Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Michael is Associate Editor of The Catholic Register.

He is an award-winning writer and photographer and holds a Master of Arts degree from New York University.

Follow him on Twitter @MmmSwan, or click here to email him.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Avishay Braverman, Israel’s Minister of Minorities, is as good a Jew, as Jewish a Jew, as anyone could hope to meet. And he’s praying that “the Spirit of Jesus” will guide the leaders of Israel and its neighbours over the coming months and years.

“The basis of religion is not about domination. People often take religion and abuse it for domination,” Braverman told The Catholic Register while on a stopover in Toronto Sept. 15. “It’s about acceptance.”

{mosimage}TORONTO - American Catholics who care about abortion and end-of-life issues are being cynically used in the bitter health care debate in the United States, one of the U.S.’s leading experts on Catholic health care has told The Catholic Register.

“It has partly to do with just political polarization between Democrats and Republicans in this country in the wake of the election of President (Barack) Obama,” said Dominican Father Charles Bouchard, vice president of theological education at Ascension Health in St. Louis.

{mosimage}Bringing a small fraction of Anglicans into the Catholic Church will not advance the cause of full communion between Catholics and the larger Anglican Communion of 77 million believers worldwide, according to Catholic and Anglican theologians with experience in ecumenical dialogue.

Meanwhile the dissident, disaffected Anglicans who are being invited to enter the Catholic Church are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

{mosimage}A generation ago the martyrs of El Salvador galvanized Catholics and today Canadian Catholics claim those martyrs as part of their spiritual heritage.

On Nov. 16 the church marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuits who lived and taught at the University of Central America in San Salvador. They were killed along with their housekeeper and her daughter because they argued that the vast gulf between rich and poor in El Salvador, a country just slightly larger than the Greater Toronto Area, was feeding the civil war that had by then killed more than 70,000.

Next year will be the 30th anniversary for martyrs who first brought world attention on El Salvador’s ugly war. March 24 is the anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s 1980 assassination. Romero was killed by an army death squad a day after he broadcast a sermon calling on police and soldiers not to carry out orders that amounted to repression and violations of human rights. Dec. 2 it will be 30 years since four American church women — three Catholic nuns and a laywoman who worked in poor villages in the Salvadoran countryside — were raped and murdered near the San Salvador airport.

El Salvador’s war officially ended in 1992, and the Cold War logic that justified U.S. military aid propping up a corrupt, anticommunist government is fast-fading history. But the memory of those martyrs still matters, said Mary Jo Leddy, one of the founders of Romero House for refugees in Toronto.

{mosimage}Canadian visa officials in Accra, Ghana, have informed the Office of Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto it will probably take more than two years to unite a 14-year-old boy with his family in Toronto.

The extreme delay is typical of a Canadian refugee system that simply isn’t doing its job in sub-Saharan Africa, said ORAT executive director Martin Mark.

“It’s a shame,” Mark said. “Basically, it’s a lack of accountability.”
{mosimage}TORONTO - The arrest of two communist-era secret police agents in Poland for helping to frame and harass   Polish Solidarity hero and martyr Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko is a matter of justice, said the murdered priest’s seminary classmate and roommate Fr. Jan Kolodynski.

“For those who have committed crimes, whether it’s the case of my classmate or over the last 50 years, it’s a question of justice. It’s not a vendetta or vengeance. It’s out of justice,” said Kolodynski, who was ordained with Popieluszko in 1972. Today the Polish priest is pastor of St. Jerome’s parish in Brampton, Ont.

{mosimage}TORONTO - An Iraqi peace campaigner, on tour after receiving a Canadian human rights award, claims Christian Iraqi refugees — most of them stuck in Syria and Jordan — could safely return home to live in peace in Iraq.

“Let’s be honest. To get accepted here as a refugee, I have to talk about violence,” Ibrahim Ismaeel, chair of the board of directors of the Iraqi non-violence network La’Onf , told The Catholic Register.

{mosimage}When the 2010 G8 meeting in Huntsville, Ont., morphed into a G20 meeting in Toronto, organizers of the 2010 World Religious Summit were unfazed.

“We saw this coming,” said Canadian Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton. “So we took this into consideration in the planning.”

{mosimage}A “diplomatic surge,”  including talks with willing Taliban leaders, should be the next step in Canada’s mission to Afghanistan, the majority of Canadian churches have told Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The governing council of the Canadian Council of Churches sent a letter and detailed brief to the Prime Minister Dec. 10 urging the government to invest heavily in diplomacy before Canada begins withdrawing troops in 2011.

{mosimage}TORONTO - An internal LCBO review of how Mass wine gets from California to your parish’s altar has church suppliers a wee bit nervous, but the provincial wine merchant and regulator is trying to reassure everyone it is not going to reroute the grape vine.

A January freedom of information request by The Canadian Press uncovered internal Liquor Control Board of Ontario memos which decried “general non-compliance with rules and regulations” in the sacramental wine business.