro-life means adequate funding for education. Pro-life means treating our retired people with dignity and respect by not raiding their pension funds or privatizing social security. Pro-life means treating our environment with care and respect. Pro-life means working to stop an epidemic that’s killing as many people every day as 9/11. Pro-life means helping those in need. It does not mean predatory lending. Pro-life does not mean sending our men and women to fight a war based on lies. Nor does pro-life mean blowing up hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children, or using burning chemicals on them. Pro-life certainly does not mean torture or using fears, smears, bigotry, or lies to keep the voters afraid. Finally, pro-life means taking your moral responsibility as a citizen seriously enough to dig for the truth, especially since the corporate-fed media isn’t doing it.

    Margaret Klubben, Mead, Wash.

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