{mosimage}History may record it as throwing good money after bad, but the governments of Canada and Ontario had little choice but to go blue-collar and join the Barack Obama assembly line to keep General Motors going.

As announced on June 1, the government of Canada contributed $7.1 billion and Ontario another $3.8 billion to an American plan to try to save General Motors. Taxpayers in Canada now own 11.7 per cent of the once-giant automaker.

{mosimage}Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4)

When someone you know loses a loved one to death, you want to reach out but may feel unsure of what to say or do. Perhaps you haven’t lost someone close, and it’s difficult to appreciate what your friend is going through and anticipate his or her needs. Allow me to share some advice.

Don’t agonize over what to say. Keep it simple and heartfelt — for example, “I’m so sorry,” “My heart goes out to you,” “I’m here for you” or perhaps even “I’m at a loss for words.” Avoid platitudes such as, “It’s for the best,” or “You still have a lot to be thankful for.”

{mosimage}For years, I took my local church choir for granted.  Sunday after Sunday I would hardly notice the music unless I heard a favourite piece or an obvious mistake.

Then one day an acquaintance complimented me on my voice and suggested I join him in the choir.  I easily discounted the compliment, but it struck me that the quality of my worship might improve if it were more active.

{mosimage}At one point at the Oliphant commission, former prime minister Brian Mulroney shamelessly harrumphed: “I have never knowingly done anything wrong in my entire life.”

Sadly, he may have been telling the truth — not that he has never done anything wrong, but this vainglorious man, apparently lacking a civilized notion of propriety, may genuinely be unaware that egregious unethical behaviour is wrong.

{mosimage}Much of the media focus on the recent papal visit to the Holy Land was an evaluation of the pontiff’s relationships with Muslims and Jews. However, in the land of  Christianity’s foundation, Christian church members wanted only to know that they are not forgotten, not alone and that their story of struggle is known by their spiritual leader.

They dreamed in hope that the visit would result in some good news for them.

{mosimage}When it comes to Hollywood trash, you can’t beat the combined efforts of director Ron Howard, novelist Dan Brown and actor Tom Hanks.

Angels and Demons, their first collaboration since The Da Vinci Code, features the usual slanders against the Catholic Church, along with dollops of the occult, a suppressed secret society and a smattering of advanced science. The official Vatican newspaper has described the resulting farrago as “harmless entertainment.” I’m not so sure.

{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.