{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.

{mosimage}The new supervisor of the dysfunctional Toronto Catholic District School Board will be among the busiest administrators in the province this fall, but we hope Richard Alway finds time to consider the displaced students of the mothballed Arrowsmith program.

Alway was appointed by the Ontario government last month to succeed Norbert Hartmann, who had been appointed a year earlier with a mandate to balance the books of the disgraced TCDSB. Hartmann delivered a balanced budget and then resigned. He leaves behind a board that is in better fiscal health but otherwise remains sickly.

{mosimage}It is hard to imagine how many heads have rolled over a wafer. Or more precisely, a host.

And I am not talking about U.S. vice-president Joe Biden, past Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, the pre-Roman Tony Blair of England or the scandal-hounded Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. This is closer to home; a New Brunswick-made furor.

The departure of the publisher of the Telegraph-Journal of Saint John, New Brunswick — Jaime Irving of the storied Irving dynasty — along with editor Shawna Richer, ostensibly because of  the coverage of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s communion debacle, appears to be the final act in a uniquely Canadian melodrama.

{mosimage}When the young German monk Martin Luther visited Rome in the winter of 1510-1511, his experience of the city made the impending Protestant Reformation thinkable for the first time, and perhaps inevitable. Luther was appalled by the avid worldliness of Christian Rome and of its corrupt, ambitious, brilliant ruler, Pope Julius II. And not only Luther. Many other thoughtful Catholic clergy, thinkers and layfolk of the early 16th century were similarly scandalized by the avarice and show off of Rome’s elite, who had so conspicuously embraced pomp and splendour to the detriment of the work of Christian living and witness.

From a spiritual perspective, then, the Rome that Luther discovered was going through the worst of times. But they were also the best of times for artists, architects and interior designers. In 1505, Julius had decided to tear down the much-venerated fourth-century basilica of St. Peter and start work on a huge, magnificent new church more suitable (in his opinion) for the capital of the Christian West. Great palaces were to be constructed to complement this new St. Peter’s, grand boulevards laid out, glorious piazzas and fountains built. In 1508, Michelangelo had begun the ceiling murals in the Sistine Chapel. In the same year, the artist-architect Raphael had arrived in Rome at Julius’ invitation, and founded a large business to supply the church and secular elite with the pictures and murals they desired.