Columns

TRC draws to a close, but aboriginal issues remain unresolved

Bob McKeon

May 18, 2015

In a few weeks, in Ottawa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will come to a close. On June 1 the TRC will present its final report. There will be formal closing ceremonies at Rideau Hall on June 2. These events will mark an important moment in the long, challenging story of the Indian residential schools, and of everyone associated with the schools.

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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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Refrain from offering judgements in God's name

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
May 4, 2015

Perhaps the single, most-often quoted line from Pope Francis is his response to a question he was asked vis-à-vis the morality of a particularly-dicey issue. His infamous-famous reply: Who am I to judge? Although this remark is often assumed to be flighty and less-than-serious, it is on pretty safe ground. Jesus says basically the same thing. For example, in his conversation with Nicodemus in John's Gospel, he, in essence, says: I judge no one.< If the Gospel of John is to be believed, then Jesus judges no one. God judges no one. But that needs to be put into context. It doesn't mean that there are no moral judgments and that our actions are indifferent to moral scrutiny.

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Laying down your life is the greatest love

Kathleen Giffin
May 4, 2014
Sixth Sunday in Easter
May 10, 2015

Yesterday I had a delightful time in my garden with my granddaughter, who is almost four. She wanted to know what she could eat from the garden, so we found the first of the spring chives and the early violets. Then we searched for other flowers, finding the crocuses that she picked to put in her playhouse and the February Daphne, which I don't think she quite figured out how to smell.

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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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Mercy is a verb more than a noun

Lasha Morningstar
May 4, 2015

Hearts sang when they heard Pope Francis proclaim 2015-16 extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. Mercy, said the pope, is "the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sins." If ever this world needed mercy, it is now. Usually this word means someone who has power over another forgives, gives the person who has done an alleged wrong, a second, maybe even a third or fourth chance.

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After Jesus ascends, Spirit comes forth

Brett Fawcett
May 4, 2015
Ascension of the Lord
May 17, 2015

The skeptical philosopher Gotthold Lessing once wrote that it was impossible to know whether the miracles of Jesus, including the resurrection, had ever happened, since the historical distance between the events of the Gospels and our time is too great for us to have confidence in their accuracy. Lessing called this the "great ugly ditch" between us and Jesus which is impossible to cross. In today's reading from Acts, we hear that Jesus has, indeed, been taken "out of our sight." The disciples had asked him whether he was about to restore the kingdom, whether he was about to usher in the messianic golden age of global peace.

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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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A symbol's history can reveal surprising meanings

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
May 4, 2015

It's hard to imagine getting through our daily lives without symbols. Few in the western world would fail to recognize a bright red octagon and not know it meant "Stop!" It's perhaps why there are so many funny additions to the sign. My favourites include the prankster who wrote "in the name of love" on one, or the person in a country town who crossed out "stop" and wrote "Whoa!" Not all symbols are as universally understood, however, and many have lost or changed their meaning over time.

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Churches, religious orders oppose carbon pollution

Joe Gunn
May 4, 2015

There are a plethora of responses to the climate crisis. What is your church doing, what policies are best and how can you support these efforts? In April, 75 Church leaders and lay people took part in the Église Verte/Green Church conference, after 25,000 people protested carbon pollution in Quebec's streets. The conference declaration, signed by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ), stated, "We question our energy overconsumption and our dependence on oil, which drives industry to meet this demand. . . . We are concerned about the growth of transportation of fossil fuels over vast territories. . . .

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