A broad spectrum of Canadian churches have published election guides for voters heading to the polls on May 2. Both the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities have published guides. Human beings can’t choose to be political. We’re born that way. Politics is how we act together and human beings are fundamentally social.

“The political community and public authority are based on human nature,” said the Second Vatican Council in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes). “And therefore they need belong to an order established by God. Nevertheless, the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens.”

Those free decisions are supposed to bring us closer to justice, according to Pope Benedict XVI.

“Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics,” the Pope wrote in the 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est. “Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life. Its origin and its goal are found in justice.”
Chris D’Souza, former equity and diversity officer with the Dufferin Peel Catholic School BoardTORONTO - A vocal group of Catholics loudly expressed its concerns that the Toronto Catholic school board’s draft equity policy could undermine Catholic teachings on same-sex relationships.

About 120 people attended the first equity policy public consultation at St. Mary’s Catholic High School April 18 and heard four panellists speak on the equity policy, including Chris D’Souza, a former equity and diversity officer with the Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board.

The McGuinty government introduced its equity and inclusive education strategy prohibiting discrimination based upon race, religion, gender and sexual orientation in 2008. Boards are expected to implement equity policies this school year.  

The Toronto Catholic District School Board’s draft policy states that the board “gives pre-eminence to the tenets of the Catholic faith” which are “congruent and compatible with the protections entrenched in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Constitution Act 1982 and confirmed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Trisha Postle plays the hurdy gurdy as she musically leads morning prayer from the Divine Office for the feast of St. Joseph, March 26 at Regis College. (Photo by Michael Swan)Jesuit Fr. Gilles Mongeau has been cultivating an occassional community of artists who gather once or twice a year for an artists' liturgy. On the feast of St. Joseph, March 26, the artists' liturgy took the form of morning prayer from the Divine Office.

The singers contributing to this liturgy, and singing as you view these photographs, are the 46-member Cantores Celestes.

The amatuer women's choir has been singing together for 22 years, and over those years has raised more than $30,000 for charity. Singing for a liturgy rather than a concert allows the choir to connect with its repertoire of religious music in a very different way, said conductor Kelly Galbraith.

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A woman who fled from the vicinity of the Fukushima nuclear power plant sits at an evacuation centre in Kawamata, Japan. (CNS photo/Yuriko Nakao, Reuters) Who would want to choose between the morality of indecision and fear versus the morality of blind, reckless gambles imposed on future generations? Whether we want it or not, the nuclear question awaits.

Canada’s Nuclear Safety Commission began three weeks of hearings March 21 at Hope Fellowship Church in Courtice, Ont., on future plans for the Darlington Nuclear Station near Bowmanville, Ont., about 50 km east of Toronto. There are plans for four new nuclear reactors at the station on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Hundreds of written submissions were already before the nuclear regulator before the world was riveted to its television screens, watching Japan’s Fukushima 50 (in fact, about 200 technicians and engineers) fight to keep their crippled nuclear power plant from killing hundreds of thousands of people in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan March 11.

A woman who fled from the vicinity of the Fukushima nuclear power plant sits at an evacuation centre in Kawamata, Japan. (CNS photo/Yuriko Nakao, Reuters) Who would want to choose between the morality of indecision and fear versus the morality of blind, reckless gambles imposed on future generations? Whether we want it or not, the nuclear question awaits.

Canada’s Nuclear Safety Commission began three weeks of hearings March 21 at Hope Fellowship Church in Courtice, Ont., on future plans for the Darlington Nuclear Station near Bowmanville, Ont., about 50 km east of Toronto. There are plans for four new nuclear reactors at the station on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Hundreds of written submissions were already before the nuclear regulator before the world was riveted to its television screens, watching Japan’s Fukushima 50 (in fact, about 200 technicians and engineers) fight to keep their crippled nuclear power plant from killing hundreds of thousands of people in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan March 11.

Poverty, life issues, seniors may be lost in 'horse-race politics' of election campaignIt’s hard to know what will be decided in the May 2 election, but it’s just as hard to imagine that Canadians will decide well unless we inject respect, sincerity, honesty and a few high-minded ideals into our political culture.

We can’t run a country on vitriolic rhetoric, political tactics and cheap-shot ads, said Christian think-tank director Peter Stockland. Looking at the latest attack ads turned Stockland’s stomach.

“I was absolutely appalled that a government and a lot of people in that government would unleash something like that,” said the director of the Cardus Centre for Cultural Renewal. “Where’s the charity?”

The Conservative ads claim Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is dangerously soft on crime, and a Liberal government would make people unsafe in their homes and neighbourhoods.

St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo, OntarioSt. Jerome’s University took two steps toward peace between professors and administrators March 24 as a first contract between the faculty’s union and the university and a plan to set up a senate-like body to oversee academic matters by May 2012 were ratified by the university’s board of governors.

The union contract will see St. Jerome’s faculty keep pace with colleagues at the University of Waterloo in terms of salary and benefits. St. Jerome’s is the Catholic college federated with the University of Waterloo.

It was how the school is governed, rather than money, that inspired the professors and librarians to seek union protection. But in the end, governance issues were not part of union negotiations.

A separate working group with representatives from the board of governors, administration and academic staff was struck to report on possible reforms to how St. Jerome’s runs itself.

TCDSB to reschedule equity policy symposium

By Sheila Dabu Nonato, The Catholic Register
Toronto Catholic District School Board chair Ann AndrachukTORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board has cancelled its upcoming symposium on the province’s equity policy, which was set to begin on March 26, with some hinting that it was because of a controversial keynote speaker.

Board chair Ann Andrachuk denied that was the case, saying the cancellation was “an issue with aligning panelists” and that it would be rescheduled.

“Everybody’s got other commitments,” she said.

But trustee John del Grande, in a March 23 newsletter to constituents, said that in addition to the scheduling conflict of panelists, some parents had raised concerns about a speaker, Chris D’Souza, a course director at the York University Faculty of Education. D’Souza is also a former equity and diversity officer with the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board.

Celebrating Fr. Troy’s unconventional ways

By Vanessa Santilli-Raimondo, The Catholic Register
Fr. Michael TroyTORONTO - Spiritan Father Michael Troy, founding father and principal at Toronto’s Neil McNeil High School, had an untraditional way of thinking, said Fr. Gerald FitzGerald.

“There was a rapport, a relationship and a casualness between the priest-teachers and the boys that did not exist elsewhere and that was the unique spirit of Neil McNeil,” said FitzGerald, a fellow Spiritan who was a seminarian under Troy in Dublin and a science teacher at Neil McNeil. “He came in at a unique time in the spread of Catholic education — and I think he left a stamp on it.

“I think he shook up Catholic education,” said FitzGerald. “He came here with no preconceived ideas and he brought with him a tremendous freshness.”
While many people are praising full-day kindergarten, there are concerns over the costs as well as after-school care. (CNS photo/Mike Crupi)TORONTO - While Ontario’s full-day kindergarten program is in high demand and considered by several Catholic education groups an “investment” in the future, there remain concerns.

The provincial government introduced the full-day kindergarten program in September 2010 at about 600 schools across the province. By September 2012, there will be close to triple that number of schools offering the program.

Among the issues that need to be worked out are funding and after-school care, according to some Catholic groups. Dan Barrett, president of the Toronto Association of Parents in Catholic Education, says once the full-day kindergarten classes end for the day, making an arrangement for care afterwards can be “problematic.”