News/Canada

Moe Maraachli kisses his son Baby Joseph. The toddler has a neurodegenerative disease and doctors say he will not recover. (Facebook Photo)TORONTO - As the Baby Joseph medical and legal drama plays out in Canadian and American media, what must not be forgotten is the toddler's best interests, say Catholic bioethicists.

The Baby Joseph saga has tugged at the hearts of many as the Maraachli family battles London Health Sciences Centre, hoping for a tracheotomy for their dying 13-month-old child and the right to bring him home to live out his final days surrounded by family and loved ones.

Baby Joseph has a neurodegenerative disease and doctors say he won't recover. He requires a breathing and feeding tube to survive. A Feb. 18 Ontario Superior Court ruling ordered the family to consent to the removal of Joseph's breathing tube on Feb. 21. The ruling confirmed the recommendations of the hospital's doctors and the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario.

Fr. Williams’ 40-year career at Michael Power/St. Joseph's fondly remembered

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Fr WilliamsTORONTO - Basilian Father Albert Lawrence Williams was like a “grandfather” to students and teachers at Toronto’s Michael Power/St. Joseph High School.

Known as “Fr. Bob” to his friends, Williams died on Feb. 15, leaving behind a four-decade legacy as a teacher at Michael Power/St. Joseph.

He also taught at St. Michael’s College School and was a former Secretary General of the Basilian Fathers.

‘Advocacy’ cited in KAIROS’ cuts

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Bev OdaOTTAWA - An internal background document distributed to members of the Conservative caucus about the KAIROS funding controversy reveals another clue why a $7-million funding request from the ecumenical social justice organization was denied.

The document’s first talking point states: “Our government supports funding to deliver aid and tangible results for the people of developing countries, not subsidizing advocacy.”

In other words, funding is not available for what might be considered community organizing and activism, such as supporting advocacy groups in the developing world whose mandate is to empower disadvantaged people, push for better living conditions or lobby for indigenous rights or environmental protection.

40 days of making a difference for life

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TORONTO - The 40 Days for Life campaign is making a difference, said Nicole Campbell, 40 Days for Life Toronto co-ordinator. In fact, she said nine abortion facilities throughout North America have closed as a result of the campaign.

“The thing is with the 40 Days for Life, and with abortion in general, is that it’s not enough to be personally pro-life,” Campbell told The Catholic Register. “It’s great but it does nothing to actually end abortion. It’s only when we’re publicly pro-life that we can impact and change our culture one person at a time through prayer and through our public witness.”

Linda Gibbons to get a hearing before the Supreme Court of Canada

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TORONTO - The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to hear jailed activist Linda Gibbons' appeal of a temporary injunction banning protest at downtown Toronto abortion clinics later this year.

Her lawyer, Daniel Santoro, expects the Supreme Court could hear her case in the fall.

Gibbons, a 62-year-old great-grandmother, has been arrested 20 times over the last 16 years, spending half of that time in maximum security prisons for different offences under the Criminal Code. This for violating a temporary 1994 civil court injunction protecting downtown Toronto abortion clinics from protesters such as Gibbons, an injunction that has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Ontario. She is not permitted within 60 feet of the clinics. Gibbons has violated the injunction each time by praying within the no-go zone.

Saguenay Mayor vows to fight prayer ban

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The Catholic mayor of Saguenay, Que., is appealing for donations to help him fight a Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruling that ordered him to stop opening council meetings with a prayer.

Mayor Jean Tremblay said he will appeal the decision all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We make a prayer, all the council, since the beginning of the city 150 years ago,” said Tremblay in an interview from Saguenay of the 20-second prayer said before the opening of council meetings.

Tremblay has also refused to heed an order to remove a crucifix and a small statue of the Sacred Heart from council chambers.

“We don’t agree with that because those objects for some people that means our faith, for some others our culture, for some other our tradition,” he said.

D&P keeps a watchful eye on Mideast developments

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With only a few, small projects in the Middle East, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is carefully watching the changing political landscape before it makes any changes to its programming in the region.

“Our current program, which is mainly focused on peacebuilding, is quite small and we are not present in any of the countries experiencing protests,” Development and Peace spokeswoman Kelly Di Domenico told The Catholic Register.

Most of the $935,000 a year Development and Peace designates for the Middle East is in fact spent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where partner agencies receive $385,000 and $120,000 to run programs that help women earn money.

Ontario’s equity policy on tap at annual OCSTA conference

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Ontario Minister of Education Leona DombrowskyTORONTO - The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association conference takes place April 28 to 30 at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.

Ontario Minister of Education Leona Dombrowksy will be a keynote speaker at the conference on the opening day of the annual conference.

Among the topics conference speakers and participants will discuss will be the Ontario government’s equity and inclusive education strategy and how it applies to Catholic schools and how the strategy will be implemented in Catholic schools. The issue has caused controversy as Catholic school boards try to implement the strategy while staying true to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Bishop Lacroix to succeed Cardinal Ouellet in Quebec City

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Archbishop LacroixQUEBEC CITY - The search for Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s replacement came to an end on Feb. 22 when the Vatican announced that Bishop Gerald Lacroix will become the new archbishop of Quebec.

Lacroix, 53, had been acting as diocesan administrator to the archdiocese since Pope Benedict XVI named Ouellet the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and transferred the cardinal in August to Rome. Among Ouellet’s duties is to advise the Pope on the appointment of bishops.

Oda admits to doctoring KAIROS memo

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Bev OdaOTTAWA - The interfaith group KAIROS was denied $7 million in funding after an approval document signed by senior civil servants was doctored by International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, the minister has admitted.

The Conservative Minister now stands accused of lying to a committee of MPs when she testified on Dec. 9 that she did not know who altered the memo that was drafted by executives at the Canadian International Development Agency.

The original CIDA memo indicated that its president and a vice-president approved a KAIROS request for a four-year funding grant. But after the memo had been signed by CIDA executives the word “not” was inserted by hand to change a key sentence to read “not approve,” creating the impression that CIDA had rejected the request.

On Feb. 14 Oda admitted in the House of Commons that she ordered that the “not” be inserted, contradicting statements she had made two months earlier.

Quebec bishops seek help to maintain historic churches

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Quebec churchOTTAWA - Quebec’s Catholic bishops have asked the province to consider better ways to help maintain the churches and religious buildings associated with the provinces’ cultural heritage.

The request by the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec’s religious patrimony committee was made in a Nov. 11 submission to the province’s Parliamentary commission of culture and education, but not made public until early February.

In it, the bishops suggested revisions to Quebec’s Cultural Property Act.

The bishops pointed out large sums of money are needed to maintain and restore churches and historic buildings belonging to religious communities. Otherwise, church properties will continue to be sold to developers who may turn them into condominiums or concert halls, they said.