{mosimage}It's almost impossible to think of a ruder present for Canada's 139th birthday. On July 1, the Governor General of Canada announced that Dr. Henry Morgentaler would receive the Order of Canada, the nation's highest honour.

The current warm, sunny weather invites us to spend as much time as possible outdoors, taking in nature with all of our senses.

Families typically enjoy activities such as gardening, visiting local parks, going to the beach, attending sporting events, picnicking, hiking, cycling, attending outdoor concerts and festivals, stargazing and vacationing in the woods or by the water. We also enjoy the many fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables available locally, some perhaps from our own garden.

{mosimage}Editor’s note: the following is a letter sent to Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach by Calgary Bishop Fred Henry June 23 on the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Dear Premier Stelmach:

I have raised the issue of the Alberta Human Rights Commission several times with you in the past 18 months. On each of those occasions, you said that you understood the issues and shared my concerns. However, the situation is continuing to deteriorate across our country and the various levels of governments are seemingly non-responsive.

{mosimage}Over the last few months, we’ve been warning about the power of the federal and provincial human rights tribunals and their willingness to abuse this power to trample on the Constitution. Yet our fear was more about the potential for greater abuse, rather than existing practice.

However, events are moving more rapidly than expected — and for the worse. A decision by the Alberta Human Rights Commission represents the most flagrant abuse of constitutional rights yet demonstrated across the country.

This summer, the 77-million members of the Anglican Communion are hurtling toward a crisis that could end with their fellowship ripped apart.

{mosimage}In April 2001 my friend Kimy Pernia Domicó, leader of the Embera Katio, travelled from his home in Colombia’s rainforest to Quebec City to join tens of thousands of others from across the Americas in a resounding call for an end to the now defunct Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) project.

Kimy knew that free trade would bring more hardship to his people. The Urrá I dam, a project that received partial financing from Canada’s Export Development Corporation, had already threatened their very existence.  Since the dam construction, fish in the river disappeared and the Embera — robbed of their main source of protein — fell sick from malnutrition. The standing water created outbreaks of malaria and the dam’s reservoir flooded Embera homes and lands.

Kimy knew he was risking his life by speaking out against the injustices his people had endured, but he also knew it had to be done.  

{mosimage}Hardly has there been a period in history in which our past sins have weighed so heavily on our shoulders. The enormity of humanity’s abuse of humanity — in fact of the entire planet — has never been so apparent to us.

So the mass apology has become an icon of our repentant age. Pope John Paul II used the apology to good effect, shining a light on the travesties of past church leaders, whether inflicted on women, indigenous tribes, religious dissenters or, in the case of the Holocaust, the Jewish people.

{mosimage}In his winning stride through the U.S. Democratic presidential primaries, Illinois Senator Barack Obama didn’t bring American Catholics along with him.

Some pundits believe that Obama cannot win the White House in November without this important group, which constitutes almost a quarter of the U.S. population. The primary results in the must-win states of Pennsylvania and Ohio certainly do not bode well for the Obama campaign. In Pennsylvania, 70 per cent of self-described Catholics went for Hillary Clinton, while in Ohio, she won 65 per cent of the vote in this category.

It is not easy being an advocate for Catholic schools. At one time the parallel existence of a parochial school system was seen ideally as a complement to its public counterpart; sometimes it was perceived as welcome competition and sometimes as a threat to the public system. Usually it was seen as exotic, a byproduct of a 19th-century political accommodation, a customary feature of the provincial landscape.

The news last week that a huge donation (valued at $19 million for church and land) to build a church in the Greater Toronto Area from auto parts magnate Frank Stronach had been turned by the archdiocese of Toronto created some awkward moments. No one likes to walk away from such magnificent generosity; nor does a potential donor like to see his offer of a gift spurned.

{mosimage}It was only last November that John Bentley Mays gave the seventh annual Somerville Lecture at the Newman Centre in Toronto.  The subject of his excellent talk was the future of the Christian urbanism in Toronto.  In it he says that, although major decisions are being made that will affect the “living textures and structures of the secular city for generations to come,” any form of Christian intervention in the debate is “oddly lacking at the present time.” He says that he cannot understand this lack of participation, adding: “However it is explained, the public silence of Christians about the contemporary city must be accounted a significant failure of imagination and will that should concern all believers.”