Is the West’s tepid response to the religious cleansing of Syrian and Iraqi Christians a sign of naivety, greed or maybe cowardice? Or is there a Machiavellian strategy to ease religious tension in the region by silently watching a 2,000-year-old Christian presence simply fade away?

The swiftness of Pope Francis setting up a Vatican panel to study the question of women deacons clearly indicates His Holiness wants resolution to the prickly issue.

The world abounds in conspiracy theories. It was always thus.

Widespread abuse of prescription painkillers is a major problem that governments are right to address. But Ontario’s recent move to become the first Canadian jurisdiction to eliminate high-dosage opioid medications from its provincial drug plan goes a step too far.

KRAKÓW, POLAND – The most impressive moment of World Youth Day had to be at the Saturday evening vigil, with Pope Francis leading more than a million young people in praying the Divine Mercy chaplet before the Blessed Sacrament. Not only was it a powerful witness of prayer, invoking mercy upon the Church and the world, but a confirmation of the marvellous ways of Providence.

Next to the Pope, the Vatican’s most quoted person is probably the papal spokesman. In an often thankless job, the spokesman makes official announcements, corrects misinformation, fields reporters’ queries and, generally, is the public face of a Church that is frequently misunderstood.

Earlier this month, we were driving to Minnesota to visit relatives on the night a black man was shot dead by police in a St. Paul suburb after being stopped for a broken tail light. That was a day after another black man was killed by police in Baton Rouge.

British bishops were quick to condemn a surge in racist and xenophobic incidents that followed the divisive vote that saw Great Britain bid adieu to the European Union. In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, police reported a 57-per-cent spike in verbal and physical assaults on visible minorities, immigrants and even on some long-time residents born abroad.

In the midst of all the bad news over the past month, especially the legalization of euthanasia, it is easy to forget there is a world of the spirit and prayer that rises above the grime and connects us to our true home where truth shines bright.

It’s become something of a routine now. Pope Francis delivers a spontaneous lambasting of priests who do this or that which he disapproves of, and priests get in touch to ask what we should make of it all.

Before a colleague mentioned the name of Cardinal Robert Sarah I had not heard of him. At the age of 34, the Guinea-born Sarah was made Archbishop of Conakry by Pope John Paul II. He was still a bambino (according to Pope Benedict XVI) when he was elevated to cardinal in 2010. 

Give credit to the federal government for recently acknowledging that the systematic murder, rape and enslavement of the Yazidi people of Iraq and Syria constitutes genocide. But why stop there? 

“Is it unusual for the Pope to make a comment on the environment?”