{mosimage}Angels and Demons, which opened May 15 in North America, is the type of movie that can fill large theatres for weeks with people who like murder mysteries filled with action, interesting settings and suspense to the very end. It also takes the type of liberties with church history and modern-day reality that usually characterize movies with a strong Catholic component.

The movie is a prequel to The Da Vinci Code and describes a vendetta against the Catholic Church by a “centuries’ old secret society,” the Illuminati. Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, played by Tom Hanks, is asked by the Vatican to crack a secret code after the Illuminati kidnap four cardinals considered front-runners to be the next pope, and threaten to kill one an hour and then explode a bomb at the Vatican.
Unlike The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons is not a direct challenge to the foundations of Christianity. (The Da Vinci Code’s plot was based on the theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children together, whose descendants live today.) While there are enough errors and stereotypes in Angels and Demons to annoy many Catholics, even the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has dismissed it as “harmless entertainment,” and jokingly suggests that bored moviegoers could entertain themselves by counting the mistakes.


{mosimage}In an age of mass media and instant communication, Archbishop Thomas Collins recently did something rather radical.

Rather than send an e-mail or a tweet, instead of an update on Facebook or an upload on YouTube, Collins ventured into Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto and spoke directly to some 1,000 enthusiastic pilgrims.  They had gathered for an event called St. Paul in the Square, several hours of outdoor prayer and reflection that was highlighted by Collins giving a talk and leading the throng in Lectio Divina.

{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.”


{mosimage}This past April has surely not been our cruellest month this year. At least in literary terms. 

The publication of Listening: Last Poems of Margaret Avison and Pier Giorgio Di Cicco’s Names of Blessing serves as a perfect reminder of the power and beauty of supremely well crafted poetry by poets of sublime religious sensibility.


{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.

{mosimage}On May 14, 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s Omnibus Bill passed in the Canadian Parliament. Unlike the vast majority of Canadians who were indifferent to this action, the Créditistes lead by Real Caouette condemned the legislation to the very end. Passage of the bill resulted in the deaths of 3.5-million children in the wombs of their mothers by May 14, 2009.

In 1969, Canadians had become conditioned to change under the Liberal government. Some were shocked about the abortion law but expected that sanity would return and children in utero would be protected. Some believed that since Trudeau had assured it to be so, abortion would only be committed in extreme life-saving circumstances. There were a few perceptive people who saw what was wrong with Trudeau’s proposed legislation. They came to Parliament Hill to testify to the truth. These were the first Canadian pro-lifers. 

{mosimage}Nobody reading this needs a lesson from me about how deeply modern communications technologies have penetrated our lives. You probably watch television, listen to the radio, keep in touch with family, friends and business colleagues by telephone, and you likely have a cell phone.

Even if you don’t toil on a computer to make a living, you may have one at home for everything from online banking to social networking. You might also use your computer to keep up with church news: the Vatican recently launched its own YouTube channel with a message from Pope Benedict XVI.

Next week, thousands of pro-lifers will gather in Ottawa for the annual March for Life. As they have every year for the past 12 years, they will promote respect for life at all stages, from conception to natural death, through prayer, Mass and a walk through downtown streets ending at Parliament Hill. Some MPs will attend. Clergy and at least one archbishop are planning to attend. There will be witnessing by members of the Silent No More abortion awareness campaign. Last year there were about 8,000 marchers. This year, there may be more.

If you’re a member of a pro-life group or Catholic media organization, or a regular Register reader, you probably know all this. If you only know what the mainstream news outlets carry, you probably don’t. Despite a large number of attendees and the presence of senior clergy and parliamentarians, the march has rarely attracted much media attention. Sometimes a handful of pro-abortion protesters will show up and make noise, creating a photo opportunity or two. Last year a police officer was injured directing traffic, but news reports still didn’t name the event that had caused the need for traffic direction. In the United States, the annual March for Life is at least 10 times as big, but the media situation is about the same.
{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.

Catholics and Jews care about the same world, pray to the same God, hope for the same resurrection and yet often live their lives as strangers to one another. That’s a shame. Most Catholics and most Jews wish we understood each other better. Redemptorist Father Paul Hansen and modern Orthodox Rabbi Roy Tanenbaum both know overcoming that separation isn’t just a matter of learning a few details of the traditions and theology on the other side. Understanding each other means understanding ourselves more deeply — knowing the roots of our Catholic and Jewish identities.

The Toronto rabbi and priest exchanged the e-mails below just before Easter and Passover — the two principle celebrations of Christianity and Judaism that fell within four days of each other this year. The e-mails are a fragment of a vast conversation between Christians and Jews that has been growing since the end of the Second World War — a conversation launched into deeper water by the Second Vatican Council. With the help of Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Toronto, they are inviting Catholic Register readers into the conversation.

{mosimage}In approximately one-quarter of Canadian households, care is provided to one or more people aged 50 plus.

Caring for a chronically ill relative involves physical, psychological, emotional and financial demands. Typically, caregivers experience a variety of distressing emotions along the way. They may feel guilty because, unlike their relative, they enjoy relatively good health, they have mixed feelings about being a caregiver, they sometimes lose patience, they made a promise that they would never place their relative in long-term care and they’re not sure if they can keep it.

Resentment may occur because caregivers have had to make personal and financial sacrifices, their relative has treated them badly in the past, their relative is demanding and critical and they don’t feel appreciated, family members aren’t pitching in or family members are critical of their care provision.