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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Fully Alive a start

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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.