OTTAWA - The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace launched its annual Share Lent fundraising campaign here March 16 with the goal of raising $10 million.

Under the banner Building a World of Justice, the Canadian bishops' overseas development agency aims to collect $10 million across Canada to go towards more than 200 sustainable development projects it supports in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

The theme for this year’s campaign expresses the collective work of the many local organizations that D&P has supported over the last 40 years.

Ordinariates are meant to evangelize, witness to unity, says Dominican scholar

The Anglicanorum coetibus Conference hosted by Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins.OTTAWA - The headline speaker at an historic conference March 24-26 in Mississauga, Ont., hopes Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans will flourish in the Catholic Church through an emphasis on mission and unity.

But Fr. Aidan Nichols, a Dominican priest and scholar who is an expert on Anglican Church history and patrimony, would have preferred the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus had gone further than the Personal Ordinariate structure it calls for and instead created “the Western equivalent of a Catholic Eastern Church.”

“That would have been my preferred option, chiefly because it would be better able to resist assimilation to the parishes of the Latin dioceses,” he said in an e-mail interview. “But if the ecclesial arrangement offered enables the 'patrimony' to be transmitted, that is the main thing.”

Money the obstacle as Atlantic School of Theology strike looms

Atlantic School of TheologyAs the legal strike deadline looms at 12:01 a.m. March 18, negotiators for the Atlantic School of Theology and its Faculty Association hope a March 21 meeting will put them on a path to a first contract between unionized librarians and professors and the school.

The big issue is money.

"The Atlantic School of Theology faculty is probably the most poorly paid faculty in Canada," said James Turk, Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director. "What they're being offered by the school is very, very little."

Salaries for academic staff with PhDs range from $41,000 to $103,470 for a full professor. The president of the university makes just over $100,000, plus taxable benefits of $26,606.

Graphic images force Alberta bishops out of March for Life


Archbishop Richard Smith

EDMONTON - The Alberta bishops will not participate in this year’s March for Life because organizers could not guarantee that placards displaying dead fetuses would not be present at the event.

Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith, liaison bishop with march organizers, said the presence of images of aborted babies at the march is not consistent with the message the bishops want to portray about the dignity of human life. The graphic images “have started to become a predominant image in the march,” Smith said. Given that the Alberta bishops have been in the forefront of organizing the march, people could naturally assume that they have “given our blessing” to those images, he said.

This year’s March for Life is scheduled for May 12 and Smith said the bishops “will not stand in the way of anybody else participating.”

MPP honoured for efforts to recognize Ukrainian genocide

MPP Dave Levac with his Ukrainian Order of Merit. (Photo by Michael Swan)TORONTO - Not many people have been knighted for an act of remembering. Ontario Liberal MPP Dave Levac is one of the few, recently made a Chevalier of the Ukrainian Order of Merit for his efforts to have the genocide of Ukrainians in the 1930s officially recognized in Ontario.

In 2009 Levac pushed through the Holodomor Memorial Day Act, recognizing the fourth Saturday of each November as Holodomor Memorial Day. A Soviet government-engineered famine in Ukraine in 1932 and 1933, the Holodomor killed up to 10 million Ukrainians, as many as 25,000 a day at its peak in 1933.

Levac was presented with his Order of Merit medal at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brantford, Ont., Jan. 21. It’s the highest honour awarded by the Ukrainian government.

“It humbles me,” said Levac.

Michael Voris gives a voice to the voiceless faithful

Michael Voris (Courtesy of St. Michael's Media)TORONTO - American Catholic YouTube sensation Michael Voris doesn’t mince words.

His direct, no-nonsense approach to hot-button issues like abortion and contraception may rub some the wrong way. But a dedicated following, including young Catholics like 24-year-old Therese Miller of Cambridge, Ont., has discovered him online and say they find his countercultural message inspirational as they live out their faith in their schools and workplaces.

Voris’ appeal is extending north to Canada, where he had recent exposure on the Michael Coren Show and he was scheduled to speak at a March 19 World Youth Day fundraiser in Kitchener, Ont.

Voris is an Emmy award-winning broadcaster who founded St. Michael’s Media in 2006. His YouTube show The Vortex averages thousands of viewers and has been downloaded more than five million times over the past two years.

D&P partner finds immediate rewards in Afghanistan development work

CRS enlists local Afghanis for a snow-clearing effort in Ghor through its cash-for-work program. (Photo courtesy of Scott Braunschweig)OTTAWA - Scott Braunschweig sometimes wonders if the development work he is doing in Afghanistan is “in some ways very selfish.” After all, he finds it so personally gratifying.

Braunschweig works with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international development arm of the American bishops. He had worked in many other countries in overseas development previously, but often found it difficult dealing with bureaucracy to get things done. But in Afghanistan, “you get this immediate reward... you can see the physical health of the people improve when you put in a water project.”

Afghanistan had been on Braunschweig’s “no-go” list back in 2004 when he was looking at going overseas again. But despite his concerns about violence and negative perceptions about conflict, an intriguing position with the Tribal Liaison Office lured him there.

Interfaith leaders call for inspired leadership in addressing poverty

Joe GunnOTTAWA - An interfaith coalition is calling for “inspired leadership” from the federal government in addressing poverty in Canada.

It also expressed dismay over the Conservative government’s March 7 response to the poverty-elimination plan proposed last November by the Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of People with Disabilities (HUMA).

“We were disappointed that the federal government response did not take advantage of the consensus for co-ordinated action reflected in the HUMA report and did not respond substantively to the recommendations,” said the March 8 Interfaith Declaration from the Canadian Council of Churches (which includes Canada’s Catholic bishops), the Canadian Interfaith Delegation — World Religions Summit 2010, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Dignity for All.

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) released a more critical statement, saying that its “hope for Ottawa to meaningfully engage in poverty reduction efforts evaporated” when the federal government released its response to the HUMA report.

Pro-family groups are granted intervenor status in prostitution case

OTTAWA - Three pro-family groups have been granted leave to make a joint intervention in an appeal to a ruling that struck down prohibitions against prostitution, which is to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal later this spring.

“We’re very pleased an intervention in support of the dignity of women and of family will be heard in the appeal,” said Catholic Civil Rights League executive director Joanne McGarry. 

The league is making a joint-intervention with REAL Women of Canada and the Christian Legal Fellowship. The three groups intervened previously when the Terri Jean Bedford et al. vs. the Attorney General of Canada case went before the Ontario Superior Court last September.

In that ruling, Justice Susan Himel struck down sections of the Criminal Code that prohibited soliciting for the sake of prostitution, running a brothel or pimping.

Senate urged to quickly pass ‘Medicine for All’ bill

Senator Sharon CarstairsOTTAWA - Supporters of the “Medicine for All” Bill C-393 hope the bill can pass the Senate before a possible spring election call that would see the bill die.

“This is one of those rare moments of life, where you have a precious window of opportunity, you either open it or you don’t,” said Dr. James Orbinski, Dignitas International founder and a University of Toronto public health professor. “Let’s make it happen.”

The bill, which passed the House of Commons March 9, would amend the Access to Medicine Regime and make cheaper generic drugs available to the world’s poor. Opponents are against this as it would infringe upon trademark and other rights held by big pharmaceutical companies.

Baby Joseph 'resting well' after transfer to St. Louis hospital


Baby Joseph Maraachli and his mother, Sana Nader. Baby Joseph has been transferred to a hospital in St. Louis. (Photo from facebook)TORONTO - A private plane jetted Baby Joseph Maraachli to a hospital in St. Louis March 13, ending the family's battle with the London, Ont., hospital that sought to withdraw the breathing tube keeping the seriously ill 13-month-old alive.

The family's legal team of Windsor, Ont., lawyer Claudio Martini and the Washington, D.C.-based American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ) helped secure the transfer of Baby Joseph to SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Centre in St. Louis. The private plane, hired by the New York-based Priests for Life, landed at midnight in St. Louis. Priests for Life will also cover the family's medical costs.

The Baby Joseph saga has been played out for the past month as the Maraachli family battled London Health Sciences Centre, hoping for a tracheotomy for their dying child and the right to bring him home to live out his final days surrounded by family and loved ones. The child has a neurodegenerative disease and needs a breathing and feeding tube to survive. A Feb. 18 Ontario Superior Court ruling ordered the family to consent to the removal of the breathing tube on Feb. 21, confirming the recommendations of the hospital's doctors and the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario. But Joseph's family defied the legal order.