Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza is the pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary parish on Wolfe Island, and chaplain at Newman House at Kingston, Ont.’s Queen’s University.

WINDSOR, ONT. - Between the feast days of Canada’s newest saints, the archbishop of Quebec City argued for an authentically Canadian approach to the evangelization of native peoples that offers a model for the evangelization of culture today.

April 30, 2015

The heroes of Dachau

Seventy years ago, on April 29, 1945, the largest monastery in the world was closed by the U.S. armed forces.

Cardinal Francis George, recently retired archbishop of Chicago, died in his bed at home, as he said he would. In his latter years, the intellectual leader of the Catholic Church in the United States was famous for his bleak view of the future of religious liberty in America.

This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, a treasure for the Church in his long theological service as a scholar, his more than 20 years at the side of St. John Paul II as the chief lieutenant of the signal pontificate of our era, his eight years as perhaps the clearest and most profound papal preacher and writer of our time, and finally for the courage and humility of his abdication.

Every year during Holy Week, when the Church’s liturgy gives us an enormous amount of Scripture — two readings of the passion, good chunks of John’s Gospel for Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, and the history of creation and salvation at the Easter Vigil — there is usually one verse or two that strikes me anew, as if I had never heard it before, or least, never in quite that way.

The drama of Holy Week is a story about a king. The crowd that welcomes Jesus on Sunday, waving their palm branches, acclaims Him: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,
the king of Israel!”

Twenty years ago, on the Feast of the Annunciation 1995, St. John Paul II published one of his signature encyclicals, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). It’s important to return to the richness of that teaching, as many who oppose the Church’s pro-life witness having been making mischief with Pope Francis’ remark that Catholics should not be obsessed with abortion.

I had the pleasure this past week of hosting George Weigel, one of the Church’s leading public intellectuals, in Toronto and Kingston. I had long wanted to host Weigel, a mentor and friend and colleague for more than 20 years, and thought that 2015, the 10th anniversary of the death of St. John Paul II, would be the perfect year to do it.

I have been staunchly against the death penalty since I started visiting the now-defunct Kingston Penitentiary as an undergraduate, meeting weekly with a group of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment.

As I wrote last week from Jerusalem, just months after the massacre at a synagogue in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood, I felt a duty to make a visit, to pray for the dead and to offer, in a small way, solidarity with those who suffered the desecration of their house of worship.