OTTAWA – A new survey shows Canada’s high levels of immigration are making the country more religious and heightening the need to respect religion’s place in the public square, says Andrew Bennett, Canada’s former ambassador for religious freedom.

Published in Canada

VATICAN CITY – The Holy Spirit continues to give Christians different gifts and to call them to share those gifts with each other in a community marked by forgiveness and "unity in diversity," Pope Francis said on Pentecost.

Published in Vatican

When Bishop Vincent Nguyen arrived in Toronto fresh from a refugee camp, after surviving a dangerous journey in a flimsy fishing boat, he found a home.

Published in Features

Marvel’s Ant-Man is the 12th instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Studios’ 12th consecutive top-grossing opening at the box office. With a gross of more than $8 billion at the worldwide box office, the MCU currently sits as the highest grossing film franchise in the world. And if that’s not enough, the highest grossing film worldwide, The Avengers, is also an MCU instalment.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

We live inside a world and inside religions that are too given to disrespect and violence. Virtually every newscast documents the prevalence of disrespect and violence done in the name of religion, disrespect done for the sake of God (strange as that expression may seem). Invariably those acting in this way see their actions, justified by sacred cause.

Published in Fr. Ron Rolheiser

LONDON, Ont. - Despite the winter winds howling outside, youth ministry specialist Dan Moynihan and his team are busy preparing to welcome hundreds of high school students to camp this summer.

Published in Youth Speak News

VATICAN CITY - The Greek root of the word "synod" means "to walk together," which is exactly what bishops and other members of the Synod of Bishops are called to do as they seek to apply the Gospel and church teaching to the challenges facing family life today, said the gathering's general secretary.

Published in Faith

VATICAN CITY - People of different religious beliefs can and must live together in peace, Pope Francis said.

Published in Faith

TORONTO - The Year of Faith kicked off Oct. 14 in a multicultural way for one of the most culturally diverse parishes in a city known for its cultural diversity.

At the noon Mass, St. Wilfrid’s Church in northwest Toronto joined other parishes across the archdiocese in kicking off the Year of Faith, but in a way that reflects the face of its parishioners.

“The Year of Faith was inspiration the Church received to reflect on our faith but also on our diversity,” Fr. Massey Lombardi told those gathered.

“There’s about 45 different languages in this parish but I would think if you went to other parishes in the city you would find the same thing.”

To celebrate the cultural melting pot that is his parish and city, Lombardi hung about 40 miniature flags on the walls surrounding the altar. These flags represent the heritage of the parishioners who attend his services weekly. On this Sunday the church, brightened by the colourful attire worn by many, was filled beyond its 1,000-occupancy capacity with parishioners lining the back wall and spilling out into the foyer.

“Those flags are going to stay up all year and we are going to have programs that speak of the diversity,” said Lombardi. “This parish here is very diverse and we want to celebrate that. It’s really trying to build an understanding of cultures and respect.”

Fol lowing communion Lombardi invited parishioners to offer a sign of peace and recite the Our Father in their native language. After the service parishioners headed to the parish hall to sample lunch dishes as diverse as the cultural attire they donned, sharing their diversity as one community.

“It’s both a joining together and sharing food and there is nothing like joining together to share food,” said Lombardi.

Lombardi said plans are in the works to expand this all-encompasing atmosphere outside of the church’s walls.

On Oct. 21 the parish will dedicate a statue to St. Padre Pio.

“This is really a segue into all the other things we can do in terms of our liturgy, in terms of our practice, our programs, but also in terms of our outreach to the poor, sick and the marginalized in our community,” said Lombardi. “Faith is not faith in the vacuum, it’s promoted, it’s increased, it’s deepened through cultures.”

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

(CORRECTION 24/10/12 to Michael Taylor's job title)

TORONTO - Citizenship and Immigration Canada has granted half-a-million dollars over three years to the University of Toronto for its Religious Diversity Youth Leadership project.

Launched in late September, the program investigates and acts upon the problems and possibilities of living in a religiously diverse society.

“The most important thing the CIC funding was looking for was the kind of projects that would bring together communities that wouldn’t normally be talking to each other,” said Pamela Klassen, professor in the Department for the Study of Religion and director of the Religion in the Public Sphere Initiative.

The project promises to bring together and build networks of communication between students, faculty, community leaders and youth in the Greater Toronto Area. It is run by the U of T’s Multi-Faith Centre for Spiritual Study and Practice, the Religion in the Public Sphere Initiative and the Centre for Community Partnerships. The project aims to raise awareness on how religious diversity and civic responsibility are connected and to work against exclusion and marginalization.

“We put in a proposal, the RPS, together with the Centre for Community Partnerships and the Multi-Faith Centre that was focussed on a university-based project that would take students out into the community and bring various community organizations in contact with students and with the wider university,” Klassen said.

The project has three main activities. The religious diversity youth training activity will have U of T students enrolled in a service-learning certificate program, which is meant to prepare them for serving in diverse communities, including religious communities.

In the next category of activity, academic and service-learning community partnerships, young adults will work in community organizations or university departments to see first-hand how civic responsibility and religious diversity play out in real-world situations.

“Just as our society becomes more diverse, our responses to spiritual and religious care should evolve with it,” said panelist Michael A. Taylor, Regional Manager with the Ontario Multifaith Council and a mental health professional. “A nation that accepts diversity should accept the entire diversity of a person.”

The third category of activity is the public forums and community research workshops. This connects policy makers, scholars, community leaders, practitioners and students.

The first forum was held on Sept. 27, the day the project launched. Titled “Care of Souls and the Soul of Care,” the forum lasted two days and was held to discuss the successes and failures of religion in publicly funded health care and the challenges religious diversity poses for biomedical health care.

On day two of the forum, the community research workshop brought together palliative care doctors, neonatologists, nurses, executives, hospital chaplains, scholars and students.

“What happens when a young baby dies in an ICU in the hospital and it’s a Muslim baby and the parents don’t want to wash the body, but the nurse thinks the body must absolutely be washed,” said Klassen, recalling the events of the workshop. “How do they negotiate those very emotionally fraught kinds of questions and understand what kinds of compromises the health care system can and cannot make to accommodate religious concerns?”

Future forums will address gender and sexuality in religious communities, youth violence and religious identity, as well as religion and the arts.

Published in Youth Speak News