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

nativityEvery December the media runs stories on corporations or individuals who deliver bah-humbugs regarding the religious truth of Christmas. And without fail many Christians take the bait and allow anger and frustration to dilute their sense of peace and goodwill of the season.

As an example, this year a billboard battle has erupted on either side of the Lincoln tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York City. On one side, a group calling itself American Atheists purchased space to declare: “You Know it’s a Myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason.” Across the river, the Catholic League responded with a billboard that proclaims: “You Know it’s Real. This season, Celebrate Jesus.”

Fix the system

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Canada has a moral obligation to provide asylum to refugees fleeing persecution. And Parliament has a duty to enact tough laws to target smugglers and human traffickers who exploit these people.

On those broad points, Canada’s Catholic immigration minister, Jason Kenney, and Canada’s bishops are in agreement. So it is distressing to see them at odds over Bill C-49, proposed legislation that would hit smugglers with mandatory jail time and nail ship operators with strict penalties.

Pray for life

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babyIt was a welcomed coincidence that the inaugural worldwide Prayer Vigil for All Nascent Human Life occurred as The Register was preparing our annual issue dedicated to Life and Family.

At the request of Pope Benedict XVI vigils were held Nov. 27 around the world. It was an extraordinary undertaking and many bishops commented that they could recall nothing like it in the history of the Church.

A human Pope

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Pope Benedict XVIAs the marketing agencies might put it, this is the Pope like we’ve never seen him before.

The release last week of the book Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Spirit of the Times reveals a relaxed, flexible, sensitive, sometimes insecure pontiff not afraid to admit mistakes or  contemplate his frailty. If Pope Benedict XVI’s previous academic writings demonstrate his intellectual prowess, Light of the World reveals his human side.

Bring back decency

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no swearingAmerican comedian George Carlin earned celebrity in the 1970s with a standup routine that saluted   seven words you can never say on television. But, regrettably, time proved Carlin wrong. Many of those profane words are now routinely heard in Canadian family rooms during TV prime-time hours.

That is hardly news to anyone who spends even a few minutes each evening watching TV. But a study out of Los Angeles by an advocacy group called the Parents Television Council (PTC) shows how startling far society’s decency metre has swung.

No questions about Anglican bishops

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 Rt Rev'd Andrew Burnham SSCWith the stroke of a pen, the Catholic Church gained five new shepherds on Nov. 8 when a quintet of Anglican bishops resigned from their troubled Church to be welcomed by the Vatican.

We often see athletes change teams, musicians change record labels, tycoons change banks, but bishops don’t change churches. Not usually. So what should we make of this bold decision?

Stop the slaughter in Iraq

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Baghdad coffinsIt’s long past time the world opened its eyes to the horrors being inflicted on Middle East Christians and, in particular, the forgotten faithful of Iraq. It’s time to sit up and take action to end their suffering.

The slaughter in Baghdad last week of more than 50 Sunday worshippers, including priests, women and children, inside Our Lady of Salvation Church was just the latest outrage in a litany of kidnappings, murders and bombings that began shortly after Saddam Hussein was deposed by the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Hundreds, if not thousand, of Christians have died.

We'll be watching the new school boards

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school boardsToronto voters mostly ticked the box called status quo when selecting Catholic school trustees in the recent municipal elections. That’s their right, of course. But we hope for the sake of Catholic education that returning trustees don’t interpret this spirit of forgiveness (or is it apathy?) as a signal to resume business as usual.

Six of the eight Toronto trustees who stood for re-election were returned to office. The list included a former board chair, Angela Kennedy, who had been bounced from office last summer after being found guilty of conflict of interest.

A humble servant

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Saint Andre BessetteDuring the canonization Mass in Rome of Canada’s new saint, Pope Benedict XVI prayed that the example of Brother André would become an inspiration for Canadian Christian life.

We suspect St. André Bessette would be pleased with that. Shy, faithful, kind, he was never comfortable with the fame attached to his reputation as Montreal’s miracle man. His advice to the sick, poor and lonely, who arrived by the thousands to experience his gentle way, was always to turn to God and, of course, to St. Joseph. It was only there, he said, that comfort would be found.

Memories of Brother André in Markham

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Mrs. DalyMarkham, Ont. - Alyce Daly is 96 but she vividly remembers the special visits Brother André, Canada’s new saint, made to her family’s home in the 1920s. But, she adds apologetically, she doesn’t recall any miracles.

What she does retain are fond memories of a saintly man sitting in the parlour and at the dinner table in the family home on Curzon Avenue in Toronto’s east end. The Dalys lived just steps from St. Joseph Church, and outside its doors people lined the sidewalks and spilled into a nearby park to glimpse or touch the famous Miracle Man of Montreal.

Brother André was devoted to the father of Jesus and the many miracles attributed to Brother André were, he always maintained, the work of St. Joseph.

Toronto trustees should step up or get out

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Toronto school board voteMany parents are exiting Toronto’s all-candidate Catholic school-trustee meetings feeling angry and frustrated that their voices are not being heard. And who can blame them?

In too many cases, as Ontario’s Oct. 25 municipal elections draw near, discussions at these meetings are being deliberately diverted from the years of flagrant misspending, self-serving decision making and sad-sack management by members of Toronto’s dysfunctional Catholic board.