Columns

From the category archives: Columns

Editorial

Canada's arms sale to Saudis creates jobs drenched in blood

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June 1, 2015

Does creating jobs for Canadians rate higher than respecting human lives and human rights in Saudi Arabia? The Canadian government would seem not to care. Federal government approval of a $15-billion arms deal with the Saudis last year was given without performing a required assessment of the country's human rights record. The government proudly announced the sale of light armoured vehicles (LAVs), known colloquially as tanks. But when researcher Ken Rubin dug into the sale, the department of foreign affairs gave no evidence that it is monitoring human rights in the oil-rich country and said it has not assessed the human rights situation there for the past two years.

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Today's culture of freedom calls for Church's enlightened response

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June 1, 2015

Anti-religious secularism would appear to have won the game in Western civilization. The highest value today, a value which cannot be questioned, is that of human freedom. The autonomous individual is king (or queen) in our culture, and any societal force which attempts to limit that autonomy is playing a reprehensible game. The Church - the Catholic Church above all - is, not without reason, cast as the main opponent of the culture of individualism. It is the Church, so the theory goes, that "imposes" moral obligations and duties on its flock and would like to do so for the whole of society.

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Four principles to guide the new gov't in serving the common good

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May 18, 2015

The election of Alberta's first New Democratic Party government promises to usher in a period of political change which will be both exciting and uncertain. We have heard many times in recent weeks that business does not like uncertainty, but uncertainty is a normal part of democracy. While thanking all those MLAs defeated in the May 5 election for their years of public service, we also congratulate Premier Rachel Notley and her new government. That government, we hope, will be guided by four basic principles:

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The happiness factor: Can Canada sustain it?

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May 4, 2015

It probably does not make Canadians happier to know that, according to the World Happiness Report, our country has the world's fifth happiest population. It may even surprise most of us to learn that is the case. Nevertheless, the testimony of immigrants often supports the happiness report's finding. "Canada is paradise," an immigrant once told me. The report rates countries based on five factors: life expectancy, per capita income, the level of political and economic corruption, social supports and the freedom to make life choices. On all these matters, Canada does well.

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John Paul II had an economic program

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May 4, 2015

St. John Paul II's encyclical Laborem Exercens (On Human Work) was the late pope's most hard-driving social encyclical, one that identified fairly specific goals in order to create a more human economy. The encyclical – which would have been issued at this time in 1981 had the pope not been shot – has not been forgotten, but it has often been pushed to the side, having made many people uncomfortable. Right-wing economists saw On Human Work as a socialist manifesto – which it wasn't – while left-wing academics were perhaps uncomfortable with the clear spiritual foundation of the document.

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Mom taught mercy and compassion

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May 4, 2015

If my dad was drawn like a magnet to the book of Proverbs – pithy bits of wisdom about how to live a better life – Mom's centre of gravity was in the Gospel of Luke. All those stories about accepting Samaritans, seeking the lost and welcoming the prodigal were right up her alley. Hers was the Jesus who said "Be merciful just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6.36) more than the Jesus who said, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 6.48). If you wanted to be perfect, that was OK with her, but you had to be merciful.

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Human spirit yearns for relationship with divine Spirit

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April 20, 2015

When Peter and other disciples were brought before the council because they had broken orders not to speak about Jesus, it was the Pharisee Gamaliel who saved their hides. "I tell you," Gamaliel said, "keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this understanding is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them – in that case you may even be found fighting against God" (Acts 5.38-39).

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Catholics called to play prophetic role in Alberta's electoral process

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April 20, 2015

The May 5 Alberta election is one significant opportunity for the baptized to assume their role as prophets and bring Catholic ideals to play in the public realm. A Catholic vote and other participation in the electoral process should express, not one's self-interest or personal tastes, but the values by which we are called to live our faith. Our actions should flow out of the great commandment – to love God and love our neighbour. Like God who is partial to the poor and marginalized, our first thought should be for those excluded from the vast benefits of living in our blessed society.

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Turcotte a model for Christian living

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April 20, 2015

Always outspoken, a man who stayed close to home, Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte was never seen as a likely candidate for pope. It must then have brought him a quiet chuckle when one of his closest friends among the cardinals – Jorge Mario Bergoglio – was elected to the papacy. The style of the two was similar – close to the people, especially the poor, willing to shoot from the hip, advocates of Church social teaching and no interest in playing Church politics.

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Christ's resurrection means we will receive incorruptible bodies

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April 6, 2015

One major theological disturbance of the 20th century was the undermining of belief in Jesus' resurrection from the dead. For too many, the meaning of the resurrection is not that Jesus rose from the dead but that his life challenges Christians to live more authentically. What matters, from this point of view, is not whether the corpse of Jesus remains in the tomb, but whether his spirit lives on in us.

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