{mosimage}OTTAWA - A sea of empty chairs on the floor and a virtually empty gallery greeted Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde’s opening speech on the first hour of debate on her bill to legalize assisted suicide Oct. 2. 

Only about 20 MPs were present, scattered along the margins.

“My conviction has grown stronger, and that is why I am introducing an amended bill on the right to die with dignity, Bill C-384,” said Lalonde. 

CIDSE backs D&P over abortion allegations

{mosimage}Internet-based allegations that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace financed partners who have lobbied in favour of legalized abortion are a non-issue, the general secretary of the world-wide alliance of Catholic development agencies told The Catholic Register.

None of the Catholic development agencies in Europe — many of whom work with some of the same partner organizations in Latin America, Africa and Asia as Development and Peace — has been accused of collaborating with organizations that support legalized abortion, said CIDSE general secretary Bernd Nilles in a phone interview from Montreal.

Muslims must be viewed beyond security concerns

{mosimage}TORONTO - If Christians and Muslims are going to talk, Christians are going to have to unlearn what they think they know about Muslims, particularly Muslim women, according to a Wilfred Laurier University professor of religion and culture.

From the images of protesting women in burkas to the idea Western armies can liberate women in Afghanistan, cliches and gross simplifications are overwhelming conversation, Meena Sharify-Funk told about three dozen students along with church and mosque representatives at the annual dinner of the National Muslim Christian Liason Committee held in the University of Toronto’s Multifaith Centre Oct. 1.

Suspicion about Lahey raised 20 years ago

{mosimage}OTTAWA - As Antigonish parishioners coped with the “pain and anxiety” of the arrest last week of their former Bishop Raymond Lahey on charges of possessing and importing child pornography, a retired Newfoundland priest said he reported Lahey for possessing pornography 20 years ago.

Acting on information from a boy who had visited Lahey’s residence in the mid-1980s, when Lahey was still a parish priest, Fr. Kevin Molloy went to former St. John’s Archbishop Alphonsus Penney in 1989 to report some “bad news with respect to Bishop Lahey,” Molloy recounted in an Oct. 6 interview. Molloy said he subsequently phoned Lahey and told him of the allegation.

Ten Commandments take ROM centre stage

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Ten Commandments will take the spotlight at the Royal Ontario Museum this month.

Visitors to the ROM Oct. 10-18 will be able to see the world’s oldest and best preserved parchment scroll of the Ten Commandments in a display separate from the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. The display will only be open a total of 80 hours over the eight days.

“I doubt these will come to Canada again,” said Dan Rahimi, a ROM curator. “The scrolls are very sensitive to light and that’s why we have it for such a very short time.”

Like the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are being displayed on rotation every few months — eight at a time — the age of the scrolls makes them prone to deterioration the longer they are open to the public eye.
The Ten Commandments, the largest of the Hebrew scrolls found, is a must-see document during a ROM visit, Rahimi added.

New Beginnings in life

{mosimage}TORONTO - Widowed, separated or divorced Catholics can find hope again through New Beginnings, a ministry founded and operated in Toronto since the late 1970s.

Often mistaken for a dating service, the ministry actually aims at guiding its participants through their grief, anger, confusion or guilt, while helping them on a spiritual level.

The ministry’s director, Fr. Rudy Volk, said numbers have declined since its original retreat headquarters, St. Joseph’s Morrow Park, was sold three years ago, and he hopes the word will spread New Beginnings is still dedicated to the retreats and discussion groups via new locations.

A group of leader-volunteers brings years of experience and expertise to the ministry.

Jesuits put vow of poverty into action

{mosimage}TORONTO - There are 17,000 people living in 19 high-rise buildings crammed into just two city blocks in St. James Town — Canada’s most densely populated neighbourhood. Two of those 17,000 chose St. Jamestown over an historic, six-bedroom brick home in a quiet, leafy neighbourhood near High Park.

Jesuit provincial superior Fr. Jim Webb, and his right hand man, or socius, Fr. Peter Bisson have been living in a three-bedroom apartment in one of Toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods for 10 months.
Webb believes the Jesuit vow of poverty has to be more than a theory.

“If you say that material things are not important but then there’s no sign of it, it lacks credibility,” he said.

Peace is in the hands of youth


{mosimage}TORONTO - “Peace is hard,” Justin Trudeau told more than 4,000 Catholic students gathered in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Peace Garden Sept. 29.
Nobody disagreed with him.

“We need your ideas, we need your vision, we need your dreams,” the Liberal Member of Parliament and ex-teacher declared.

Twenty-five years after his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, turned the sod on Toronto’s Peace Garden, his son was entrusting the ideals of peace and social justice to teenagers struggling with homework and hormones.

Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph pioneers still after 350 years

For Sr. Marilyn Larocque things that were true, essential and necessary 350 years ago are just as true, essential and necessary today.

Larocque and her religious community, the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, have been celebrating the 350th anniversary of their arrival in Canada this year, and discovering how much they are in sync with their founders.
“We’re still pioneers,” said Larocque. “Our founder Jerome (Le Royer de la Dauversiere) and our first sister (Venerable) Marie de la Ferre, they were pioneers.”

Back then the RHSJs pioneered by establishing hospitals and teaching in the first schools in New France. There are new needs today, and therefore the sisters are pioneering new ministries.

Eucharistic adoration flourishes in Toronto

TORONTO - The demand for eucharistic adoration appears to have grown in Toronto, thanks in part to a Serra Club of Downtown Toronto member who discovered a calling to promote it.

Zinnia Milburn has been praying for both an increase in vocations and a stronger devotion to eucharistic adoration since becoming a Serran in 2002. The Serra Club is an organization that promotes and fosters vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life.

“Adoration is very important,” Milburn said. “He is there body, soul and divinity. You are talking right there to Him.”

Awakening the masses to Theology of the Body

{mosimage}TORONTO - Christopher West, a popular speaker on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, will be in Toronto Oct. 16-17 for a presentation on “discovering the master plan for your life.”

Invited by the God, Sex and the Meaning of Life Ministry, West hopes to crack open difficult theology, as he usually does, for the average person.

“My goal is to stir hope that there is a banquet that corresponds to the hunger of the human heart,” West said. “Every human being has this ache, this yearning, this longing. We’re looking for something and what this seminar does is it taps into that hunger and awakens us.”