{mosimage}The cheapest shot against scientists, who rail loudly and at length against religious believers, is that they are scientific fundamentalists. It’s a cheap shot simply because science is supposed to be open, inquiring, rational and devoted to truth wherever it is to be found.

So when scientists set out to act like fundamentalists and do so in the manner of the Inquisition, the first reaction has to be disbelief. The second has to be a sober look at the growing phenomenon of scientific fundamentalism.
{mosimage}The international financial crisis is no longer just about Wall Street — if it ever was. Today, increasingly, it is about Main Street and its residents, about people who are losing homes, jobs, pensions and savings.

In a way, the international economic system is a kind of Tower of Babel, built on its own internal logic, but a logic that essentially created a house of cards. It was built on an ever-expanding consumption of goods; when the production of wealth could not keep up with the need to feed mass consumption, developed nations simply turned to debt. When that tower of debt began to crumble as some of its weaker bricks gave way, the whole edifice began to tumble.

The worsening persecution of Indian Christians by fundamentalist Hindus is a black mark on India’s modernizing democracy and a violation of Hinduism’s basic principle of tolerance for other religions.

Western Christians should stand in solidarity with our Indian brothers and sisters who are being murdered, mutilated and driven from their homes, whose houses are being burned and whose churches are being desecrated and destroyed. In this Canadian election season, we should exact a promise from our prospective members of Parliament that they will urge the next government to encourage Delhi to beef up its current, woefully ineffective campaign to halt the violence.

{mosimage}The federal election campaign has been anything but inspiring for Canadians. Most of what passes for debate has been name-calling, accusations of lying and trivial arguments over whose commercials were the most unfair.

{mosimage}In this federal election campaign, Canada’s Catholic bishops are calling upon all Catholics to consider environmental questions when they vote. In its recent pastoral letter on ecology, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says, “We hope our elected representatives will remember first of all the heritage we are leaving our children when making important decisions. Because we love our children, what environment, what society do we wish to bequeath to them?”

 

{mosimage}The primary function of the state is to ensure justice for all. This noble idea resonates nicely through the particularities of the fair wage, anti-discrimination policies, affordable housing, universal health care and social justice.

Justice, however, is a virtue. Moreover, it is, in its essence, not bureaucratic, but personal. Politicians, nonetheless, who love to talk about justice, rarely understand this. In general, they assume that justice is imposed on people by a liberal government, forgetting, somehow, that a society is nothing without its constitutive people. If there are no virtuous people, there is no social justice.
They say you can’t go back and revisit the past, but that’s exactly what we did last month. My family went back to the Muskoka resort where we first vacationed decades ago.

My parents had stumbled across the place after years of vacationing at housekeeping cottages. It cost more, but it was a real treat not to have to pack groceries, bedding and towels for six, along with each family member’s personal items, and try to cram them all into the car. And how wonderful it was to have someone else preparing, serving and cleaning up after meals and organizing activities. It was truly a time of relaxation and fun.
{mosimage}Throughout his remarkable visit to Paris and Lourdes in mid-September, Pope Benedict XVI showed France and the world what is best about contemporary Catholicism. He reached out with great warmth to all the people he met, from the mighty of this world — his first stop was a conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy — to sick pilgrims and intellectuals, the youth of Paris, Jews and Muslims.

He preached the Gospel with zeal, witnessed to the love revealed 150 years ago at Lourdes, and encouraged the French clergy and others called to dedicated lives to stand firm in the face of Europe’s deepening unbelief. And he did these things with shining charity.
{mosimage}It is both predictable and tiresome. And it is never, to my mind at least, entirely honest. What I am talking about is the political hot potato that is publicly funded Catholic education in the province of Ontario and the pseudo-debate that revolves around it.

In his Aug. 11 column, Jim Coyle of The Toronto Star spoke of the courage of NDP leader-wannabe Michael Prue’s invitation to the membership to enter into “a grand dialogue” regarding the economic effectiveness and justice of a policy/convention/tradition that continues to fund a separate Catholic school system. Why are we surprised? Especially, given the often furious and polemical debates surrounding the last provincial election and John Tory’s advocacy of “faith schools.”
{mosimage}The Catholic Register deserves our praise for printing three moving pages of Michael Swan’s portraits of poverty (“The human faces of poverty among us ,” Aug. 17-24). Swan reflects on the well-known passage, “The poor you will always have with you…” He wonders why we who profess to be followers of Jesus keep the poor out of sight and out of mind.
{mosimage}When the Catholic Church talks about Christianity’s “preferential option for the poor,” the notion has both personal and political implications. During this federal election campaign in Canada, this principle should help guide Catholic voters in making a wise choice on their ballots.

The Canadian bishops have identified this “option for the poor” as a “Gospel imperative.” In the document, “Election 2004: Responsibility and Discernment,” the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote that “Jesus had a special love for the weak and vulnerable; He identified Himself with them and proclaimed the Good News to them.”