News/Canada

{mosimage}On March 19 The Catholic Register sponsored a lecture in the 2009-2010 Somerville Lecture series at St. Jerome’s University. The lecture, titled “Muted and maligned voices: Public Justice and the Canadian Church,” was delivered by Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice. Below is an abridged version of his address.

On Oct. 17, 1996, the United Nations’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Canadians turned on their evening newscast to hear CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge begin with these words:

“Good evening. A blistering attack on governments across the country today, from Canada’s Roman Catholic bishops. The issue is poverty. The bishops accuse governments of using the most vulnerable people in society as human fodder in the battle against deficits. And the bishops weren’t the only ones speaking out…”

The bishops were holding their annual plenary gathering in Halifax. Before they began the meeting, however, the bishops of the Social Affairs Commission gathered with a roomful of local activists, including Pam Coates, a United Church member and president of the National Anti-Poverty Organization.

To the assembled media, the bishops released their pastoral letter at Hope Cottage, a church-run soup kitchen in the downtown core. People living in poverty spoke, so it wasn’t only the bishops who got the microphone. And after the press conference, the media accompanied the men in black to serve lunch and eat together at the soup kitchen.

Bishops ask government to repatriate Omar Khadr

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{mosimage}OTTAWA-Canada’s Catholic bishops have requested the repatriation of former child soldier Omar Khadr.

In a March 24 letter to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ human rights committee chairman Archbishop Brendan O’Brien urged Nicholson to seek to bring Khadr to Canada for a fair and just trial.

Khadr has been detained at the American prison at Guantanamo since 2002, after he was wounded and captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. O’Brien, archbishop of Kingston, notes Khadr was only 15 when he was captured after a firefight with American soldiers and “could be considered a child soldier.”

Bishops ask Prime Minister to urge Israel to loosen security over Holy Week

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{mosimage}OTTAWA-Canada’s Catholic bishops have written Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking him to urge Israel to relax security measures making it difficult for Orthodox and Catholic Christians to participate fully in Holy Week worship.

“While fully respecting and endorsing the right and need of Israeli citizens to be able to live in security, our conference is also aware that there are many people in the Middle East growing increasingly frustrated, impatient and even hostile because of various security measures imposed by the State of Israel,” wrote Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) president Bishop Pierre Morissette in a March 26 letter. “Thus ironically, today’s efforts to improve security may have the unintended but inevitable effect of spawning future insecurity.”

The Saint-Jérôme bishop told Harper that Christians in Jerusalem are finding it difficult to observe “the blessing of the fire at the Easter Vigil, from joining in morning prayer on Holy Saturday, and from processing to the Holy Sepulchre.”

Liberals abortion proposal sunk from within party ranks by pro-life MPs

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - A Liberal motion to force the federal government to include abortion and contraception in its maternal health initiative was  defeated March 23.

Perceived by the Tories and Parliament Hill journalists as an attempt to drive a wedge between pro-life and pro-choice members of the Conservative Party, the motion backfired, even with the support of the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois, losing by a 144 to 138 vote.

D&P, LifeSite rev up their online war

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OTTAWA - A leaked document that accuses Canadian “pro-life” groups of being militant, right-wing organizations that associate with violent factions has put the executive director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) on the hot seat.

The document, a 10-page series of question-and-answers, was drafted by D&P to counter negative online media reports from a year ago, said executive director Michael Casey. It says “militant” pro-life groups and bloggers conspired in “concerted,” “organized” and “slanderous” attacks on D&P and it derides what are called “single-issue militant advocacy groups” that “continually misrepresent facts and distort reality to serve their purpose.”

Newspapers' abuse coverage prompts Canadian Bishops statement

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has slammed press coverage in The National Post and La Presse newspapers suggesting the Catholic Church has inadequately responded to the sexual abuse crisis.

Both papers carried March 18 articles on abuse of minors by those in the church.

Anglican Catholic Church of Canada seeks unity

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada College of Bishops has sent a formal letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome asking that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus be implemented in Canada.

Released last November by the Vatican, the Apostolic Constitution opened the door for Anglicans to become Catholic while retaining aspects of their liturgical and spiritual patrimony. In asking that a personal ordinariate be established in Canada, the Anglican Catholic Church is following similar requests from the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Euthanasia bill pitched again in Canada

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde made yet another pitch for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the House of Commons March 16 with her private member’s Bill C-384.

Only about 10 MPs were in the House for the debate. It will have one hour of debate before a vote on second reading. If it passes it will be sent to committee for further study.

Rolheiser calls for a 'culture of vocations'

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Two hundred people gathered to network and talk about fostering a culture of vocations at the National Association of Vocation and Formation Directors bi-annual conference March 14-17 in Toronto.

The “Let our Lives Speak” Vocations Alive Conference welcomed representatives from close to 150 religious groups and several lay groups — namely the Serran Foundation of Canada , the Catholic Women’s League , Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry and Catholic Christian Outreach . NAVFD’s focus in the past two years has been on encouraging its members to help young people discern not only the priesthood and religious life but also the married and single life.

Food a spiritual experience from planting to table

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TORONTO - Food forms a relationship between people, the Earth and God and thus should be a spiritual experience from production to consumption.

Fr. Jim Profit, S.J., underscored this message during an evening of Lenten reflection hosted at the Newman Centre by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and Faith Connections March 8.

Montreal exhibit details the contributions of the Irish in Quebec

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{mosimage}MONTREAL - When I learned of a new exhibit — The Irish O’Quebec — at Montreal’s prestigious McCord Museum , I knew I had to see it. The reasons were obvious: my maiden name was O’Donnell (the Irish part of me). My great-grandfather John Patrick O’Donnell had immigrated to Quebec in the 1860s so stories like his would be represented somewhere in this exhibit. My mother’s maiden name was La Branche (the French Canadian part of me). I had the perfect dual heritage. To top it off, I learned the guest curator of this exhibit was historian  Dr. Lorraine O’Donnell.

The exhibit is mounted with the usual creativity found in Quebec museums. McCord Museum, originally one of Montreal’s grand old mansions now added on to and owned by McGill University, has a strong link with Montreal’s past. Any museum exhibit has to have a rationale and the one behind this one is obvious: how did two distinct cultures — the French Canadian settlers and Irish immigrants — manage to blend so seamlessly in French Quebec? This exhibit provides the answers, as we move through the 17th century onward learning of both famous and ordinary folk of this mixed culture.