Columns

From the category archives: Columns

Editorial

When will the west care about African people?

January 26, 2015

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As brutal as the terror attack was on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, it hardly compares in savagery with the Jan. 3 attack on several villages in northeastern Nigeria by the terrorist Boko Haram, which left as many as 2,000 people murdered. There are many "reasons" why the world's attention was riveted on Paris and not Baga, Nigeria. First, there are few journalists in the remote Baga region, Boko Haram having made it clear that it will shoot journalists first and ask questions, well, never. Second, the Nigerian conflict is an ongoing war while the Paris attack was (somewhat) out of the blue. Third, the Nigerian government is so ineffective that it barely responded to the massacre and, at this writing, the country's president, Goodluck Jonathan, still has not commented publicly on the killings.

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Pope's address to curia can help us find our own failings

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January 12, 2015

Pope Francis' Dec. 22 address to the Roman curia drew considerable media attention for its alleged implied criticisms of Vatican bureaucrats. The pope listed 15 "curial diseases" which weaken people's service to the Lord, sins such as thinking one is indispensable, excessive busy-ness, the "terrorism of gossip" and "the disease of a lugubrious face." Reports on the pope's address in media were headlined in ways such as the following: "Merry Christmas, you greedy gossipers" and "Francis gives Roman curia officials coal for Christmas."

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U.S. gov't turns a blind eye in the face of torture

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December 29, 2014

While one should certainly be appalled by the findings of the U.S. Senate intelligence committee's report on CIA torture, one should not be surprised. The CIA, after all, is a spy agency charged with obtaining confidential information about possible threats to national security. That it would actively avoid and impede White House and congressional supervision about its techniques for obtaining information should also be no surprise. A spy agency needs to get information from unwilling sources, and it is disingenuous to think that such information is always obtained over a cup of coffee in a relaxed setting. When it resorts to torture, as the CIA did on numerous occasions, political oversight becomes an obstacle to carrying out the mission.

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No honour in Wild-Rose defections

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December 29, 2014

Despite widespread public opinion that people involved in politics are only in it for their own personal gain, most likely the exact opposite is true. Most candidates in provincial and federal elections stand for office with little likelihood of winning, let alone snagging a front row spot at the public trough. Those candidates are aided by scores of helpers and donors who have even less to gain – maybe some new friends or the feeling of contributing to a cause in which they believe. Nevertheless, when one gets closer to the wheels of power, a transformation often occurs.

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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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