Early each year bishops from North America and Europe join bishops from the Holy Land on an information tour of those sacred but troubled lands. The visit this January had added significance because 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War and the start of the ongoing occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

First came the Year of Mercy, followed by the U.S. election and now the inauguration of Donald Trump as president. It’s as if, in encouraging mercy, Pope Francis anticipated this Trumpian age before any of us saw it coming.

Calgary Bishop Fred Henry said he knew it was time to retire when his pain became constant and his posture became stooped to the point that “my feet are much more familiar to me than the sky.”

Montreal was not quite 250 years old when Mark Twain, scanning a skyline of church steeples, called it the city of a hundred bell towers.

Another year over, a new one just begun. For 55 newsroom employees at the Halifax-based Chronicle Herald, almost the entire year was spent on the picket line. A year is a long time to be on strike.

An iconic soft drink commercial in 1971 invited the world to sing in perfect harmony. But the ad was hardly original. It came three years after Pope Paul VI made a profound pitch to teach the world to live in peaceful harmony.

Christmas is a season of joy and hope but of the two hope seems harder to find.

Beating the Christmas rush in Ottawa this year seems to mean wrapping up new transgender laws in time for the holidays. It’s hard to find anything merry about that.

There can hardly be a voter or politician who doesn’t believe Canada’s shamefully high rate of child poverty should be promptly reduced and eventually eliminated.

One obvious failing of legalized assisted suicide is that Canada now recognizes a person’s right to receive a quick exit but fails to grant terminally ill people an offsetting right to humane care until their natural death.

Prolonged solitary confinement of prisoners — torture according to the United Nations — has no place in a just penal system. Yet isolating inmates for lengthy periods remains common practice at Canadian penitentiaries. It must stop.