Catholic Register Editorial

Catholic Register Editorial

The Catholic Register's editorial is published in the print and digital editions every week. Read the current and past editorials below.

The right of religious freedom means much more than merely being allowed to hold faith beliefs and go to church. Those are essential, of course, but a society that truly endorses religious freedom goes further. It also allows citizens to outwardly live their faith through the public activities they take up and, equally important, through those their conscience informs them to avoid.

In defence of that traditional understanding of religious freedom, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a bold statement four days after Easter. Titled “Our first, most cherished liberty,” the 12-page document is a manifesto for religious freedom that is blunt, provocative, timely, commendable — and worthy of export beyond American borders. Canadians should take note.

When he turns 85 on April16 Pope Benedict XVI will be just the sixth pope to reach that milestone age and the oldest pontiff in 109 years. Last month, the Pope warmly told former Cuban president Fidel Castro, who is eight months Benedict’s senior, “Yes, I’m old, but I can still carry out my duties.”

Benedict was described as a transitional figure when he became pontiff seven years ago. He was 78. It had been 300 years since the Vatican welcomed a new pope that old. But although less robust than on the day he ascended the throne of Peter, Benedict is still keeping a busy schedule and serving the Church with faith and distinction. Some transition.

The decision by the Ontario appeal court to legalize brothels is misguided but the judges got one thing right. They agree it is not their place to make laws and have urged Parliament to act.

On March 26, the court ruled that prostitutes have a Charter right to work in safe environments and therefore should be allowed to operate brothels and hire bodyguards. Pimping and public solicitation remain illegal but otherwise the court gave a green light to red lights.

March 27, 2012

Take a stand on D&P

In a perfect world, agencies dedicated to lifting people out of poverty would be well financed with both private and public funds. But the world of 2012 is far from perfect so it should be no shock that Development and Peace is reeling from a 68 per cent cut in government funding.

Governments everywhere are scrambling to reduce huge budget deficits and ballooning debts exacerbated by global economic turmoil. In Canada, amid expensive national infrastructure and bailout programs, the Conservative government changed its approach to foreign aid in 2010. Where foreign aid used to be based on a percentage of GDP, it is now capped at $5 billion annually.

An indisputable fact about casinos is that they hurt people. Not all people, of course, and perhaps not even the majority of people. But as sure as a roulette wheel spins, the casino business causes personal harm to land on some gamblers.

An important duty of government is to protect its citizens. We spend billions of dollars on such safety nets as policing, social programs and health care because society accepts a collective responsibility to look out for one another and then entrusts government to implement policies to make that happen. So it stands to reason that governments should not be supporting any type of high-stakes gambling business that can harm citizens.

March 13, 2012

Insult to the cross

In promoting new evangelization, Pope Benedict has lamented what he calls an “eclipse of the sense of God” in society.

In 2009 that eclipse was exposed in a very public way when an atheist won a much-publicized case (subsequently overturned on appeal) to have crucifixes removed from Italian classrooms. Since then, cases have abounded in which the state has sided with individuals clamouring to expunge religious symbols, holidays, prayer and even Christian conscience from public life. But recent actions by the British government elevate state-sponsored religious intolerance to a new level.

The coalition government of David Cameron has declared that citizens have no right to wear a cross around their necks at work and can be required to remove their cross if ordered by the boss. If they refuse, they can be fired.

March 6, 2012

Ethical engagement

If it is possible for something to be shocking but not surprising then the so-called election robo-calls controversy fits the bill. Elections Canada has fielded 31,000 complaints from voters who say they were on the receiving end of telephone dirty tricks on or around federal election day last May.

The revelations are shocking because widespread deception may be expected in fledgling democracies or authoritarian states that masquerade as democracies, but surely not in a country like Canada. Then again, the allegations are not surprising because, sadly, Canadian politics have been travelling a slippery slope for many years when it comes to declining moral standards and ethical practices. Maybe we should have seen this coming.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a despot whose shooting and shelling of his own people cannot be defended, yet he may be the last line of defence for Syria’s Catholics.

For that reason, Syrian Church leaders are taking a cautious approach to the nearly year-long rebellion to topple Assad. They have been pleading for calm, for dialogue and for Western assistance to find a peaceful solution to Syria’s popular uprising as the nation moves ever closer to all-out civil war. So far, the dispute is political, but churchmen fear the fighting may quickly turn religious.

ROME - Roman traffic is chaotic. The speed limit is established by the pace of the car ahead. Stops signs mean ease up a bit on the gas. Signalling a turn is for sissies. Except at major intersections, a red light means look both ways before proceeding.

ROME - Canada’s newest cardinal, resplendent in shimmering scarlet vestments, was still adjusting to his new look on Feb. 18 when he arrived at a reception in his honour. Barely two hours earlier he had become His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins after Pope Benedict XVI welcomed Toronto’s archbishop into the College of Cardinals on a sunny Saturday morning.

“These robes are very bright,” quipped Collins. “I’ll certainly stick out in a crowd.”