{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.

{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.