Act of Contrition

{mosimage}Hardly has there been a period in history in which our past sins have weighed so heavily on our shoulders. The enormity of humanity’s abuse of humanity — in fact of the entire planet — has never been so apparent to us.

So the mass apology has become an icon of our repentant age. Pope John Paul II used the apology to good effect, shining a light on the travesties of past church leaders, whether inflicted on women, indigenous tribes, religious dissenters or, in the case of the Holocaust, the Jewish people.

Obama's Christianity scares the Catholic vote

{mosimage}In his winning stride through the U.S. Democratic presidential primaries, Illinois Senator Barack Obama didn’t bring American Catholics along with him.

Some pundits believe that Obama cannot win the White House in November without this important group, which constitutes almost a quarter of the U.S. population. The primary results in the must-win states of Pennsylvania and Ohio certainly do not bode well for the Obama campaign. In Pennsylvania, 70 per cent of self-described Catholics went for Hillary Clinton, while in Ohio, she won 65 per cent of the vote in this category.

Anti-religious atmosphere is becoming oppressive

It is not easy being an advocate for Catholic schools. At one time the parallel existence of a parochial school system was seen ideally as a complement to its public counterpart; sometimes it was perceived as welcome competition and sometimes as a threat to the public system. Usually it was seen as exotic, a byproduct of a 19th-century political accommodation, a customary feature of the provincial landscape.

Declined with thanks

The news last week that a huge donation (valued at $19 million for church and land) to build a church in the Greater Toronto Area from auto parts magnate Frank Stronach had been turned by the archdiocese of Toronto created some awkward moments. No one likes to walk away from such magnificent generosity; nor does a potential donor like to see his offer of a gift spurned.

Condos don't fit St. Basil's neighbourhood

{mosimage}It was only last November that John Bentley Mays gave the seventh annual Somerville Lecture at the Newman Centre in Toronto.  The subject of his excellent talk was the future of the Christian urbanism in Toronto.  In it he says that, although major decisions are being made that will affect the “living textures and structures of the secular city for generations to come,” any form of Christian intervention in the debate is “oddly lacking at the present time.” He says that he cannot understand this lack of participation, adding: “However it is explained, the public silence of Christians about the contemporary city must be accounted a significant failure of imagination and will that should concern all believers.” 

From boys to men

{mosimage}The Jesuits used to claim that if they could take charge of a boy’s education at age seven, they would turn out a fine mature man ready to serve God and country. Today, as we celebrate this Father’s Day, in much of industrialized society, the boys are still there, but the men are increasingly missing in action.

Deus caritas made flesh

The trees fluttered to and fro in a brisk autumn breeze. The scene at the back of St. Isaac Jogues Church was one filled with the sound of people tapping their feet to the music as the air was filled with the tantalizing smell of hamburgers and hot dogs cooking on the barbecue. Our pastor warmly greeted my family as he mixed and mingled among the crowd.

Praying through depression

I’m writing this column in a room on the psychiatric ward of a large downtown hospital. I’m not here as a visitor or observer. I’m a patient.

Accommodation Part II

{mosimage}Last week, we offered some general comments on the report of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation in Quebec. By and large, the commissioners used common sense and open-mindedness in dealing with very real tensions over religious and cultural differences between immigrants and older Quebec communities.

You are never in trouble walking with Jesus

{mosimage}It’s 2 a.m. It is that time of the day when a man filled with stress lays in his bed staring at his alarm clock. I ask Jesus to help me sleep, but sleep doesn’t come.  

Humankind has unique place in God's plan

{mosimage}In April, after four Canadian seal hunters were killed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence when their ship capsized while being towed, the animal rights activist Paul Watson provided a provocative quote. Speaking for his organization, which engages in direct action to protest abuse of marine wildlife, he said: “The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society recognizes that the deaths of four sealers is a tragedy but Sea Shepherd also recognizes that the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal pups is an even greater tragedy.”