Glen Argan

Glen Argan

Glen Argan, former editor of Western Catholic Reporter, writes from Edmonton. See www.glenargan.com.

With widespread orders from bishops across North America and Europe to cancel public Masses including the Sunday Eucharist, some naysayers were bound to arise.

The revelation of the grievous sexual misconduct by L’Arche founder Jean Vanier should awaken us all to the central importance of a well-founded moral conscience in the pursuit of holiness.

The news that Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche homes for people with mental handicaps, engaged in decades of sexual misconduct and falsely denied knowing about similar abuse by his mentor, Fr. Thomas Philippe, is shocking. Vanier was a saint in the eyes of many and also an icon for the future direction of the Church.

When I was a young journalist, I joined the Volunteers, a group associated with the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate (OMMI), a secular institute, and began to take part in their regular discussion groups. Early on, we discussed the five elements of the OMMI spirituality. 

When Pope Celestine V resigned as pope in 1294, he removed his papal garb and intended to return to life as a hermit. However, his successor, Pope Boniface VIII, placed him under house arrest where he remained until his death 10 months later. 

Many posters promoting the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity — “They Showed Us Unusual Kindness” — include photos of a small battered rowboat to illustrate the shipwreck which landed St. Paul on the island of Malta. The story in the Acts of the Apostles (28:1-10) is short on details about that unusual kindness.

Greta Thunberg has been named by Time magazine as its person of the year because of the global attitudinal shift towards climate change the magazine says she has created.

Pope Francis is increasingly critical of the lack of political will to grapple with the growing threat of climate change. The Pope’s frustration raises the critical issue of how whole societies can be persuaded to change their behaviour to avert threats to their existence.

For nearly 500 years, Bolivia has been a cheap source of natural resources for colonial powers. Every time some mineral is mined to extinction, a new metal is discovered to be extracted at bargain basement prices. During the 16th century, silver was the hot commodity and Potosi was one of the richest cities in the Americas. Today, the Potosi region is the poorest section of the poorest country on the American continent.

The issue of the right to freedom of conscience will not go away. In fact, it may be the defining issue of our time.