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}A sharp policy turn away from Africa and away from the poorest countries has the development community wondering whether Canada is now using its foreign aid budget to promote trade and its security interests rather than help poor communities.

“We’re looking at this with a bit of a questioning eye to understand the rationale,” Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace executive director Michael Casey said.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Federal tough-on-crime legislation isn’t going to deter crime, won’t make communities safer and will divert millions of dollars away from crime prevention to build more jails and conduct more trials, said the Church Council on Justice and Corrections.

“It’s clear that you want to stop the gangs, that you want to make it safer for the community. Are these measures really going to make much difference?” asked Richard Haughian, who represents the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the board of the Church Council on Justice and Corrections .

{mosimage}The federal government has opted for a voluntary code of conduct for Canadian mining companies abroad, with no sanctions for those that fail to comply.

The 200,000 Catholics who have sent postcards to Ottawa asking Parliament to set rules for Canadian mining companies operating in smaller and poorer nations around the world have been answered with a set of voluntary guidelines, an office that will investigate complaints only if the mining company agrees and an industry-run “centre of excellence” to encourage mining companies to be more open when it comes to the environment, labour rights and corporate governance.

For ecumenical social justice organization KAIROS , the voluntary guidelines are a step backward.

April 9, 2009

Romance in the pews

{mosimage}TORONTO - Spring and a young man’s fancy turns exactly where you think it does, and so does a young woman’s. Anything wrong with that?

{mosimage}Canadian bishops are winging it to Mexico to speak with Mexican bishops and local non-governmental organizations, trying to get to the bottom of accusations the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has funded groups lobbying the Mexican government for legal abortion.

Bishop Martin Currie of St. John’s, Nfld., and Bishop Francois Lapierre of Sainte-Hyacinth, Que., were scheduled to fly to Mexico on April 16 accompanied by staff from Development and Peace, CCCB general secretary Msgr. Mario Paquette and the outside eyes of Msgr. Carlos Quintana from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ secretariat for the church in Latin America. They planned to meet with representatives of five human rights organizations that LifeSiteNews.com alleges are promoting legalized abortion in Mexico.

{mosimage}A Canadian ecumenical agency working with subsistence farmers who face drought and starvation in rural Tanzania is enjoying record-breaking support, despite the recession.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank raised $12.4 million in cash and crops in 2008-2009, $4 million more than its previous record.

“It was quite a remarkable year,” said Foodgrains executive director Jim Cornelius.

{mosimage}TORONTO - The ecumenical social justice agency KAIROS is dumping five of its 27 employees and trimming its programs to focus on two areas of work.

Staff cuts were triggered by falling revenues from foundations and churches hit hard by last fall’s stock market collapse, said KAIROS executive director Mary Corkery. But even without the dip in investment income KAIROS would have had to eventually trim its expenses, she said.

“It’s a long-term problem. It’s a structural problem,” Corkery said.


{mosimage}TORONTO - Before stock markets around the world crashed in September 2008, $609.23 billion  in Canada was invested with an eye on protecting the environment, treating workers and communities fairly and running the company openly.

Socially responsible investing principles captured 19.9 per cent of more than $3 trillion invested in Canada, according to the second biannual Canadian Socially Responsible Investment Review. While total SRI investments climbed 21 per cent between mid-2006 and June 2008, the ethically invested market share remained steady at just under 20 per cent.


{mosimage}TORONTO - Pro-life lawyer Geoff Cauchi thinks it’s a good thing Canada has no law on abortion.

“It’s easier to get people motivated, to get them involved, when you show them, ‘Look, there’s no law; people could have an abortion right up to birth.’ They get shocked and they’re motivated,” said Cauchi, who is on the boards of Alliance for Life Ontario and Life Canada .

In Cauchi’s view the worst thing would be the sort of abortion law England and most European countries have — legal, funded abortion up to 26 weeks, with some legal restrictions on the relatively few late-term abortions.

{mosimage}The Canadian Council of Churches added some new, Catholic blood at mid-May meetings in Ottawa and began to set the stage for the 2010 G8 meeting of the world's largest economies at the Deerhurst Inn in Huntsville, Ont.

The council admitted the Ukrainian Catholic Church as a full member and elected a new executive which includes a Roman Catholic bishop as vice president. The council now consists of 23 national churches representing 85 per cent of Canada's Christians.