Morals and politics

Meeting in Baltimore last month, the U.S. Catholic bishops overwhelmingly approved a new guide intended to inform Catholic political opinion. The circumstances surrounding this document are urgent: “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility From the Catholic Bishops of the United States” is directed at American Catholics trying to live out their faith in the contentious presidential campaigns now under way and who are looking for ways to express themselves responsibly in next year’s presidential and congressional elections.

    After Noel’s fury

    HurricaneNoel.jpgExperiencing the power and fury of a hurricane is unforgettable. On Oct. 30 the Dominican Republic tasted the wrath of hurricane Noel whose powerful winds and rains swept up from the Caribbean, striking a devastating blow to that country’s central region.

      In Merton’s poetry, the ‘Word percolates deep’

      Thomas Merton and the Dalai LamaLast October Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, sponsored a conference on the poetry of Thomas Merton called “In The Dark Before Dawn: Thomas Merton, Poet.” I was invited to give the keynote address at the conference and my paper actually embraced more than Merton in that I considered two other parson poets — Pier Giorgio Di Cicco (a regular contributor to the pages of The Catholic Register and currently poet laureate of the City of Toronto) and Roderick J. MacSween, the founder of the Antigonish Review and a professor of English at St. Francis Xavier University who died in 1996.

        Tackling poverty in Canada

        {mosimage}Remember 1989, when all politicians in the House of Commons voted in favour of “eliminating poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000”? Surely the politicians would rather forget, because today — seven years after that deadline — poverty is alive and well among Canadian children.

          What to do with Anglicans?

          {mosimage}The long-standing conversation between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion about unity has been patient and respectful — and painstakingly slow. But recent events on the ground may be overtaking this genteel high-level dialogue of prelates and theologians, and lending fresh urgency to the question: Whither Catholic-Anglican relations?

            A lover of human love

            0819873942.jpgWoody Allen once said that 80 per cent of success in life consists in just showing up. While Allen has been described as many things, “theologian” probably isn’t one of them. Still, there are good reasons to think that Pope John Paul II — especially in what has come to be known as his teaching on the “theology of the body” — would say that Allen is right, or at least 80-per-cent right.

              Weakened religious identity is at the root of Quebec’s problems

              Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a brief presented by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec, to that province’s Commission on Reasonable Accommodation (Bouchard-Taylor Commission) on Oct. 30. Translated from the French by Catholic Register staff.

              ouellet-cns.jpgThe debate on reasonable accommodation and its emotional impact forced Quebec society into an exercise of listening, reflection and dialogue about the place of religion in the public sphere. It is fortunate that a broad forum chaired by two well-known personalities allows us to calmly lead this reflection and dialogue on the current malaise, its causes, issues and solutions. Quebec society is now faced with a choice which requires from individuals and institutional authorities of the state, churches and various religious groups a serious review of the situation and a true and sincere dialogue in order to wisely decide the way forward to live together harmoniously in the coming decades.

                Quebec's spiritual void

                {mosimage}The Reasonable Accommodation Commission hearings in Quebec have been described by some observers as a “horror show” or “circus” demonstrating some of the more xenophobic aspects of Quebecois culture. For that, however, they should be lauded rather than condemned. They have done all Canadians a favour.

                  What's the fuss about getting a bite to eat?

                  bread.jpgIt was a First Communion Mass at my church and the communicants were invited by name to “come to the table of the Lord.” Before that calling, they had set the table, just as one would at home for a special occasion. Two children brought up the white linen altar cloth and pulled and tugged until it was even. A third placed a smaller cloth in the centre, close to the edge, much like a placemat.

                    Nothing is as it seems with the Knights Templar

                    Knights_Templar_Shields.jpgLast month’s unveiling of long secret Knights Templar documents by the Vatican Secret Archives has been the stuff of news and features stories as well as fodder for millions of kilobytes of commentary on blogs, in e-mails and, one suspects, telephone conversations and late night bar debates.

                      The newly fallen

                      {mosimage}Since 2002, Remembrance Days have taken on a special poignancy. The memories of loved ones fallen in battle are no longer from the distant past. Today, they include those who have died in Afghanistan.