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Letters to the Editor

Pope’s use of women stereotypes is disappointing

The Editor: When I read recent comments by Pope Francis (PM, Dec 17), I remembered what a psychiatrist who used to participate in the marriage preparation courses at Vancouver Catholic Centre often said: “Half of my patients are in care because they are married, the other half because they are single.”

The message is that people carry their hopes, dreams, sorrows and baggage into whatever vocation they are called to. 

I found it surprising that Pope Francis would use stereotypes about grandmothers, mothers and spinsters. But he is human and a product of his culture. He did not characterize a grandfather, although that is the category of all our recent popes. But he did a disservice to the lively, productive grandmothers I know. He certainly insulted spinsters or any childless women. 

As an 84-year-old “spinster,” I know that I am now not ridiculed by the general society for being “a spinster.” That has dramaticallly changed since women have received some rights as a person, allowed to own property, or have a bank account, etc. Spinsterhood was looked down upon because of the economic structure of our society. Now that socierty has changed economically, the stigma has diminished.

Not so within the church. It still seems to have no place or use for us! Year after year sermons go on illustrating that women are only alive to produce children; othewise they do not exist.

People remain single for various reasons. Everyone has a story. For single people, life often involves some hard choices. It is an injustice to group single people as joyless and unproductive; but if they are, maybe it’s because they are still being judged unfairly.

I have many wonderful friends. Some are marred, some single, some priests and some nuns. Not one is perfect, but they are all loveable and unique

I am not losing my love for Pope Francis, but I do hope he can learn a little more about spinsters. Perhaps I should send him some books by Jane Austen. — Mary Reilly, Burnaby, B.C.

Disrespectful cartoons will lead extremists to seek revenge

The Editor: The shooting of 12 people in the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was a horrible and useless killing.

Having never heard of Charlie Hebdo before, I soon saw cartoons showing up on my computer screen. I found the cartoons about the pope and the Catholic Church offensive and insulting, especially when the present Pope Francis is receiving high praise from people of all faiths, even some lapsed Catholics and atheists.

But the meanest and most disrespectful cartoon that Charlie Hebdo created depicted a human being lying nude, wearing a turban with his back side up in an uncompromising posture. This kind of cartoon may send extremists or fundamentalists to seek revenge.

The murder of the Charlie Hebdo employees brought out a million people into the streets of Paris to indicate that everyone should have unhindered liberty, freedom of speech and the right to print or publish whatever they like — and let the barbs fall where they will. I would humbly suggest that it is a sad state of affairs when liberty means the freedom to insult, demean and mock people’s most sacred beliefs.

We lives in a world of double standards: Where were the pencil-armed Parisians when the USA and their allies invaded Iraq, known as the Gulf War, and the illegal 2003 Shock and Awe war killing thousands of the citizens of Iraq? And Afghanistan with Canada’s help? Where were they when Israel’s Netanyahu’s powerful military forces shelled and bombed Palestinians in Gaza, killing, wounding and displacing thousands of civilians, including women and children.

All these invasions have caused billions, perhaps a trillion dollars, in collateral damage, and unbelievable hardship for the poor.

As long as western military powers and their allies continue to invade regions in the Middle East, for whatever reason, and Israel continues to expand its settlement programs on Palestinian land, supported by the Israeli military, there will continue to be extremist individuals or groups who will demonstrate their resistance with the use of weapons.

They will be labelled as “terrorists.” — Leo Kurtenbach, Saskatoon