{mosimage}TORONTO - As Canadians come to grips with an expected H1N1 flu pandemic, Catholic dioceses across Canada are taking extra precautionary steps to guard against the flu that has so far claimed the lives of 95 Canadians.

Steps were in place in many dioceses to stem the spread of H1N1, also known as swine flu. But they are being ramped up in some dioceses.

Bishops release funds to D&P

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Canada’s Catholic bishops will release funds to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P), at the same time increasing their oversight of the agency.

“Aware that Development and Peace is already engaged in this process of renewal, the bishops decided, in the interval, to support Development and Peace and its 2010 Share Lent collection,” said a statement released Oct. 23, at the close of the five-day Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops annual plenary in  Cornwall, Ont.

We are called to be with dying, not to kill them, COLF says

{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) has written a strongly worded letter to Parliamentarians and Senators opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“Keeping in mind that Canada has rejected the death penalty, it would be a contradiction and an injustice to consider allowing some people to directly and intentionally kill others, especially at a time when they are most vulnerable,” wrote COLF director Michele Boulva in an Oct. 15 open letter.

Catholics applaud move to unite Anglicans with Rome

{mosimage}CORNWALL, Ont. - The primate of Canada’s Catholic Church has welcomed the groundbreaking news that the Vatican has established a special canonical structure to bring disgruntled Anglicans into the church, but the primate of Canada’s Anglican Church predicted tensions may emerge.

The Vatican surprised Catholics and Anglicans alike on Oct. 20 with a bold announcement of a new apostolic constitution that will open the Catholic Church to Anglicans who are disenchanted by a liberal theology that permits women priests and a growing acceptance of gay marriage and openly gay bishops. Under the historic arrangement, Anglican priests who are married may be ordained Catholic priests, but married Anglican bishops will not be able to function as Catholic bishops. Anglicans will also be able to retain much of the Anglican liturgy that has been developed since Henry VIII split from Rome in 1534.

Charges against Bishop Lahey sound painful note at CCCB plenary

{mosimage}CORNWALL, Ont. - The child pornography charges laid against Bishop Raymond Lahey cast a pall over the weeks leading up to the annual gathering of Canada’s Catholic bishops.

In his last report to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as president, Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber said it “might be tempting” to use the phrase Annus horribilis to describe them. But the phrase is not part of our Catholic tradition, he said.

Conservative Catholics trying to undermine Vatican II advances, Baum says

{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Second Vatican Council represents a "paradigm shift" in the Catholic Church that remains irreversible despite conservative efforts to undermine it.

That was the message of “hope” two living witnesses of the council brought to the Vatican II in Canada conference at Saint Paul University Oct. 15.

Quebec survey shows specialists favour euthanasia

{mosimage}In response to a poll showing three-quarters of Quebec medical specialists would likely favour legalized euthanasia, Catholic groups say Canada must improve its end-of-life care.

The groups were responding to an Oct. 13 survey by the Quebec Federation of Medical Specialists which suggests that a majority of those surveyed are in favour of supporting legalized euthanasia.

Canadian Tamil community in crisis

{mosimage}TORONTO - There’s a mental health emergency in Toronto’s huge Tamil community.

Addictions and alcoholism, depression, family violence, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicides haunt the community as people struggle to cope with death and disappearance of their families back home in Sri Lanka.

The extraordinary stress on Toronto’s 150,000 Sri Lankan Tamils dates back to the Christmas 2004 tsunami that wiped out whole villages in the largely Catholic coastal areas. But just as Toronto’s Tamils began to recover from the grief of burying family and friends and seeing the places they grew up obliterated by the sea, the war then intensified along the same coastal strip.

Canadian needy are not seeing an end to the recession

{mosimage}TORONTO - Economic experts may say the recession is over, but unemployed workers are still bearing the brunt of the economic crisis, say directors of Catholic-run agencies.

Good Shepherd Centre executive director Br. David Lynch said the centre has been “seeing more and more people than we’ve ever seen before.” He says there has been a 46-per-cent increase in demand for meals this year at his downtown shelter. The centre is serving an average of 1,100 daily meals and snacks, compared to 800 last year.

Lahey’s body language, travel record prompt computer search

{mosimage}Bishop Raymond Lahey’s evasive behaviour coupled with a passport stamped with exotic locations known for child pornography prompted a Canadian Border Services agent to examine the contents of his laptop.

Lahey, 69, faces charges of possession and importation of child pornography in the form of “graphic computer images.”

Euthanasia debate appeals to few Canadian politicians


{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.