TORONTO - Trying to avoid the parental backlash that erupted over its revised health and sex education curriculum in 2010, the Ontario Liberals have established an online consultation process on an updated sex-ed curriculum to be implemented in September. But already, it has run afoul of one parent group.

Published in Canada

We need to give away some of our own possessions in order to be healthy. Wealth that is hoarded always corrupts those who possess it. Any gift that is not shared turns sour.

Published in Fr. Ron Rolheiser

TORONTO - Victoria Doucet took part in the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s 2013 Mental Health Symposium because she, like more than 10 per cent of the population 15 or older, suffers from a mental health disorder.

Published in Education

VATICAN CITY - From the moment he was elected pope at the age of 78 in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has kept a schedule that appeared light compared to that of Blessed John Paul II, but busy for a man who already had a pacemaker and who wanted to retire to study, write and pray when he turned 75.

Published in International

TORONTO - Being married matters to the health of mothers and possibly to the health of their children, a new study by Marcelo Urquia has found.

Published in Canada

VATICAN CITY - Good health is a benefit that needs to be defended and guaranteed for all people, not just for those who can afford it, Pope Benedict XVI told hundreds of health care workers.

The new evangelization is needed in the health field, especially during the current economic crisis "that is cutting resources for safeguarding health," he said Nov. 17, addressing participants at a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.

Hospitals and other facilities "must rethink their particular role in order to avoid having health become a simple 'commodity,' subordinate to the laws of the market, and, therefore, a good reserved to a few, rather than a universal good to be guaranteed and defended," he said.

Nearly 600 people who work in the field of health care attended the council's Nov. 15-17 international conference, which focused on the theme: "The Hospital, Setting for Evangelization: A Human and Spiritual Mission."

The pope told them that, on the one hand, advancements in science and medicine have led to greater possibilities for curing the physical ailments of those who are ill.

"But on the other hand, it seems to have weakened the ability to care for the whole and unique person who suffers," he added.

Such advancements, the pope said, seem "to cloud the ethical horizons of medical science, which risks forgetting that its vocation is serving every person and the whole person, in its different phases of existence" from conception to its natural end.

It is important that the Christian concepts of "compassion, solidarity, sharing, self-denial, generosity and giving oneself" become part of the vocabulary of all people involved in the world of health care, he said.

"Only when the wellbeing of the person, in its most fragile and defenseless condition and in search of meaning in the unfathomable mystery of pain, is very clearly at the center of medical and assisted care" can the hospital be seen as a place where healing isn't a job, but a mission, the pope said.

Bringing life-giving and evangelizing assistance to others will always be expected of Catholic health workers, he said.

"Now more than ever our society needs 'good Samaritans' with a generous heart and arms open to all," he added.
Being Catholic brings with it a greater responsibility to society, and Catholics need to live their lives with courage as a true vocation, he said.

Professionals and volunteers working in health care represent "a unique vocation, which necessitates study, sensitivity and experience," he said. However, it's also necessary to go beyond academic qualifications and develop a true capacity to respond to the mystery of suffering and see one's work as a human and spiritual mission, he said.

Faith has a lot to teach about the mystery and value -- or "science" -- of suffering, and Catholic health workers "are qualified experts" in this field, the pope said.

"Your being Catholic, without fear, gives you a greater responsibility in the realm of society and the church," Pope Benedict said. "It's a real vocation" that was lived in an exemplary way by many saints including St. Gianna Beretta Molla and servant of God Jerome Lejeune, the French Catholic geneticist.

Published in International

TORONTO - More low-income people are using parts of the health care system that are under the most stress, including the emergency departments and mental health services, a recent study from Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital has found.

“Mental health is very common in our society and we have very little outpatient care and very little community care relative to what’s actually needed for the population,” said Dr. Rick Glazier, one of the lead authors of the study. 

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

TORONTO - Spring cleaning became a high priority at St. Thomas More Catholic School on April 26 after at least six students and two teachers began feeling flu-like symptoms.

The rapid onset of the symptoms, which included fevers, lethargy and severe abdominal pains, raised enough concern that emergency crews were called to the school in Toronto's northeast end. Most who displayed signs of illness were assessed and released on site by Emergency Medical Services, who arrived around 2 p.m., with the exception of one student who was transported to hospital.

Published in Education

TORONTO - We live in a sick society and the illness can be measured by the depth and the prevalence of poverty across Ontario, faith leaders who run shelters, food banks and counselling services heard on a visit to Queen’s Park March 29.

They weren’t talking about sickness as a metaphor for moral corruption. Rabbis, imams and bishops were discussing the epidemiology of diabetes, cancer, depression, hypertension, addiction, obesity and a dozen other conditions.

“The poor and the vulnerable are always the sickest,” Dr. Phil Berger, St. Michael’s Hospital chief of family and community medicine, told Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition delegates at a day-long exploration of health and poverty.

Published in Features

To say Cristina Di Corte was not feeling well would be an understatement. After experiencing bad abdominal pains and vomiting, her doctor thought she might have acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease or even an eating disorder.

But after visiting a specialist, Di Corte received some very different news. “Your gut doesn’t work,” he told her.

“The muscles around my digestive system don’t function properly so if I eat, it stays in my stomach for a very long time. Eventually, it starts to rot and it ends up making me sick,” said Di Corte, 22, a graduate of St. Joseph Secondary School in Mississauga, Ont.

Published in Youth Speak News

TORONTO - Students who suffer concussions should not only be removed from sports but also be excused from class until they heal, according to the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA).

Bob Murray, the OCSTA director of legislative and political affairs, is urging the Ontario government to include full curriculum exemption into Bill 39. The bill proposes that school boards be required to develop policies to deal with students who suffer brain trauma from concussions.

“You need to be removed from the classroom to let your brain get what is referred to as cognitive rest,” said Murray. “Even the regular classroom can have profound effects on the brain if a person hasn’t received the rest they need. They should be removed from all curriculum in order to properly heal the head injury.” 

Published in Education

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a German bishop who had been accused of financial irregularities and hitting children to the Vatican's health care council.

Retired Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg was named a member of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry March 21.

Published in International

If all Ontarians were as healthy as those with higher incomes there would be 231,000 fewer disabled people and about 3,300 fewer deaths per year, found a recent study from researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The final chapter of the six-year long POWER Study examining health equity was released last month from researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). The POWER study (Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report) examined access, quality and outcomes of care across the province for the leading causes of disease and disability and how they varied by sex, income, ethnicity and where one lives. The 12-volume study cost $4.3 million and involved 60 researchers.

Published in Canada

Clean and potable water is a human right, not a for-profit commodity dependent on market logic, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace told the sixth World Water Forum in Marseille, France.

Canada, on the other hand, stands in contrast to the Vatican position, according to Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow.

Published in Canada

When I became a Catholic several years ago I understood that I was joining a family. I knew what that meant intellectually, I understood it in theory, but I did not feel it in my bones — even though at the time I thought I did.

Now I feel it in my bones and in my heart, and the feeling will never escape me.

Like Elijah, I found God’s still voice but in a different way than the grand Old Testament prophet.

Published in Guest Columns