Peter Stockland

Peter Stockland

Peter Stockland is publisher of Convivium magazine and a senior fellow at Cardus.

The world has few writers with the fervour to publicly trash the  covers of their own books. The world has even fewer writers like Heather King.

For that reason alone, King’s newly released Shirt of Flame: A Year With Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is the one book I’ve read this year that I would suggest as a guidebook for the pilgrimage of ordinary life.

So our long slide down the slope of civilized savagery proceeds.

Agence France Press reports the first public case of a Dutch patient euthanized even though she had never formally requested death or followed the required legal protocols.

The woman, identified only as being 64 years old and from the south of Holland, was reportedly killed illegally in a hospital last March. The medical board that approves each act of euthanasia in Holland knew she had never formally asked to have her life ended. It also found she was far too cognitively diminished by Alzheimer’s to make a rational choice in her fate.

Pope Benedict may or may not bless the Occupy Wall Street movement. But an Eastern European former Marxist atheist intellectual has told protesters that they should really preoccupy themselves with the Holy Spirit.

Leading up to November’s G20 economic meeting in France, and as the Occupy Wall Street movement entered its second month, media whoop-whoop made it sound like Benedict’s arrival at the barricades was imminent.

The story turned out to be a torque job so clumsy it would make an apprentice mechanic at Dollar Bill’s Easy Autos blush.

It’s a strange, strange world when best-intended efforts to help impoverished drug addicts in Vancouver end up threatening to impose euthanasia on vulnerable Montrealers.

Stranger still is when the risk arises from the genuine desire of judges on Canada’s Supreme Court to do the right and merciful thing.

An American novelist I know recently found himself front-page news because of parental complaints about the language in one of his books.

The work, which is on the recommended reading list in the local public school system, belatedly drew the ire of a couple who protested that the frequent swearing and vulgarity of certain characters offended their family sensibilities.

According to a front-page story in the Charleston, S.C. Post and Courier, James Pasley and his wife want author Bret Lott’s novel, The Hunt Club, deleted from their son’s high school reading list. They have been loud enough that county school authorities have convened a hearing to try to resolve the issue.

MONTREAL - Paula Celani will be in a Montreal courtroom Nov. 1 fighting a fine for attending an illegal Roman Catholic Mass.

Canadians of all religious faiths — and even those who care only about protecting Charter freedoms — should cross their fingers that she wins.

Celani actually showed up to fight the case this week. Alas, three public sector “witnesses” expected to testify against her were no shows so the matter was delayed until the day after Halloween.

ROME - Given the perpetual chaos of the Eternal City, visitors might be surprised to learn of the strict regulations governing the tourist mecca known as the Spanish Steps.

According to a sign, it is forbidden under Article 14 Regolamento P.U. to “shout, squall and sing” anywhere on the elegant 18th century outdoor stairs linking the Piazza di Spagna and the Church of Trinita dei Monti.

It seems a case, however, where ignorance of the law is no abuse. I have never, in numerous visits to the area over the years, witnessed anyone shouting or singing. As for squalling, not even the drafters of Article 14 Regolamento P.U. could have imagined a greater lack of it.

What tourists who visit the Spanish Steps do is what they seem to do everywhere else they go: have themselves photographed, self-conscious and impatient, in front of the site of their latest inattention.

In an address to young university professors during his World Youth Day visit to Spain, Pope Benedict XVI warned against the cult of technicalism engulfing education.

“At times, one has the idea that the mission of a university professor nowadays is exclusively that of forming competent and efficient professionals capable of satisfying the demand for labour at any given time,” the Holy Father said.

“One also hears it said that the only thing that matters at the present moment is pure technical ability.”

Pope Benedict reminded his listeners that a university is not merely a repository of utilitarian proficiency but a home for those seeking  “the truth proper to the human person.”

“We know that when mere utility and pure pragmatism become the principal criteria, much is lost and the results can be tragic,” he said.