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 - Since July 31 Citizenship and Immigration Canada has been unable to decide whether a 14-year-old refugee abandoned and alone in an African city of three million is an urgent case.

The Tamil boy is a refugee from Sri Lanka’s bitter ethnic war. He doesn’t know whether his family is alive in Sri Lanka’s monsoon-soaked camps or dead. Nobody has heard from them since April and a Red Cross search has so far turned up nothing. Alone in Accra, Ghana, the boy can’t speak English, is frequently bullied and depressed.

{mosimage}A Canadian Jesuit based in Nairobi, Kenya, has been appointed one of about 30 experts who will assist bishops at Synod of Bishops for Africa at the Vatican Oct. 4-25.

Fr. Michael Czerny founded the African Jesuit AIDS Network in 2002 as a way to help Jesuits in Africa work on the problem of AIDS. His appointment as “adiutor secretarii specialis” to the second Synod of Bishops on Africa will require him to step away from running AJAN at least temporarily.

{mosimage}The Canadian Council of Churches launched a letter into the shark tank of American debate over health care and saw some surprising ripples on the surface.

The Aug. 10 letter to the National Council of Churches, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals became the starting point for journalist David Waters' Aug. 29 "Under God" column in The Washington Post.

{mosimage}Before world leaders gather for their G20 summit in Muskoka next year, world faith leaders will be at the University of Winnipeg to pray that the world’s rich countries get their act together.

The G20 are on track to achieve 51 per cent of the Millennium Development Goals — promises made in 2001, by the G8, which was replaced on Sept. 25 by the G20. World leaders promised to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, fight AIDS, ensure environmental sustainability and establish a new global partnership for development by 2015. The 2010 World Religions Summit aims to remind the G20 of the unfilled promises.
{mosimage}More women are having more babies, but still not enough to sustain Canada’s population, reports Statistics Canada.

The latest numbers are from 2007 and show a 3.7-per-cent increase in births over 2006. It’s the fastest increase in the birth rate since 1989.

The question for some observers is whether the uptick in births has anything to do with public, government policy.

“I don’t think there’s any government policy that can come around and change this way of thinking,” said Andrea Mrozek, the Institute for Marriage and Family Canada’s manager of research. “For decades now we’ve been told that we don’t need a lot of kids — kids are economically a burden, it’s difficult, it’s expensive, will there be day care? — all these sorts of things. I think it’s too late. You can’t turn around now and say, ‘By the way, we think you should have lots of kids.’ ”
{mosimage}More women are having more babies, but still not enough to sustain Canada's population, reports Statistics Canada.

The latest numbers are from 2007 and show a 3.7-per-cent increase in births over 2006. It's the fastest increase in the birth rate since 1989.

The question for some observers is whether the uptick in births has anything to do with public, government policy.

{mosimage}TORONTO - There’s a mental health emergency in Toronto’s huge Tamil community.

Addictions and alcoholism, depression, family violence, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicides haunt the community as people struggle to cope with death and disappearance of their families back home in Sri Lanka.

The extraordinary stress on Toronto’s 150,000 Sri Lankan Tamils dates back to the Christmas 2004 tsunami that wiped out whole villages in the largely Catholic coastal areas. But just as Toronto’s Tamils began to recover from the grief of burying family and friends and seeing the places they grew up obliterated by the sea, the war then intensified along the same coastal strip.

{mosimage}Internet-based allegations that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace financed partners who have lobbied in favour of legalized abortion are a non-issue, the general secretary of the world-wide alliance of Catholic development agencies told The Catholic Register.

None of the Catholic development agencies in Europe — many of whom work with some of the same partner organizations in Latin America, Africa and Asia as Development and Peace — has been accused of collaborating with organizations that support legalized abortion, said CIDSE general secretary Bernd Nilles in a phone interview from Montreal.

For Sr. Marilyn Larocque things that were true, essential and necessary 350 years ago are just as true, essential and necessary today.

Larocque and her religious community, the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, have been celebrating the 350th anniversary of their arrival in Canada this year, and discovering how much they are in sync with their founders.
“We’re still pioneers,” said Larocque. “Our founder Jerome (Le Royer de la Dauversiere) and our first sister (Venerable) Marie de la Ferre, they were pioneers.”

Back then the RHSJs pioneered by establishing hospitals and teaching in the first schools in New France. There are new needs today, and therefore the sisters are pioneering new ministries.
{mosimage}A dozen bishops and faith leaders representing a clear majority of Canadian Christians, plus an organization representing Canadian Muslims, has accused Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney of fostering “hostility towards refugees” and fueling xenophobia.

A Nov. 12 letter from faith leaders to Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes issue with Kenney’s assertion that the refugee system has been slowed by “bogus” claims.