The 12th-century Persian poet Rumi submits that we live with a deep secret that sometimes we know, and then not.

Published in Fr. Ron Rolheiser

VATICAN CITY - Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II left lasting marks on the way the Catholic Church understands other religions and the way it interacts with believers of other faith communities.

Published in Papal Canonizations

VATICAN CITY - Blessed John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council in the conviction that it was necessary for the Catholic Church, yet without pre-conceived ideas of what it would accomplish, said Vatican II participants who recalled the event half a century later.

Published in Papal Canonizations

Holy Family Ministries is bringing faith back to the family — at summer camp.

Published in Youth Speak News
February 6, 2013

Faith and charity

Charity can exist without faith but faith without charity is illusory. That fundamental truth was underlined by Pope Benedict XVI in his message for Lent in which he said faith and charity are coupled and inseparable.

Published in Editorial

VATICAN CITY - Faith and charity can never be separated nor opposed to each other, just as faith by itself isn't genuine without charity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Published in Vatican

This semester, I am enrolled in a course on the History of the Reformation, the 16th-century movement led by Martin Luther which caused a break in the Catholic Church and resulted in Protestantism.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

TORONTO - Faith leaders and concerned citizens replaced politicians in city council chambers to hash out how faith communities can increase their participation in city building.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

In a recent blog for Cardus — the think tank that among its many other good works publishes Convivium magazine — I cited an item sent to me by a regular correspondent. It was, I wrote, a brilliant, step-by-step summary of the way in which so-called “social progress” has occurred during the past 30 years at the expense of long-standing Canadian tradition, custom and especially faith.

The summary read as follows:

o Find an extreme position calling for radical change and self-define it as moderate.

o Get your fellow travellers on The Long March through the unionized newsrooms of the nation to adopt your language.

o Define all who oppose you as intolerant extremists.

o See above re: fellow travellers, and repeat at teachers’ conventions nationwide. Concerned about their social status, teachers will adopt whatever position is portrayed as most fashionable.

o Bake in oven for two terms of government, use quasi-judicial bodies to institute pogroms against your opponents and, bingo, you have progressive social change no matter how much it might feel like a boot stomping on your face.

The only serious addition I offered was expanding item four to include professional associations: lawyers, doctors, Indian chiefs.

It turned out there’s more, and it came from an academic friend:

o Argue for a supposedly moderate change that goes just beyond generally accepted conventions and principles.

o When some people raise objections, accuse them of engaging in specious slippery-slope arguments, insisting that, of course, we certainly do not mean to advocate for those alleged consequences, and it is offensive to be so misrepresented.

o All the while secretly intend the normalization of precisely those furthermost implications down the road

o Once the change argued for is effected, argue for the next supposedly moderate, incremental change that will bring us closer to the realization of the desired (but temporarily too controversial) more radical outcomes. This involves reminding society of how its enlightened embrace of the previous change should lead them to consent to the next step, and mock those who object by pointing out that the sky hasn’t fallen.

These precepts explain the “how” of surreptitious social “progress” that has led to such travesties as the de facto abolition of the constitutional rights of parents to have schools that teach their children what it means to be Catholic, and Quebec’s pending abolition of our foundational Christian understanding of what it means to be human.

Having defined the “how,” however, neither set offered a proposal for what is to be done. Still, simply identifying the steps of the process creates the expectation that someone, somewhere, has some explaining to do. And that opens the door to challenging the dangerous presuppositions at the heart of the radical upending of our society.

Those presuppositions are:

o Any self-proclaimed “progressive” measure is always an essential step demanded by the “forward movement” of history, and its achievement is inevitable.

o The onus is always on those who are hesitant to adopt such “progressive” measures to show why they should not be adopted.

The deficiencies of both become obvious. The second one is grossly unjust and requires the logical fraud of having to prove a negative. The first contains a childish tautology: we want to do this because it’s progress, and it’s progress because we want to do it.

What this means is that the following demands should be made of anyone who proposes any self-defined “progressive” vision:

o State definitively what the historic end point of your progressive vision will be.

o State truthfully your confidence in your ability to forecast that particular historic end point.

o State plainly what existing natural rights and protections must be sacrificed for your progressive vision to be achieved.

o State concretely how your vision of progress differs from a reversion to barbarism.

Such demands are not obstructionist or reactionary. They are the simple precautions any sane people will take before agreeing to changes in the makeup of their society. The final question, of course, is whether it’s already too late for sanity.

(Stockland is the Director of the Cardus Centre for Cultural Renewal in Montreal.)


Published in Peter Stockland

VATICAN CITY - A lack of faith in God can damage marriage, even to the point of affecting its validity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Published in Vatican
January 12, 2013

Year of Faith cinema

In Porta Fidei (The Door of Faith), an apostolic letter announcing the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI urges us to study the history of Catholicism, which he describes as “marked by the unfathomable mystery of the interweaving of holiness and sin.”

Published in Movie News

VATICAN CITY - The light of Christ has not dimmed over the past 2,000 years, but Christians today have an obligation to resist attempts to extinguish it

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - Advent's liturgical preparation for Christmas calls Christians to renew their faith in the reality of God's great love and to make a commitment to bringing his love to the world today, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Published in International

What is the difference between a Catholic estate plan and a purely secular estate plan? The answer is simple: a Catholic estate plan is one that takes our Catholic faith into account when making decisions surrounding end-of-life issues.

Here are just a few examples of how our faith can come into effect:

o Living Wills — Power of Attorney (POA) for Personal Care: this allows us to appoint someone to make decisions for us with respect to life support, artificial feeding and other medical measures in the unfortunate event that we become incapacitated. When creating a POA for personal care we should do our best to ensure it adheres to Church teaching on end-of-life issues. Do your research before you see your lawyer so you can instruct him/ her properly as to what you are trying to achieve. If you have any questions, you can consult your priest, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute (CCBI). CCBI is affiliated with the University of St. Michael’s College and seeks to promote and protect the dignity of the human person through ethics research and education in health care and the life sciences. The institute is a wonderful resource you can use to explore the Catholic Church’s position on everything from organ donation, assisted suicide and other end-of-life issues (

o Having a Funeral Mass: The sad truth is that there are many children who are no longer practising the faith. Many practising Catholics assume that when they pass away that non-practising family and friends will know to have a funeral Mass celebrated for them. Unfortunately this is not always the case. The best way to ensure that you have a funeral Mass is to make your wishes known.

o Masses in your Will: Many people don’t know this, but you can put it into your Will to have a Mass said for the repose of your soul. The Development Office of the Archdiocese of Toronto has the wording you can share with your lawyer.

o Using Catholic Advisors: Lawyers, accountants and financial advisors are kneeling in the pews beside us every Sunday and we just don’t know it. As Catholics, we are used to saying, “Peace be with you” and then leaving our parish as soon as Mass is over. The archdiocese of Toronto has spent the last five years building a list of advisors that you can access. If you would like assistance in finding a lawyer to help you with your Will and POA preparation, contact the Development Office.

o Estate Planning Checklists: Have you ever wished that you could find a simple tool to guide you through everything you need to do in your Will preparation and estate trustee selection? The archdiocese of Toronto has Will planning and estate trustees’ checklists that you can use. And best of all they were written with our Catholic faith in mind. Catholic action items include: suggesting that you put in your Will a request of the guardian of your children that they receive all of their sacraments as well as prompting your estate trustee to contact your parish when you pass away to request that they update the parish records. If you would like the checklists, contact the Development Office.

o Burial Preparations: In the early days of the Church we used to bury our dead in catacombs. As time went on, we began burying our dead beside our parishes — as is the case with the quaint country parishes we drive by in rural areas with small cemeteries beside them. As cities grew, parish burial was no longer feasible due to space constraints. We began to have centralized locations that serviced multiple parishes — as is the case today with Catholic Cemeteries. A Catholic cemetery is much more than just a geographical location. It is consecrated ground and in a very real sense, a part of our parish. It has been set aside for God. Have you pre-planned your funeral arrangements with Catholic Cemeteries? If not, consider contacting them. They can answer any questions you may have, including ones surrounding cremation.

o Where do we recognize Christ: An elderly woman once shared that when she was a little girl during the Great Depression her father lost his job just before Christmas. When Christmas day came, there was no dinner and no presents. This must have been very hard on her father. A knock came at the door and when her father answered it, there was a man with Christmas dinner and a shoebox gift for all the children. When she opened her shoebox she found a pair of red mitts inside. It was especially cold that winter and her exact words were that she thought they were a gift from heaven. She swore to herself that when the day came that she was able to give back to someone else, she would. It was at that moment that she recognized Christ.

All of us can ask ourselves where in our lives we have recognized Christ. It is a very personal question and one that is best left to prayer. Your Will could be your opportunity to make that gift you always wanted to, but never thought you could.

Perhaps you have been at your parish for over 30 years and want to remember your parish in your Will. Or perhaps there was a special priest who visited you or a loved one while sick and you want to honour that act of kindness with a gift to the seminary or The Shepherds’ Trust. You may want to help support people in need with a gift to ShareLife.

There is no right or wrong answer. Pray about where the Lord has touched you in your life and direct your gift there.

Ask God. He will never steer you wrong.

The Development Office of the Archdiocese of Toronto has a free Catholic estate planning kit as a service to parishioners. To receive yours call (416) 934-3411 or e-mail

Published in Estate Planning

VATICAN CITY - Migrants usually are forced to leave their countries because of poverty, hunger or violence, but faith and hope help them face their hardships and seek a better life elsewhere, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope chose "Migrations: pilgrimage of faith and hope" as the theme for the 2013 celebration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and issued a message that touched on many facets of what he called a "striking phenomenon" that raises "dramatic challenges."

The Vatican released the message Oct. 29, on the heels of the three weeklong Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, which brought together church leaders from around the world to discuss efforts to strengthen the faith of Catholics and bring lapsed Catholics back.

"Faith and hope are inseparable in the hearts of many migrants, who deeply desire a better life and not infrequently try to leave behind the 'hopelessness' of an unpromising future," Pope Benedict wrote.

The pope's message was introduced in a news conference at the Vatican by Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio and Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, respectively, president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

Migration by its nature involves suffering the pain of uprooting and separation from family, country and possessions, the pope said, but faith and hope allow those who emigrate to face a difficult present if they can believe it will lead to a better future.

They are not just seeking to improve their financial, social or political condition, the pope said. People who leave their native countries are hoping to "encounter acceptance, solidarity and help" from those in their new country who can recognize the values and resources they have to offer, he said.

The Catholic Church, he said, is a witness to the "immense poverty and suffering entailed in migration" that often leads to "painful and tragic situations." The church is on the ground with its various agencies to assist migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in emergencies and in beginning their new lives.

Church agencies, he said, should not forget the religious dimension of the migrants' lives and "must devote special attention and care" to their spiritual needs.

Ecumenical dialogue is important for assisting other Christians, he said, and even with Catholic immigrants, it may mean accommodating the faithful of various rites.

Migrants and refugees who are guests have the right to expect solidarity, but they also have the responsibility to abide by the rules of the host country, he said.

The pope also spoke about the plague of human trafficking, and said that better immigration policies in the wealthier countries could help in combating the various forms of exploitation that illegal immigrants often face. Those policies, he said, should not, however, lead to "a hermetic sealing of borders" or simply adopting measures that discourage immigrants.

Cardinal Veglio emphasized the need to treat migrants and refugees with warmth and respect, and he said their integration must be accompanied by proper regulations, both international and domestic.

Bishop Kalathiparambil spoke of the extreme difficulties faced by refugees and those asking for political asylum, who often leave their countries "because of innumerable violations of their human rights and because of the cruelty of bloody conflicts."

He illustrated how refugees often are forced to put their lives in the hands of traffickers, who, once they have taken great sums money to bring them across the sea or to other destinations, continue to exploit them as forced laborers or sex workers.

Refugees must have the opportunity to become part of the new society to which they have escaped, where they have "great potential to bear witness and evangelize," the bishop said.

In most parts of the world, the Catholic Church celebrates the World Day of Migrants and Refugees Jan. 13, while the United Nations marks it on Dec. 18. In the United States, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops marks National Migration Week Jan. 6-12.

Published in International


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