St. Joachim’s, a small, historic parish in Châteauguay, Que., is going environmentally friendly in a big way.

The parish has joined “Green Church,” a national program developed by the Centre for Ecumenism that assists churches in adopting environmental practices, like becoming more energy and water efficient and buying local or organic.

St. Joachim is the first parish in the Valleyfield diocese to be recognized as eco-friendly, adopting the Green Church slogan, “For the love of God, let’s take care of the Earth.”

Published in Features

QUEBEC CITY - While university students, anti-capitalists and environmentalists have routinely mustered tens of thousands into the streets of Montreal and Quebec City over the last two months, a small coalition of conservative Christians managed 650 for the second annual Christian March from the Plains of Abraham to Quebec’s National Assembly.

The number of marchers for the June 2 event was down from about 1,000 the year before.

Published in Canada

The regions of Lanaudiere and Mauricie, known together as “Authentic Quebec,” offer a contrast to the sophisticated metropolis of Montreal.  Both regions are rich in Catholic heritage.

Beginning a half hour east of Montreal, they are bordered in the south by Le Chemin Du Roy (the King’s Highway), which connects Quebec City to Montreal along the St. Lawrence  River, and in the north by lakes and dense forests.

In Lanaudiere, visiting the town of Terrebonne I learned of the work of Fr. Louis Lepage, the “seignior” of this land in 1720 who built the first church. Today the site, Ile des Moulins, is one of only two important reconstructed Quebec heritage sites.

Published in Features

OTTAWA - Archbishop Christian Lépine’s installation April 27 as archbishop of Montreal inaugurates a new era for the Quebec episcopacy, said a McGill University historian.

“Now there’s a new generation of bishops who are very much in tune with the needs of young people in their dioceses, and this is crucial for the new evangelization,” said John Zucchi.

A generation of bishops who were in their 70s, “many of them concerned with a 1970s and ’80s way of looking at the Church,” have retired, replaced in recent years by a new age cohort that has “rejuvenated” the episcopacy and brought fresh perspective, Zucchi said.

Published in Canada

Quebec’s euthanasia debate must be getting horribly confusing when even a Catholic priest doesn’t know the right answer to whether the practice should be legalized.

It must be doubly so when the priest is also a former MP who knows — or should know — that euthanasia can be made legal only by amending the federal Criminal Code.

Yet here was Fr. Raymond Gravel, the one-time Bloc Quebecois MP for a Montreal-area riding, musing about whether killing the elderly, the weak and the suffering might be just what the doctor ordered for Quebec’s health care system.

Published in Peter Stockland

What could be the largest protest ever on the streets of Montreal has full Church backing. Earth Day protesters who gather next to the Place des Arts in downtown Montreal will be backed up by Church bells ringing from most of the city’s 230 Catholic churches.

Organizers are predicting the April 22 protests will draw more people than March demonstrations against a 75-per-cent tuition hike. The student protest brought about 100,000 onto Montreal’s streets. Earth Day has a broader appeal in Quebec than the tuition fee issue, said Green Church director Norman Levesque.

Published in Features

OTTAWA - Quebec’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) have expressed opposition to a Quebec committee’s recommendation to allow euthanasia under limited circumstances.

“While we are pleased that members of the commission recommend greater access to palliative care for all people, we disagree with the recommendations to change laws to recognize physician-assisted dying as appropriate end-of-life care,” the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec said in a statement. “Changing the terms ‘assisted suicide’ and ‘euthanasia’ to ‘physician-assisted dying’ does not change reality.”

Published in Canada

A Quebec legislative committee’s call for legalized euthanasia might be a grave danger to Canada’s health care system. Its immediate and unquestionable menace, however, is the damage it does to democracy.

For the moment, the Select Committee on Dying With Dignity’s all-party report presented March 22 to the province’s National Assembly is in parliamentary and pre-election limbo. There is reason to hope its mad demand for legalizing doctor-administered assisted suicide in Quebec by 2013 will be lost in the dust of politicians hitting the campaign trail.

Published in Peter Stockland

OTTAWA - Despite a “surprising” Supreme Court decision that won’t allow parents to exempt their children from Quebec’s mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture program (ERC), constitutional lawyer Iain Benson urges religious groups not to overreact to signs that parental rights are under threat.

On Feb. 17, Canada’s highest court ruled the ERC program doesn’t violate the religious freedom of Catholic parents because the parents — known as L and J in the decision — were unable to prove the course harms their children.

Published in Canada

OTTAWA - Most Quebeckers oppose the compulsory nature of the province's controversial Ethics and Religious Culture program (ERC), with 29 per cent saying it should be "scrapped altogether" in favour of improved mathematics or French-language courses.

In a Leger Marketing poll conducted for the Coalition for Freedom in Education (CLÉ), only four out of 10 Quebeckers want the controversial course to stay mandatory. A quarter would keep the course but make it optional.

The poll also discovered 55 per cent of Quebeckers would prefer the government introduce school vouchers that would allocate a fixed amount for educational funding per child that parents could use to choose the school they wish, whether public or private, CLÉ said in a March 7 news release.

Published in Education
February 28, 2012

Anonymity and ignorance

On Feb. 17, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision on a case that tested the right of parents to exempt their children from Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) course. The case attracted many intervenors because the decision could impact other cases that question the lengths government can go to impose curriculum against parental wishes.

About one month earlier, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association released a report, “Respecting Difference,” which set guidelines for promoting equity and respect for all students in Catholic schools. It followed months of controversy surrounding “gay-straight alliances” in Ontario’s publicly funded schools. While there are differences between the two scenarios, both concern a provincial government trying to impose a school policy despite objections from parents.

Published in Joanne McGarry

OTTAWA - Parents’ groups and organizations defending religious freedom have reacted with disappointment to a Supreme Court of Canada decision concerning the rights of parents to exempt their children from Quebec’s mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) program.

Canada’s highest court ruled Feb. 17 the program does not violate the religious freedom of Catholic parents because they were unable to prove the course harms their children.

Published in Canada

Politicians given enough rope will invariably hang themselves, figuratively speaking of course.

Such is the case with Parti Quebecois justice critic Veronique Hivon, whose clamor for legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide should, if there is any justice, now be choked off for good and all.

Madame Hivon came hard out of the chute to condemn Quebec Tory Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu for his recommendation, later withdrawn, that our most notorious convicted killers be left alone in their cells with a length of state-supplied rope.

Published in Peter Stockland

OTTAWA - On Feb. 2, Pope Benedict XVI named new bishops to the Quebec dioceses of Trois-Rivières and Mont-Laurier upon accepting the resignation of their Ordinaries who had reached the retirement age of 75.

Bishop Luc Bouchard, who has been serving the bilingual northern Alberta diocese of St. Paul since 2001, has been named to Trois-Rivières, replacing Bishop Martin Veillette, while Bishop Paul Lortie, an auxiliary bishop in the Quebec archdiocese since 2009, will become bishop of Mont-Laurier, a diocese in southwestern Quebec, north of Gatineau, replacing Bishop Vital Massé.

Published in Canada

QUEBEC CITY - It used to be that Quebecers who wanted to hear good preaching or be instructed on right and wrong went to Mass on Sunday and listened to their priest. The clergy were the principle arbiters of public and private morality in all spheres of life in Quebec. They preached on everything from how to dress, who to consort with (or not) and what to read, think vote and so on.

One famous saying from this era — “heaven is blue and hell is red” — was a not-so-veiled reference to  vote Conservative in elections. The Church believed the “red” Liberals stood for secular reform and social change that would lead people away from their faith. And that’s what happened, people eventually voted red in order to hasten improvements in material living standards and, as predicted, what eventually followed was a widespread abandonment of faith in Quebec.

Published in Guest Columns

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Charles Lewis: We must open eyes to anti-Christian bigotry

Most of us take for granted the safety and peace of our houses of worship so when that is broken it is akin to being punched in the gut, Lewis writes.

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Pope's homily

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