Hate to say we told you so, but... euthanasia is ‘killing care’

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.

Family life epitomized by Family Circus

The death of Bil Keane, cartoonist and evangelist of culture, was a reminder that even the former can be an instrument of the latter.

Keane, who died on Nov. 8 at the age of 89, drew the Family Circus cartoon for more than 50 years. It launched in 1960 — during a leap year on Feb. 29 — and is still being published. The one-panel comic was in the form of a circle, and Keane had originally called it the Family Circle. A popular magazine of the same name objected and so Keane changed it to Family Circus, the protest from the eponymous periodical proving serendipitous, for the antics of Daddy, Mommy, Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and PJ were often circus-like.

Estevez, Sheen find The Way, but it’s a Camino without God

Many of the World Youth Day pilgrims in Spain this summer warmed up, so to speak, by walking the Camino de Santiago — the 800-km medieval pilgrim route from the French Pyrenees to the Cathedral of St. James (Santiago) in Compostela, Spain. In recent years, the Camino (the Way) has become enormously popular, with many walking all or part of it for reasons both religious and secular.

In my own family, my younger sister did it some years ago, and my mother and father walked some 100 km of it a few years back. Last month, my uncle and aunt made the pilgrim way. It seems everyone and his brother is making the pilgrimage — though not literally, as my family would be hard pressed to persuade this aggressively sedentary brother to take the Santiago stroll.

Life is so much better with good neighbours

Recently, our next-door-neighbour died.

Technically, he was no longer our next-door-neighbour because he had sold his house and moved into an apartment about a month earlier. But I will always remember him as our neighbour.

John Macaulay was 83 and a wonderful man who built his own business that supplied science kits to schools before retiring some time ago. His funeral was packed with people from so many different parts of his eclectic life. His two sons and grandson spoke well, along with a friend of some 70 years, who told a story about his last conversation with his friend. John called him just days before his death to alert him to a “great sale on underwear” at Sears.

"Win a baby" contest exploits life, family

When an Ottawa radio station hosted a “win a baby” contest last month, pledging to pay for fertility treatments for whoever wrote the best pitch about why they deserved the treatments, station officials claimed they wanted a catchy promotion that would shine a light on the cost of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which OHIP does not cover. In the end, five couples won $35,000 each for a series of treatments. Hundreds of entries were received, with tens of thousands reportedly voting online for their preferred candidate.

It is true that Quebec covers IVF treatments while Ontario does not, but the reality is there are a great many things that OHIP does not cover. Most of them (prescription drugs, dental care, a lot of eye care and eye glasses, to name just a few) are used by a great many more people than use IVF. This is not to comment about what public health insurance should or should not cover, only to point out that there are many exclusions under OHIP that can cause hardship. The likelier reason for the contest is the opportunity for headline-grabbing publicity, particularly through those catchy ads with a cute baby and the disclaimer “may not be exactly as shown.”

The Vatican and Occupy Wall Street

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.

Christmas stamps honour the beauty of Kingston’s St. Mary’s Cathedral

KINGSTON - We are justly proud of our Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception, and so should Catholics across the land, for Kingston is the mother church of all English Canada. I count it a great blessing that I offer the Holy Mass there every Sunday night. Now Canadians from sea to sea shall have the opportunity to honour our cathedral with every letter and card they send.

On All Saints Day, Canada Post unveiled its Christmas stamps for 2011 at a special ceremony in our cathedral. Three images from the cathedral’s magnificent stained glass windows were selected. The angel appearing to Joseph will grace the domestic stamp, the Nativity the American stamp and the Epiphany was chosen for the international stamp.

Are changes to monarchy rules out of respect, or indifference?

Commonwealth summits come and go, with often nothing more dramatic taking place than Queen Elizabeth having to smile benignly upon some less-than-benign leaders of various unlovely regimes. This week in Perth, Australia, will be different. It is expected that the 16 heads of government from those countries where Her Majesty is head of state will agree to modifications in the rules for succession. If they all agree, the British parliament will amend the 1701 Act of Settlement to i) remove male primogeniture in favour of simple primogeniture, and ii) remove the prohibition on heirs to the throne marrying Catholics.

Currently, males are preferred in the order of succession, even if they have an older sister. It seems rather incongruous to speak of unfairness in a hereditary monarchy, as heredity is always arbitrary, but it is generally accepted that treating sons and daughters equally would be more fair. Since 1701, the two longest reigning and most successful monarchs have been queens, Victoria and Elizabeth II — reigning nearly a combined 125 years — so the distaff side has taken a rather distinguished turn even under current norms.

Life lessons taken from a baseball flick

It’s been said that baseball is like church. Many attend, but few understand.

That may or may not be so. But while watching Brad Pitt’s new hit movie Moneyball, my mind kept wandering and I couldn’t help but think “this isn’t just a baseball movie. It’s about life; a metaphor about relationships, limiting irrational emotion and making improvements day after day.” (No doubt my wife’s mind was wandering in a different direction seeing Pitt up there on the big screen.)

Good baseball movies tend to hit my sentimental side and make me think of things beyond the game or the particular movie, from Field of Dreams and The Natural to Bang the Drum Slowly and The Pride of the Yankees.

Standing up for Don Cherry - a good ol’ Kingston boy

In Kingston and Wolfe Island, where I work and live, Don Cherry occupies a rather unique place. He grew up in Kingston and has a summer cottage on Wolfe Island. Here, he is one of our own.

In a larger sense, too, Cherry is considered by many across Canada to be just that — one of our own in a way that few are. For that reason, from time to time the whole nation erupts in a great Cherry controversy. The Globe and Mail employs a full-time columnist apparently for that reason alone. So for almost a fortnight, much attention was paid to what Grapes said Oct. 6 on the inaugural Coach’s Corner of the hockey season. On Oct. 15, in his regular spot, he apologized.

It’s a strange world the Supreme Court lives in

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.