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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.

The Easter message

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{mosimage}According to a recent online survey in Britain, only 22 per cent of people could identify Easter as the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That’s a startling number. And even taking into account the unscientific methodology that makes Internet surveying a suspect business, the finding evokes troubling questions.

Millions of Catholics worldwide will fill churches during Holy Week to celebrate the joy of Easter. But will all of them be rejoicing the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?

Pope Benedict miscast in condom controversy

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{mosimage}With just 18 words Pope Benedict XVI ignited an international fury that dominated headlines, dwarfed his good works in Africa and raised serious questions about the Vatican’s media savvy in a media-mad world.

The 18 words were extracted from a comment made by the Pope about  AIDS during an in-flight press conference, as follows: “The problem can not be overcome with the distribution of condoms: on the contrary, they increase the problem.”

Let's work wonders

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{mosimage}The theme for the 2009 ShareLife parish campaign is “You can work wonders.” We should all take a moment to consider those words.

They represent much more than a call to mail in a cheque, or go online to make a credit-card donation, or drop $100 into a collection basket.

That’s not to diminish the importance of fundraising. It’s vital, of course. The 2009 ShareLife appeal must raise $14.3 million to fund its commitments to 33 charitable agencies. So give and give generously.

Political grandstanding

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{mosimage}U.S. President Barack Obama surrounded himself with political friends, the sick, the handicapped, churchmen and scientists on March 9 to trumpet his intention to separate politics from science. To enthusiastic applause he announced an executive order that will rescind a ban on government funding for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR).

What utter hypocrisy.

We all have a role

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{mosimage}The latest economic report from Statistics Canada reinforces the need for swift and decisive action. Governments at all levels must implement policies that are prudent, just and comprehensive, but this is not their problem to solve alone. All of society has an important role to play.

Led by dramatic losses in the automotive and housing sectors, Canada’s gross domestic product shrank in the fourth quarter by an annual rate of 3.4 per cent. The national unemployment rate topped 7.2 per cent in January and will continue to rise, according to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.