{mosimage}Plans to narrow Canada's foreign aid spending so larger amounts can go to fewer projects has left the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace wondering where Canada is going on overseas development aid.

In a second speech this year addressing "aid effectiveness," Minister of International Co-operation Bev Oda announced May 20 that Canada would henceforth concentrate its aid dollars on three "themes." The Canadian International Development Agency will limit its non-emergency spending to increasing food security, promoting sustainable economic growth and programs for youth and children.

Kimberly Process failing diamond mining oversight

{mosimage}TORONTO - About 15 per cent of the world’s diamonds are mined by 1.3 million artisanal diamond diggers, many of them living on less than a dollar a day. In addition, diamond fields in sub-Saharan African countries are often controlled by whichever militia has the most guns, and diamonds have generated the cash to fuel some of the most horrific and enduring wars of our time.

A single gold ring creates as much as 20 tons of waste, while about half the gold mines currently in production are on the traditional lands of indigenous people — often against their will.

Palliative care is an option

{mosimage}Michele Chaban doesn’t want the option of asking her doctor to kill her, but she thinks she’s probably going to get it.

Chaban is one of Canada’s leading experts on how we die and the care we provide to the dying. She counsels dying patients and their families and teaches the subject at the University of Toronto and the University of Wales. She has also lived with a spinal cord injury for 26 years.

“I get scared sometimes that somebody is going to say, ‘Well, you’re not really a helpful member of society, and you’re not producing anything, and so we don’t need you any more,’ ” Chaban told The Catholic Register.

River of Awareness is about love

{mosimage}River of Awareness , by Stephen Sims (Novalis, 312 pages, $21.95).

When Stephen Sims was 22, he found he was thoroughly dissatisfied with his life. It wasn’t that he didn’t have any opportunities where he was living. He had a deep inner conflict which couldn’t be resolved by sitting at home.

So, the Montreal-born teacher not only left his home and job, but his country as well, travelling to Australia. This move was the first step in a long journey that led him across Australia and Asia and to a new level of self discovery.

PhD at pulpit treasures the Word

{mosimage}MARKHAM, Ont. - Probably every Catholic knows what bad preaching feels like — all the perplexing, irrelevant, boringness that comprises the whole tortuous experience.

Deacon Peter Lovrick encountered what might be the deep mystery of bad preaching when he met a priest finishing his third year of priesthood in Taiwan years ago.

“He told me, ‘Oh thank goodness! Now I don’t have to write any more homilies,’ ” recalls Lovrick, who serves at St. Patrick's parish in Markham. “He had simply stored all of them on a computer and he planned to reuse them. The one-size-fits-all homily which is completely independent of space and time and groups of people and what is happening in the world — if I were to go out on a limb and talk about good preaching and bad preaching — I would say that’s not good preaching.”

Twitter time for church

{mosimage}If you haven’t heard a tweet out of Canada’s Catholic hierarchy, keep listening — and surfing. Catholic twittering is coming.

As the world witnessed a revolution on the streets of Tehran that was fueled and organized on Twitter and Facebook , the church in Canada was appraising the new technology.

This fall, the National Standing Committee for Communications of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops will seriously examine how the Canadian church can be present on these types of social media Internet-based services that rely on users to generate content, promised committee secretary Gerald Baril. 

Toronto parishes put words into action for refugees

{mosimage}TORONTO - With four months to go in 2009, Toronto parishes and religious orders have welcomed 45 per cent more refugees than they did in all of 2006. There will be five more landing in Toronto the second week of September.

The 53 refugees welcomed in the first eight months of 2009, the 72 sponsorship applications submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada , the 37 parishes and six religious orders actively sponsoring refugees are just numbers. Every number masks a story.

Berrigan's God overcomes all other gods

{mosimage}Long before Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan became famous for getting arrested — the “radical priest” in Paul Simon’s song “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” — he was a poet, a man of letters and imagination.

At 88 Berrigan can still combine words in ways that startle readers awake. Which doesn’t mean that he’s given up getting arrested. This man with eight others burned 378 stolen draft files using homemade napalm in 1968. He hammered on nuclear missiles then poured his own blood on documents and files at the bomb-maker’s headquarters in 1980. When U.S. President George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq in 2002, Berrigan decided to sit in at the Times Square recruiting office in Manhattan, getting arrested along with several of his students.

John Paul II lit up Canada 25 years ago

{mosimage}When Pope John Paul II made his Canada-wide visit 25 years ago, people feasted their eyes on the largest event the country had ever known.

After having landed in Quebec City Sept. 9, 1984, the pontiff crisscrossed his way across Canada in a monumental 12-day trip that took him to every province except Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, drawing tens of thousands at every site.

Church needs to use technology to its advantage

{mosimage}If every modern church has a box full of microphones and a covey of speakers perched around the sanctuary, why do so many people complain they can’t hear the readings, the prayers or the homily?

“I’ve seen around the world a kind of misuse of technology where it becomes counterproductive,” said Richard Osicki, a Winnipeg communications consultant and Catholic studies lecturer. “It distracts. It emphasizes things they don’t intend to emphasize — priests forgetting to turn on their microphones or blasting through the microphone.”

St. Damien - a true hero to his people, his church

{mosimage}Fr. Damien de Veuster, canonized Oct. 11, understood Christ’s message of caring for others — something we can all learn from, and should. Also worth noting is the impact his canonization has had and will have on the tiny island of Molokai where he ministered to victims of leprosy, now known as Hansen’s Disease.

When I flew out to Hawaii two years ago, I had the surprise of my life. Not only was Molokai Island the home to cowboys, spear-fishers and, believe it or not, thousands of goats living in the mountains, it was also home to a vibrant and rather large Catholic community. Their enthusiasm first hit when when I attended Sunday Mass — I was greeted at the door with a lei made of small seashells and, along with other first-timers, was asked to stand up before Mass so that I could be introduced, by name, to the congregation.