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.

TORONTO - Once a Liberal bastion thanks to immigrants, ethnic voters in Toronto have given Conservatives the majority they sought.

"The Conservative ethnic ground game paid off in the end," said Jonathan Luk, the graduating president of the University of Toronto Chinese Catholic Community.

Chinese voters in both the 416 and 905 regions responded to values the Conservative Party championed, Luk said. The party took 30 of 44 Greater Toronto Area seats, a key component in gaining a majority government after Stephen Harper presided over two consecutive minority governments.

"When we talk about basic issues — the safety of our society, being tough on crime, respect for tradition and respect for hard work — these are values that Chinese people value," Luk said. "I also see Catholic voters are no different when it comes to those things."

For Tamils, who found themselves featured in an early Conservative attack ad, the community is hoping the new NDP official opposition and the first-ever Tamil Member of Parliament can hold the Conservatives to account for its immigration policies, said Jessica Devi Chandrashekar.

"Those who came out and voted were people who have bared the brunt of the recession and have been unable to reunite with their families because of the Conservative immigration policies," said Chandrashekar. "In Scarborough-Rouge River, a riding comprised mostly of the ethnic vote, (voters) made history in electing Rathika Sitsaiebasan for the NDP. Rathika is the first Sri Lankan Tamil MP elected outside of Sri Lanka. This has enormous significance for Tamil Canadians."

Chandrashekar is one of a new generation of voters, some of whom responded in this election in ways never seen before. Vote mobs organized on Twitter and Facebook swept university campuses, demanding young people seize the power of the ballot.

"I am 27 years old and born in Canada. This was my first time voting," said Chandrashekar. "I am looking forward to becoming more involved in the political process in Canada and the continued changes that the election in 2015 will bring."

The peace vote in Toronto was not overjoyed with the Conservative majority.

"A Conservative majority would be a bad thing for the cause of peace," wrote Deacon Steve Barringer of Pax Christi Toronto in an e-mail as results came in on election night. "They have a poor record of listening to interest groups of any kind."

Pax Christi plans to ramp up its protests in response to Conservative military and foreign policy.

"We will be looking at more aggressive programs, up to and including demonstrations and even civil disobedience against what we believe may be immoral policies," Barringer said.

Barringer puts his hope in a strong opposition from the New Democrats.

"We believe that Mr. Layton will listen," he said.

Catholic eco-theologian and University of Toronto religious studies professor Stephen Bede Sharper is also putting his hope in the NDP opposition, bolstered by the first-ever Green Party seat in Parliament.

"With the NDP's emergence, we now have a solid shot at a party that constitutes a real opposition to the Harper government, with the issues of social justice, workers' rights and the widening gap between rich and poor constituting central, rather than ancillary, political concerns," Sharper wrote in an e-mail to The Catholic Register.

TORONTO - It was a big day for Toronto's Poles, starting at 4.00a.m. when they gathered round their televisions to watch Pope Benedict XVI declare his predecessor blessed - one step removed from sainthood.

These photographs follow the Polish celebration in Mississauga and on Roncesvalles Avenue in downtown Toronto - two places where Poles live, work, shop and pray.

They witness the joy and pride Poles derive from the memory os Pope John Paul II.

View the images in the slideshow that is embedded below or click here to load a larger version in a new window.

You can use the small icon, to view the slideshow in full-screen mode.
This slideshow has annotations  for each image which you can turn on with the "captions" button in the bottom right corner of the player.


Knights of ColumbusA pro-life message on church property can’t be construed as a violation of Ontario’s Human Rights Code, a human rights’ tribunal has ruled.

“Freedom of religion must not be interpreted in a way that voids the positive dimension of the freedom (the right to hold beliefs, practice and disseminate them) of any meaning,” wrote Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario adjudicator Michelle Flaherty in an April 5 decision in favour of a Knights of Columbus council in l’Original, Ont.

The francophone Chevaliers de Colomb attached to the parish of Saint-Jean Baptise, an hour-and-a-half southeast of Ottawa, found itself on the defensive over a monument erected on the church’s front lawn. An inscription on the monument read (in French), “Let us pray that all life rests in the hands of God from conception until death.”
Jim Webb, right, awards the Magis Award to Fr. Bill Addley, who accepted on behalf of Our Lady of Lourdes parish. (Photo by Michael Swan)CONCORD, ONT. - Jesuit Father Bill Addley took one for the Our Lady of Lourdes team at the fifth annual Provincial’s Dinner April 13. In its 125th year in downtown Toronto, the Jesuits awarded their parish with the Magis Award and pastor Addley was there to accept the plaque.

“We gratefully and humbly accept it,” said Addley.

The award is bestowed annually by Canada’s English-speaking Jesuits on someone or some community that lives out the ideal of the magis. Magis is Latin for more. St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, urged his followers to constantly ask what more they could do for Christ. Jesuits ever since have called this constant search for more the magis.
Rabbi Roy Tanenbaum, the Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School’s founding scholarTORONTO - The next generation of Canadian rabbis will be able to point to the Catholic roots of their training — or at least of their school. The Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School will begin offering classes this fall in a classroom at the University of St. Michael’s College Faculty of Theology, part of the Toronto School of Theology.

Canada’s future imams will have a similar story. A master’s program in Muslim studies is taking shape at the United Church of Canada’s seminary, Emmanuel College.

The Toronto School of Theology is reconsidering its mission statement so the consortium of seven Christian theological schools can accommodate the emerging interfaith reality.

The expansion beyond the boundaries of Christian faith is “the right move at the right time,” said TST director Alan Hayes.
A broad spectrum of Canadian churches have published election guides for voters heading to the polls on May 2. Both the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities have published guides. Human beings can’t choose to be political. We’re born that way. Politics is how we act together and human beings are fundamentally social.

“The political community and public authority are based on human nature,” said the Second Vatican Council in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes). “And therefore they need belong to an order established by God. Nevertheless, the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens.”

Those free decisions are supposed to bring us closer to justice, according to Pope Benedict XVI.

“Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics,” the Pope wrote in the 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est. “Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life. Its origin and its goal are found in justice.”
Bishop GreccoTORONTO - Ongoing controversy over abortion and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace may be having a negative effect on overall fundraising for ShareLife.

Each time Development and Peace faces public allegations that some of its partners are linked with organizations advocating legal access to abortion, ShareLife is contacted by angry donors threatening not to give, said ShareLife spokesman Bill Steinburg.

“Whenever they call we always remind them that by doing so they’re having an impact on the huge family of more than 40 agencies that do a lot of work here on the ground, helping our own communities,” Steinburg said.

Early this month, speaking engagements by a Mexican priest to promote Development and Peace’s overseas work were cancelled in Ottawa and Cornwall following allegations that the Jesuit priest’s human rights centre is associated with an organization that supports decriminalization of abortion. In cancelling the Ottawa events, Archbishop Terrance Prendergast said that support by Fr. Luis Arriaga’s centre for groups sympathetic to abortion is “incompatible” with Church teaching.
Marie WilsonTORONTO - An apology is not the end of it and treaties are not dusty history for Canada’s native people is the message Marie Wilson has for Canadians who would rather not talk about what happened in residential schools.

Wilson is one of three commissioners who make up the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The trio have five years to document the history of the national network of schools mandated by the government but mostly run by churches.

There may be truth but there won’t be any reconciliation if mainstream, urban Canadians don’t acknowledge the legacy of the schools, Wilson told about 70 people at Toronto’s Regis College April 6, where she delivered the annual Martin Royackers Lecture.
Many Catholics are only vaguely aware of the evangelicals among them — the religious brothers, sisters and priests whose lives are shaped by three vows.

The insiders know the vows as the “evangelical counsels.” They commit every nun, brother and religious order priest to poverty, chastity and obedience. Every religious community interprets these three vows through their own charism — the founding spark or reason for their order’s existence.

The vows do not apply to secular priests, that majority of priests who were trained and ordained by their diocese.

Though some religious communities have grown smaller over the last half-century, Dominican Father Francois Mifsud insists that the evangelical counsels are more relevant than ever.
A monk prays in the silence of the Benedictine’s Westminster Abbey in Mission, B.C. Salt+Light Television is airing its look inside the walls of the abbey in This Side of Eden on Palm Sunday, April 17.If you strip life down to its essentials you don’t strip out beauty. You produce lives entirely devoted to beauty.

In This Side of Eden we’re invited into the lives of Benedictine monks at Westminster Abbey in Mission, B.C., during Holy Week. The simplicity of their daily round of work and prayer feeds into the most solemn and significant liturgies of the Christian calendar — Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil.

All this unfolds before the camera in one of the most extraordinary settings. Surrounded by mountains and nestled into the temperate rain forest of the B.C. coast, Westminister Abbey Church is a modern architectural gem constructed in the early 1980s with 7,000 square feet of stained glass. The church and abbey are filled with contemporary frescoes, paintings and sculpture — much of it by one of Mission’s monks, Fr. Dunstan Massey.