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The great Canadian Christian right conspiracy

Marci McDonald is a conspiracy theorist who thinks she has zeroed in on a conspiracy that threatens everything Canadians love about Canada but one that the rest of us are wilfully blind to notice, except of course for those intimately involved in the conspiracy.

I know this because she tells me so for 432 pages in her new book The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada. Tells me so repeatedly with varying degrees of emphasis and alarm. She knows this conspiracy exists because she discovered it while everyone else in the media was too lazy, too smug or too indifferent to notice what was going on all around them. The problem with being a conspiracy theorist is that you tend to see the conspiracy everywhere and the fact that others don’t see it is just further proof of how insidious and effective the conspiracy is.
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Non-violence is the only path to peace

The news from the frontier between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories is seldom good, and usually awful. Headline after headline in the mainstream media confirm the popular (and hardly inaccurate) view that the border is a place of violence and danger, where Israeli soldiers daily face death and injury from suicide bombers and armed militants, and Palestinian citizens are constantly liable to harassment and arrest.

Against this baleful backdrop of discord and suffering, however, a new and more hopeful story has begun to emerge.

Life issues are rarely off the radar

This year’s March for Life took place against a backdrop of legislative initiatives at both ends of the life spectrum. As this column is being written before the march in Ottawa, there’s no way to know if the event will be covered in the media. But life issues continue to be prominent in the news.

The unborn victims of violence bill in the last parliament and the April 14 private member’s bill aimed at ending the coercion of women into abortions they do not want both received plentiful coverage and sparked strong reaction. The proposals caused a rash of letters to the editor and talk-show panels.

Catholic by action

Catholic School teacherWhat defines a Catholic school teacher?

That question came to mind amid recent media reports about aspiring young teachers returning to the Church, converting to Catholicism or pretending to be faithful to get hired at a Catholic school board. Two Toronto papers ran stories suggesting that some graduates of teachers’ colleges have been trying to wriggle their way into Catholic schools under false pretences. These include lapsed Catholics feigning  rebirth and non-Catholics receiving the sacraments or converting solely to obtain a pastoral recommendation.

Motherhood — nothing beats it

When I was a single, adventurous career woman travelling on business many years ago in Hawaii, I never imagined that an irresistible invitation to embrace motherhood would come to me on the footpaths of the Honolulu Zoo.

I was scheduled to deliver a communications seminar the next day, feeling a little smug about the fact that I was being paid to travel and work in Hawaii, as I lined up to buy my entrance ticket. The woman in front of me was surrounded by four, five or maybe six children. She had one in her arms, one in a stroller, and the rest were clinging to her wrist, waist or leg.

Give change a chance

new missalLast week a reader wrote us to apologize because he realized he’d been too harsh last January in criticizing design changes we’d made to The Register. Upon reflection, he concluded, the paper was now easier on the eyes and the changes were a “tremendous improvement.”

We mention this not to praise ourselves, but because a new translation of the Roman Missal has been approved by Pope Benedict XVI  and, with change in the wind, it is worth remembering there is virtue in being open-minded and even-tempered. As our reader realized, given time, change can be good.

The Church must make amends to save its soul

The recent revelations of sexual abuse by some Roman Catholic clergy and alleged cover-ups by some bishops reveal a growing concern of a structural problem within the Church that goes beyond the misdeeds of a few bad people within the ministry.

At the heart of every case of clergy sexual abuse is the fracturing of faith, religion and trust, and the erosion of hope in a God of love and a Church of compassion and communion. Every new allegation is like a dagger to the very soul of who we are as a family of God. Each new case causes more brokenness, darkness, anger, shame and pain. Every act of clergy sexual abuse is an onslaught on the dignity of the human person, a distortion of religion as a value and the desecration of the very identity of the Catholic faith. Clerical sexual abuse eats at the moral authority of a Church working to heal a broken world.

Bring Canadian troops home now

The fact that Brigadier-General David Menard, the Commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, called for an inquiry into his own conduct — specifically into the circumstances in which his rifle discharged at the Kandahar airbase last March 25 — will hardly inspire confidence in the troops under his command and among the Afghan civilians they are defending.

Canada might be new to modern warfare, our generals might be rusty on how to load a rifle, but we yield to none in knowing about inquiries. Indeed, conducting inquiries seems to be the only Canadian growth industry immune to the vicissitudes of the economic cycle.

Beware the contagiousness of the U.S. Christian right

For most Canadians, I suspect, the alleged activities of the Michigan-based Hutaree militia amount to little more than fresh evidence of the occasional craziness we’ve come to expect from Canada’s neighbour to the south.

Canadians should not be so smug.

Fully Alive a start

sex educationProposed changes to Ontario’s sex-education curriculum were ill conceived and ineptly delivered.  Premier Dalton McGuinty’s only good move on this file was his hasty flip-flop on a plan to muscle explicit sex instruction into elementary schools this fall.

Contrary to some interpretations, the sex-ed initiative was not derailed by Catholics. The government had no intention of imposing a curriculum on Catholic schools that conflicted with Church teaching on sexuality. McGuinty wasn’t about to risk a court challenge by requiring Catholic teachers to teach sexual orientation to Grade 3 students. Instead, Catholic educators had a government blessing to integrate the proposed new curriculum into the Fully Alive program, which has been delivering elementary students faith-based lessons on sexuality, marriage and family for more than 20 years.  

Zero tolerance of abuse offenders

abuseCatholics are angry about recent revelations of clerical sexual abuse for two reasons: crimes were committed against children by men ordained as priests and, in many cases over many years, bishops refused to protect children from known predators by removing abuser priests from ministry and calling in the police

The Vatican apparently understands why sexual abuse of children ignites such intense anger. But it seemingly struggles to comprehend why Catholics are so angry about crimes committed and covered up 20, 30 years ago. In recent years, after all, under then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and now Pope Benedict XVI, the Church has enacted tougher protocols to empower bishops and involve police when crimes are suspected. Yet anger persists.