Vote anyway

{mosimage}The federal election campaign has been anything but inspiring for Canadians. Most of what passes for debate has been name-calling, accusations of lying and trivial arguments over whose commercials were the most unfair.

Creation groans

{mosimage}In this federal election campaign, Canada’s Catholic bishops are calling upon all Catholics to consider environmental questions when they vote. In its recent pastoral letter on ecology, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says, “We hope our elected representatives will remember first of all the heritage we are leaving our children when making important decisions. Because we love our children, what environment, what society do we wish to bequeath to them?”

 

Is personal virtue required in democracy?

{mosimage}The primary function of the state is to ensure justice for all. This noble idea resonates nicely through the particularities of the fair wage, anti-discrimination policies, affordable housing, universal health care and social justice.

Justice, however, is a virtue. Moreover, it is, in its essence, not bureaucratic, but personal. Politicians, nonetheless, who love to talk about justice, rarely understand this. In general, they assume that justice is imposed on people by a liberal government, forgetting, somehow, that a society is nothing without its constitutive people. If there are no virtuous people, there is no social justice.

A very special family vacation

They say you can’t go back and revisit the past, but that’s exactly what we did last month. My family went back to the Muskoka resort where we first vacationed decades ago.

My parents had stumbled across the place after years of vacationing at housekeeping cottages. It cost more, but it was a real treat not to have to pack groceries, bedding and towels for six, along with each family member’s personal items, and try to cram them all into the car. And how wonderful it was to have someone else preparing, serving and cleaning up after meals and organizing activities. It was truly a time of relaxation and fun.

Education leads us to human fulfilment

{mosimage}Throughout his remarkable visit to Paris and Lourdes in mid-September, Pope Benedict XVI showed France and the world what is best about contemporary Catholicism. He reached out with great warmth to all the people he met, from the mighty of this world — his first stop was a conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy — to sick pilgrims and intellectuals, the youth of Paris, Jews and Muslims.

He preached the Gospel with zeal, witnessed to the love revealed 150 years ago at Lourdes, and encouraged the French clergy and others called to dedicated lives to stand firm in the face of Europe’s deepening unbelief. And he did these things with shining charity.

Catholic schools have made great contributions

{mosimage}It is both predictable and tiresome. And it is never, to my mind at least, entirely honest. What I am talking about is the political hot potato that is publicly funded Catholic education in the province of Ontario and the pseudo-debate that revolves around it.

In his Aug. 11 column, Jim Coyle of The Toronto Star spoke of the courage of NDP leader-wannabe Michael Prue’s invitation to the membership to enter into “a grand dialogue” regarding the economic effectiveness and justice of a policy/convention/tradition that continues to fund a separate Catholic school system. Why are we surprised? Especially, given the often furious and polemical debates surrounding the last provincial election and John Tory’s advocacy of “faith schools.”

Envisioning Canada without poverty

{mosimage}The Catholic Register deserves our praise for printing three moving pages of Michael Swan’s portraits of poverty (“The human faces of poverty among us ,” Aug. 17-24). Swan reflects on the well-known passage, “The poor you will always have with you…” He wonders why we who profess to be followers of Jesus keep the poor out of sight and out of mind.

Option for the poor

{mosimage}When the Catholic Church talks about Christianity’s “preferential option for the poor,” the notion has both personal and political implications. During this federal election campaign in Canada, this principle should help guide Catholic voters in making a wise choice on their ballots.

The Canadian bishops have identified this “option for the poor” as a “Gospel imperative.” In the document, “Election 2004: Responsibility and Discernment,” the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote that “Jesus had a special love for the weak and vulnerable; He identified Himself with them and proclaimed the Good News to them.”

Celebrating St. Paul Ecumenically

{mosimage}Ecumenists were particularly delighted when, in his first address to the College of Cardinals following his election, Benedict XVI clearly put the Roman Catholic Church on notice that he would work without sparing energy to bring about the unity of the Christian church. It proved nothing short of embracing ecumenical continuity, giving testimony to an endeared legacy of his predecessor Pope John Paul II.

To date evidence of that energy has clearly manifested itself throughout the early years of Benedict’s active pontificate.

Life issues

{mosimage}Even before this federal election campaign started, those who believe in the sanctity of human life were bound to be disappointed. There is no political party that officially supports the pro-life position and few political leaders that even want to talk about it.

It's always something

I have a disease. It started in a finger on my left hand and within a couple days moved to a finger on my right hand. I first noticed the unusual pains a few months after my 40th birthday. 

By that summer, I was practically bedridden. A misdiagnosis didn’t help. In fairness to the doctor, he didn’t have much to go on. In fact, even a couple of years later a specialist was still saying maybe you do have arthritis and maybe you don’t.