{mosimage}TORONTO-The glaring media spotlight, public scrutiny and even attacks on the Catholic Church over recent abuse allegations presents a time of great challenge but also an opportunity to refocus on our baptismal call to live out the Gospel teachings, says Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins.

The archbishop has found himself addressing the matter frequently over recent days, with media and those in the pews, as allegations continue to swirl around a sex abuse scandal and cover-up by some clergy in Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Brazil and the United States.

“Throughout the world, (some) priests have done unspeakable evil. We should be grateful for the attention that the media is devoting to the sins of Catholic clergy, even if constant repetition may give it the false impression that Catholic clergy are particularly sinful,” Collins told a crowd of more than 400 people at St. Michael’s Cathedral March 30 at the annual Chrism Mass.

Giving hope to gang members

{mosimage}TORONTO - After an airport delay caused by suspicion and confusion that he was going to a “gang conference,” American priest Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J., joined a group of speakers March 24 in Toronto at the 2010 Canada-U.S. Gang Summit.

The summit, sponsored by Hincks-Dellcrest Centre and Astwood Strategy Corporations, brought together North America’s top gang experts to share their knowledge and experiences in street gang prevention, reduction, intervention and re-integration.

$2.1-million federal grant saves O'Connor House

{mosimage}TORONTO - It must be the luck of the Irish. In March, just before St. Patrick’s Day, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty rewarded the persistence of the O’Connor Irish Heritage House’s board with a gift of $2.1 million for its restoration of O’Connor House.

For five years, O’Connor House’s board has been fundraising and rallying support to save a Catholic philanthropist’s stately old home on the grounds of Senator O’Connor College School.

Students go underground in aid of ShareLife

{mosimage}TORONTO - Leslie Gimpes, a student at Mississauga’s St. Joseph Catholic High School, joined more than 75 students from three Toronto-area high schools at busy subway stops in the city March 24 to raise awareness and funds for ShareLife.

ShareLife is the archdiocese of Toronto’s charitable fundraising arm. It supports more than 30 agencies in the archdiocese, including Covenant House Toronto, a homeless shelter for youth, Catholic Family Services in the Greater Toronto Area and Rosalie Hall, which helps young mothers and their children.

Neil McNeil’s founding principal Fr. Michael Troy dies at 93

{mosimage}TORONTO - Fr. Michael Troy was known to the first class of Neil McNeil High School graduates as a spiritual father and well-respected leader. So much so that students called him the “Big Daddy” of Neil McNeil.

Fr. Troy, C.S.Sp., was the founding principal of the high school in 1957. He died at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital March 19. He was 93.

Liberals abortion proposal sunk from within party ranks by pro-life MPs

{mosimage}OTTAWA - A Liberal motion to force the federal government to include abortion and contraception in its maternal health initiative was  defeated March 23.

Perceived by the Tories and Parliament Hill journalists as an attempt to drive a wedge between pro-life and pro-choice members of the Conservative Party, the motion backfired, even with the support of the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois, losing by a 144 to 138 vote.

D&P, LifeSite rev up their online war


OTTAWA - A leaked document that accuses Canadian “pro-life” groups of being militant, right-wing organizations that associate with violent factions has put the executive director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) on the hot seat.

The document, a 10-page series of question-and-answers, was drafted by D&P to counter negative online media reports from a year ago, said executive director Michael Casey. It says “militant” pro-life groups and bloggers conspired in “concerted,” “organized” and “slanderous” attacks on D&P and it derides what are called “single-issue militant advocacy groups” that “continually misrepresent facts and distort reality to serve their purpose.”

Newspapers' abuse coverage prompts Canadian Bishops statement

{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has slammed press coverage in The National Post and La Presse newspapers suggesting the Catholic Church has inadequately responded to the sexual abuse crisis.

Both papers carried March 18 articles on abuse of minors by those in the church.

Singing the praises of Danny Boy

{mosimage}TORONTO - Danny Boy runs after the red ball, with his golden brown tail wagging from side to side and panting with a doggy-style grin from ear to ear.

The year-old toy poodle is a resident favourite at St. Bernard’s Retirement Residence on Finch Avenue West run by the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood .

“We began to see that people, their eyes light up when they see him, especially when people are coming in the beginning because of the life they left behind,” said residence administrator Sr. Francis Bisland.

Vatican Observatory tries to understand God through science

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Vatican has its eyes on outer space to bridge the divide between science and religion and promote good science, said Fr. José G. Funes, S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory.

Funes was in Toronto March 16 to give the Naming the Holy lecture at the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto on “The Evolving Universe.” The lecture is sponsored by the Newman Centre and the Regis College Jesuit community.

Anglican Catholic Church of Canada seeks unity

{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada College of Bishops has sent a formal letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome asking that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus be implemented in Canada.

Released last November by the Vatican, the Apostolic Constitution opened the door for Anglicans to become Catholic while retaining aspects of their liturgical and spiritual patrimony. In asking that a personal ordinariate be established in Canada, the Anglican Catholic Church is following similar requests from the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.