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 , 2011 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

    Abolish the death penalty


    Thank you very much for the article on the death penalty that you reprinted from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (“The death penalty: ‘apparently conflicting demands’ of justice, charity, IR 10/20/11). The article clearly points out many of the moral and theological reasons why the death penalty should be abolished. As it mentions, the justice system has serious limitations and, I would add, it is extremely expensive to process a death penalty case to conclusion. For example, Mr. Darold Stenson just had a restraint petition before the Washington State Supreme Court last week. He committed his crime in 1993. The justice system has been processing this case for 17 years at an enormous expense.

    Our Washington and Oregon bishops have issued many outstanding pastoral statements in years past against the death sentence, which have appeared in their diocesan newspapers. But where is the action plan to abolish the death penalty? It seems to me that to accomplish that here in Washington further action is required.

    Our Catholic Church is the biggest and best organization in the state with the exception of the state government itself. I truly believe that on this human life issue the Church would have a lot more clout if we engaged directly the readily available human resources of the Church – the laity. I’m sure a lobbyist can be a useful tool in certain matters, but I also believe that most legislators listen to their constituents even more. As an example, I believe if the three dioceses’ bishops would encourage their pastors, schools, universities, hospitals and Religious orders and their organizations to contact their legislators advocating the abolishment of the death penalty, it would happen. Pastors of our 350 or so parishes could put a column in their bulletins with the legislative contact information, which can be found on the web at: In addition, the staffs, ministry leaders such as the Knights of Columbus, EE, ME, Cursillo, Serra Club, St. Vincent de Paul etc. and, of course, the youth groups, as they seem to operate iPhones incessantly. The organizations would be encouraged to pass on the request to contact legislators to their family, friends and others.

    I am confident that this approach would have several advantages. In these difficult financial times, it would be simple and inexpensive, as it would utilize existing staff and volunteers. It could be done for the most part on the internet. It would be an excellent teaching tool on the sacredness of human life and would be a terrific lesson in civics. If successful, it could lead the way to other profound causes such as the fight against abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and other moral issues that greatly concern the Church.

    It is my sincere hope the bishops of Washington will give careful consideration to this approach for this important issue, as well as others. I firmly believe that the vast majority of their flock is anxious to be called upon in this way to assist in their great work.

    Michael J. Simmons, Richland, Wash.

    ‘Divorced from all reality’


    After reading every word in the bulletin insert and the booklet we were given which explains the new changes in the wording of the liturgy of the Mass, I could not help but think that this mandate is divorced from all reality. It causes me to question: What is our purpose of gathering together at Mass every weekend?

    How does changing liturgical words help us to come into greater unity with God and fulfill our reason for being born? (Why did God make you? He made me to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next. – Baltimore Catechism.) How does word manipulation help our spiritual growth and aid us in continually deepening our faith and knowledge of a loving God?

    These changes have been in the process of preparation for the past 11 years, I read. During that same time, thousands of priests worldwide were engaging in despicably evil actions against innocent children, of which I am one.

    Which is more important: to change the words of the Mass to better express the subtle nuances of the Latin (which wasn’t the language of Jesus and didn’t become part of the Church for several centuries), than to sincerely and deeply repent of and root out the horrendous evil rampant in our Church? Where is the love that Jesus, whom we claim as founder of our Church, demonstrated with his life, and taught us is the only one thing necessary?

    For the very first time ever, I am sincerely wondering: What are the priorities in this Catholic Church, to which I’ve belonged for 87 years, and which I love? What does it stand for? What is it really about?

    I am sadly and sincerely questioning.

    Bernadine Van Thiel, Spokane

    A new human being


    The article “Unborn children diagnosed with physical or mental limitations are particularly at risk of being killed,” one of the Respect Life month articles in the Oct. 20, 2011 Inland Register, included these words: “God has chosen them to be the parents of this child for a reason."

    I quote our daughter-in-law, Becky Tooke, who wrote of her daughter:

    “Gwen turned 9 months old today, right in the middle of Downs Syndrome Awareness month. Lots to reflect on.... like how my life wouldn’t be the same without her sweetness to fill it up. She is a marvelous blessing I did not see coming, but now cannot be without.”

    Thank you, God, for your gift of Gwendolyn Theresa Tooke, born Jan. 13, 2011, to our son Doug Tooke and his beautiful wife Becky in Helena, Mont. Gwen-dolyn is their fifth daughter. She is our 16th grandchild.

    Our daughter, Deidre Casey, was expecting her sixth child (our 17th grandchild) when Gwen was born. She shared with me that she and her husband, David, had talked about the possibility of their having a Downs Syndrome baby and both had the same response: How blessed the baby would be to have a cousin close by (5 miles away) to share life’s experiences with.

    We – grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, Godparents, family and friends – embrace our “Angel Baby” as a gift and treasure every day of her presence in our lives. To Quote our son, Doug: “Mom,  Becky and I will never have an empty nest.” Amen, son. Amen.

    Diane R. Tooke, Newport, Wash.


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