The institutions of society should always show respect and tolerance for people of every faith or no faith. The goal should be inclusiveness and accommodation. That’s how a genuinely pluralistic, multicultural society works.
The words to describe Islamic State atrocities have been all but exhausted. The bloodcurdling images in the news of their attacks stir the deepest resentment and there appears to be no end in sight to their violent activities. All of society feels insecure and vulnerable.
In mid-April as many as 3,000 people gathered at Queen’s Park in Toronto to protest the provincial government’s sex-education curriculum. It was an intriguing collective, lead by evangelical firebrand Charles McVety and various conservative Catholics. A large number of the crowd, however, were Sikh and Muslim and, to be candid, I had not seen so many hijabs and burkas since the last anti-Israel demonstrations I reported on.
Cardinal Francis George, recently retired archbishop of Chicago, died in his bed at home, as he said he would. In his latter years, the intellectual leader of the Catholic Church in the United States was famous for his bleak view of the future of religious liberty in America.
“A little mercy,” Pope Francis once said, “makes the world less cold and more just.”
This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, a treasure for the Church in his long theological service as a scholar, his more than 20 years at the side of St. John Paul II as the chief lieutenant of the signal pontificate of our era, his eight years as perhaps the clearest and most profound papal preacher and writer of our time, and finally for the courage and humility of his abdication.
There’s a moment in Al Pacino’s new film Danny Collins when the eponymous character, alone in his dressing room, touches the ornate Cross nested in his ancient rock star chest hair. The gesture is cinematic sleight of hand.
In the next frame, Collins uncaps the crucifix and pours out a few lines of cocaine to put up his nose so his show can go on. The sign of our faith, in the fingers of a pop icon, turns into yet another clever cache for the pursuit of becoming comfortably numb.
It’s interesting how often the media picks up on bad news about religion — in particular, news about Catholic schools — and judiciously avoids some of the positive news from around the country.
By extending and expanding its military mission in Iraq, Ottawa has recommitted to being an active player in helping to stop the Islamic State. The cause to defend innocent victims is just, and Canada should be involved. But that involvement must go beyond a military contribution.
Every year during Holy Week, when the Church’s liturgy gives us an enormous amount of Scripture — two readings of the passion, good chunks of John’s Gospel for Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, and the history of creation and salvation at the Easter Vigil — there is usually one verse or two that strikes me anew, as if I had never heard it before, or least, never in quite that way.