Finding a Catholic home

{mosimage}Coming from an Anglican family of church musicians, I was received into the Catholic Church just over five years ago on the Feast of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More. Some other members of my family have also converted, but not all of them. Until now, we have been aware that becoming Catholic meant relinquishing some of our cherished heritage. So the Apostolic Constitution announced by the Vatican is quite a gift for my family and an answer to literally years of prayer.

Two years ago, when news first spread of the request from the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) for union with the Holy See, it was apparent that TAC Primate John Hepworth was serious about his vision for “the end of the Reformation of the 16th century.” The Oct. 20 announcements in the Vatican and London bring that vision one great step closer to being fulfilled.

    Protect yourself againt Swine Flu

    {mosimage}As the great procrastinator Hamlet might have put it: To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question.

    With cases of H1N1 influenza (a.k.a. the Swine Flu) on the rise and deaths beginning to mount, millions of Canadians apparently remain unconvinced that immunization is necessary. Polls indicate that up to half the population either distrusts the evidence of an impending health crisis or doubts the safety of the vaccine and will not vaccinate. Health officials are ringing the alarm for a coming pandemic, but skeptics are seeing a hot-air balloon and a boy hiding in the rafters.

      Understanding, respect

      {mosimage}Talk about timing. As the stunning news of Pope Benedict XVI’s bold initiative to bring traditionalist Anglicans into the Catholic Church was starting to spread on Oct. 20, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada was rising to address the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

      Anglican Archbishop Fred Hiltz had been invited to the annual Bishops’ Plenary in Cornwall, Ont., to reflect on ecumenism. He applauded the progress over the years in inter-faith relations, affirmed his personal commitment to the cause of ecumenism and spoke optimistically of a future in which Anglicans and Catholics would work more closely together because the theology and history of the two churches share much in common.

        Finding the highs in the valley of lows

        {mosimage}This past month has been a very dark period for the Canadian Catholic Church. And it isn’t over. As Ron Rolheiser has said, “in times like these it is most instructive and healing to sit quietly in humility, in sackcloth and ashes.”

        In spite of the media coverage — obsessive, unrelenting, merciless and yet fully understandable — it is important to still keep perspective, to remember we are a redeemed people, a people of hope. And so, I don’t intend to add to the commentary on the Bishop Raymond Lahey Affair — as it has been dubbed — in part because I have already done that in other media, but also because we could all do with a respite, an antidote, no matter how passing its effect.

          Globalization needs to take the whole person into account

          Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate is a remarkable attempt to grapple with, along with much else, the threats and opportunities that have come to us all as results of international capital integration. The long letter is also a highly imaginative application of Christian thought to a matter that is very timely.

          We feel the touch of the globalization Benedict speaks of when we buy some product — anything with a computer chip in it, a children’s toy, even food — that was once made in Canada or the United States, but that now comes to us from some remote spot in Asia. We see it in newspaper headlines announcing some new domestic plant closing and the transfer of the means of production to cheap labour zones elsewhere in the world.

            Bishop Raymond Lahey - What would Jesus do?

            {mosimage}ANTIGONISH, N.S. - I am inclined to believe that most Roman Catholics thought the high-watermark of the sexual abuse of children by clergy had already been reached and perhaps was even receding. The allegations against Raymond Lahey, recently resigned bishop of the diocese of Antigonish, would seem to prove otherwise.

            Locally, these revelations have introduced dark and foreboding days for the parishioners of this Maritime diocese. At the writing of this article I am in my home diocese of Antigonish attending a family wedding. I can report first hand that newscasts and local newspapers keep the embers of the alleged accusations against Bishop Lahey hot and brightly burning. The environment is blue with sadness as people seek to deal with their anger, disappointment and outright frustration. In the days since the allegations against the bishop broke, the agonizing consequences seem as though they will never go away.

              Ease Tamil anxiety

              {mosimage}Throughout May their faces of anger and defiance were displayed on nightly newscasts and in daily newspapers. Canadian Tamils took to the streets by the thousands to demand that the federal government intervene in an apparent slaughter of Tamil civilians as the civil war in Sri Lanka came to a violent end.

              Five months later, an investigation by The Catholic Register’s Michael Swan has uncovered a “mental health emergency ” among a Tamil community that is now grieving dead loved ones and despairing over family that have disappeared but may still be alive in squalid Sri Lankan refugee camps.

                Charity and truth needed in a globalized world

                {mosimage}Understanding globalization, and how we should act in the face of it, are tasks every thinking Catholic must undertake. My experience of trying to sort out these matters suggests they are not easy topics to tackle.

                In the first place, the word globalization is awkward, abstract and impersonal, and it comes burdened with the connotation of a vast force free of human agency — something too inexorable even to think about. Also, there’s the daunting complexity of the phenomenon and the fact that its worst manifestations seem to be coming at us all at once: the near-death of international banking and capital markets last year, the ongoing flight of manufacturing jobs from the old lands of the Industrial Revolution to emerging economies on the fringes of the West, social conflicts erupting as huge movements of people from the developing world into the traditional bastions of Western culture take place — the list goes on and on.

                  The hypocrisy of International Blasphemy Day

                  {mosimage}Some strange news releases, media alerts and queries reach me on a regular basis, but the invitation to “International Blasphemy Day” stood out for a number of reasons. Who knew that blasphemers were being given the short end of the stick by society? From my perspective, it would be hard to know there was anything exceptional going on.

                  The first article promised “Jesus as you’ve never seen Him before,” dripping “red nail polish around the nails in His feet and hands.” As it happens, some of the things we see at the office make a few dabs of nail polish look like amateur hour. I’ve seen crucifixes propped up by human waste, chocolate Jesuses with obscene touches and at least one Jesus look-alike contest (the latter two were Easter promotions, by the way). I’ve also helped get a Communion Host removed from the auction block on e-Bay, and encouraged YouTube to remove purported desecrations of a Host from its site.

                    Our shame is not yet behind us

                    {mosimage}In August Bishop Raymond Lahey was applauded for finalizing a multi-million-dollar settlement that would bring some measure of justice to men who were victims of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of Nova Scotia clergy. Last week, having resigned as bishop of Antigonish, Lahey surrendered to police to face charges of possessing and importing child pornography.

                    How is a faithful Catholic to reconcile these two events. How do we respond to yet another sexual-misconduct scandal involving clergy and children? What are we to make of a bishop who is a champion of abuse victims one day and an alleged abuser the next?

                      Progressive step

                      {mosimage}The most recent casualty of the global financial crisis is the economic organization widely blamed for causing the near-collapse of the world economy. The G8 has been retired from its role as caretaker of world finances, giving way to the G20, a younger, more inclusive organization that comprises nations from every region in the world.

                      This historic transfer of power, which occurred Sept. 25 at a G20 summit in Pittsburgh, marks  a significant — and welcomed — evolution in world relations. The G8, forged during the Cold War as an economic alliance of mostly rich, Western nations, had become an anachronism in a world in which emerging economies in Asia, Africa and South America have been playing a greater role in global affairs.

                      As American President Barack Obama put it in his closing remarks in Pittsburgh: “We can no longer meet the challenges of the 21st century economy with 20th-century approaches.” That meant finding a place at the table for the likes of China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia and South Korea.