Only a handful of Catholics are quoted more often than Mother Teresa. Even today, 19 years after her death, the words of the saintly sister still resonate whenever the topic is mercy and compassion.

Is the West’s tepid response to the religious cleansing of Syrian and Iraqi Christians a sign of naivety, greed or maybe cowardice? Or is there a Machiavellian strategy to ease religious tension in the region by silently watching a 2,000-year-old Christian presence simply fade away?

Widespread abuse of prescription painkillers is a major problem that governments are right to address. But Ontario’s recent move to become the first Canadian jurisdiction to eliminate high-dosage opioid medications from its provincial drug plan goes a step too far.

Next to the Pope, the Vatican’s most quoted person is probably the papal spokesman. In an often thankless job, the spokesman makes official announcements, corrects misinformation, fields reporters’ queries and, generally, is the public face of a Church that is frequently misunderstood.

British bishops were quick to condemn a surge in racist and xenophobic incidents that followed the divisive vote that saw Great Britain bid adieu to the European Union. In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, police reported a 57-per-cent spike in verbal and physical assaults on visible minorities, immigrants and even on some long-time residents born abroad.

Before a colleague mentioned the name of Cardinal Robert Sarah I had not heard of him. At the age of 34, the Guinea-born Sarah was made Archbishop of Conakry by Pope John Paul II. He was still a bambino (according to Pope Benedict XVI) when he was elevated to cardinal in 2010. 

Give credit to the federal government for recently acknowledging that the systematic murder, rape and enslavement of the Yazidi people of Iraq and Syria constitutes genocide. But why stop there? 

“Is it unusual for the Pope to make a comment on the environment?”

The prevailing legal vacuum around assisted suicide is unacceptable and begs a speedy end to the head-butting between the elected House of Commons and the unelected Senate — even if that means politicians forgoing summer vacations.

Change comes slowly at the Vatican. On the issue of clerical sexual abuse of children, Rome’s methodical approach has caused Pope Francis to endure barbs for dallying on a pledge to get tough on abusers within the Church.

Much ado followed a recent impromptu promise by Pope Francis to study the role of women deacons in Church history. His  simple pledge to convene a commission to look into what Francis called an “obscure” historical question was widely — and wildly — interpreted as a thumbs up for a female diaconate.