Priests too def­er­en­tial in the past

Cape Breton Post - - COMMENT - Wendy Wishart MacMil­lan Road, Syd­ney

that the church has sur­vived for more than 2,000 years. It is ob­vi­ous that the faith of Catholics does not de­pend upon how good or bad some bishop or priest is.

Christ him­self was not able to pick 12 per­fectly good peo­ple. Ju­das be­trayed him and Peter de­nied him three times. Catholics should not be so sur­prised that we have not been suc­cess­ful in choos­ing only good and holy priests and bish­ops.

In the lo­cal church there has been the ten­dency to place priests and bish­ops on pedestals as if they were in­cred­i­ble and stain­less su­per­nat­u­ral crea­tures. Priests and bish­ops have the same faults and qual­i­ties as a cross-sec­tion of any other sec­tor – lawyers, doc­tors, car­pen­ters, teach­ers.

Most priests are good peo­ple who have stud­ied ex­tra years and who work se­ri­ously to serve God and the church. For most, serv­ing the church means serv­ing the peo­ple in the com­mu­nity.

What needs to hap­pen at this point is for priests and laypeo­ple to ex­plore to­gether how all of this could have hap­pened and to change the struc­tures that al­lowed it. It also means that both groups should be al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate in the process of re­or­ga­niz­ing the way dioce­san fi­nances are han­dled.

The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in Cape Bre­ton are Catholic so it is very im­por­tant that the church func­tion in a healthy and ef­fec­tive way. Ac­cord­ing the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil, the church has this dou­ble fo­cus – bring­ing peo­ple closer to God, and con­tin­u­ally re­form­ing and re­new­ing so­ci­ety. There are many prob­lems in Cape Bre­ton and it is part of the church mis­sion to solve them ei­ther di­rectly or in­di­rectly.

Bio­fuel has be­come the new buz­zword in Nova Sco­tia en­ergy pro­duc­tion. Pro­po­nents pro­claim it to be en­vi­ron­men­tally neu­tral, sus­tain­able and cost-ef­fec­tive.

In fact, David Wheeler of Dal­housie Uni­ver­sity rec­om­mended to the gov­ern­ment late last year that bio­fuel be­come a key com­po­nent in fu­ture power pro­duc­tion in the prov­ince.

Sup­port­ers say wood that is now viewed as waste – tree­tops, stumps, branches and species like alder and wil­low – will be har­vested and burned in power plants. Har­vesters will make money; power com­pa­nies will save on oil im­ports; ev­ery­body wins.

Not so fast. This har­vest­ing sounds sus­pi­ciously like clear-cut­ting gone wild. Un­der cur­rent forestry prac­tices, the so-called waste branches and tree­tops, now left be­hind, pro­vid­ing some nu­tri­ents for the for­est that has been clear-cut. If biomass har­vest­ing means clean­ing out the sweep­ings and leav­ing not even min­i­mal cover, the wildlife which now strug­gles to hang on in our ever-de­creas­ing forests will face even greater stress.

Most cur­rent sites that have been clear-cut are hid­den from the view of those driv­ing on the main roads. Nova Sco­tians, how­ever, will be­come up­set when now and again they get a glimpse of the land from the air or when a par­tic­u­larly egre­gious clearcut­ting site is pub­li­cized.

Last fall, Jamie Simp­son, a forester with the Ecol­ogy Action Cen­tre, brought at­ten­tion to a clearcut in Up­per Musquodoboit. He had been alerted by lo­cal res­i­dents and by hun­ters who were shocked at the af­ter­math left by North­ern Pulp Com­pany.

In a move very sim­i­lar to the ac­tions of the Nova Sco­tia Bar­ris­ters’ So­ci­ety charge against Mayor John I have seen pic­tures and ar­ti­cles on the front page of the Cape Bre­ton Post that have tugged at my heart­st­ings about peo­ple suf­fer­ing and dy­ing in Haiti. The Feb. 5 pic­ture of the dead dog, ap­par­ently left to freeze to death, broke my heart in a thou­sand pieces.

I am not in­sen­si­tive to hu­man suf­fer­ing. But hu­mans can ask for help. Even in the most ex­treme cir­cum­stances, hu­mans un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing to them even if they may not un­der­stand why.

That poor dog died in con­fu­sion, not know­ing what was hap­pen­ing or why, and hav­ing no ex­pec­ta­tion of res­cue. Mor­gan, the Reg­is­tered Pro­fes­sional Foresters As­so­ci­a­tion of Nova Sco­tia ac­cused Simp­son of break­ing the foresters’ code of ethics and said he had brought foresters into dis­re­pute. The as­so­ci­a­tion did not re­fute Simp­son’s claim against the clear-cut­ting but sim­ply said he should have shut up about it.

An­other is­sue is whether the forests can sus­tain the in­tense har­vest­ing that elec­tric­ity gen­er­at­ing sta­tions would re­quire. Those peo­ple who sup­port us­ing biomass for en­ergy pro­duc­tion say it will be done in such a way as to pro­tect the vi­a­bil­ity of the prov­ince’s forests. But how can the forests power our gen­er­at­ing sta­tions without be­ing strip­ping bare?

The peo­ple of the prov­ince would best keep a skep­ti­cal eye on this is­sue as it de­vel­ops in the next few years.

To see the even­tual re­sult of over­har­vest­ing of forests in coun­tries with a some­what com­pa­ra­ble cli­mate and ge­ol­ogy, look to the west of Ire­land and the moors of Eng­land. They once were cov­ered in for­est but hun­dreds of years of over­cut­ting have left heath and grass­lands.

With our mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, we will not need cen­turies to strip our forests.

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