{mosimage}Understanding globalization, and how we should act in the face of it, are tasks every thinking Catholic must undertake. My experience of trying to sort out these matters suggests they are not easy topics to tackle.

In the first place, the word globalization is awkward, abstract and impersonal, and it comes burdened with the connotation of a vast force free of human agency — something too inexorable even to think about. Also, there’s the daunting complexity of the phenomenon and the fact that its worst manifestations seem to be coming at us all at once: the near-death of international banking and capital markets last year, the ongoing flight of manufacturing jobs from the old lands of the Industrial Revolution to emerging economies on the fringes of the West, social conflicts erupting as huge movements of people from the developing world into the traditional bastions of Western culture take place — the list goes on and on.

{mosimage}Some strange news releases, media alerts and queries reach me on a regular basis, but the invitation to “International Blasphemy Day” stood out for a number of reasons. Who knew that blasphemers were being given the short end of the stick by society? From my perspective, it would be hard to know there was anything exceptional going on.

The first article promised “Jesus as you’ve never seen Him before,” dripping “red nail polish around the nails in His feet and hands.” As it happens, some of the things we see at the office make a few dabs of nail polish look like amateur hour. I’ve seen crucifixes propped up by human waste, chocolate Jesuses with obscene touches and at least one Jesus look-alike contest (the latter two were Easter promotions, by the way). I’ve also helped get a Communion Host removed from the auction block on e-Bay, and encouraged YouTube to remove purported desecrations of a Host from its site.

{mosimage}In August Bishop Raymond Lahey was applauded for finalizing a multi-million-dollar settlement that would bring some measure of justice to men who were victims of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of Nova Scotia clergy. Last week, having resigned as bishop of Antigonish, Lahey surrendered to police to face charges of possessing and importing child pornography.

How is a faithful Catholic to reconcile these two events. How do we respond to yet another sexual-misconduct scandal involving clergy and children? What are we to make of a bishop who is a champion of abuse victims one day and an alleged abuser the next?

{mosimage}The most recent casualty of the global financial crisis is the economic organization widely blamed for causing the near-collapse of the world economy. The G8 has been retired from its role as caretaker of world finances, giving way to the G20, a younger, more inclusive organization that comprises nations from every region in the world.

This historic transfer of power, which occurred Sept. 25 at a G20 summit in Pittsburgh, marks  a significant — and welcomed — evolution in world relations. The G8, forged during the Cold War as an economic alliance of mostly rich, Western nations, had become an anachronism in a world in which emerging economies in Asia, Africa and South America have been playing a greater role in global affairs.

As American President Barack Obama put it in his closing remarks in Pittsburgh: “We can no longer meet the challenges of the 21st century economy with 20th-century approaches.” That meant finding a place at the table for the likes of China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia and South Korea.
{mosimage}The current war by bloggers and voicemailers against Salt + Light Television and its CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica is a symptom that something has gone seriously wrong in the heart of the pro-life movement in Canada and the United States.

The ultra-militants among the right-to-lifers, of course, have many reasons to feel frustrated. They failed to persuade Boston archbishop Cardinal Sean O’Malley to deny U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy a Catholic funeral in full sight of the world. They failed to get Fr. Rosica to hoist himself above the bishops and canon lawyers who gave the green light for the televised funeral service and throw himself into the campaign to denounce them. And their raving and ranting throughout this affair have almost certainly failed to cause a single person to join the struggle for the protection of the unborn.

{mosimage}It is a strange business trying to make sense of Irish Catholicism. In recent years pundits of various colour and hue have sounded the death knell of the Irish Catholic Church. Books have been written about the agonizing last days of a once proud church; editorialists and commentators have announced with triumphalistic emphasis the demise of, well, Irish Catholic triumphalism; cartoonists and satirists have had a heyday with errant priests and libidinous bishops; documentary makers have worked the very entrails of Catholic history and its dark infamy.

And yet the Irish Catholic Church is still very much around. Cowed admittedly, humbled undeniably, but still in working order.

{mosimage}There are times when it is proper for a minority government to fall and for the country to go to the polls to settle a matter of public urgency.

Absent some pressing issue, however, the electorate has a right to expect politicians in a minority Parliament to set aside partisan differences and work collaboratively to provide good and productive government. A willingness to co-operate should be even more profound during tough times.

{mosimage}It is a sad reflection on society when Parliament is ready to consider euthanizing the terminally ill or chronically suffering rather than working to find ways to care for them.

But that’s exactly what is happening in Ottawa as Bill C-384, a private-member’s bill that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, makes its way on to the Parliamentary docket. This is the third time Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde has introduced legislation that would amend the Canadian Criminal Code on this subject and, even if a fall election thwarts this attempt, there will almost certainly be a fourth try when Parliament eventually reconvenes.

{mosimage}The reaction by some pro-life groups to the Catholic funeral given to U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy should shame all Catholics into serious reflection on what it means to be Catholic in the present age.

For LifeSiteNews , a pro-life web page, the funeral was an expression of “human weakness and delusion.” In this event, “the tyranny of moral relativism triumphed. The false, very selective, ‘spirit of Vatican II’ social justice version of Catholicism dominated.”

{mosimage}The recent ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in the case of Marc Lemire has been ably analysed for its discussion of constitutional law and the problems inherent in penalizing free speech in a democracy. Less discussed was its finding that the owners of web sites cannot normally be held responsible for the anonymous postings to message boards. This is probably true in any legal sense, but from the standpoint of professional editorial standards it is another matter.

Offered by most online editions of major newspapers and broadcast outlets, these anonymous postings are an ongoing festival for the opinionated, the chatty, the venomous and those with time on their hands. Should publishers be including questionable facts and arguments against Catholicism, to take just one example, on boards that most readers are going to associate with that publisher, rightly or wrongly? A look at some of the offerings from a few church-related stories of the past summer suggest that some postings should be held to a higher editorial standard.

{mosimage}The Canadian Human Rights Commission does important work in battling discrimination and ensuring work place equality. But it has no place as the nation’s censor and should be stripped of its power to police and prosecute matters pertaining to hate speech.

That is the position of several civic groups, Catholic organizations and media outlets that have asked Parliament to lop some tentacles from the CHRC. The Catholic Women’s League is the most recent group to join the debate, passing a resolution last month that urged Ottawa to diminish the CHRC’s authority.