On Dec. 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the dogmatic bull Ineffabilis Deus. In it he stated, "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, saviour of the human race, preserved from all stain of original sin." Since then, Catholics have celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception each year on the anniversary.

The air in Canada these days has the acrid odour of Rome burning while Nero fiddles. All the debate over whether Quebecois (presumably francophone Quebecers) constitute a "nation" provides a convenient distraction from the real challenges facing the real nation.

Where does Catholic education in Ontario find itself today? It truly reflects the culture.

In his book, entitled Unknown Gods: The Ongoing Story of Religion in Canada (1993), Canadian sociologist Reginald Bibby pointed out that a decline in attendance at religious services, first observed years earlier, was continuing: "beyond numerical involvement, relatively few Canadians give evidence of being profoundly influenced by any organized faith." He noted: "The Roman Catholic example, however, suggests that when religious groups have to go head-to-head with the myriad socializing influences found in Canadian culture more generally, it is extremely tough to come out the winner."

A recent poll suggests that Canadians still embrace multiculturalism and religious diversity. At the same time, the survey shows that at some point newcomers must find ways to accommodate themselves to this country's deepest principles.

In late June of last year,  without the benefit of social scientific evidence, adequate democratic deliberation and the normal process of judicial appeals, and with inordinate pressure put on members of Parliament by party leaders, the House of Commons passed Bill C-38.

My uncle was writing a catechism and he had asked me to discuss the role of wife and mother. It was a difficult writing assignment.

As Christmas approaches and wish lists get finalized, one thing is certain: no one in our family will receive a bigger gift than the one Sean, the youngest member, received several years ago.

The death of Lister Sinclair on Oct. 16 marks not only the passing of a national figure of consequence but provides the occasion for some serious reflection on the role of the public intellectual in our national discourse.

President George Bush The immediate result in politics isn't always the most important. Sometimes the election of a particular candidate, or the shift of a percentage of the vote one way or the other on the political spectrum is nowhere as vital as what the underlying trend indicates about the future. The midterm elections in the United States may well be an example where the clear result becomes murkier the more analysis applied and the more time unfolds.

With the reversal of a few percentage points in voting patterns, there has been a veritable tectonic shift in American attitudes toward the Iraq War. The punishment inflicted on U.S. President George Bush and his Republican party has opened up the potential for real progress.

Aloysius Cardinal AmbrozicDear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Valueless values

I ask myself at times why I react so negatively to a word often used these days, the word "value." The reason for my negative reaction seems to lie in the fact that the talk of values strikes me as very neutral. The word admits that for someone else my value may be quite valueless. The term communicates, in fact, our acceptance that what we take as valuable may be quite meaningless in somebody else's eyes. In other words, I react negatively to the word simply because it contains a possibility of relativism and meaninglessness.