Time to plan on ‘the effect, of the effect, of the effect’?
(Fr) John Dobson, Caloundra, Qld

The guilty verdict for Saddam Hussein was surely no surprise for anyone.  I can understand many people celebrating this verdict, and finding a sense of relief in it.  However, I just wonder about the wisdom of imposing the death penalty.

If the death penalty is seen in any way as a ‘payback’, a ‘getting square’ for Saddam’s many crimes, then maybe we would be well advised to look at the effect of this action.  I think it is questionable to impose the death penalty as a matter of vengeance, because apart from releasing anger in us, it really achieves very little.  If the death penalty on Saddam Hussein is going to exacerbate and increase the already monumental violence and loss of life in Iraq with more conflict, then maybe it's time for some wise forward thinking.

I think an interesting parallel is the treatment given to the Japanese Emperor, Hirohito, after the Second World War.  While I am not suggesting that Hirohito and Saddam Hussein are exact copies of each other, it was the Americans, then, who ruled against the legal request of other allies, including Australia, who wanted to prosecute the Japanese Emperor as a war criminal.  The American position was that if a sustainable peace were going to be achieved, the prosecution of the Emperor, with a possible sentence of the death penalty, would make the prospects of ongoing peace in the future much slimmer.

In a time when the whole wisdom of the Iraqi invasion is being questioned, along with the lack of planning for what happens after the war, and a lack of a viable exit strategy, the death penalty on Saddam Hussein could well escalate the civil war in Iraq that many believe now exists.  If it is true that more people are being killed in Iraq under the Allied occupation then were being killed under the rule of Saddam Hussein, then it is high time for some serious questioning, and an injection of calm wisdom.

I think it is a much bigger picture than simply executing one more life, namely Saddam Hussein. The violence is nurtured.  If at the end of all of our efforts Iraq is much worse off after our intrusion than before, then the question must be asked: ‘What have we really done?’ 

It just might be that the execution of Saddam Hussein would promote more violence and senseless loss of life.  Is this what we really want?  It was Benjamin Disraeli, the British Prime Minister, who made the comment that the art of politics is to plan on the effect of the effect of the effect!  Maybe it's time to ask that question!

As Christians, we are very familiar with the process of self-questioning.  Jesus, in Matthew ch7 v3, tells his followers to beware of focusing on the spec in their brother’s eye while they easily pay no attention to the log in their own eye.

Injustices limit credibility
Dr Jane Anderson, Perth, WA

Thank you for putting the issue of women's oppression in its various manifestations (Women crucified and Violence against women is never okay), alongside the article New public face for core Christian values (OLC #131). 

Sex is the core of Catholic organisation, and while secular society and democracy have challenged our sexual arrangements - mostly for the good, but not always - we still have to attend to social justice issues that relate to gender, sexual status, and sexual orientation in our own back yard.  Until we resolve these injustices our credibility as custodians and promoters of Christian ethics will be limited.

Keep pressing for change
Richard Walker, Oyster Bay, NSW

I support Annie's comments (Women crucified, OLC #131).  The Church has expected that women "grin and bear it", support the Church at Mass - they are the majority in attendance - yet fail - or refuse - to give women their rightful role as equals in the Church's structure.

Worldwide, religion represses women yet expects them to be loyal members of their churches. It amazes me that women still attend Mass.  A large number of well educated Western Catholic women have rejected male hegemony and left the Church to its own devices.  This is the church's loss.  Keep pressing, Annie.

Radical?  Rather sane and honest!
Anthony Dwyer, Sydney, NSW.

What a great piece (Women crucified)!! The convolutions the Church gets into when they rely literally on 2000 year-old texts as beacons for modern behaviour are appalling. Women are clearly marginalised in a male-centric organisation which has lost its power to lead.

That Annie March saw fit to describe her opinion as "radical" is disappointing. To me, this is a sane and honest view and probably not at all radical for a large number of people. Sadly, I don't believe too many in power positions in the Church will agree.

Well done, editor and Annie.

Written only by a woman
Helen Oxenburgh-Lowe, Little Grove, WA

Congratulations to Annie March and to Online Catholics for printing the article Women crucified.  For too long child birth has been seen to be the only reason for women to exist and I for one salute Annie for writing in this hard hitting but truthful fashion.  This will bring up the whole issue of contraception and abortion again and again, but it is women who suffer, not men, when an unwanted pregnancy occurs.   I support everything that Annie March has written and its truth could only be written by a woman.

Hang on a minute …!
Maree Kennedy, Engadine, NSW

I could very much relate to Annie March’s "Dear John" letter in Women crucified. There have been many times when I, too, have had to work really hard to control the intense urge to scream "Hang on a minute!!..... what about.....?!" when listening silently to a homily, scripture passage or prescribed prayer of the liturgy. Sometimes I get so angry with what is preached that I literally can't sit still in my seat and I spend the rest of the liturgy trying to calm myself.

Must I really sit silently and only listen to a masculine perspective week after week? How much this limits God coming to expression in the other half of the humanity!

I am told that if my sons go to the catechesis sessions during WYD they will be led by bishops selected by the Pontifical Council. Again, where is the female voice/perspective?

This is not the beginning, nor the end, of my response to "John", just part of it. Other ways of responding have so far led me to find WATAC, SIP and interfaith gatherings where conversation, as well as listening, are encouraged. This is a life-giving, rather than soul-destroying experience!

Annie, I encourage you to keep responding!

(name and address withheld)

I was delighted to read your article about White Ribbon Day (Violence against women is never okay.  Thanks for advertising the campaign to end a horrendous and often hidden crime in our society. 

However, I was disgusted with the fact that Cardinal Pell is "prominent" in the promotion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.   As a Cardinal, George Pell is a highly privileged member of the Catholic Church which continues to subjugate women.  Such force is violence. 

As a woman, I have known molestation as a child, rape as a teenager and domestic violence as a wife and mother.  The physical and sexual violence took a terrible toll, and it has taken decades of counselling, prayer, study and reflection, and much love to heal many - but not all - wounds. 

But I continue to experience other forms of violence, and these are inflicted on me and my Catholic sisters in our very own Church.  Such violence can be described as spiritual abuse and communal abuse, abuses that are regularly meted out through the use of exclusive male language, leadership and doctrinal decisions: all of which negatively impact on women's and mother's lives, women's and mother's bodies, and women's and mother's ministry. 

Cardinal Pell can wear a White Ribbon, but I hope and pray that the significance of what that ribbon means will be recognised by him, and that he has the conversion, courage and compassion to respond to the violence in which he is implicated.

Diatribe – and OLC – not Catholic
Dominic V. Crain, East Melbourne, Vic.

I don't know whence you drag some of these contributors such as Annie March (Women crucified), but her diatribe is anything but Christian let alone Catholic. So what is the purpose on OLC? One can only wonder reading some contributors.

Reading Ms March raises nothing other than pity for her. 

My 92-year-old mother-in-law, a staunch anti-Catholic bigot, described her experience of childbirth in similar terms to Ms. March, except that her focus and emphasis was on the post natal joy. I remember her words all those years ago, "the pain simply fades into the background". That doesn't mean she forgot it, it was placed in its context.

I suggest Ms March do like the rest of us - confine her aggression to her conversations with God, rather than inflict it on the readership of OLC, imitation of Catholic though it may be.

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