Columns

From the category archives: Columns

Editorial

Parishes urged to take up missionary call

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December 29, 2014

The call for parishes to move from maintenance to "the reinvigoration of the missionary calling" is not new. But, in Canada at least, it has never been put forward with as much fervour and detail as one finds in the Canadian bishops' statement, The Missionary Dynamic of the Parish Today. (See story on Page 7.) A "profound conversion" is needed in how parishes are run and parishioners need to move beyond their comfort zones to spread the faith. Nevertheless, most parishes are not sitting idly by waiting for everything to be made right at the parousia. They are beehives of activity. Some activities might well be termed "maintenance"; many others, even if not explicitly missionary, have a mission component.

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With concerted effort, poverty, suffering can be sharply reduced

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December 15, 2014

In Edmonton, significant progress has made been in eliminating homelessness. The WCR's last issue reported that since the city began its Ten-Year-Plan to End Homelessness five years ago, more than 3,200 formerly homeless people have been housed and 84 per cent of those people have successfully retained their housing. As well, in the first several years of the initiative, the number using overnight shelters declined, a situation that has changed this year due to the large influx of people seeking jobs here. The success of the Edmonton initiative shows that, while eliminating homelessness may be impossible, genuine progress in overcoming seemingly intractable social problems can be made if a community forms the will to do so.

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Resurrection provides framework for our Christmas rejoicing

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December 15, 2014

Christmas is the joyous celebration of the Son of God's incarnation as a human person who walked in our midst and brought salvation. Our contemporary celebrations of Christmas, ever more ridiculous with each passing year, obscure the meaning of this great feast behind a curtain of gift-giving, parties, turkey dinners and family visits. None of these things is bad in itself; indeed, each is typically good and salutary. Yet, they do cover over the central meaning of Christmas, that of salvation. We easily become caught up in the busy-ness and bonhomie of the season so that we have little opportunity or inclination to ask what we are being saved from, what we are being saved for and how we are in fact being saved.

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Young or old, we need to rely upon the Lord

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December 15, 2014

Pope Francis provided the European Parliament with a grim diagnosis about the state of Europe when he spoke to the body Nov. 25. (See story on Page 13.) The continent, he said, is like an aging grandmother who is no longer fertile or vibrant. (Actually, we do know many vibrant grandmothers.) In glorifying individual rights, Europe is disregarding the right to life and treating some people as objects who can be discarded, "mere cogs in a machine." The selfish live opulent lifestyles and are indifferent to the suffering of the poor. Multinational corporations form "unseen empires" of economic power, and religious minorities are persecuted.

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Quick judgments about God's wrath ignore mystery of suffering

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December 1, 2014

The mysterious man walked into the church after Communion, loudly announced, "Ebola is God's punishment" and then left. There are two problems here (three, if you include his lack of respect for people at worship and for the God they worship) – bad theology and racism. To say people suffer because God is punishing them for their sins is a quick, easy and idiotic judgment. This is not to say that God does not care about evil. If God loves good, he must hate evil. God is passionately concerned about each person and whether he or she chooses good or evil. Scripture, both New and Old Testaments, includes several accounts of people who were punished for turning away from God.

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Pope preaches uncompromising Gospel

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December 1, 2014

For some Catholics at least, there exists the frightening prospect that the media is right about Pope Francis – that the pope is trying to make it easier to live the Gospel, that he wants to water down the faith and that he wants Catholics to get in step with modern society. There was, of course, the famous "Who am I to judge?" comment the pope made shortly after his election in relation to homosexual activity. Now, there is the prospect that it might become easier to obtain a Church annulment or possibly even for divorced and remarried people to be welcomed at Communion without having their first marriage annulled. Some fear all this means that the pope wants to alter Church teaching.

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Are English-speakers rising in Rome?

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December 1, 2014

The appointment of English Archbishop Paul Gallagher to the Vatican's equivalent of a foreign minister has been heralded as part of the rise of English-speaking bishops in key Roman positions. Gallagher's appointment comes shortly after Australian Cardinal George Pell was put in charge of the Holy See's finances. However, it was not long ago that two Americans held top Vatican posts – Cardinal William Levada as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Cardinal Raymond Burke as head of the Church's supreme court. Levada retired and Burke was shifted to a lesser role as patron of the Knights of Malta.

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Religious persecution calls for faith, reason to embrace each other

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November 17, 2014

The 20th-century historian Arnold Toynbee once wrote, "The things that make good headlines are on the surface of the stream of life, and they distract us from the slower, impalpable, imponderable movements that work below the surface and penetrate to the depths." Yet, these slower movements are what affect society most deeply. That is why the 2014 report of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on the state of religious freedom in the world ought to be of great concern. (See story on Page 11.) While religious persecution does make headlines, this does not happen enough to make it apparent that this is a great issue of our time.

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Francis leads Church into an era of greater transparency

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November 3, 2014

What a refreshing synod of bishops! Say what you want about the final report adopted – at least in large part – by the bishops in Rome, this synod has ushered in a huge culture change at the highest levels of the Church. When Pope Francis decided to make the synod's final report public, along with the vote totals for each paragraph in the document, it brought a level of transparency never before seen. For too long and in too many ways, the Church has been tight with information because of the supposed fear of scandalizing the faithful. Oh, how ever would people react if they saw that bishops and other Church leaders sometimes disagreed over substantive issues! Indeed, the real scandal was that episcopal deliberations had to be held under lock and key with only sanitized communiques issued at the conclusion.

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No inevitability to Canada's future

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November 3, 2014

During the Oct. 22 lockdown in Ottawa following the murder of armed forces reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and the subsequent killing of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a reporter for a national media outlet wrote that Canada will never again be the same. One can appreciate the fear and anxiety a person would experience in such a situation without granting that our nation is forever altered. There will, no doubt, be greater security on Parliament Hill, a result of the increasingly dangerous times in which we live. Yet, the strength of a nation will be found not in kneejerk responses to lunatics who – even if they are politically or religiously motivated – cause death and mayhem. Our strength is found in re-emphasizing our commitment to peace and freedom, building more intercultural dialogue and understanding, and renewing Canada's spiritual fabric.

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