Magadan women to join church at Easter vigil
Two women in Magadan, Russia, are among the thousands of people around the globe who are preparing to become Catholic this Easter weekend.
Ludmila Pak and Valentina Ivanova are going through the RCIA, or Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, program at Nativity of Jesus Parish in Magadan, the only Catholic parish in this city of 150,000 people about halfway up Russia’s east coast. Two American diocesan priests, Father Michael Shields of Anchorage and Father David Means of St. Louis, lead the 200-member parish.
According to Father Shields, pastor of Nativity of Jesus since 1994, Pak and Ivanova have chosen to become Catholic in an environment that bears little resemblance, culturally, to Alaska or the rest of the United States.
Historically, Orthodoxy has been Russia’s dominant religion, with about 80 million members there compared with 600,000 Catholics. And for most of the 20th century, all religious faiths were suppressed to varying degrees by the communist government.
Father Shields interviewed Pak and Ivanova and translated their remarks for the Anchor.
Ivanova and Pak told Father Shields that when they share a meal or spend holidays visiting with non-Catholics, they are frequently asked why they are joining the Catholic Church instead of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Over the past year, Ivanova and Pak have gained lots of practice answering that question.
"I read, thought and asked, and realized the Catholic Church was the true church," Ivanova told Father Shields. "I can’t say the Orthodox isn’t true, but here there is love preached and lived. Here in the Catholic Church, I see (God) is a father who cares for his children."
In Russia, there is still a "crowd mentality," Father Shields said, adding that this probably stems from the decades under communism when "if you stood out, you might get arrested."
For Pak, who was a child in the 1950s and ’60s when "atheism was the norm," fate rather than faith was the guiding force in her life, she said.
The culture began to change under General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, who came to power in 1985 and introduced "glasnost" (openness) and "perestroika" (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize communism. Those policies changed the face of the Soviet Union and, in 1991, it splintered into 15 independent republics.
After the breakup, Pak said her friends and relatives quickly sought baptism into the Russian Orthodox Church. However, when she asked questions about the religion, believers had little information.
"They were honest and told me that they didn’t really know anything about being Orthodox," she told Father Shields.
Then, a year ago, Ivanova and Pak were invited to the Palm Sunday Mass at Nativity of Jesus.
"I will never forget that day," Pak said. "I felt like I had come home. The Stations of the Cross had started and people were praying so beautifully," she recalled.
Pak’s mother died when she was 3, and she was sent to a Soviet-run orphanage at age 7. She said she has found comfort in the Catholic faith.
"I find here what I didn’t receive enough of in my childhood: love. God is here and God is love," Pak said with tears in her eyes, Father Shields said.
Ivanova said Pope John Paul II had a big influence on her life. She remembers watching on television as the pope kissed the hand of a traditionally dressed Eastern European woman.
"There is a real person who is so huge in stature in the world yet so beautifully simple in gesture," Ivanova told Father Shields. She said she was also amazed when the pope asked that the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches forgive one another for past wrongdoings.
For the last year Pak and Ivanova have been delving into the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church through RCIA. They meet with the parish’s head catechist Sundays after Mass and have joined a small group of parishioners for a weekly apologetics course.
They have been reading Scripture, documents from the Second Vatican Council and the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," and discussing social issues in a Catholic context, according to Father Shields.
And, they’ve been learning about the religious history of their own country from their American priest.
Father Shields created pamphlets that explain the differences between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches and that detail the history of the Catholic Church in Russia, he said.
"The Orthodox faith is often mixed up with nationalism," he explained. "If you are Russian, (the perception is) you have to be Orthodox."
In fact, Catholicism and other faiths have also been part of Russia’s history, despite the 70 years of religious repression under communist rule.
"Catholics have been here — in minority of course — but have been in Russia for a long time," Father Shields said.
Ivanova and Pak told Father Shields that the year of preparation has changed the way they relate to others.
"We can’t judge now and have to forgive as we have been forgiven," they told him.
Pak said she wants to continue her faith education after the Easter vigil in order to help her "face the doubts that arise in the journey toward God."
"I will keep finding greater treasures by studying my faith," she said. "I will always be grateful to God for this long journey home."
The Nativity of Jesus Parish was officially recognized by Soviet authorities as a religious congregation in 1991 after Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley visited Magadan and celebrated the first public Mass ever in the port city. Archbishop Hurley has since retired.
The parish welcomed its first pastor, an American, in 1991 and has been led by Father Shields since 1994. Since its inception, the parish has received 230 people in baptism, Father Shields said.
CSS to end immigrants’ aid in court
Funding shortfalls are forcing Catholic Social Services to eliminate most of the legal services it currently provides to immigrants.
The restructuring of the organization’s Immigration and Refugee Services program is only expected to affect the immigration component of the program, according to Yvonne Chase, executive director of Catholic Social Services. It should have no impact on the agency’s refugee assistance program — which is currently helping a large contingent of Hmong refugees resettle in Anchorage — since refugees have been given legal status and do not generally require legal representation, she said.
The immigration component of the program is no longer accepting new clients for legal representation in court and will phase out all court work by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
Between now and then, the agency will attempt to resolve as many existing cases as possible and will refer clients to other legal representation when necessary.
The immigration component of the program will continue to provide legal information that does not require legal advice or courtroom representation, Chase said, but exactly which services the restructured program will be able to offer is still being determined.
The changes in Immigration and Refugee Services have taken a toll on the numbers of staff, particularly the lawyers. The program at one time had five attorneys, but cost-cutting staff reduction measures, resignations and the shifting of grant monies mean that there will be no attorneys left by the end of April.
According to Chase, the changes to Immigration and Refugee Services are necessitated by a continuing effort to "tighten the belt" at Catholic Social Services, which has seen a burgeoning demand for services.
"We have between 1,200 to 1,400 open files in immigration," Chase said. Of these, 250 are active cases, meaning the clients have been seen recently or regularly, she explained.
"During the past several months, we’ve taken reductions in all our programs," Chase added. "As one of our board members put it, we are providing more services to more people than we can afford to."
Demand for emergency food at St. Francis House has doubled in the past year, for example, while donations have remained fairly stable, according to Chase.
She said all the nonprofits in Anchorage have seen some decline. Catholic Social Services has responded in part by not replacing several employees who have left the organization.
The immigration program is especially problematic for Catholic Social Services, though, because almost all of the cases coming to the agency require legal assistance and often legal representation in court.
Obtaining federal or state grant money for legal issues involving immigration is very difficult, Chase said. Hardly any funding is available, and when money is obtained it’s for a specific period of time.
Unfortunately, legal relationships often don’t fit into narrow time frames, leaving the agency "with an ongoing responsibility for clients that we don’t have a way to fund," Chase explained.
Everyone involved agreed that the changes will have a big impact on the immigration population in Anchorage.
Dismantling the legal representation work "will leave a gaping hole" in immigration services in Anchorage, according to Mara Kimmel, the agency’s supervising attorney, whose resignation last week takes effect April 1. "We get 750 calls from new people each year, and most of them require legal services."
Kimmel said she and others "quit because we aren’t going to be doing what we were hired to do."
She said that when she explained to a client that the agency’s wings had been clipped, the client responded, " ‘They clipped your wings? They’ve cut off my arms and my legs.’ "
Chase said she understands the frustrations, noting that Catholic Social Services has been the only agency filling these services. But the growing amount of undesignated funding flowing into immigration has become a burden Catholic Social Services can no longer carry, she said.
"A nonprofit immigration law firm is sorely needed in Anchorage," Chase said.
Church group, city vow effort to fight crime
Patty Jacobus has always considered herself shy. Yet there she was, in front of more than 400 people, "signing," or dancing, to the words of the "Yup’ik Our Father" song.
The 59-year-old Holy Family Cathedral parishioner overcame her trepidation about large groups when she was asked to lead the community in prayer at the start of a meeting March 9 between city officials and people from at least 10 church congregations around the city.
"I was shaking a little, but I got through it," she said.
As with a number of other emerging leaders at the meeting that night at Anchorage’s St. Anthony Church, Jacobus has been organizing members of her faith community and other neighbors, talking with them in one-to-one visits about their hopes and troubles.
More than 500 such meetings have taken place since 2003, when eight Christian churches formed AFACT, or Anchorage Faith and Action — Congregations Together, a community organizing group that now includes 10 congregations as well as the Anchorage Archdiocese’s Catholic Native Ministry program.
The most common concern people have identified in those one-to-one visits is neighborhood crime, AFACT leaders said. And the solution that the group has decided to focus on is community oriented policing, an approach to police work that focuses on building relationships between officers and the individuals in the neighborhoods they patrol.
That was the focus of the meeting that Jacobus led in prayer.
AFACT called the meeting with Mayor Mark Begich and Anchorage Police Chief Walt Monegan. The congregation members of the group encouraged their people to attend, and the individuals conducting the one-to-one visits asked those they visited to come.
The result was a big crowd of people from neighborhoods across the city, according to the sign-up sheet people were handed as they walked in.
Turnagain. West Dimond. Huffman-O’Malley. Downtown. Midtown. Mountain View. Russian Jack. Eagle River.
"We stopped counting at 420 people!" said the Rev. Michael Keys, pastor of Central Lutheran Church and the meeting facilitator. "When do you go to a community meeting and have more than 25 or 30 people there?"
He said the large crowd sent the message that a lot of people are serious about pursuing community policing.
At the meeting, two AFACT members presented a report on community policing, asserting, among other things, that the city needs another 93 police officers in order to "adequately serve a community of Anchorage’s size."
The figure came from the Anchorage Police Department’s own internal assessment.
The report also referred to a federally funded three-year community policing program that was implemented in the Mountain View neighborhood in the late 1990s.
"Despite its success," AFACT researcher Donna Gum told the gathering, "the program was not integrated into the local budget and when federal funds ceased so did the program. The crime rate has since increased to previous levels."
Gum, who is a pastoral associate at St. Anthony, later told the Anchor that New Orleans had the same experience: When community policing was implemented in the early 1990s, crime fell, but when the funding was cut, crime crept back up.
Gum said that as AFACT researched the Mountain View program, everyone they talked to agreed it had been a success, reducing crime and restoring a sense of safety to the neighborhood.
"Our biggest concern in this has been, if it was successful, why wasn’t a successful thing integrated?" Gum said.
Begich told the gathering at St. Anthony that when he came into office two years ago, he found the police department was "literally under siege."
Part of his response was to renegotiate the department’s contract, which resulted, he said, in being able to hire more police than retired that year for the first time in a long while.
"We recognize there’s a lot to do, as we’re trying to correct years of political inaction, to be quite frank," he said.
He later told the Anchor that his current budget adds 28 police and that he intends to add more each year to "grow the police force to the optimum level."
Right now, there are about 350 officers on the force, according to Monegan. But only about 22 officers are on patrol at any one time citywide, he said. Community policing is impossible when police have to race from call to call, he said.
At the meeting, Monegan and Begich pledged to commit to community oriented policing, though they emphasized that it will take at least four or five years and a big financial commitment from the community to make it happen.
Getting the city to take the principles to heart is an important first step, AFACT members said.
The first step in constructing a building is having an architect draw up plans, Gum said.
She said AFACT will continue pushing the issue; in fact, at the March 9 meeting the mayor and police chief agreed to meet again with the group sometime in the next two months.
"What’s really going to help us succeed is what we saw tonight by the commitment of the community to get involved," Monegan told the Anchor. "Apathy is crime’s best friend."
Yup’ik signer Jacobus echoed that sentiment.
"We need to do something about the problems," she said. "This is what the Lord did when he was on earth, making peace with his people."
Sisters come to Anchorage to serve its Korean community
Two Korean Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, Sister Hwa-Soon Dothilia Moon and Sister Acella Lee, arrived in Anchorage Feb. 11 to serve the Korean Catholic Community in roles that parallel their predecessors’ responsibilities. Sisters Dorothy Han and Keum-Yun Magdalena Yu, members of the same order, fulfilled their Anchorage assignments and have returned to their Taegu Province in South Korea.
The Korean Catholic Community, which shares worship space with St. Anthony Parish in East Anchorage, also has a new pastor, Father Min-Sung Peter Yoo, who arrived from South Korea last month. A story about Father Yoo ran in the March 11 Anchor.
"Sister Moon is ‘our’ sister, and Sister Lee will be a ‘student’ sister," said Hyosin Mary Wilson, a longtime member of the Korean Catholic Community, who translated for the sisters.
Sister Moon, a soft-spoken woman with a quick smile, said she sees her role as being "like a mother," counseling and offering spiritual direction to the 190 families of the Korean Catholic Community, especially those who are "in pain," she said. She will also assist Father Yoo and head up the RCIA, or Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, program, which has 32 participants this year.
Sister Lee will be the religious educator for younger members, preparing them for first Communion and confirmation.
Both women are studying English.
The identical gray habits hanging cleanly from the heads of the two new Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres are familiar to the Korean Catholic Community. Since 1994, the order has sent 10 or 11 women religious from its Taegu Province to minister in Anchorage, according to Wilson. Taegu is South Korea’s third largest city.
Sister Moon, who became a full-fledged member of the order more than 20 years ago, explained that the sisters come to Anchorage "to look after Korean immigrants" and to help them "live the Catholic faith properly" in their new country.
Will Korean Catholic Community members really be treating her as a mother, perhaps calling her late at night for advice?
"We do that all the time," Wilson answered.
Sister Moon said she is "excited to have the opportunity" to serve Anchorage’s Korean Catholics and approaches the assignment with a strong sense of duty.
"I don’t have any great expectations. I’m obliged to serve wherever the community is serving. I am willing," she said.
Before arriving in Anchorage, Sister Moon lived with three other Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, who together served a 3,500-family parish on Cheju-do, a volcanic island southwest of the Korean Peninsula.
"We call it Hawaii," Sister Moon said, describing the natural beauty of the island, which is also home to ravens like the ones that live in Southcentral Alaska, she noticed.
Sister Lee, who made final vows in 1997 and has a degree in social work, most recently worked as a counselor to a group of prisoners who were preparing to be released.
Before she left for Anchorage, the prisoners’ families dedicated a Mass to Sister Lee. Even now, she said, they are still praying for her and keeping in touch via e-mail.
"I miss them," she said.
Helping to rehabilitate incarcerated people is something Sister Lee said she never imagined was her lot, especially after working for years with teenagers and elderly people. She said she hopes to learn more about Alaska’s corrections system.
First things first though; she wants to learn English and to "be happy with parishioners."
The two previous Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, Sisters Han and Yu, "did a lot of work," Wilson said.
They visited people in their homes one person at a time and were "very much into other people’s business," Wilson said. Sister Yu was in Anchorage for three years; Sister Han for two.
Sister Moon has met with a member of the Korean Catholic Community who recently emigrated from Korea to live with family members in Anchorage.
"We talk about the situation and their difficulties," the sister said. "The solution, I cannot provide. The solution is to listen and be a source of their power and stand (with them). They’ll know that there is a friend who can listen to them."
Editor’s Note: Here is the introduction to an educational series on the words, signs, gestures and postures Catholics use at Mass (see the archbishop's column in this issue). Over the course of the next several months, particular practices will be explained in the gentle, clear prose of Anchor columnist and liturgical expert Father LeRoy Clementich.
The Church at Prayer
An Exploration into Catholic Worship Based on the General Instruction of the Roman Missal
It would be safe to say that we Catholics must often appear odd to many people in the world around us, or at least different, not in the way we choose to dress or act in public, but rather in the way we worship.
If our non-Catholic friends should choose to join us on the occasion of a funeral or wedding, they will inevitably ask: "What’s all this getting up and down you do, these strange gestures and signs you make, these pictures you have hanging on the walls of your church?"
Good questions. Many of these folks, particularly those of a more fundamentalist background, are satisfied with functional simplicity in their church buildings and, indeed, even in the very style of their worship itself: A soft recliner seat, a good sound system, songs that are simple to sing, a rousing homily by the pastor, and Sunday morning will be a success.
For those of us who are Catholic, however, the experience of worship is more complex, but satisfying nonetheless. There is seldom a dull moment at Mass, at least for those who know the meaning of the prayers, signs and gestures that have been part of our worship for centuries.
Catholicism has been accused of many things in its long and sacred history. But one label it has consistently refused to accept from its inception is the title Gnosticism, an ancient heresy that claimed that human life is imprisoned in a creation controlled by evil or sinister forces. In short, for gnostics, earth and matter are evil, things of the spirit are good.
Catholics, on the other hand, have always lovingly embraced and respected material things, indeed, the entire universe: water, air, light and darkness, the beauty of the heavens and the earth; all the works of human hands: bread and wine, oil and incense, the light of candles.
We lift up our hands and hearts to the One who has created the very things we need to speak words of worship and prayer. As baptized and redeemed Christians, we stand erect at the proclamation of Jesus’ words.
All these material things, these signs, postures and gestures, are important to us, not in themselves, but because they are doors to the sacred. We realize, along with the apostle Paul, that as human beings we have no other access to God than through the things of Earth.
We are safe in saying all this, of course, because Jesus himself saw signs of God’s spirit buried in earthly realities. He spoke eloquently of the lilies of the field, the birds of the air. When life became burdensome for him, he retreated with his friends and disciples into the silence of the mountains or the desert.
Bread for him was a sign of God’s nourishment, wine a sign of joy and celebration, water a sign of God’s gift to quench our thirst for eternal life.
Nothing escaped Jesus’ notice. He had eyes to see and the understanding to comprehend all that was naturally sacred.
It has, therefore, been the task and, indeed, the joy of our church over the course of many centuries to point out for us all those realities that help us lift up our hearts in prayer. In simplest terms, it is called liturgy, a work of the people.
However, there sometimes lurks a danger in our symbolic use of material things in liturgy. Because we repeat them so often there is the tendency for us, as in many other human actions, "to do the right thing for the wrong reason," to become trapped in performing the action, while overlooking its meaning.
The German poet and dramatist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, pointed this out to us in these lines:
In every new situation
we must start all over again,
to cultivate a passionate interest
in things and events,
and begin by taking delight in externals,
until we have the good fortune
to grasp the substance.
This must be our task as Catholics, therefore, never to be satisfied simply with externals, with signs of the sacred, but rather to let them lead us in our search for substance, for the God who is the source of all our prayer, all our longing.
In forthcoming Anchor articles we shall attempt to explore our Catholic worship, asking not only what we do but why we do it.
Our resource shall be the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, or GIRM, that ancient book of prayers and directions that has for centuries given us guidance in our efforts to worship the God who gives meaning to our prayer and is the very substance of all we say and do.
Act of blessing oils is also a time to renew commitments
Catholic servants from the far corners of the archdiocese assembled at Holy Family Cathedral on March 16 as Archbishop Roger Schwietz blessed sacramental oils that will be used in the coming year in churches across Southcentral Alaska.
The holy oils, the oil of the sick, sacred chrism and the oil of catechumens, are agents in an ancient act. The church anoints to signify a change in one’s relationship with the church, to bring strength to the sick, to consecrate the altars and walls of new churches.
At the Chrism Mass, the archbishop emphasized the unity that the liturgy invokes.
"We celebrate as one — one Eucharistic people," he told the congregation.
The missionary nature of the community before him could be seen in a pew of women who direct parishes in Dutch Harbor, Dillingham, Kenai, Talkeetna and Big Lake. A knot of robed priests stood shoulder to shoulder in the chapel next to the altar, diocesan and religious order priests from Alaska and other states, the Philippines, Korea and India. Deacons from around the archdiocese processed down the middle of the cathedral holding aloft silver urns of olive oil.
The archbishop blessed the oil of the sick, which will be used to anoint those who suffer in body, mind and spirit.He blessed the oil of the catechumens for those preparing for baptism.
Mixing balsam fragrance into the olive oil, he consecrated the sacred chrism, used in the sacraments of confirmation and holy orders and in the dedication of a church.
The Chrism Mass liturgy also served as a time to renew commitments.
Those assembled extended their hands outward over the baptized, the deacons, priests and religious women and men, and Archbishop Schwietz as each separately renewed their commitments to their ministries and the quest for holiness.
"I salute all of you who are gathered here together who represent your communities and … so many people who share their gifts, their faith and their call to help guide our parishes," the archbishop said.
"Celebrating the oils of the sacraments and all of these — these moments together, these actions together as a community — define us for who we are," he said. "We are one with one another and in the Lord."
Schwietz: Unity in our liturgy will benefit all
Editor’s Note: This letter kicks off a series on gestures and postures during Mass. Please see "The Church at Prayer" in the "Local News" section of this issue for an introductory essay by Father LeRoy Clementich, the main author of the series.
As you know, in the local diocese, the bishop, as chief pastor, is charged with the responsibility of overseeing liturgical worship. Practices adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as principles of universal liturgical law serve as guidelines for bishops as they fulfill this important responsibility. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has given directives that are to be implemented throughout the universal church as well as options for local or regional adaptation.
In matters of worship, the unity of the assembly assures the sacred and respectful atmosphere, which contributes to the building up of the local church. The bishops of Alaska have elected to promulgate common liturgical gestures for the celebration of the Eucharist throughout the state of Alaska. These gestures also conform to the guidelines issued for the two other archdioceses in our region, Portland and Seattle. These gestures and postures at the liturgy are to be considered the norm beginning with the Celebration of the Feast of Pentecost, May 14 and 15, 2005.
The instructional aids, which will be appearing in the next several issues of our Catholic Anchor, will help in understanding the background and reasoning for these guidelines. It is my prayer that our common practice will contribute to the dignified, prayerful, and orderly celebration of the Eucharist consistent with the practices of the universal church and those of our fellow Catholics throughout the region.
Sincerely yours in Christ and Mary,
Alaska spring supports Easter message
We wish everyone a happy, holy Easter, the most important and arguably most enjoyable Christian feast of the year.
We’ve always thought Lent and Easter were especially poignant here in the north. Lent means more in the austerity of late winter in Alaska, the paucity of light, the long lingering cold, the many reminders of the frailty of human life.
And though spring here is still a ways off, Easter is a harbinger accompanied by the triumph of daylight and ice-devouring sun. Over the 47 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday this year, Anchorage and environs gain more than four hours of daylight.
The reawakening world goes hand in hand with the central message of Easter — that death is not the end of life.
Redemption is possible for anyone. Alaska emerging from winter reinforces that awesome Easter realization.
Schiavo is in good hands — God’s
It may seem like a totally helpless woman is being yanked about by the courts, the politicians, the media and her relatives. But it’s important to remember, especially at Easter, that Terri Schiavo’s fate is in God’s hands.
The swirling legal battles and tangled moral considerations make it impossible, from this point of view, to pass judgement on the matter. More time to think it through probably wouldn’t help, either.
Who has the right to decide Ms. Schiavo’s fate? That is the central question in this tragic case.
The law certainly seems to be on her husband’s side. Seven years of court cases have consistently found that, as her legal guardian, he has standing in Florida law.
But the circumstances in this case make the law seem inadequate.
Ms. Schiavo’s parents want to preserve their daughter’s life, and believe she is much more alive than the term "brain dead" would imply. Who could not sympathize with their plight? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to care for her?
Another complicating circumstance is that Michael Schiavo is now living with another woman with whom he has two children. Should he really still be considered Ms. Schiavo’s husband?
Then again, Mr. Schiavo insists he is protecting his wife’s wishes, and if that is true he is acting nobly in her behalf. He could have saved himself a lot of hassle by walking away.
Everyone with strong opinions on the matter seems to think they know what Ms. Schiavo would have wanted.
But outsiders don’t know her wishes. And in this case, legally speaking, everyone except Michael Schiavo is an outsider.
That fact is the best argument for enacting and respecting laws that clearly spell out who has the final say in such matters. If Florida’s laws on guardianship are inadequate, they should be revised. Other states should take note.
The Catholic bishops of Florida have made clear where they stand on the issue, and we are certain their views will impact this important public debate.
The teachings of the church can help people navigate the end-of-life labyrinth that many families will encounter. It would behoove Catholics to pay attention to what their bishops and theologians and hospital chaplains are saying, and to make their personal wishes known in a living will.
What’s right or wrong in the Schiavo case is elusive because nobody knows what she would have wanted.
But people of faith know that God knows.
Our prayer for Terri Schiavo is that her wishes will finally be realized.
A story in the March 11 issue contained a misspelling. The priest who arrived in Anchorage recently to minister to the Korean Catholic Community is Father Min-Sung Peter Yoo.
Letters to the Editor
Listen to Jesus’ teachings
Editor’s Note: Our Feb. 11 Modern Morals question asked whether those who disagree with fundamental church teachings should be allowed to speak at Catholic institutions.
I believe Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s public position, and Sen. John Kerry’s, is that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. However, she was not at Canisius College to tout abortion but to speak about the role of government in health care, a very broad topic. If someone has some belief contrary to what the church teaches, that person should not be forbidden to express him/herself on a Catholic college campus. Instead of condemning that person as being different, or "wrong," let us open our eyes and our ears as Jesus tried to teach us. This way we will not miss important information. He taught us not to judge others but to see others as whole people. I believe that there are other issues to concern us. How about actively giving of ourselves to save the lives of humans living around the globe? How about actively giving of ourselves to save our planet, Earth, God’s gift to us? How about actively giving of ourselves to live together peacefully as human beings? This is the message our church should be sending.
Be open on labor induction
After reading through all the recent letters to the editor about early induction of labor, it seems only right, just and good that the archdiocese, Providence Alaska Medical Center and the ethics board practice full disclosure of the policy in place and its implementation at the hospital. It is also right that the faithful be fully informed. I think that it is very imprudent for the editor to take such a harsh tone of chastisement and arrogance toward Alaska Right to Life, an organization that has done not a small task in favor of life and in defense of the sick and the unborn. This type of editorializing is very destructive to unity of cause. Alaska Right to Life may not be a Catholic organization, yet many of its members are Catholic and it is a major organization in the defense of the culture of life.
Read statement for yourself
Read the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s statement on early induction for yourself (www.ncbcenter.org/press/). A key sentence: "Early induction of labor before term (37 weeks) to relieve emotional distress hastens the death of the child as a means of achieving this presumed good effect and unjustifiably deprives the child of the good of gestation." But in a story in the Anchorage Daily News last year, Providence Alaska Medical Center ethicist Dr. Maria Wallington reportedly said that the hospital was inducing early to relieve suffering — and so, the reader is left to presume, not as a cure of a pathological condition. I have yet to see a public correction of this seriously flawed policy.