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

Canada Census 2011The world has come a long way since Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem to be counted in King Herod’s census. In our technological age, information and statistics shape our everyday living. Our personal information is digitally stored and used by everybody from the taxman, health providers and bankers to government licensing agencies that keep track of everyone from drivers to fishermen to hot-dog vendors.

There seems to be almost universal agreement that gathering detailed data is essential to a smooth-running society. But how far should governments go to collect a citizen’s personal information? That is the crux of a debate sparked by a federal announcement that Canadians will no longer face fines and possible jail time for refusing to complete the long-form version of the Statistics Canada census.

Crusading cardinal

By
Cardinal Jaime OrtegaEvery Sunday morning for seven years the Ladies in White attended Mass at Havana’s Santa Rita Church then marched in peaceful protest for husbands, fathers and sons locked up as political prisoners in Cuban jails.

For the most part, the marches were silent and easily ignored by the Castro government. Then last March, to mark the seventh anniversary of  the “Black Spring,” when 75 dissidents were arrested, hastily tried and harshly sentenced, the Ladies in White became bolder, marching into off-limit Havana neighbourhoods. The government dispatched agents to disrupt the marches and harass the women. That brought Cuba’s crusading 73-year-old cardinal into the fray. Cardinal Jaime Ortega celebrated Mass with the women at Santa Rita and then took up their cause with the government of President Raul Castro.

Progress made

By
Maternal HealthIf you look past the crazy billion-dollar price tag, the trampling of civil liberties and the street thuggery that marked the G8 and G20 meetings, it’s possible to see light in the summit tunnel.

Of course, ignoring the excesses is a challenge. To have almost a billion dollars spent on security and still see gangs of petty criminals terrorizing shopkeepers, torching police cars, smashing windows and drowning out legitimate peaceful protests is beyond scandalous. And to have police, in addition to arresting real criminals, round up hundreds of citizens solely because they lacked the common sense to stay indoors is appalling.

Let the truth be told

By
TRCC logoCanadians often express pride in building a nation that respects and celebrates cultural diversity. But as true as that might be today, our national back-patting takes a short view of history. For most of Canada’s existence, Ottawa directed a cruel policy at aboriginal peoples that is rightly likened to cultural genocide.

Canadians are being asked to confront that dark era at a series of public events organized by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools. The first of seven meetings, held recently in Winnipeg, saw dozens of survivors and their families courageously step to a microphone and have their personal stories preserved as a paragraph in Canadian history.

Put people first

By
The billion-dollar cost for the upcoming summits of world leaders is obscene and the disruption the meetings will cause is outrageous. Ottawa is rightly being roasted on those scores. But the real tragedy from the gathering of G8 and G20 leaders is that, once again, there seems to be a famine of big ideas among the world’s most powerful statesmen.

We’re not so naive to believe there are quick fixes for a world that is broken in so many ways. Most of society’s problems are either made or exacerbated by man. That is true whether speaking about oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, war in Afghanistan, famine and disease in Africa, poverty among North American aboriginal peoples, blockades in Gaza and international financial turmoil. The list goes on.

Seeking truth

By

What is the role of Catholic media in modern society?

Several hundred journalists from across North America were invited to ponder that question during the  Catholic Press Association annual conference, held recently in New Orleans.  

These have been difficult days for the Church and challenging days for Catholic media. Not only has the news been filled with stories of clerical sexual abuse and alleged Church coverups, but the technology-challenged Church hierarchy has often stumbled in offering a timely defence or authoritative explanation of Church positions.

Instant communication in a digital age has put pressure on traditional media such as newspapers and television to rethink how they conduct business. The result is often a softening of fundamental values  as the old media strains to keep pace with the new, a manic technological beast of web sites, blogs and various social media tools that, collectively, disseminate information instantly but not always accurately.

Don't fear faithful

By
fearThere is an unfortunate trend in Canada to try to deny religion its rightful place in the debating rooms of the nation.

We’ve seen this tendency manifest recently in the publication of an alarmist book about the so-called Christian right’s influence in Ottawa, in attacks on Cardinal Marc Ouellet for affirming Church teaching and, most recently, in shrill reaction after the head of Opus Dei accepted an invitation to dine on Parliament Hill with MPs.

Let there be light

By
Ottawa Peace TowerWhen children want to become magicians they are taught to say hocus pocus. When adults want to become politicians they are taught to say transparency and accountability. In both cases, the audience eats it up. Children, though, grow up to realize that people aren’t fooled by hocus pocus alone, while politicians never seem to learn.

Our elected representatives, regardless of party, are forever calling for  government to be more open and transparent. They understand that voters want to know what their government is doing, how it is doing it and what it costs. Simple, really.

Leadership lacking in pro-life movement

By
Cardinal Marc OuelletWhat a difference a year makes.

The 2009 National March for Life in Ottawa drew a record 12,000 enthusiastic supporters but was virtually ignored by the media. Twelve months later, the annual March attracted roughly the same number of pro-lifers to Parliament Hill but this time earned national TV coverage and front-page headlines in some large dailies.

Catholic by action

By
Catholic School teacherWhat defines a Catholic school teacher?

That question came to mind amid recent media reports about aspiring young teachers returning to the Church, converting to Catholicism or pretending to be faithful to get hired at a Catholic school board. Two Toronto papers ran stories suggesting that some graduates of teachers’ colleges have been trying to wriggle their way into Catholic schools under false pretences. These include lapsed Catholics feigning  rebirth and non-Catholics receiving the sacraments or converting solely to obtain a pastoral recommendation.

Give change a chance

By
new missalLast week a reader wrote us to apologize because he realized he’d been too harsh last January in criticizing design changes we’d made to The Register. Upon reflection, he concluded, the paper was now easier on the eyes and the changes were a “tremendous improvement.”

We mention this not to praise ourselves, but because a new translation of the Roman Missal has been approved by Pope Benedict XVI  and, with change in the wind, it is worth remembering there is virtue in being open-minded and even-tempered. As our reader realized, given time, change can be good.