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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.

An innovative idea for old church buildings

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{mosimage}Faith can move mountains but can it move a church? An American pastor believes so.

Fr. David Dye is overseeing an ambitious and novel project to save an historic church in downtown Buffalo by dismantling it stone by stone and reassembling it in an Atlanta suburb 1,500 kilometres away. The process is being called “preservation through relocation” and, if successful, presents intriguing possibilities for Canadian dioceses facing tough choices about the future of old, underused, sometimes historic, city churches.

Br. André's example for us all

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{mosimage}He was a small man, poor, sickly, uneducated and with no discernible skills or talents. He had little more than the clothes on his back and his faith when he showed up at the door of the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal some 140 years ago. At first, he was turned away, but later told to come inside.

That simple act of welcome set in motion an unlikely life of healing and service that culminated in the Feb. 19 announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that Blessed Brother André (born Alfred Bessette) will be canonized Oct. 17 in Rome. He follows St. Marguerite d’Youville as just the second Canadian-born saint.

A time to give

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{mosimage}In Charity in Truth Pope Benedict XVI described charity as “love received and given,” and as the 2010 ShareLife appeal is launched the pontiff’s words are being put to action.

In the archdiocese of Toronto a parishioner who has donated anonymously in the past stepped forward on the eve of this campaign with a pledge to match up to $500,000 in new money collected by ShareLife. Not only will every dollar from first-time donors be matched, but every dollar above last year’s contribution by previous donors will also be doubled by this nameless benefactor.

Ignatieff's sad argument

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{mosimage}In previous editions, The Catholic Register has called abortion-on-demand Canada’s greatest collective sin and our government’s inaction on the issue our greatest national shame. Now opposition leader Michael Ignatieff is calling on the government to export our abortion culture overseas as part of an otherwise worthy government initiative to provide basic health care for sick and dying women and children.

Bishop Fred Henry and Archbishop Thomas Collins got it right when, respectively, they called Ignatieff’s comments “pathetic” and “astonishing.”

The honor of the Olympics

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{mosimage}The Olympic Games can be too political, too commercial and too often a platform for cheaters. Yes, they are flawed, and in that they resemble God’s children — damaged but worthwhile, imperfect but noble, scarred but wonderful.

The Winter Games open in Vancouver on Feb. 12 and we hope Canadians slow down to absorb and enjoy this 16-day spectacle because, despite the warts, there is much to celebrate.