Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

Deborah Waters Gyapong has been a journalist and novelist for more than 20 years. She has worked in print, radio and television, including 12 years as a producer for CBC TV's news and current affairs programming. She currently covers religion and politics primarily for Catholic and Evangelical newspapers.

OTTAWA - International Planned Parenthood, which promotes and provides abortions, has received a federal grant under a G8 initiative that Prime Minister Stephen Harper said would not fund Third World abortions.

Conservative MP Brad Trost calls the $6 million CIDA grant to Planned Parenthood a “slap in the face” to all social conservatives in Parliament and the Tory caucus.

“I am very, very disappointed, very unhappy,” said Trost, the pro-life MP who campaigned last spring on getting Planned Parenthood de-funded.

OTTAWA - Catholic judges, lawyers and politicians must never divorce their Catholic faith from their public duties, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast told a group of civic leaders that included Supreme Court Justice Louis LeBel.

In a homily given Sept. 22 at the annual Red Mass for the legal profession, Prendergast said lawyers and lawmakers must bear witness to the Gospel in the public square and urged them to infuse the rule of law with the rule of faith.

“On matters of who is entitled to live or die, on the status of marriage and the family, on the critical issue of religious liberty, the totalitarian impulse is not absent from Canada,” he warned.

OTTAWA - While the protocols and programs dioceses have adopted to combat clerical sexual abuse are necessary, they only treat the symptoms of a systemic problem, according to Sr. Nuala Kenny.

A retired pediatrician and Dalhousie University professor emeritus of bioethics, Kenny said there has never been “a Church-wide, deep conversation” about the meaning of the sexual abuse crisis and the widespread harm it has caused and the transformation “where the Lord is calling us,” the people of God.

Trauma and Transformation: the Catholic Church and the Sexual Abuse Crisis, a conference Oct. 14-15 at McGill University that Kenny has helped organize, is bringing in some of the top researchers and thinkers from across North America to have that conversation. But Kenny said she is disappointed the registered attendees are not representative of a wide cross-section of the Church.

OTTAWA - Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins urged Catholic school trustees not to compromise fidelity to the Catholic faith as they face government pressure to adopt policies contrary to Church teaching.

Speaking to the annual conference of the Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association in Ottawa Sept. 23, Collins exhorted everyone involved in Catholic education to become disciples of Christ and to fully participate in the New Evangelization, which he described as proclaiming the Word in places where the Gospel has been forgotten and God has been squeezed out.

“We are marinated in secularism,” he said, urging those present to take a look at the working document for the upcoming Synod on the New Evangelization called by Pope Benedict XVI.

OTTAWA - The Canadian Catholic bishops have issued a message on social justice to young Catholics encouraging them to commit themselves to building a “more just and joyful society.”

In a message released Sept. 22, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace urged young Catholics to participate in furthering the “Millennium objectives for development.”

“The Catholic Church shares all of humanity’s common quest for peace and happiness, and supports efforts of individuals and groups working to eradicate poverty, illness, injustice, inequality, human rights violations and environmental exploitation,” says the Message to Young Catholics on Social Justice. “This witness of solidarity flows from God’s love for humanity as revealed to us in Jesus Christ.”

OTTAWA - An alliance of Cambodian advocacy groups has asked Canada to urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to rescind a proposed law that would severely restrict the work of non-governement organizations in that country.

A representative of the civil society groups engaged in democracy building, land reform and human rights in Cambodia came to Ottawa Sept. 14 to appeal for help in preventing a law that will require Cambodian NGOs to register with the state, allowing the government to restrict or shut down NGOs without an appeals process.

“The law is not passed yet but we have already seen how it will work,” said Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of Cambodia’s NGO Forum, an umbrella group representing 87 NGOs, various civil society groups and about 200 additional members.

OTTAWA - The federal Conservatives’ anti-human smuggling Bill C-4 came under attack as Parliament resumed Sept. 19 following its summer break.

Opposition parties are trying to block the latest version of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s bill that had drawn criticism last November from Canada’s Catholic bishops. They will have a hard time however, considering the Conservative majority in Parliament.

Bill C-4 was the first item debated by MPs upon their return Sept. 19. The bill aims to prevent human smugglers from abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act, placing restrictions on any group of refugee claimants who arrive in “irregular” circumstances. Kenney said the bill is aimed at smuggling syndicates, like those that brought two large shiploads of illegal migrants to Canada in the last two years.

Jim Forest’s beautifully written and poignant All is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day reveals the founder of the Catholic Worker movement as no ordinary saint, if her cause for beatification and canonization opened in 2000 proves successful.

The book does not gloss over any of the controversial aspects of her early life. Before becoming Catholic, Day sought an abortion, hoping losing the child would save her love affair with the baby’s father. Afterwards, she returned to their apartment to find the man had left, leaving behind only a letter urging her to forget him and a small amount of money that he had originally intended to pay a bar bill, Forest writes.

Four years later, she was delighted to become pregnant while in another relationship that, because of his atheism and her entering the Catholic Church, she realized she must end.

OTTAWA - Many people find that getting away for a retreat is impossible due to time, money or family reasons. Even finding a free weekend can be difficult in our busy lives.

Aside from a day at my church during Advent and Lent, where parishioners gather for lectures, quiet time and a silent meal, I haven’t attended a formal retreat in more than a decade.

Instead, I have discovered the simplest, most flexible way for me to make a retreat is to find my way to the nearest adoration chapel and stay there for an hour or two. Over the past year, I have done this frequently. I have also been blessed with the grace to pray three novenas that included a minimum of an hour of adoration for every one of the nine days.

OTTAWA - The Ottawa archdiocese has asked police to investigate the finances of a parish that had been led by a charismatic priest who admitted last spring to a gambling addiction.

In a Sept. 18 letter distributed to parishioners at Blessed Sacrament parish in Ottawa’s Glebe neighbourhood,  Ottawa Vicar General Msgr. Kevin Beach said an independent audit of church finances found “questionable practices that require further investigation.”

Beach had no further comment on the matter, but a spokeswoman for the archdiocese said he will answer questions after the 11 a.m. Mass Sept. 25 at Blessed Sacrament.