Celebrate life

The birth of a baby should always be a celebration of God’s will being done. But much of the joy accompanying the arrival of tiny Danica May Camacho on Oct. 31 was offset by joyless fretting about the future of the planet.

Danica May, born in Manila, was one of several babies symbolically presented to the world on Halloween as the planet’s population reached seven billion, according to the United Nations Population Fund. She was the second child born to Catholic parents who subsist on the meagre salary of a Filipino bus driver. Naturally, they were delighted to welcome a new baby into their family.

"Win a baby" contest exploits life, family

When an Ottawa radio station hosted a “win a baby” contest last month, pledging to pay for fertility treatments for whoever wrote the best pitch about why they deserved the treatments, station officials claimed they wanted a catchy promotion that would shine a light on the cost of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which OHIP does not cover. In the end, five couples won $35,000 each for a series of treatments. Hundreds of entries were received, with tens of thousands reportedly voting online for their preferred candidate.

It is true that Quebec covers IVF treatments while Ontario does not, but the reality is there are a great many things that OHIP does not cover. Most of them (prescription drugs, dental care, a lot of eye care and eye glasses, to name just a few) are used by a great many more people than use IVF. This is not to comment about what public health insurance should or should not cover, only to point out that there are many exclusions under OHIP that can cause hardship. The likelier reason for the contest is the opportunity for headline-grabbing publicity, particularly through those catchy ads with a cute baby and the disclaimer “may not be exactly as shown.”

The Vatican and Occupy Wall Street

Pope Benedict may or may not bless the Occupy Wall Street movement. But an Eastern European former Marxist atheist intellectual has told protesters that they should really preoccupy themselves with the Holy Spirit.

Leading up to November’s G20 economic meeting in France, and as the Occupy Wall Street movement entered its second month, media whoop-whoop made it sound like Benedict’s arrival at the barricades was imminent.

The story turned out to be a torque job so clumsy it would make an apprentice mechanic at Dollar Bill’s Easy Autos blush.

The Pope may be infallible, but Vatican’s PR people aren’t

The Vatican bureaucracy has been known to make a mess out of public relations. This is not my own unique discovery. Last September I attended a course for journalists at the Vatican and this was a major topic of discussion.

Even journalists from the Catholic press could not believe how poorly the Vatican handles the dissemination of information. There were journalists based in Rome who spoke of the gross incompetence of the Church in trying to explain itself to the world.

Christmas stamps honour the beauty of Kingston’s St. Mary’s Cathedral

KINGSTON - We are justly proud of our Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception, and so should Catholics across the land, for Kingston is the mother church of all English Canada. I count it a great blessing that I offer the Holy Mass there every Sunday night. Now Canadians from sea to sea shall have the opportunity to honour our cathedral with every letter and card they send.

On All Saints Day, Canada Post unveiled its Christmas stamps for 2011 at a special ceremony in our cathedral. Three images from the cathedral’s magnificent stained glass windows were selected. The angel appearing to Joseph will grace the domestic stamp, the Nativity the American stamp and the Epiphany was chosen for the international stamp.

Are changes to monarchy rules out of respect, or indifference?

Commonwealth summits come and go, with often nothing more dramatic taking place than Queen Elizabeth having to smile benignly upon some less-than-benign leaders of various unlovely regimes. This week in Perth, Australia, will be different. It is expected that the 16 heads of government from those countries where Her Majesty is head of state will agree to modifications in the rules for succession. If they all agree, the British parliament will amend the 1701 Act of Settlement to i) remove male primogeniture in favour of simple primogeniture, and ii) remove the prohibition on heirs to the throne marrying Catholics.

Currently, males are preferred in the order of succession, even if they have an older sister. It seems rather incongruous to speak of unfairness in a hereditary monarchy, as heredity is always arbitrary, but it is generally accepted that treating sons and daughters equally would be more fair. Since 1701, the two longest reigning and most successful monarchs have been queens, Victoria and Elizabeth II — reigning nearly a combined 125 years — so the distaff side has taken a rather distinguished turn even under current norms.

Canada has a role

The death of dictator Moammar Gadhafi has silenced the guns and heralded a homecoming for 600 Canadians who participated in NATO sorties over Libya. But Gadhafi’s brutal exit should not mark the end of Canadian engagement in the North Africa nation.

Like the days that followed the overthrow of repression in Iraq and Egypt, Libya is entering uncertain and potentially dangerous times, particularly for its religious minorities. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s removal sparked widespread persecution and a mass exodus of Christians. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow has emboldened Muslim extremists to terrorize Coptic Christians.

Life lessons taken from a baseball flick

It’s been said that baseball is like church. Many attend, but few understand.

That may or may not be so. But while watching Brad Pitt’s new hit movie Moneyball, my mind kept wandering and I couldn’t help but think “this isn’t just a baseball movie. It’s about life; a metaphor about relationships, limiting irrational emotion and making improvements day after day.” (No doubt my wife’s mind was wandering in a different direction seeing Pitt up there on the big screen.)

Good baseball movies tend to hit my sentimental side and make me think of things beyond the game or the particular movie, from Field of Dreams and The Natural to Bang the Drum Slowly and The Pride of the Yankees.

Don’t miss grace-filled November

The following is an edited excerpt from Motherhood Matters: Inspirational Stories, Letters, Quotes & Prayers for Catholic Moms by Dorothy Pilarski and published by Catholic Register Books.

At the beginning of November we celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day, and Remembrance Day follows soon thereafter. These three days remind Catholics to be united in mind and heart with both the saints in heaven and the souls in purgatory. We should be thankful for those who died as martyrs defending our faith and those who died to preserve our freedom.

Standing up for Don Cherry - a good ol’ Kingston boy

In Kingston and Wolfe Island, where I work and live, Don Cherry occupies a rather unique place. He grew up in Kingston and has a summer cottage on Wolfe Island. Here, he is one of our own.

In a larger sense, too, Cherry is considered by many across Canada to be just that — one of our own in a way that few are. For that reason, from time to time the whole nation erupts in a great Cherry controversy. The Globe and Mail employs a full-time columnist apparently for that reason alone. So for almost a fortnight, much attention was paid to what Grapes said Oct. 6 on the inaugural Coach’s Corner of the hockey season. On Oct. 15, in his regular spot, he apologized.

Plenty of social in our halls of power, but where’s the Gospel?

There was an interesting moment in the Republican presidential candidates’ debate in California a few weeks back. Brian Williams, the NBC news anchor and moderator, asked Rick Santorum, a prominent Catholic running for the Republican nomination, a question about poverty.


“The Catholic faith has as a part of it caring for the poor,” Williams said. “One in seven people in this country now qualifies as poor. Where do the poor come in? Where do they place? In this party, on this stage, in a Santorum administration?”