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The Catholic Register offers its readers dependable information and opinion as a joyful servant of God's pilgrim church.

sex educationProposed changes to Ontario’s sex-education curriculum were ill conceived and ineptly delivered.  Premier Dalton McGuinty’s only good move on this file was his hasty flip-flop on a plan to muscle explicit sex instruction into elementary schools this fall.

Contrary to some interpretations, the sex-ed initiative was not derailed by Catholics. The government had no intention of imposing a curriculum on Catholic schools that conflicted with Church teaching on sexuality. McGuinty wasn’t about to risk a court challenge by requiring Catholic teachers to teach sexual orientation to Grade 3 students. Instead, Catholic educators had a government blessing to integrate the proposed new curriculum into the Fully Alive program, which has been delivering elementary students faith-based lessons on sexuality, marriage and family for more than 20 years.  

Zero tolerance of abuse offenders

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abuseCatholics are angry about recent revelations of clerical sexual abuse for two reasons: crimes were committed against children by men ordained as priests and, in many cases over many years, bishops refused to protect children from known predators by removing abuser priests from ministry and calling in the police

The Vatican apparently understands why sexual abuse of children ignites such intense anger. But it seemingly struggles to comprehend why Catholics are so angry about crimes committed and covered up 20, 30 years ago. In recent years, after all, under then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and now Pope Benedict XVI, the Church has enacted tougher protocols to empower bishops and involve police when crimes are suspected. Yet anger persists.

A stranger in a strange land appreciates the peace it brings

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Iraq CanadaForced to flee from Iraq, a refugee recounted to Catholic Register editor Jim O’Leary the story of his family’s flight to Syria and start of new life in a Toronto suburb. Along with his wife, two daughters and mother-in-law, he arrived in 2009 after being sponsored by a Toronto-area parish. To protect his children’s privacy, he requested his name be withheld.

Our family is blessed to be in Canada. We have received wonderful support and we hope some day we can pay everyone back.

In Baghdad, our situation became dangerous when the American war started in 2003. There were tanks in the streets and bombs and fighting.

The Catholic Register responds to crisis in Iraq

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Iraqi ChristiansFawaz Fatohi received an envelope at his home containing a knife and an anonymous letter: “If you don’t leave Iraq, you will be killed.”

Fatohi is an Iraqi Christian. He was raising a young family in Baghdad when the death threat arrived. Soon thereafter he was among an estimated half-million Iraqi Christians who had fled for their lives. He eventually found refuge in Canada, leaving behind his forsaken brothers in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

A plea for Iraq

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Iraqi PrayerA generation ago Canadians opened their doors to more than 100,000 Vietnamese refugees. Today, thousands of Iraqi refugees need our help. And although many of them are Christian, that’s not the reason to get involved. As someone said, we’re not doing this because they’re Christian, we’re doing it because we are.

The April 18, 2010 edition of The Register contains a 12-page section that details the desperate plight of almost two million Iraqi refugees. More than 250,000 of them are Christians being persecuted solely because of their faith. We encourage you to read our special report and consider the hardship of people who have been forced to flee their homes after once-peaceful neighbourhoods became places of threats, assaults, kidnapping and murder.

In praise of Benedict

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On April 19 the Catholic Church Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s election as pontiff. And, yes, we mean celebrate. Contrary to the smears rampant in the secular media of late, there is much to applaud about the first half decade of Benedict’s papacy.

The mainstream tendency, of course, is to try to define Benedict by the sinful deeds of abuser priests and see-no-evil bishops of the past 30 years. And that is a shame because the vicious headlines and apparent “get-Benedict” mentality rampant in the media can cause even faithful Catholics to become blind to the achievements of an active and productive Pope.

Science, faith must work to common good

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TORONTO-The relationship between science and religion has never been easy but in an era of momentous scientific discovery Fr. Rob Allore believes honest conversation between the two groups has never been more essential.

Mideast Christians

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The passion, death and resurrection of Christ focusses our attention each Easter on the cradle of Christianity, the Middle East. It is where the earliest Christians gave witness to the first Easter, where the faith was nurtured and from where it spread out to all corners of the Earth.

This Easter, we are once again asked to pray for the Christians who remain in this troubled region and particularly for those who have been forced to flea persecution to seek refuge in neighbouring nations. Those that remain in their homeland often live in fear. Their numbers are dwindling. Those that have fled usually live as refugees in deplorable conditions. A small number have found refuge in welcoming nations such as Canada and the United States.

There is widespread concern that, at the current exodus rate, within a generation Christianity will be virtually extinct in the land where Christ walked and in the surrounding region where His disciples first spread His message. Many believe a Holy Land purged of Christians is imminent and unavoidable. The faithful are being forced to leave explicitly because they are Christian, because they believe in the message of Easter, in the risen Christ.

Poor judgment

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{mosimage}For more than 40 years Canadians have been fortunate to have the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace rolling up its sleeves on their behalf to deliver aid to some of the poorest regions on Earth. But somewhere along the way D&P seems to have lost its way.

How else to explain a bizarre D&P document recently leaked to the public that is rife with misrepresentation and distortion as it disparages the respected Catholic pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition? How else to explain the hypocrisy of D&P itself resorting to an ugly smear campaign when just a year ago the overseas development agency was crying foul over alleged assaults on its integrity that, they cried, were fuelled by slander and unfounded accusations?

Pope unfairly tarnished

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{mosimage}Thousands of words have been written and spoken in recent days about Pope Benedict XVI and the latest child-abuse scandal sweeping Europe. Much of it originates from a secular media that, in the Internet age, too often seems driven by a nudge-nudge, wink-wink modus operandi. The challenge, then, is to separate fact from fiction.

To his credit, the Pope has never tried to hide from the modern tragedy of the church: the sexual abuse of children at the hands of priests. On the contrary, prior to recent events he has earned praise even from church critics for his up-front handling of an ever-widening tragedy that continues to plague Europe and North America.

Quebec Court decision another step back

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A recent decision by the Quebec Court of Appeal that placed the state’s interest ahead of parental rights should be on the radar of everyone interested in preserving Catholic education.

The case involved Catholic parents from Drummondville who sought a court order to exempt their two sons from attending a classroom program called Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC). ERC was launched in 2008 and is compulsory in Quebec from Grades 1 to 11 in both private and public schools, including Catholic schools. The program was created to help foster harmony between cultures and religions and, to that end ERC examines multiple world religions, moral codes and belief systems and treats each with equal weight and merit.