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The British House of Commons was supposed to once again wrestle this summer with the Human Embryology Bill, a piece of legislation ostensibly designed to bring the legal framework of Britain into line with the realities of genetics research. But Prime Minister Gordon Brown has decided to once again postpone the end state of the debate.

Humanae Vitae: 40 years on

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Editor's note: Below are two commentaries on the meaning of Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which was released 40 years ago this summer, on July 25, 1968. The encyclical, which reaffirmed traditional Catholic teaching against the use of artificial contraception, has long been considered a watershed document in the history of the post Vatican II Catholic Church.

Jesuit novelist mines Africa's joy and anguish

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A fine novelist can capture in fiction what objective documentary evidence is unable to realize. No matter how detailed, objective and scientific a study of a human calamity like the Holocaust can be — and there are many human-generated catastrophes to choose from in our carnage-loving time — the capacity to evoke true horror as well as the power of the human spirit to survive is only approximated by historical analyses. Art invariably succeeds where analysis fails. And it need not be in words.  Think of the haunting works of the Polish composer Henryk Gorecki.

It's OK to use taxes for social goals

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{mosimage}Canadians are evenly divided on Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s plan to use the tax system to reduce Canada’s disproportionate contribution to global warming.

When the Liberal carbon tax and its purpose was described to them by pollsters at Harris/Decima, 47 per cent of Canadians said they support the concept versus 39 per cent who were opposed.

Trials and tribulations of a soccer dad

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{mosimage}Prior to our daughters’ soccer tournament in New York state last weekend, my husband tried to interest other parents in carpooling. He volunteered to drive the two-and-a-half hours each way, but forewarned that our minivan’s air conditioning wasn’t working.

We serve the church best with honesty

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On the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul I found myself attending Mass at a church in Toronto whose current pastor is an old friend. We had lunch afterwards and talked about the state of the church but nothing that emerged from that discussion matched the perspicacity of his morning homily.

This summer, remember to care for creation

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The current warm, sunny weather invites us to spend as much time as possible outdoors, taking in nature with all of our senses.

Families typically enjoy activities such as gardening, visiting local parks, going to the beach, attending sporting events, picnicking, hiking, cycling, attending outdoor concerts and festivals, stargazing and vacationing in the woods or by the water. We also enjoy the many fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables available locally, some perhaps from our own garden.

Human Rights Act foils reasoned debate

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{mosimage}Editor’s note: the following is a letter sent to Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach by Calgary Bishop Fred Henry June 23 on the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Dear Premier Stelmach:

I have raised the issue of the Alberta Human Rights Commission several times with you in the past 18 months. On each of those occasions, you said that you understood the issues and shared my concerns. However, the situation is continuing to deteriorate across our country and the various levels of governments are seemingly non-responsive.

No to free trade with Colombia

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{mosimage}In April 2001 my friend Kimy Pernia Domicó, leader of the Embera Katio, travelled from his home in Colombia’s rainforest to Quebec City to join tens of thousands of others from across the Americas in a resounding call for an end to the now defunct Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) project.

Kimy knew that free trade would bring more hardship to his people. The Urrá I dam, a project that received partial financing from Canada’s Export Development Corporation, had already threatened their very existence.  Since the dam construction, fish in the river disappeared and the Embera — robbed of their main source of protein — fell sick from malnutrition. The standing water created outbreaks of malaria and the dam’s reservoir flooded Embera homes and lands.

Kimy knew he was risking his life by speaking out against the injustices his people had endured, but he also knew it had to be done.  

Anti-religious atmosphere is becoming oppressive

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It is not easy being an advocate for Catholic schools. At one time the parallel existence of a parochial school system was seen ideally as a complement to its public counterpart; sometimes it was perceived as welcome competition and sometimes as a threat to the public system. Usually it was seen as exotic, a byproduct of a 19th-century political accommodation, a customary feature of the provincial landscape.

Condos don't fit St. Basil's neighbourhood

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{mosimage}It was only last November that John Bentley Mays gave the seventh annual Somerville Lecture at the Newman Centre in Toronto.  The subject of his excellent talk was the future of the Christian urbanism in Toronto.  In it he says that, although major decisions are being made that will affect the “living textures and structures of the secular city for generations to come,” any form of Christian intervention in the debate is “oddly lacking at the present time.” He says that he cannot understand this lack of participation, adding: “However it is explained, the public silence of Christians about the contemporary city must be accounted a significant failure of imagination and will that should concern all believers.”