KAIROSTORONTO - One year after losing its federal government funding and being accused of supporting anti-Semitic organizations, KAIROS has come out “stronger” and remains hopeful that its funding will be reinstated, says executive director Mary Corkery.

The challenges KAIROS faced over the past year have “renewed our passion to carry out a mission in support of social justice which is the root of peace, the heart of peace, the only way peace and development can happen,” Corkery told said during a Dec. 1 teleconference with four partners in Kenya, Colombia and the Philippines. KAIROS invited church media to the teleconference to provide an update on the funding cut.  

PETA campaign slammed by rights league

The Catholic Civil Rights League has strongly denounced a spaying and neutering campaign by an animal rights group that depicts Pope Benedict XVI brandishing a condom.

In a campaign launched Dec. 2 in the Vatican, representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) began handing out their “Pope Condom campaign leaflets.” PETA said the campaign will be taken to cathedrals and churches across the United States.

Catholic education moulded retiring MP Keith Martin

Dr. Keith MartinOTTAWA - When Dr. Keith Martin recalls all that he has accomplished, he can't help but thank the priests who taught him at Toronto's Neil McNeil High School.

The retiring MP credits his Catholic education and the challenges created by some tough but caring priests with shaping the values of charity, compassion and kindness that have guided his life ever since.

“They taught us to look outside ourselves,” he said.

Immigration minister lashes out at bishops’ criticism of anti-human smuggling bill

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason KenneyOTTAWA - Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has fired back at Canada’s bishops for a public letter criticizing his anti human-smuggling bill.

The letter reflects a “long tradition of ideological bureaucrats who work for the bishops’ conference producing political letters signed by pastors who may not have specialized knowledge in certain areas of policy,” Kenney said in an interview.

Blair, Hitchens face off over religion in Toronto debate

Blair HitchensTORONTO - Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens duked it out to a draw in the biggest public debate on religion ever held in Toronto Nov. 26.

At the start of the evening, 22 per cent of the sold-out crowd at Roy Thomson Hall were in favour of Blair’s proposition that religion is a force for good in the world. Fifty-seven per cent thought religion was a force for ill and 21 per cent were undecided. Before the debate, fully 75 per cent of the live audience claimed they were open to changing their mind.

Pro-family groups step up the fight against transsexual ‘bathroom bill’

landolt hughsOTTAWA - Pro-family groups are raising alarms about a bill before Parliament that would give expanded rights to transgendered and transsexuals.

They argue it could expose businesses, schools and religious groups to a host of new human rights complaints that trample on their religious freedom and freedom of expression.

“Our government has come one step closer to passing the ultra-radical, private members’ Bill C-389,” warned Campaign Life Coalition Nov. 5 shortly after NDP MP Bill Siksay’s bill passed through the Justice Committee by a 9-2 vote. “If passed, it would add ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ as a protected class within the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.”

Green church program aims at environmental awareness

Green ChurchesTORONTO - More help is being offered to churches that want to do something about climate change.

The Montreal-based Canadian Centre for Ecumenism has launched the Green Church program to advise churches on ways to reduce their carbon footprint and lower heating bills. Joined with Toronto-based Greening Sacred Spaces, Green Church will offer certification to churches that achieve a high level of environmental awareness and act on it starting in April 2011.

Newfoundland Church going through purification process

Archbishop Martin CurriesTORONTO - Despite the challenges of an aging population, high unemployment and Newfoundland’s Catholic Church recovering from a painful chapter in its history, Archbishop Martin Currie of St. John’s and of Grand Falls, Nfld., says there is an opportunity to evangelize communities in a province with deep Catholic roots.

“I believe with all that has gone on in the Church, in some way it’s part of the mystery of God. God is trying to purify the Church,”  said Currie, who has served as a bishop for 10 years and 42 years as a priest.  

Whitehorse bishop finds an unexpected forum to spread the New Evangelization in Toronto

Bishop Gary GordonTORONTO - My wife and I were serving soup and sandwiches to university students at the Newman Centre on the campus of the University of Toronto when we first met Bishop Gary Gordon, the bishop of Whitehorse. We felt that we already knew the bishop because we had seen him featured in two fine documentaries on Salt + Light TV.

Strangely enough, the gathering was called “A Retreat in the City,” and Gordon came through the front door, rosy cheeked and carrying a back pack and looking as if he had just pulled himself off the Chilkoot Trail. It seemed to me that the last thing he would be seeking would be solace in the Big Smoke.

Election posturing looms over poverty issues

Rich poorTORONTO - With elections looming next year both provincially and nationally, political parties are jockeying to position themselves on poverty.

At Queen’s Park politicians made time to talk to the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition Nov. 18 and trade blows over who really cares about the poor. In Ottawa, opposition politicians ganged up on the Conservatives Nov. 17 to issue a 300-page report calling for a national poverty reduction strategy to support the half-dozen provincial plans.

Mission bishops descend on Toronto

cmicTORONTO - Four missionary bishops are in the archdiocese of Toronto in November to spread the word about the needs of Canada’s mission territories.

Bishop Vincent Cadieux, O.M.I., of Moosonee and Hearst in Northern Ontario, Bishop Fred Colli of Thunder Bay, Archbishop Martin Currie of St. John’s and of Grand Falls, Nfld., and Bishop Gary Gordon of Whitehorse have been visiting parishes around the archdiocese and will continue to do so until the end of the month.