Rabbi Roy Tanenbaum, the Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School’s founding scholarTORONTO - The next generation of Canadian rabbis will be able to point to the Catholic roots of their training — or at least of their school. The Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School will begin offering classes this fall in a classroom at the University of St. Michael’s College Faculty of Theology, part of the Toronto School of Theology.

Canada’s future imams will have a similar story. A master’s program in Muslim studies is taking shape at the United Church of Canada’s seminary, Emmanuel College.

The Toronto School of Theology is reconsidering its mission statement so the consortium of seven Christian theological schools can accommodate the emerging interfaith reality.

The expansion beyond the boundaries of Christian faith is “the right move at the right time,” said TST director Alan Hayes.

Hill of Crosses Lithuania’s haven of peace

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The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania is a well known destination for pilgrims especially at Easter time. Here, a mother with her two children are on a pilgrimage to the hill. (Photo by Eero Sorila)SIAULIA, LITHUANIA - The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania is a unique travel destination, especially at Easter time.

Three-and-a-half hours drive north from the capital Vilnus takes you to Siaulia. The pastoral scenery along the way is peacefully soothing. A little further turning left at a sign to Kryziu Kalnas, a country road will take you two kilometres to an unusual sight.

A hill, which in the past served as a military stronghold, is now a haven of peace. It strikes a musical chord of sad and happy sounds like a giant harp as the  northeast wind blows. Thousands of small crosses rub the bases of big crosses, like plucking the strings of a harp. The sad sounds are a reminder of 1831-1863 when crosses were installed in memory of those who were exiled and murdered in Siberia for opposing Russia’s Tsarist rule. These sounds continued loudly during the time of the Soviet regime, 1917-1990.

During the Soviet era, the crosses served as symbols against atheism. At the same time they spoke strongly for the sentiments of Lithuanian nationalism.

Students urged to be more active in social justice

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Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ AssociationTORONTO - The Catholic Board Council of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association has released a new social justice report urging Catholic students to become active in organizations promoting justice and service to marginalized groups.

“(The report) is trying to get the message across that social justice is such an integral way of making Catholic education come alive,” said Olivia Suppa, president of the Catholic Board Council.

“Let us live as Jesus wanted though nurturing the growth of Catholic leadership, and through opening our eyes and hearts to serve the victims of injustices in our communities, our country and our world,” according to the online report entitled “Social Justice: Inspiring Active Citizenship in Catholic Education.”

Members of the Catholic Board Council prepared the report over two years, with input from Catholic student trustees from across the province. The trustees call for an “active” component in the religion curriculum based “on our call to act as responsible stewards of humanity.” It also “encourages that local and global initiatives, outreach programs and positions related to social justice be included in religious education in the classroom, as well as integrated into the cultural life of the school community.”

King’s University appoints new academic dean

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King’s University College at the University of Western OntarioLONDON, Ont. - Sauro Camiletti has been appointed the new academic dean at King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario.

Effective July 1, the appointment follows an intense international search and a broad consultative process within the King’s community.

“It is a great privilege to serve as a leader in an academic community that is recognized for the quality of its degree programs, the teaching ability and scholarship of its faculty, its Christian values and the services it provides its students,” said Camiletti.

Church voice seeks ear in public square

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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.”

Toronto board's equity policy draws more fire

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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.”

Dorothy Pilarski: Coincidence, 35 tons of sardines and a blessing and grace

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A bishop once told me there are no coincidences and what people call coincidence is really just God’s providence unfolding before our eyes. So what happened to me on a recent family vacation to Los Angeles can only be described as providence.

We were scheduled to depart just days after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. So I was nervous. The Internet was little comfort. If California’s tsunami warnings weren’t enough, the eight-foot waves that caused millions of dollars in damage to Crescent City Harbour and the 35 tons of sardines that washed up on California’s Redondo Beach seemed to affirm a fear that the West Coast was no place for a mother to take her two children.

I turned to my husband. “So, what do you think we should do?”

46-member Cantores Celestes enhances Artist's Lauds

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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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Nukes or no nukes: a moral dilemma

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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.

Nukes or no nukes: the moral dilemma

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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.

Will real issues be up for election debate?

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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.