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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?”

Guard our freedoms

Jesus and His apostles and countless martyrs through the ages were executed for proclaiming their beliefs. Today, in many parts of the world, Christians are still killed for giving voice to religious conviction.

In 21st-century Canada, people of faith seldom face physical threats but, despite Charter guarantees of religious freedom, they risk being hauled in front of a human rights tribunal if a third party is offended by an expression of faith. In these quasi-courts, an accused person can be censured, fined, forced to apologize and ordered to pay their accuser’s legal fees.

It’s a strange world the Supreme Court lives in

It’s a strange, strange world when best-intended efforts to help impoverished drug addicts in Vancouver end up threatening to impose euthanasia on vulnerable Montrealers.

Stranger still is when the risk arises from the genuine desire of judges on Canada’s Supreme Court to do the right and merciful thing.

The things they’re aiming at, and profiting from, our ‘tweens’

Two recent events at our house got me thinking about Tipper Gore.

Remember her? She is the former wife of Al Gore who years ago fought against profane language in music, particularly rap and heavy metal genres, and violent imagery in media. She was dismissed by many as, at best, a meddling mom and, at worst, an enemy of free speech.

Supreme Court oversteps its bounds with InSite decision

The Supreme Court of Canada in its decision handed down on the legality of InSite, the Vancouver drug injection site, has arrogantly decided that it is more capable of determining Canada’s national drug policy than the nation’s elected government.

It has ordered the Minister of Health to continue the operation of this controversial drug injection site even though, under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA), this is supposed to be a matter for the Minister’s discretion.

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Rally for life

On Oct. 22 a group of hopeful young Christians is holding a rally for people of all ages that deserves widespread attention and support.

The youth wing of Campaign Life Coalition will gather at Queen’s Park in Toronto to urge the provincial government to stop funding abortions with taxpayer money. The target of their protest will be the Ontario government, but the message should resonate with provincial governments nationwide.

Fr. Bob an ‘old preacher’ with a few things to say

Fr. Robert J. Bedard, founder of the Companions of the Cross, died on Oct. 6. He was a great sign of hope for the Church in Canada, a truly original pioneer in the new evangelization.

Fr. Bob, as he was known to all, and I were not friends, but certainly had many friendly encounters over the years. Our last meeting stands out for it captured so much about Fr. Bob.

In defence of our first liberty

On Oct, 3, Fr. de Souza was invited to address a consultative meeting of Canadian religious leaders convened by John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, about the decision of the federal government to establish an Office of Religious Freedom within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. What follows is an adaptation of what he said.

Just last spring I offered on Parliament Hill, in my capacity as chaplain of the St. Thomas More Society — an informal association of Catholic parliamentarians — a memorial Mass for Shahbaz Bhatti, the slain Pakistani minister, killed for his advocacy of the rights of religious minorities. That Mass, obviously Catholic, was attended by MPs and Senators of different parties, including many who were not Catholic, or even Christian. It was a sign that religious liberty is not an issue of special pleading by religious believers alone, much less religious believers of only one kind or another.

This morning I only speak for myself, but I would note that Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his annual message for the World Day of Peace 2011 to the importance of religious freedom.

When media push the envelope, push back

In a recent episode of the Canadian TV series Rookie Blue, a priest is tackled by a pair of police officers who show little patience with his explanation: A penitent had threatened to do something stupid, hence the priest, baseball bat in hand, chased him up the street. In the ensuing dialogue, one officer notes, “He’s a priest. He can’t be lying.” The other counters, “Pff, priests lie. Ever see that wafer that they call bread?”

The snide reference to the Eucharist offended many Catholic viewers, some of whom forwarded complaints to me as well as to Global Television, the originating network. In my own message to the network, I pointed out there must be countless, less offensive ways to convey a character’s skepticism about clergy and organized religion. The scene and its dialogue were unfortunate, given that the rest of the episode contained little if anything that would be regarded as offensive. (I had never watched the show before. When I saw the title in listings I had simply assumed it was yet another American crime offering.)

Where we fail to see Christ’s presence

An American novelist I know recently found himself front-page news because of parental complaints about the language in one of his books.

The work, which is on the recommended reading list in the local public school system, belatedly drew the ire of a couple who protested that the frequent swearing and vulgarity of certain characters offended their family sensibilities.

According to a front-page story in the Charleston, S.C. Post and Courier, James Pasley and his wife want author Bret Lott’s novel, The Hunt Club, deleted from their son’s high school reading list. They have been loud enough that county school authorities have convened a hearing to try to resolve the issue.

Destroying Judeo-Christian heritage could lead to the West’s fall

Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Britain’s United Hebrew Congregation and a member of the House of Lords, is a remarkable man.

Educated at Cambridge, he obtained first-class honours in philosophy and pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King’s College, London, gaining a doctoral degree in 1981. He has been a visiting professor at several universities in Britain and abroad and holds honorary degrees from several universities. Unlike many academics, he writes clearly; unlike many clerics, he is not afraid to speak his mind.

All this is evident in a recent op-ed piece he wrote in the Wall Street Journal.