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 - Canadians are being urged to donate money to help feed 11 million people in the Horn of Africa who face possible starvation as drought and famine ravage the area.

The region, which includes Somali, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the new Republic of South Sudan, is experiencing the worst drought in 60 years. Somalia’s been hardest hit and refugees are pouring into neighboring Kenya where one camp, designed to hold 90,000 people has swelled to more than 400,000.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) is one of several charities that have been designated as qualified agencies under a federal government fund-matching program. Every dollar donated to D&P for African relief by Sept. 16 will be matched by Ottawa.

“I saw a true humanitarian crisis at Dadaab,” said Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda, who recently visited Somalia. “The stories of how the women and children struggled to reach the camp are incredible. Their perseverance and courage must be matched by our willingness to help.”

OTTAWA — When Bishop-elect Thomas Dowd is ordained to the episcopacy on Sept. 10 as auxiliary bishop of Montreal, he will be the youngest bishop in Canada and the second youngest in the world.

And Dowd, being of a wired, media-savvy generation, posted the July 11 official announcement on Facebook. He was thrilled to see that within five seconds somebody “liked” it.

Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the future bishop's media savvy goes. He is also a bloggist, and has been for some time. He plans to continue blogging, a hobby he has pursued as a priest at since 2003. He began the blog because people in the parish he served only saw him on Sundays and wondered what he did during the other days of the week.

“So many amazing things happen as a priest,” he said. “Honestly, it’s a great life. If a person wants to lead a boring life don’t go into the priesthood.

“Here I am experiencing all these blessings. People like to know about them, so I’ll use the blog as a medium,” he said.

OTTAWA - Novalis Publishing celebrated its 75th anniversary at Ottawa’s Saint Paul University July 7 at a reception to honour its authors, editors and past and present staff.

Novalis began in 1936 when Oblate Father André Guay, who founded the Catholic Centre at the University of Ottawa, began publishing pamphlets to help ordinary Catholics better understand their faith in a post-Depression era.

“No organization can achieve the kind of success Novalis has had in 75 years without truly caring and committed people,” said Novalis’ publishing director Joseph Sinasac. “From André Guay until now, Novalis benefited from a tremendous amount of wisdom, of passion, of talent, of devotion from its staff writers, editors and many, many friendly collaborators.”

Guay recognized the way ordinary Catholics lacked an understanding of their faith, said Celebrate Magazine editor Bernadette Gasslein.

OTTAWA - Montreal auxiliary Bishop-elect Christian Lépine never envisioned becoming a bishop, or even a priest, though as a child he wondered about becoming a saint.

Growing up in 1950s Quebec, when the whole province was steeped in the Catholic faith, Lépine recalls kneeling at the age of five with his French-Canadian family every evening and reciting the rosary “like all of Quebec.” He recalls reading the lives of the saints when he was eight. “I was not thinking so much of being a priest, but I was thinking about being a saint,” he joked.

The oldest of four brothers and one sister, Lépine remained certain he would marry. It wasn’t until he was 25, sitting in his favorite rocking chair at Christmas, wondering what he was searching for, that he entertained the thought of becoming a priest. “What am I thinking about?” he wondered.

By then he had attended the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, pursued an engineering degree at the École Polytechnique in Montreal and, after a year working at an engineering firm, returned to school to study economics and politics. He decided to wait for a couple of months to see if the desire for priesthood remained strong.

OTTAWA - Bill Whatcott will be before the Supreme Court of Canada in October hoping to strike down the laws that allow human rights commissions to limit freedom of speech and religious expression.

OTTAWA — The union representing Development and Peace employees says tighter supervision by the Canadian bishops threatens the democratic nature of the lay-run organization and undermines the prophetic vision that motivates their work.

The union report, prepared for a recent meeting of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace’s (D&P) National Council in June, said the world “ is increasingly turning towards a conservative ideology.”

“There is clearly a turn to the right in several societies, as well as in the Universal Church,” it said.

The 7-page document, published June 25 on the blog Soutenons Developpement et paix (, claims the shift “runs counter to the prophetic vision that gave rise” to D&P’s creation 45 years ago.

OTTAWA - Bishop Raymond Lahey’s sentencing hearing for importing child porn has been postponed to Aug. 4 and 5.

The sentencing hearing had been scheduled for June 24, but the Crown had not received the report from forensic psychiatrist Dr. John Bradford, who assessed the former Antigonish bishop.

Lahey, 71, the former bishop of Antigonish, N.S., faces a minimum of one year in prison and could receive up to 10 years. In August, Bradford will be cross-examined concerning the bishop’s mental state and likelihood of reoffending.

Lahey pleaded guilty to importing child porn May 4, 18 months after a Canadian Border Services agent stopped the bishop at Ottawa airport and pulled him aside for a secondary search of his laptop. A more serious charge of possession for the purpose of distribution was dropped by the Crown. The bishop opted to go to jail immediately, pending his sentencing hearing.

OTTAWA - An Ottawa-based think tank has launched Canadian Observer, a culturally conservative Canadian quarterly its editor hopes will engage Catholic readers.

“The culture has turned against Christians generally,” said Richard Bastien, a Catholic and retired economist who is a senior research fellow at the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies. Bastien also represents the Catholic Civil Rights League in the National Capital Region. 

The centre’s president, Joseph Ben-Ami, is the magazine’s publisher.

“We are constantly being challenged by various aspects of the culture and we must respond to that challenge by showing abandoning certain beliefs and practices will lead to chaos,” said Bastien.

“What we are defending through this magazine is not just particular policies or ideas, it’s a certain understanding of civilization — Judeo-Christian civilization.”

Click on the image to download the full 8-page booklet prepared by the CCCBOTTAWA - Canada’s Catholic bishops have published an uncompromising pastoral letter on ministry to young people with same-sex attraction that upholds Church teaching on sexuality yet shows sensitivity to their challenges.

The eight-page booklet prepared by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (CCCB) doctrinal commission and released June 27 comes at a time when publicly funded Catholic schools in Ontario are under pressure from the provincial government’s equity policy. You can download the document by clicking on the image on the right.

Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., a commission member, said he hopes the document will clarify for school boards, teachers, parents and students where the Church stands.

“If we are going to be Catholic school boards and we are going to try to have equality and equity in our outreach to young people then we need to be clear about what the Church’s teaching is,” he said.

The document frames the debate in Catholic terms and avoids reducing people to an identity based on sexual orientation. The Church does not use the terms “gay” or “lesbian” in its official teachings.

OTTAWA - Hundreds of people from across Canada joined indigenous and church leaders June 20 in a colorful march through downtown Ottawa, displaying hand-painted banners urging Ottawa to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Organized by KAIROS, an ecumenical, church-based social justice organization, the marchers called for concrete action to address the poverty and inequality faced by indigenous peoples.

“It’s clear that Canadians want action on indigenous rights and on the Declaration,” said KAIROS executive director Mary Corkery.

Anglican National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald said the UNDRIP provided an “urgent challenge and opportunity” to Canada in how it “applies basic human rights to the unique situation of indigenous peoples.”The document provides the “tools” to address some of the misery caused by Canada’s past relations with them, he said.