NEWS

{mosimage}TORONTO - Administrative backlogs, a marriage of convenience with the United States and compromised due process in Canada's refugee system have churches taking Canada's government to the Supreme Court and refugee advocates pushing politicians to live up to a law Parliament passed in 2001 and then re-passed this summer.

The Canadian Council of Churches, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees will challenge Canada's Safe Third Country agreement with the United States at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Jesuit leadership changes hands

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{mosimage}PICKERING, Ont. - As he accepted the blessing of Jesuits and their friends at the end of a St. Ignatius Day Mass in Pickering, Ont. July 31, Fr. Jim Webb took up a "heroic, humble task" in imitation of the man who founded the Jesuits 474 years ago.

Webb officially became the provincial superior for the Jesuits of English Canada, taking over from Fr. Jean-Marc Laporte.

Solzhenitsyn left enduring legacy of freedom

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{mosimage}LONDON, Ont. - It will take years, even decades, to comprehend fully the impact of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died of heart failure Aug. 2 at the age of 89 in his home near Moscow.

Born in 1918, the same year as his father’s death, Solzhenitsyn was brought up by his mother and graduated in mathematics and physics from Rostov University in 1941, then went directly into the army. After four years of front-line service in a Russian artillery unit, he was arrested in February 1945 because of disrespectful remarks made about Joseph Stalin and discovered by government censors in correspondence with a friend.

Spreading the gospel of life through Facebook

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{mosimage}TORONTO - When Toronto resident Charbel El-chaar, 40, saw there was no online discussion for the cause of the late Pope John Paul II's sainthood, he quickly fixed that by starting a Facebook group called “John Paul II the Great is a saint. 1 Million person will say he is.”

Director of Manresa retires — again

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{mosimage}PICKERING, Ont. - The Jesuit priest who rescued the Manresa Jesuit Renewal Centre in Pickering from decay and decline, twice, is retiring.

Quebec City hosts 2,000 attendees and friends for annual gathering

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{mosimage}QUEBEC CITY - On the heels of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, Quebec City welcomed another Catholic gathering of about 2,000 attendees from the Knights of Columbus from all over the world. The Knights, their families and church leaders converged at the Quebec City Convention Centre, Aug. 5-7, for the 126th Supreme Convention.

Humanae Vitae receives new respect 40 years later

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae shocked Catholics and non-Catholics alike with its ban against artificial birth control.

But on its 40th anniversary, marked July 25, the encyclical is widely seen as prophetic and worth a second look for its teachings on human love.

Anglicans must stay true to Scriptures

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{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - The Anglican Communion needs to find a way to affirm the dignity of all people and encourage the active role of women in the church while remaining faithful to the Christian tradition and Scriptures, said Cardinal Walter Kasper.

The cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke July 30 at a session for bishops attending the Anglican Communion's Lambeth Conference, which is held once every 10 years, in England.

Canadian philosopher Taylor reaps more honours

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{mosimage}TORONTO - For the second time in just over a year, Montreal-born philosophy professor Charles Taylor is being honoured for a lifetime of thinking about modern life, multiculturalism and morality. Along with University of Toronto molecular biologist Anthony Pawson and University of California computer scientist Richard Karp, Taylor has been tapped for this year's Kyoto Prize, worth $460,000.

Last year Taylor, 76, was granted the $2-million Templeton Prize for Progress or Discoveries in Spiritual Realities. The Kyoto Prize is awarded by the Inamori Foundation for significant contributions to science, culture and the spiritual development of humanity.

Ghanian church aims to keep the peace

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WINDSOR, Ont. - Ghana’s first cardinal said the church will be playing a role in upcoming elections in his country, seeking to maintain stability in what generally has been one of West Africa’s most peaceful and economically developed countries.

Cardinal Peter (Kodwo Appiah) Turkson told a news conference here that despite recent years of good governance under a parliamentary system “we have in the back of our minds what happened in Kenya” last December and January when rioting broke out and people died over disputed presidential election results.

“The tribal differences and the possibility of political groups making use of the tribal differences among us, that’s also there,” he said. “We want to ensure that nothing like that happens.”

He said the church will be contributing monitors to ensure the elections “are free and fair.” The country’s first election was held in 1992 and the subsequent political evolution has shown the country has “made some headway.” He said “it’s that hope that we can transfer some of these experiences to our neighbouring countries.”

Otherwise, Turkson said, the country is “peaceful politically (and) economically very viable.” Catholics make up about 18 per cent of Ghana’s Christian population. The overall population is 23 million.

Turkson was in Windsor after participating in the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City in mid-June. He came after pledging to visit local Rotarians because of their help in rebuilding schools and medical clinics in his region.

A group called RELAY (Rotarians Enhancing Learning of African Youth) has made three trips to the area since 2005. It also has done similar work in Kenya and is headed to northern Ethiopia next year. Since starting with a $10,000 project it has raised more than $250,000.

Turkson, 59, was proclaimed cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003. He was ordained in 1975 and has a doctorate in sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.

Turkson has spoken out strongly in Ghana in favour of political cohesion, stressing the importance for Catholics to read and understand the Koran, for example. Muslims make up 16 per cent of the population. He also called on his nation’s government to fulfill a promise to provide identity cards to all citizens as a “basic instrument for democracy” that would assist in planning for the country’s welfare.

Turkson said that while Ghana is moving forward on several fronts the country still requires substantial assistance. Commenting on the amount of technology he saw in Windsor’s hospitals, he said cases that would probably lead to death in Ghana may not necessarily do so here, “so the difference is huge.”

The RELAY group was formed by husband and wife Michael and Shelly Duben. Michael’s mother was from the Ghanian town of Anomabo. After her death he wanted to visit the town “to just have a look at what her community was like. And because we’re Rotarians we decided to do a project there.”

Duben suggested Turkson is someone to watch in the church.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about the next pope potentially coming out of Africa,” he said. “He is fairly young and he’s one of those individuals who’s just an engaging speaker. Whether young or old he gets the message across. And that’s what we really like about him.”

(Stang is a freelance writer in Windsor, Ont.)

Petition supports war resisters

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{mosimage}TORONTO - More than 60 religious organizations, many of them ecumenical and many of them Catholic, have backed a petition asking Ottawa to halt deportations of U.S. soldiers who have come to Canada to avoid serving in Iraq.

The online petition sponsored by the Quakers asks Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley to create a policy to allow conscientious objectors to stay in Canada. The petition cites the June 3 advisory vote of Parliament which would have allowed American soldiers to stay in Canada as permanent residents.