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Almost essential to the proper nurturing of young children is a strong, supportive family. As children grow older, their need for community does not disappear, but expands. "It takes a village to raise a child," it is commonly said. Indeed, it does take a family, and it does take a village or a neighbourhood. Many children have grown to have outstanding lives without such roots, but they have often triumphed in spite of their background, not because of it.
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Britain's Chilcot Report on that country's conduct before, during and after the Iraq War, which began in 2003, underlines again the criminal foolishness of those Western nations which invaded Iraq in order to eradicate non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMD), depose Saddam Hussein and create democracy. The report zeroed in on then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair for exaggerating the threat posed by Hussein, believing false information about WMD, ignoring warnings that Iraq would fall into civil war and believing that deposing Hussein would bring freedom.
One main lesson of the recent debate over assisted suicide in Canada is the increasingly marginalized place of religious believers in the public square. The weight of Canadian Catholics, Evangelicals and Muslims, in particular, was against the legalization of assisted suicide. Yet, unlike earlier times, the voice of the faithful had little impact on this issue.
It was yet another U.S. Supreme Court ruling lifting state-legislated restrictions on abortion. The rulings are almost routine, but they do give a peephole into the mindset of those who favour legal abortion. The 2013 Texas law required abortion clinics in the state to meet the same safety requirements of other walk-in medical clinics, in regards to staffing, buildings and equipment. As well, it required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
"There's nothing you can do about anything in the world anymore." These anguished words of a survivor in the Orlando mass shooting seared my mind. Out of the agony of losing a loved one to wholesale murder came this cry of despair. I watched his face on TV. His eyes seemed vacant, his body numbed by the shock of the mayhem in a gay nightclub where a gunman murdered 49 people.
More than 2,400 years ago Socrates wrote these words: "I am a citizen, not of Athens or Greece, but of the world." Today more than ever these are words we need to appropriate because our world and we ourselves are sinking into unhealthy forms of tribalism where we are concerned primarily with taking care of our own. We see this everywhere. We tend to think that this lives only in circles of extremism, but it is being advocated with an ever-intensifying moral fervour virtually every place in the world.
Last month, I was invited to speak about social justice at the annual meeting of an Edmonton Catholic parish. I started my preparation for this presentation by looking up the parish boundaries. Then I went to the City of Edmonton website and checked out the different neighbourhoods that fall within the parish boundaries. Then I went back again to the city website and searched for the "neighbourhood profiles" for each of the parish neighbourhoods.
A monstrous notion has become law. Assisting the suicides of sick and disabled Canadians is legally permitted. It is now a new right - the right to death. The pied pipers of this new right use misleading euphemisms such as "medical assistance in dying" (MAID). A more accurate, precise and honest description of this new reality is "medical killing."
Mistakes are horrid. They happen usually when one is rushed, careless or does not follow the rules. These can range from violating rules of the road to society's rules, to family rules, to religious rules, to workplace rules and even rules about rules. Discipline slips. Or, one does not follow the system they have made for themselves. A mistake is made. When that happens one feels such shame, remorse. Apologies fly to the point of anguish. You vow to never break a certain rule again.
One thing we inevitably hear in the wake of great global tragedies and catastrophes is a lot of people telling the survivors that "our thoughts and prayers are with you." Lately, there's been another inevitable response: A chorus of people rejecting this, saying it isn't good enough. We need action, too, and, sometimes, people will even indignantly add: "Stop praying. God isn't doing anything." This may sound shocking and blasphemous to our ears, but we have to honestly consider the place where a retort like this could come from.
"You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?" We all need a certain predictability to avoid major pitfalls in life. Still it is wise not to overdo the planning. Several people I know spare no effort to ensure they are in complete control of their lives. They live with pen and notebook in hand (or a laptop), and carefully plan their savings, investments and expenses. Everything they own is insured.
In this week's Gospel, the words of Jesus to his disciples should encourage us all: "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." We all have fears. Fear of death. Fear of being destitute. Fear of not being loved. Conscious fears and unconscious fears. I remember as a small child checking to make sure no monsters were hiding in my closet. I was afraid some unnamed fear was going to sneak up on me when I was alone.
One year ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its 500-page final report on Indian residential schools: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Most importantly, the TRC issued 94 calls to action. Several of these recommendations should directly impact the ways people of faith live out our covenantal relationship with the indigenous people of this land.