Stories for the Left Column of the Columns Page
However did we reach this point in Canada where the Supreme Court would legalize assisted suicide with the overwhelming support of the people? The answer is not easy to discern, but it behooves us to try. By discovering how we got lost, we may begin to find a way home. The most obvious causes of our plight are the idolatry of individual freedom in isolation from the common good and the erosion of respect for human life. That the individual ought to control his or her life is now an axiom of Canadian society. That belief is ideological, but it is an ideology rooted in the prosperity the Western world has enjoyed for several decades.
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For Albertans, the huge drop in oil prices is having major repercussions. The provincial government says it faces a $7-billion annual deficit unless it cuts spending, and job layoffs are beginning to affect many people both inside and outside of the petroleum industry. The lower pump price of gasoline hardly begins to compensate for the negative effects of the collapse in prices. Yet, too often the falling prices have been seen solely in terms of market economics. For some strange reason, too much oil is being produced globally and that is driving the per-barrel price downward.
The Church could use many more theologically educated laypeople. Say that in the wrong company, and you may draw resistance. Faith is more about the heart than the head, some will respond. What good is all that knowledge if you cannot communicate it to the average person, others will ask. Learning theology can cause you to lose your faith, still others will say. Such objections, even the last one, are true. Still, it is odd to hear faithful Catholics fret about others dedicating themselves to deepening their understanding of the Bible and the tradition of the Church.
Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, with oppression against them - I mean us - reported in 110 countries. That slip I made reflects the myopia we Christians in safe countries like Canada have about the immense suffering endured by fellow followers of Jesus Christ around the world. We are, for the most part, rightly concerned about Muslims, who are the principal victims of jihadists, but seem unable to focus on the tragedies in our own family.
Apple executives are likely proud of their recent quarterly financial results which show revenues of nearly US$75 billion for the period of October through December and a profit of US$18 billion, the largest quarterly profit for any company anywhere at any time. But if the money is rolling in and the iPhones and other electronic gadgets are rolling out, a huge human price is being paid. A BBC undercover investigation recently broadcast on CBC-TV's The Passionate Eye showed widespread violations of Apple's code of conduct for the treatment of workers by companies that build its iPhone 6 and supply raw material for the company.
The causes of the world's current economic woes are manifold and it would be folly to oversimplify them. A graver mistake, however, would be for the public to ignore those causes as technical matters to be taken care of by experts without any moral guidance. One factor in the economic slowdown is that production capacity in advanced economies exceeds demand for products by about 2.5 per cent. Over-capacity depresses the need for workers, increasing unemployment and reducing pressure to increase wages. Thus over-capacity suppresses consumer demand and creates hardship for millions of families.
Out of Boston comes the news that potential jurors in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged with murder in the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, are being asked whether they are Catholic and if they agree with Church teaching on the death penalty. If the answer to both questions is "yes," they are excluded from serving on the jury, one requirement for such service being that a juror must be willing to impose the death penalty or a life sentence with no possibility of release. Catholic reaction to this news, according to an article in USA Today, has been mixed.
The priest from Newfoundland was the most honest. Our agency had provided worship guides and hymns on creation themes for use in services last September on the same weekend when more than 300,000 people marched in New York City, calling for action on climate change. But the Newfoundland pastor reported, "I'll use the Prayers of the Faithful you sent, but I don't feel comfortable preaching about climate change. You know, we just never talked about that in seminary." True. And this is something Pope Francis wants to change.