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TORONTO - You never know what you’ll spot in the parish bulletin. One Sunday last summer Deacon Michael Hayes read a plea from a woman seeking a liver donor to save her critically ill sister. He put down the bulletin, booted up his computer and sent an e-mail to his pastor.

Hail to the Chief

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{mosimage}Phil Fontaine is leaving the Assembly of First Nations in July after serving three terms since 1997 as National Chief. He will be missed. His accomplishments are many but perhaps Fontaine aptly summed up his own legacy in one succinct sentence: “We are now in a position to say we forgive.”

Fontaine’s years as National Chief were sewn together by a thread of reconciliation. That single theme — establishing harmony and friendship with the rest of Canada — dominated his tenure. Fontaine understood that a two-way relationship of fraternity and trust would only occur when First Nations peoples received a sincere apology for the many wrongs suffered over the decades. Then would come the difficult part: they’d have to forgive.

Under Fontaine’s leadership, reconciliation was a journey with three roads. First came a multi-billion-dollar compensation settlement between the federal government and First Nations people stemming from the national scandal of the residential schools. That was followed by last June’s apology in the House of Commons from Prime Minister Stephen Harper on behalf of all Canadians. Third came a Vatican audience at which Fontaine received an expression of sorrow from Pope Benedict XVI for the  conduct of some church members.

GM Canada worth saving

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{mosimage}History may record it as throwing good money after bad, but the governments of Canada and Ontario had little choice but to go blue-collar and join the Barack Obama assembly line to keep General Motors going.

As announced on June 1, the government of Canada contributed $7.1 billion and Ontario another $3.8 billion to an American plan to try to save General Motors. Taxpayers in Canada now own 11.7 per cent of the once-giant automaker.

Brian Mulroney was done in by pride

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{mosimage}At one point at the Oliphant commission, former prime minister Brian Mulroney shamelessly harrumphed: “I have never knowingly done anything wrong in my entire life.”

Sadly, he may have been telling the truth — not that he has never done anything wrong, but this vainglorious man, apparently lacking a civilized notion of propriety, may genuinely be unaware that egregious unethical behaviour is wrong.

Pope, the great communicator

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{mosimage}In an age of mass media and instant communication, Archbishop Thomas Collins recently did something rather radical.

Rather than send an e-mail or a tweet, instead of an update on Facebook or an upload on YouTube, Collins ventured into Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto and spoke directly to some 1,000 enthusiastic pilgrims.  They had gathered for an event called St. Paul in the Square, several hours of outdoor prayer and reflection that was highlighted by Collins giving a talk and leading the throng in Lectio Divina.

Wanted: peace in the Holyland

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{mosimage}Fr. Michel Lavoie, a native of Timmins, Ont., serves as a confrere at St. Anne’s Basilica in Jerusalem. Like all men of faith in the Holy Land, he prays that Pope Benedict XVI’s Middle East tour will help bring the troubled area closer to peace, because, without peace, Fr. Lavoie fears Christianity in the the land of Christ’s birth faces extinction.

“I’ve never met a Christian 35 years old or less who wants to stay,” said Lavoie. “They see no future for their children. I hope and pray that they will stay because I don’t want the Holy Land to become just a land of museums.”


Abortion is Canada's national shame

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{mosimage}On Dec. 21, 1967 then Justice Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, addressing reporters on Parliament Hill, famously declared: “There is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” He was speaking specifically about gay rights and generally about an omnibus bill that, among many changes, proposed amendments to the Criminal Code to liberalize Canadian law related to homosexuality, divorce and abortion.

Trudeau became Prime Minister in 1968 and, under new Justice Minister (and fellow Catholic) John Turner, his 72-page omnibus bill, Bill C-150, became law on May 14, 1969. Abortion was decriminalized and permitted in prescribed situations.

Give a student a hand

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{mosimage}These are difficult days for anyone looking for a job but as universities empty for summer, soon to be followed by high schools, it is appropriate to consider the plight of our youngest workers.

According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, a staggering 357,000 jobs have been lost in this country since the noose of global recession was jerked around Canada’s economy last October. That is the largest five-month drop since the recession of 1982 and pushed Canada’s unemployment rate to a seven-year high of eight per cent.

St. Francis' example

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{mosimage}Franciscans from around the world have been converging on the Italian city of Assisi to celebrate the founding of the Order of St. Francis 800 years ago. But you don’t have to be a Franciscan to pay tribute to St. Francis of Assisi.

This devout, serene man devoted his life to battling poverty and social injustice and is honoured today as the patron saint of the environment and peace.

Eight centuries later, his relevance is undiminished. The causes he championed still fill headlines. The compassion he demonstrated still inspires followers.

Barack Obama was the wrong choice at Notre Dame

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{mosimage}Barack Obama has become a rock star of global politics, among the hottest tickets on the planet right now, but his support for abortion and stem-cell research made him an inappropriate choice to headline graduation ceremonies at a renowned Catholic institution.

The University of Notre Dame was dead wrong to invite Obama to speak at its commencement and to award him an honorary degree.

Open investigation into Development and Peace

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{mosimage}When allegations surfaced that some funds from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace were going to a group that had ties to abortion advocates, a storm of protest was met by promises from church leaders for a swift and thorough review.

Subsequent to that came additional allegations of funds going directly or indirectly to other abortion-sympathetic agencies. In response, Development and Peace suspended funding to five Mexican groups and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced an investigation that will see two bishops join senior staff from Development and Peace on a mission to Mexico.