Canada’s bishops have called on Catholics to become courageous defenders of freedom of conscience and religion.  They call these rights inalienable, universal and precious, and urge Canadians to profess and safeguard them with the steadfast fidelity of Thomas More.

Their message needs to be heard and heeded.

In springtime, wrote Alfred Tennyson, “…a young man’s thoughts lightly turn to love.” But this spring the thoughts of young Quebecois have turned not to love but to revolution. And for what cause? Sit down before I tell you — tuition fees.

Never mind that tuition fees are already lower in Quebec than anywhere else in North America. Never mind that if Premier Jean Charest gets his way and bumps them up a bit, they will still remain the lowest in North America. Such considerations have not deterred the wannabe Trotskyites, the occupiers and their anarchist friends, who at night have taken over some downtown Montreal blocks — smashing windows, upturning cars and hurling rocks at police. On May 1 the police made more than 95 arrests. On May 4 the protesters tried for them a “new” tactic that actually comes from the Canadian Doukhabor playbook back in the 1960s — nudity.

My seven-year-old recently made his First Communion. He is one of two children to take this life-changing spiritual step in our rural Nova Scotia parish. That’s right, one of only two.

I’m sure there are other children in our countryside community who should have joined them, but for many reasons those children did not prepare for the sacrament. Most don’t even attend Mass, even though their parents did so as children.

BETHLEHEM - Ten years ago, for 40 days in April and May 2002, the Church of the Nativity was occupied by armed gunmen. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were outside, the Palestinian armed forces inside, and the Christian world fervently tried not to take offence.

It was a shameful episode, both in its substance and in the reaction to it, a sad signal at the beginning of this century that the persecution of Christians would proceed apace.

Speaking recently about priesthood, Pope Benedict XVI said a priest must not ask what he can gain for himself but ask what he can give back to Christ and others. That sentiment, if not those very words, will be evident this week as St. Peter’s Seminary celebrates its 100th anniversary.

It has been a century of forming men to follow faithfully and selflessly in the footsteps of the first disciples. By their work in parishes and missions across Canada and throughout the world, graduates of St. Peter’s in London, Ont., have helped write the history of the modern Church in Canada.

They say you can learn more about a person on the golf course than you can in a business meeting or a social setting. And I believe it.

Love it or hate it, golf has this magical quality of exposing fabrics of your personality very quickly to strangers. Sometimes these traits can be pleasant, or quirky, or annoying, or worse.

If you’re a golfer and have been paired with a stranger on the first tee, you know what I am talking about. From that first tee ball to the first green, before the first putt falls into the hole, often you can tell if it will be a long day or not. (Believe it or not, I have played golf with priests — an occupation not altogether unfamiliar with the game — who made for a long day and I knew it quickly! Most priests, however, are a delight to play with.)

ROME - Much of the recent news from Rome deals with matters that, though important, will have minimal effect on the life of the Church as a whole. The negotiations with the Society of St. Pius X, the admission of former Anglicans to full communion, even the doctrinal assessment of one of the leadership associations of American women religious — all of these items are at the margins, rather than the centre, of the universal Church. The Society of St. Pius X has a significant presence in only a few countries, the former Anglicans in even fewer and the congregational leadership subject to doctrinal assessment represents an aging and rapidly diminishing component of American religious life.

Yet one recent piece of news is potentially of great significance for the daily life of the Church throughout the world. The Holy See announced last week reformed statutes for Caritas Internationalis, the global umbrella group of various Catholic development agencies.

The notice to file a human rights complaint over a Christian Grace being said at a City of Saskatoon volunteer dinner is the latest effort to remove even the briefest of faith references from public gatherings.

It would be easy to dismiss Ashu Solo as a crank, and a rather ill-mannered one, since he was among the invitees honoured at a city volunteer appreciation dinner where a blessing said by a city councillor did not meet with his approval. Mr. Solo was invited because of his work on Saskatoon’s cultural diversity and race relations committee. And anyone who thinks “cultural diversity” has something to do with respect for all religions and cultures hasn’t noticed how often the concept is used to remove Christian references from the public square. 

A young man I have known since cutting his umbilical cord 25 years ago will, if all stays on plan, be awarded a doctorate by an Ivy League university in about two years.

Along the way to his PhD, he earned a Master’s degree at Oxford after graduating from one of the Quebec universities whose students have been rioting in the streets since February.

Rather than going back to the drawing board, the Ontario government’s flawed anti-bullying legislation has instead gone to all-party committee hearings where, hopefully, common sense and good law-making will finally prevail. Under the circumstances, that is a positive development.

For several months the governing Liberals and opposition Conservatives have bickered over competing pieces of legislation to curb schoolyard bullying. To break the deadlock, the parties agreed to send both bills to committee to meld them into a policy that can be quickly passed and implemented by September. The committee discussions are likely to focus on controversial sections of the Liberal bill that place special emphasis on gender issues and homophobia-based bullying.

“I wish to register a complaint.”  This famous opening line of the Dead Parrot skit by Monty Python, I hereby appropriate to register a blanket complaint concerning cyberlouts.

Cyberlouts come in a variety of guises, including those who persist in using cellphones when I am trying to speak with them. Faced with such rudeness in private conversation, I can (and do) walk away. No big deal.