Deborah Gyapong: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

George Jonas nails the Drummondville decision

He writes about the Supreme Court Decision that I believe is the Morgentaler decision or the Roe vs. Wade of religious freedom in Canada.  Please read it all and tweet it and share it whereever you can.

God isn’t ecumenical. He spells out exactly what he is, in Exodus 20: 4-5. “You shall not make yourself an idol,” he tells prospective worshippers, “for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”
When a jealous God talks about religion, he doesn’t say: “Hey, six of one, half a dozen of the other.” On the contrary, he commands his followers to regard him and his cosmology as the truth, and view others as being in error. Those who worship idols are idolaters. This doesn’t mean bash their heads in, or give them false measure, but it may mean pray for them, and it definitely means don’t tell your children: “Oh, it’s all the same.”
Jealousy isn’t the only thing religion is about, but it’s certainly one thing. “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me” is the second commandment in the Hebrew bible. In the Christian bible, it’s the first.
God speaks plainly; Supreme Court justices speak legalese. They’re different languages. If one looks for an innocent explanation of why the Ottawa Nine ruled as they did last Friday in S.L. v. Commission scolaire des Chênes, this may be it — though the real reasons are probably a little more complex or sinister.
Like most courts and tribunals below, Canada’s top court sees its task as defending the state against the rights and freedoms it guarantees. Madam Justice Marie Deschamps, speaking for the nine justices, didn’t make too many bones about the court’s priority being policy over law. “The suggestion,” she wrote, “that exposing children to a variety of religious facts in itself infringes their religious freedom or that of their parents amounts to a rejection of the multicultural reality of Canadian society and ignores the Quebec government’s obligations with regard to public education.”
Pardon? Is replacing religious classes with liberal pap an educational obligation? If so, Quebec failed in its obligation until 2008. Maybe, just maybe, we aren’t talking about education, but ideology. Two ideologies, in fact: (a) The religious citizen’s ideology that’s protected by the Charter; and (b) the statist government’s ideology that’s protected by the courts.
Bills of rights don’t warrant that governments can do everything they regard as beneficial; they warrant that governments can’t infringe the rights of individuals. It shouldn’t matter if a fundamental right did amount to the rejection of a government policy. I don’t think it does in this case, but even if it did, what’s our Charter supposed to guarantee, multiculturalism or religious freedom?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rapper Fresh IE brings message of hope to Aboriginal youth

Rapper Fresh IE could be pursuing a lucrative recording career in Hollywood, but instead the two-time Grammy nominee is “flying in the world’s smallest planes” to some of the most remote communities of the North.
He’s also finding his way to venues in the toughest sections of cities like Winnipeg to spread the Gospel.
Fresh, whose real name is Robert Wilson, brought his message of hope and radical conversion to Ottawa Feb. 24-26 where he led workshops and gave a concert as part of a conference for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth here Feb. 24-26.
About 100 youth, from First Nations, Inuit, Metis and non-Aboriginal backgrounds living in Ontario and Quebec, gathered at the National Arts Centre for the ROQ [Region of Ontario and Quebec] Youth Symposium, sponsored by the non-denominational Christian ministry Gathering Nations International founded and directed by Kenny and Louise Blacksmith.
The message of the rapper---and the conference---is that one does not have to become a slave to drugs or gangs or succumb to the temptation to suicide or violence. God can transform even the most unlikely person and bring forgiveness and hope, even someone like Wilson.
Fresh’s ancestry is half black---from Barbados---and half Blackfoot Indian. He grew up in a rough section of Winnipeg, barely knowing his mother and never knowing his father.
Once he reached his teens he got involved in armed robbery and home invasions. He got caught up in the life of gangs and addiction. He got caught and in 1998 while out on bail awaiting sentencing for crimes that could have earned him 14 years in prison, he encountered a blind bum. The bum was caught in the middle of traffic on a busy street.
Fresh told the blind man to get off the street, urging him to use his voice to guide him safely to the sidewalk. On his way home Fresh recalled thinking he did not want to end up like that man, and die all alone, no one to look after him.
At home in his apartment, the blind man’s plight, and his own looming prison sentence, troubled him. A little later, he noticed people outside his apartment with flashlights. He went outside to discover the local Neighborhood Watch were investigating a strange man sitting on his doorstep. The man turned out to be the same blind man Fresh had helped out of traffic. How did a blind man find his way to his doorstep at least 15 blocks away?
The man’s presence freaked him out and he ran back upstairs. “God, are you trying to tell me something?” he asked. “If you’re real, I need to know.”
Find out what happens here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Okay, okay, yes, I'm cheating--but this from Cardinal George is too good not to blog

But I had to post this excerpt of Cardinal George's response to the HHS mandate.  My emphases.  [and comments]

In the public discussion thus far, efforts have been made to isolate the bishops from the Catholic faithful by focusing attention exclusively on "reproductive" issues. But the acrimony could as easily focus next year or the year after on assisted suicide or any other moral issue that can be used to distract attention from the attack on religious liberty. Many will recognize in these moves a tactic now familiar in our public life: those who cannot be co-opted are isolated and then destroyed. [sounds like Alinsky tactics from Rules for Radicals---RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)]  The arguments used are both practical and theoretical.

Practically, we're told that the majority of Catholics use artificial contraception. There are properly medical reasons, in some circumstances, for the use of contraceptive pills, as everyone knows. But even if contraceptives were used by a majority of couples only and exclusively to suppress a possible pregnancy, behavior doesn't determine morality. If it can be shown that a majority of Catholic students cheat on their exams, it is still wrong to cheat on exams. Trimming morality to how we behave guts the Gospel call to conversion of life and rejection of sin. [ Yes!]

The strangest accusation in this manipulated public discussion has the bishops not respecting the separation between church and state.
Theoretically, it is argued that there are Catholic voices that disagree with the teaching of the church and therefore with the bishops. There have always been those whose personal faith is not adequate to the faith of the church. Perhaps this is the time for everyone to re-read the Acts of the Apostles. Bishops are the successors of the apostles; they collectively receive the authority to teach and govern that Christ bestowed upon the apostles. Bishops don't claim to speak for every baptized Catholic. Bishops speak, rather, for the Catholic and apostolic faith. [And what a joy it has been to see one by one, the American bishops speaking up so strongly in the public square for religious freedom.  Goosebumps . . . .]Those who hold that faith gather with them; others go their own way. They are and should be free to do so, but they deceive themselves and others in calling their organizations Catholic.


The provision of health care should not demand "giving up" religious liberty. Liberty of religion is more than freedom of worship. Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship-no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government. We fought a long cold war to defeat that vision of society. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The incorporeal works of mercy

The seven practices of Catholic charity toward our neighbor’s soul:
» Admonish sinners
» Instruct the ignorant
» Counsel the doubtful
» Comfort the sorrowful
» Bear wrongs patiently
» Forgive injuries
» Pray for the living and the dead

Great article by Andrea Tornielli at Vatican Insider about the Holy Father's response to the Vatican leaks scandal.

Talking about the scandal of paedophilia in the Church and the media campaign against the Vatican, little over a year ago, the pope said to a journalist, Peter Seewald, “So long as it’s a matter of shedding light on the truth, we must be grateful. The media could not have given those reports if evil had not taken place within the Church. People were able to direct this evil against the Church, only because evil was already present within it. In a time such as this the most diabolical temptation would be for the Church to try and free itself on its own of this evil within”.

Even in this context the words contained in the book-length interview with Ratzinger sound like a free and freeing view. In the Saturday and Sunday speeches to the cardinals, Benedict XVI did not deny the presence of a crisis, the confusion- real or not- or the Curia, the lack of a leader within the Secretariat of State. He made it all seem relative, calling for the cardinals and his collaborators not to think themselves as protagonists in ‘the governing’ of the Church, or ‘strategists’ of communication, perhaps using as a pretext the current difficulties in preparing the future papal programs . He reminded that they too are poor devils who need forgiveness and compassion like any other Catholic. He invited them not to try to ‘guide’ the Church with their abilities or with writing dossiers, but to let the real leader of the Church  be the guide and that leader is not the Secretariat of State, nor the pope himself, but He of whom the Pope is the mere representative here on earth.

What an example he is to all of us.  

"But if the waters are being stirred a lot, it means there is a vitality in the Church that Evil wants to hinder."--Cardinal Cottier

“During the Consistory I realised I was not the only one who had an uneasy feeling, he said, that Evil was at work in all the commotion going on around the Church. In the sense that if the Church were dozing in a sleep of mediocrity or just concerned with intrigues and rivalries, the devil would have his work cut out for him. But if the waters are being stirred a lot, it means there is a vitality in the Church that Evil wants to hinder. And this vitality is the strength of faith; it is Christian life manifesting itself throughout the world.” And as the emeritus theologian of the papal Household explained, the Pope “is most certainly suffering from the things that were said in the media in recent days, but deep down in his soul there is calm. It is the strength of the Holy Spirit guiding his life and his faith.” “Peter’s special vocation – Cardinal Cottier said – is to sustain the faith of his brothers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Catholic Church in Canada--too much fun not to blog

I had a lot of fun working on this piece and much enjoyment discovering new blogs at the Society of Canadian Catholic Bloggers.  Here's an excerpt of my piece now up at B.C. Catholic.

OTTAWA (CCN)— Colin Kerr has discovered his “initial assumption that Canadian Catholic bloggers are a bunch of cranks didn’t add up”---but he has discovered a Canadian content problem.

The assistant professor of theology at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy (OLSWA) in Barry’s Bay, Ontario has found more than 100 English language blogs in his investigation of the Catholic blogosphere in Canada. The father of five who blogs at said he is surprised at the quality.

“These blogs were not narrowly political, angry or philistine,” he said in an email interview. “They were well-written, by people who seemed to be alive in their faith, in their families, in their priestly and religious vocations.”

But he never thought he would be echoing the Canadian content prescriptions of mainstream Canadian media.

“Frankly, we look south too much,” he posted at the Society of Canadian Catholic Bloggers (SCCB) (, a new site he created to capture each new Canadian post in a constantly updating blog roll. “The negative in this is that we pay less attention to our own problems and blessings.”

“Do we know the great American bishops and other personalities better than we know our own?” he asked. “Our bishops and our 'personalities' are the ones who should be 'informing' us (in the Aristotelian sense) - otherwise we will be too 'represented' by people like Justin Trudeau.”

John L. Allen Jr. speculates about a future pope

Great article.  Here's an excerpt:

First, one could decide the reform was a nonstarter from the outset. In the words of Michelangelo, there's only one statue in this stone -- the Vatican is always going to have its careerists and its schemers, it's always going to have a subtext of petty turf wars and personal squabbles, so the trick is to put someone in charge who knows that world and is capable of keeping it under control. In other words, don't waste energy trying to change the place; settle for making it work.

If that's the logic, then a strong candidate for the next pope might be Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, currently prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches. A veteran of the curia, Sandri served as substitute under John Paul II, where he had a reputation as a strong administrator. As a bonus, he's an Argentine, so he could be presented to the world as a Latin American pope.

Second, in the spirit of thinking in centuries, one could argue that Benedict's reform simply hasn't had time to work itself out, and the key is staying the course. That seemed to be the spirit of a Feb. 13 statement from Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, on the Vatileaks mess. When somebody starts launching attacks, Lombardi said, it's usually a sign that "something important is in play." The suggestion appeared to be that products of the older Vatican culture know the earth is shifting beneath their feet, and the leaks represent their way of lashing out.

Ouellet would be a compelling choice for that school of thought. He's very much like Benedict -- quiet, spiritual, given to the life of the mind. He's someone who would likely emphasize teaching and moral leadership over institutional dynamics.

Third, one might conclude that Benedict's reform has its heart in the right place, but needs to be backed up by a stronger hand on the rudder. You need someone at the top who can not only set a tone, but who has the mettle to make it stick. That seems a prescription for a pope with strong credentials as a man of faith, but also experience at wrapping his hands around complex bureaucracies, with sufficient energy and fearlessness to take on the Vatican's entrenched culture.

Prophetic words from a future pope

The Anchoress writes:

In 2009 Ignatius press released this prophetic little volume, written by our pope over 1969-1970 — while the world was in the first throes of the social revolution. I thought I’d share a few of Joseph Ratzinger’s prescient thoughts. They seem timely:
“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.”
He goes on, saying: [the church]
“It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution – when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already with Gobel, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”
The book is only 160 pages. It’s available on Kindle, too.
I can't help but think of our little Anglican Catholic Church of Canada parish---how small and poor we are already.   We're used to this!  

Are we all utilitarians now?

Or Lockeans?

Great essay on the HHS mandate at Crisis Magainze that argues that liberal arguments from the right are undermining the principles that should govern our perception of the debate.

Famously in his “Letter Concerning Toleration,” John Locke refused to extend toleration practically to only one faith – Catholicism. His claim was that toleration could not be extended to any faith that acknowledged a “foreign potentate,” which, for all practical purposes, meant the Pope. But, it requires a peculiar set of assumptions to conclude that the Pope is a “foreign potentate” – while the Pope does not claim political rule over Catholics, the Pope is the final arbiter of doctrine that is to govern not only the private behavior of Catholics, but their role and witness in the world. It is no coincidence that many of the cases involving “religious liberty” now involve Catholics, inasmuch as Catholics have erected worldly institutions in the effort to live out the witness of their faith – schools, universities, hospitals, charities, and the like. The Catholic faith is, by definition, not “private”; it involves a conception of the human Good that in turn requires efforts to instantiate that understanding in the world. As such, Catholics represent a threat to the liberal order, which demands that people check their faith at the door and acknowledge only one sovereign in the realm of proscribing public behavior – the State.
Catholics begin with a fundamentally different understanding of the human person than liberalism. We are not by nature “free and independent”; we are, rather, members of the Body of Christ. In the natural law understanding, we are by nature “political and social animals” (so states Aquinas, following and amending Aristotle), requiring law, culture and religion for our flourishing and right ordering. The law does not simply seek to regulate and prevent bodies from committing harm; rather, the law necessarily derives from, and seeks to advance, a positive vision of human good and human flourishing. The law reinforces the Divine law, seeking the restraint not only of practices that will harm others, but which will tend toward a condition of sin and self-destruction. Even where the law is “silent,” we are not at leave simply to act as we wish; rather, we are admonished to live in accordance with and by the practice of virtue necessary to human flourishing. A polity based upon securing “the Right” is radically insufficient; rather, the polity is understood to be a reinforcement of efforts to orient people toward “the Good.” While the Church and State necessarily operate in different spheres, the State’s activities are oriented by the vision “the Good” articulated by Church and God’s word.
Critics of the HHS mandate have framed their responses to the mandate within liberal terms. This is doubtless a requirement and necessity in contemporary liberal society – to gain a hearing at the table of public opinion, and especially the Courts, arguments must be framed in dominantly liberal terms. Thus, critics of the Mandate have sought to craft their response by claiming that the Church’s internal beliefs will be violated by the Mandate, that the Mandate represents an encroachment upon “conscience.” Critics of the Mandate thus downplay and even ignore the content of the belief in question; they rally around the protections of conscience, claiming a sphere toward which the State should manifest indifference, in which they should not meddle. The nature of the belief is largely irrelevant for the sake of the claim. Many of the Mandate’s critics (especially non-Catholics) claim that they regard the Church’s view on birth-control to be somewhat batty, but that fact is irrelevant to the Constitutional issue protecting private institutional conscience and free-exercise. Catholic critics don’t depart much, at all, from this same argument.*
Catholic as well as non-Catholic defenders have largely sought to hold at arms length any claims about the rightness or truth of the Church’s teachings on birth control: these are to be treated as belief within a “black box” that should be ignored by liberal society. As long as those crazy beliefs don’t harm individuals within or beyond the faith tradition, then they should be accorded respect and indifference by the State. The Church seeks the leave of the State on the only terms recognizable by the liberal state: we have a certain set of private beliefs that aren’t harming anyone. Leave us alone, and we’ll be quiet.
However, everyone is aware, even if dimly, of the real issue, though few explicitly raise the matter. The Church does not seek to propound its teachings as a matter of internal belief solely for its faith adherents: it claims that its teachings are true as a matter of human good. The teachings regarding birth control are not simply a peculiar faith tradition that is thought to apply to adherents of Catholicism; it is a teaching that Catholicism hopes and intends to be adopted by all people, regardless of their faith tradition. The strictures concerning birth control are not propounded as a “faith-based” peculiarity applicable only to Catholics, like Jewish dietary laws, but as a considered position concerning the Church’s deepest understanding of the human good – one that can be, and has been, framed in terms that are intended to be accessible and persuasive to non-Catholics. Among other reasons offered, the adoption of a birth control concerns a practice that Catholicism has understood to entail profound social consequences that, when widely practiced, leads to profoundly damaging social practices.

On the Quixotic Rick Santorum

Great post by Christian Tappe over at Crisis Magazine on Rick Santorum:

Santorum is certainly not perfect. He is probably not electable. But he has the faith and the fortitude to dive headlong—again and again—into battle, bearing the standard of Christ as best he can.
It’s best for him and for all of us that he remains a wandering knight, fighting the good fight. Better to have him out there, unchained from the Oval Office. Better for him to fearlessly and tirelessly defend the Church, the family, morals, and the unborn, rather than to try wade through the political quagmire.
No, I don’t want him taking up residence in the White House…I want him taking up his lance, donning his sweater-vested armor and hacking away at the enemy in the name of the Church.
No politician is going to save us. Our culture and our society will not be reclaimed by the political process. But a man willing to hurl himself at seemingly unassailable enemies in the name of truth and goodness, over and over? That can change hearts and minds.
As Cervantes wrote: “One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world was better for this.”

  It's the Feast of St. Matthias today, thus I am not fasting from blogging today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fasting from blogging for Lent

I will be avoiding blogging and surfing the 'net during Lent (except for what I have to do for work) so blogging will be light---Sundays maybe.

If there is some big Ordinariate-related news I might post something.

:In the meantime, check out the Society of Canadian Catholic Bloggers for your blogging enjoyment over Easter.  All  kinds of interesting blogs---more than 100 of them.

The Pope's response to the goings on in the Vatican

Great column by Andrea Tornielli at Vatican Insider on how Pope Benedict XVI responded to rumors he would resign:

“Pray also for me, that I may continually offer to the People of God the witness of sound doctrine and guide holy Church with a firm and humble hand. The Pope that imposed the red biretta on the 22 new cardinals yesterday morning was gentle but firm, concluding his speech with a message that seemed to indirectly deny his forthcoming resignation. A number of people have been hinting at his resignation, particularly since the tensions in the Vatican, the leaked documents and the poisonous comments going round in an attempt to discredit one cardinal or another. All this portrays the Vatican as a place rife with scheming and people dossier fights. “It is not easy to enter into the logic of the Gospel and to let go of power and glory,” Benedict XVI repeated to the College of Cardinals, pointing out a different path yet again.

When Ratzinger was elected Pope, he said: “My real government programme is not to do as I wish or pursue my ideas, but to listen, along with the whole Church, to the word and will of the Lord and let myself be guided by him, allowing him to lead the Church at this moment in time in history.” He was trying to point out a truly evangelical way of exercising authority, but his words were interpreted as the plan of a theologian Pope who was trying to “fly high” leaving the reins of government to his collaborators. The poison that has been poured in recent weeks and the extent to which it has attracted the attention of international public opinion seem to indicate that the Pope’s message was not heeded.


The Pope does not intend to flee at the sight of his foes, wants to get back to the heart of things; he sees the Church as a community of faithful, praying and trying to get close to God, he does not see them as a political and cultural phalanx or as a group of people planning conquest strategies. When one looks at what is going on in the Holy See, the message regarding the human shortcomings of clerics that the then cardinal Ratzinger had pronounced during the Jubilee, still ring true today. He recalled Cardinal Consalvi’s (Secretary of State during the pontificate of St. Pius VII) response to an ambassador who informed him of Napoleon’s intention to destroy the Church: “He will never manage to destroy it. Even we were not able to.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Those pesky leaks at the Vatican

John L. Allen Jr. sums up the ongoing controversy:

This week, whenever such a chance encounter has occurred, conversation fairly quickly has turned to one question above all: What the hell is going on around here?
The basis for the question, of course, is the mushrooming Vatican leaks scandal, in which confidential documents are appearing in the papers almost on a daily basis, putting the Vatican in a highly unfavorable light. By now, there are almost too many to keep track, but big-ticket items have included:
  • Letters written to the pope and to the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, by the current papal ambassador in the United States, Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, complaining of corruption in Vatican finances and a campaign of defamation against him. At the time, he was the No. 2 official in the Vatican City State, and desperately trying to avoid being sent away.
  • An anonymous memo written about a new Vatican law against money laundering, which suggests the law contains an enormous loophole -- that it blocks action against any offense before April 1, 2011, when the law came into effect.
  • Leaked materials fueling charges that the Institute for the Works of Religion (the so-called "Vatican Bank") recently transferred millions of Euro to foreign banks to evade Italian controls, and that it's dodged various Italian inquests.
  • Another anonymous document, written in German, describing a conversation Cardinal Paolo Romeo of Palermo, Sicily, allegedly had during a trip to China, in which he predicted the pope would be dead within 12 months and replaced with Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan. That document was passed along to the pope by retired Colombian Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos.
  • Two internal Vatican memos, including one written by Cardinal Atillio Nicora, who heads a new financial watchdog agency, warning that recent modifications to the Vatican's law against money laundering would be seen as a "step back" on reform, and could create "alarm" among international regulatory bodies.
As this column is written, rumors have it that more leaked documents are on the way, perhaps as early as the end of this week. Obviously, someone inside the Vatican -- what L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, recently called a bunch of irresponsible "wolves" -- has decided to let the photocopies roll.

And analyzes the impact of these continuing leaks.

Pray for the Holy Father and the Cardinals as they gather for the Consistory tomorrow.

The bill to axe Section 13 passes first major hurdle

OTTAWA (CCN)—A private member’s bill that would axe the controversial censorship provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) has now gone to committee for further study.

Conservative MP Brian Storseth’s Bill C-304, which would repeal the so-called hate speech provision Section 13 in the CHRA, passed l second reading by a 158-131 vote Feb. 15.

A lone Liberal, MP Scott Simms who represents the Bonavista-Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor riding in Newfoundland, voted with the Conservatives, who overwhelmingly supported the bill. Otherwise, the NDP and Liberals opposed the bill.

“I was excited that there was one courageous enough to stand up for his constituents and his own personal views,” said Storseth, who said he hopes for more support from Opposition MPs. Bill C-304 now moves to the justice committee where Storseth hopes it can be fast-tracked for study. If he is successful in getting a priority placed on the bill, it could come up for a final vote in the House this spring, and then go on to the Senate.

The Catholic Civil Rights League applauded the second reading vote. In a Feb. 16 news release, the League said Section 13 “has been used to penalize the peaceable expression of opinion based on religious belief.” It cited the complaints brought against Catholic Insight Magazine that were later dropped, but not until the magazine had spent more than $30,000 defending itself.

“The hate speech provisions in the Criminal Code provide limits on expression that are sufficient in a democracy,” said League executive director Joanne McGarry. “A situation where accusers are free to file complaints that may even lack a serious basis, and then leave the accused to pay his or her own potentially high costs in response, is unacceptable.”

“Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are both Charter rights, and any limitation on them belongs in Parliament and the courts, not administrative tribunals,” she said.

My first story on todays Supreme Court of Canada decision

Read the whole thing over at B.C. Catholic
OTTAWA (CCN)—The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Quebec’s mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture program (ERC) does not violate the religious freedom of Catholic parents who wished to exempt their children.
The decision has drawn a cautious response from the Quebec Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). They promise to study the decision and monitor further developments. 
But the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF), and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) have expressed disappointment with the decision. The League has called it a denial of parental rights.
The decision concerns the so-called Drummondville parents, known in the decision as L and J, who fought all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to have their children exempted from the mandatory course on religious freedom grounds. 

“L and J have not proven that the ERC Program infringed their freedom of religion, or consequently, that the school board’s refusal to exempt their children from the ERC course violated their constitutional right,” the decision said. 

 The Canadian Catholic School Trustees, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), the Christian Legal Fellowship and Liberties Association were among the interveners. 

At least 2,000 parents have asked to have their children exempted.   
The parents and several interveners argued the ERC is not neutral but indoctrinates children into a form of moral relativism.  The Supreme Court said the evidence does not support that view. The court also said Quebec’s education ministry does not promote a philosophy of relativism, or influence children’s beliefs.

Mark Steyn: handing out condoms on the Titanic

Great column by Mark Steyn.  Go read it all. Here's a taste:

I notice that in their coverage NPR and the evening news shows generally refer to the controversy as being about "contraception," discreetly avoiding mention of sterilization and pharmacological abortion, as if the GOP have finally jumped the shark in order to prevent you jumping anything at all.

It may well be that the Democrats succeed in establishing this narrative. But anyone who falls for it is a sap. In fact, these two issues – the Obama condoms-for-clunkers giveaway and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 900 percent by 2075 – are not unconnected. In Greece, 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren – i.e., an upside-down family tree. As I wrote a few weeks ago, "If 100 geezers run up a bazillion dollars' worth of debt, is it likely that 42 youngsters will ever be able to pay it off?" Most analysts know the answer to that question: Greece is demographically insolvent. So it's looking to Germany to continue bankrolling its First World lifestyle.


But in America, an oblivious political class, led by a president who characterizes young motherhood as a "punishment," prefers to offer solutions to problems that don't exist rather than the ones that are all too real. I think this is what they call handing out condoms on the Titanic.
Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, distills the current hysteria thus: "It's as if we passed a law requiring mosques to sell bacon and then, when people objected, responded by saying 'What's wrong with bacon? You're trying to ban bacon!!!!'"
Americans foolish enough to fall for the Democrats' crude bit of misdirection can hardly complain about their rendezvous with the sharp end of that page 58 budget graph. People are free to buy bacon, and free to buy condoms. But the state has no compelling interest to force either down your throat.

Archbishop Hepworth's pastoral letter

Fr.  Anthony Chadwick has it posted in full over at The English Catholic.

I'm going to pick out some excerpts.  Go read it all, though, it is vintage Hepworth.

  • Continuing Churches have a long history.  Some have been glorious, others are better forgotten.  They can never be permanent.  They must continue to relate to the Church from which they withdrew, to influence it for good, to make clear the reasons for their withdrawal “into the desert”.  To permanently split from the Church is schism.  To go into the desert to heal the Church is heroic.
  • There is only one Church, one Body of Christ, one Vine.  Every ecclesial group must be able to show evidence of its oneness with the Body of Christ, the Church.  As soon as a group becomes permanently and comfortably alone, unacknowledged by any other part of the Church, believing itself to be the only perfect form of Christianity, and accepts and even welcomes that isolation, it has slipped into the schism of the sect.
  • There is only one truth given once and for all by Christ.  The Church seeks to expound that truth in every age and to apply it to problems that are new, and to those things that have been challenges in every age.  It is not what the individual thinks; it is what the Church teaches.  The great ecumenical conversations of the past century acknowledged this fact and sought to define both the teaching authority of the Church and the truth that is taught.
  • The past century has been a time of massive expansion of human conflict and of the instruments that undergird human conflict.  The permanent expansion of the instruments of conflict has created a world that is tolerant of conflict and human destruction.  Anglican Churches have adopted too readily the destruction of human dignity in all its manifestations – family, livelihood, vocation, community – to achieve ideological victory.  The far more difficult pathway of tolerance and love has been lost.
  • The Apostolic Letter of the Pope to Anglicans has reignited dormant bigotry and anti-Catholicism, has forced people (even bishops) to examine the true nature of their faith and to assess the importance of the Catholic teachings that they cannot accept.
The present attempts to expel those who are working (often with exquisite difficulties) to test a vocation to fuse Anglican heritage with Catholic Communion, newly available and still in infancy, is not to be tolerated.

Sad day for religious freedom in Canada

The Drummondville parents lost big time in today's Supreme Court of Canada decision.  The mandatory nature of Quebec's mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture program was upheld and parents do not have a right on religious freedom or conscience grounds to exempt their children from the course.

Here's a link to today's decision: was first out of the gate with reaction.  Here's an excerpt.  

“Exposing children to a comprehensive presentation of various religions without forcing the children to join them does not constitute an indoctrination of students that would infringe the freedom of religion of L and J,” the justices wrote in the majority decision.

The high court’s ruling, released at 9:45 Friday morning, comes in the case of S.L. et al. v. Commission scolare des Chênes et al., which involved a Catholic family who took their school board to court after it refused to grant their child an exemption from the province’s controversial ethics and religious culture course (ERC).
The course, which seeks to present the spectrum of world religions and lifestyle choices from a “neutral” stance, was introduced by the province in 2008 and has been widely criticized by the religious and a-religious alike. Moral conservatives and people of faith have criticized its relativistic approach to moral issues, teaching even at the earliest grades, for instance, that homosexuality is a normal choice for family life.
Despite provincial legislation allowing for exemptions from school curriculum, the Ministry of Education has turned down over 1,700 requests, and had even moved to impose the course on private schools and homeschoolers.
Critics warned that a ruling against the family would have frightening consequences for parental authority and risked emboldening provincial governments across the country as they move to impose their own versions of “diversity” education.
The Supreme Court said the parents failed to establish that the course infringed on their ability to pass their faith on to their children.
“Although the sincerity of a person’s belief that a religious practice must be observed is relevant to whether the person’s right to freedom of religion is at issue, an infringement of this right cannot be established without objective proof of an interference with the observance of that practice,” the Supreme Court justices wrote. “It is not enough for a person to say that his or her rights have been infringed.  The person must prove the infringement on a balance of probabilities.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Victor Davis Hanson on illegal immigration

Excellent points.  Read it all here:

It is time that Americans revisit the issue and ponder very carefully the morality of entering the United States illegally.
True, American employers have welcomed in illegal aliens as a source of cheap labor. Employers were happy to pass the ensuing social costs on to taxpayers. To summarily deport those who have resided here for 20 years, obeyed the law, worked hard, stayed off public assistance, and are now willing to pay a fine, demonstrate English proficiency, and pass a citizenship test would be impracticable, callous, and counterproductive.
Most, however, probably do not fit those reasonable criteria.
More important, we forget that the influx of millions of illegal aliens unfairly undercuts the wages of the working American poor, especially in times of high unemployment.
Crossing the border was also hardly a one-time “infraction.” It was the beginning of serial unethical behavior, as illegal aliens on everyday forms and affidavits are not truthful about their immigration status.
The legal process of immigrating to America has been reduced to a free-for-all rush to the border. Million of applicants abroad wait patiently, if not naïvely, in line to have their education, skills, and capital resources evaluated. But they are punished with delay or rejection because they alone follow immigration law.
Billions of dollars in state and federal social services do not just help provide parity to illegal aliens, but also free them to send back about $50 billion in remittances to Latin America each year. That staggering sum also suggests that Mexico and other Latin American governments, as an element of national policy, quite cynically export human capital to gain U.S. dollars, rather than make the necessary economic, social, and political reforms to keep their own human capital at home.

H/t Blazingcatfur

That Sarah Palin

Wonderful article about her and her son Trig:

Sarah Palin has opened up in an honest and personal account of the joys and challenges of raising a son with Down's Syndrome. 
When she first found out she was expecting Trig, 3, Palin, 47, has admits that she was terrified by the possibility of having a child with special needs. 
'When I discovered early in my pregnancy that my baby would be born with an extra chromosome, the diagnosis of Down syndrome frightened me so much that I dared not discuss my pregnancy for many months. 
'All I could seem to muster was a calling out to God to prepare my heart for what was ahead,' she says in the article to be published in Newseek. 
'My prayers were answered beyond my shallow understanding of what true joy could be.'
The former Alaska governor offered her touching account in Newseek after GOP candidate Rick Santorum briefly abandoned his campaign trail when his three-year-old daughter Bella,Trisomy 18, was hospitalised with pneumonia last week.
Palin said; 'It’s a sacrifice every parent and caregiver of a child with special needs sympathises with.' 
'Yes, we face extra fears and challenges, but our children are a blessing, and the rest of the world is missing out in not knowing this.'
In article for Newsweek, Palin, pictured here with Trig in 2009, admits that she was terrified at the prospect of having a child with special needs when she first found out she was pregnant
In article for Newsweek, Palin, pictured here with Trig in 2009, admits that she was terrified at the prospect of having a child with special needs when she first found out she was pregnant
The mother-of-five said she herself has had to make sacrifices by putting her family first, but has never regretted it despite having to place some pursuits on the back burner.
In the Newsweek article, she lays bare the difficulties of raising a child with special needs, admitting that it is a 'unique challenge'.
She acknowledges the constant fear about Trig's future because of health and social challenges. 
'Certainly some days are much more difficult than if I had a 'normal' child. 
'Many everyday activities like doctor’s appointments and social gatherings
and travel accommodations and even mealtimes and a solid night of sleep are that much more difficult.'
But despite the difficulties Palin said she would not change her son for the world.
'At the end of the day I wouldn’t trade the relative difficulties for any convenience or absence of fear. God knew what he was doing when he blessed us with Trig. 
'We went from fear of the unknown to proudly displaying a bumper sticker sent to us that reads: “My kid has more chromosomes than your kid!'
Mother-of-five Sarah Palin, pictured here (2nd L) holding Trig as she stands with her daughters Willow (L), Piper (R) and her husband Todd, has opened up in a Newsweek article
Mother-of-five Sarah Palin, pictured here (2nd L) holding Trig as she stands with her daughters Willow (L), Piper (R) and her husband Todd, has opened up in a Newsweek article
Everyday Trig wakes up with a round of applause, Palin says in the article.
'He welcomes each day with thunderous applause and laughter. He looks around at creation and claps as if to say, 'OK, world, what do you have for me today?'

A Valentine's Day statement from our Ordinary

Well, he's not our Ordinary yet, but we are hoping he eventually will be, that is, unless by some miracle we get a Canadian Ordinariate.  But I'm liking this a lot:

Msgr. Steenson Speaks out against the HHS Mandate

Msgr. Steenson on Recent HHS Mandate

Almighty God, who hast created us in thine own image:
Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make
no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use
our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of
justice in our communities and among the nations, to the
glory of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who
liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

-Collect for Social Justice
Book of Divine Worship, Page 509

As the newly-installed Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, I stand with the bishops and those throughout the Church in protesting recent threats by the Administration to our moral teaching and constitutional freedoms.  I urge all those in association or sympathy with the Ordinariate to pray for justice and to make your concerns known to those in authority.

Recently, the President proposed a mandate that would force Catholic and other religious organizations to violate their consciences by paying for artificial contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, and surgical sterilizations, as part of employee insurance plans. This is in violation of Catholic moral teaching.

Strong nationwide objections were raised. As a result, the Administration put forth a second proposal. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops notes that this proposed “compromise” remains unacceptable. The USCCB has provided excellent resources online to ensure parishioners have the most current information. I ask that you review these materials, contact your legislators as called for and to continue to pray for respect for our basic right to practice our religion.

As Catholics we are called to live out our faith not simply on Sunday, but in all aspects of our lives, and to speak out on behalf of the truth. This is one of those times as we face proposed health care mandates that would violate Catholic teaching and seriously infringe on our religious liberty.

Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson
February 14, 2012

A treasure trove----look at this on spiritual friendship

The Society of Canadian Catholic Bloggers a treasure trove of blog posts and this morning, in between filing my HST/GST taxes and preparing to write several stories, I came across this gem on Holy Friendship at The Christian State in Life:

United in Christ: Bl. Jordan of Saxony & Bl. Diana d’Andalo
By: Madeleine Gubbels
“You are so deeply engraven on my heart that the more I realize how truly you love me from the depths of your soul, the more incapable I am of forgetting you and the more constantly you are in my thoughts; for your love of me moves me profoundly, and makes my love for you burn more strongly.”

You will probably be surprised to learn that those words were written to a Dominican nun from a Dominican priest in the thirteenth century. You may be even more surprised to learn that their relationship was nothing like that of Abelard and Heloise or of Martin Luther and Katherine von Bora. Indeed, the love between Bl. Jordan of Saxony and Bl. Diana d’Andalo burned ever passionately but ever chastely from the day they met until the day they died—and beyond! As Jordan wrote to her again:

…Why are you thus anguished? Am I not yours, am I not with you: yours in labour, yours in rest; yours when I am with you, yours when I am far away; yours in prayer, yours in merit, yours too, as I hope, in the eternal reward? …were I to die you would not be losing me; you would be sending me before you to [heaven], that I abiding there might pray for you to the Father and so be of much greater use to you there, living with the Lord, than here in this world where I die all the day long.

What an unusual pair of lovers! It is not often that the Church has seen a celibate couple bound to each other with such strength of love, though Francis and Claire of Assisi, and Jane de Chantal and Francis de Sales, spring to mind. Their relationship challenges us: how can a love between a man and a woman be so intense yet so disinterested, so detached?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Celebrating kids birthdays

You can find some of the most interesting and heartwarming things over at the Society of Canadian Catholic Bloggers, such as this post by Embracing the Now  (this is an excerpt--go read it all, it will warm your heart!)

February 7, 2012

kid-focused birthdays

We could call this post "blurry photo alert!" because if kid birthdays are nothing else, they are often a flurry of movement that can be almost impossible to capture without an expensive camera, of which I am currently deprived.

But I've been thinking a lot lately about how we do birthdays, and since my poor little Jeremiah didn't get to enjoy a blog post when he turned five three days before Christmas (come to think of it, I don't think that I have ever blogged about his birthday), I thought that he deserved an honourable mention. By the time I had four kids, I learned a little about setting priorities. Home-made cakes (with butter and icing sugar frosting) have always been something that I've wanted to be part of my kids' childhood, but letting them be involved in how we celebrate their birthdays is really important to us as well. The last few years have involved a lot of scenes like this one pictured above. Do you see the five made out of blueberries? Look closely? This particular cake was basically a large blueberry muffin (he requested a blueberry cake) baked in a pie pan. So easy since I didn't even have to remove the cake from the pan to serve it. Yes, that is partially melted icing on the cake (we were in a hurry to get it decorated and it hadn't quite cooled yet). And the second one? That was for Christmas morning brunch. Ha, ha. Aren't I clever, multi-tasking like that?
And Thetheologyofdad, host of the new Canadian Catholic blog aggregator, has posted some nice pictures of his lovely family.  He writes:

 You may have been wondering why no pictures of the family for a while. See, it was shame-motivated. I had given a blogging buddy a hard time for this same thing once. She had not been posting pictures because she could not find the cable to upload the pictures to her computer. This same thing happened to me. Now it is found, so the shame has lifted and we can all sit back and enjoy the Kerr family for a few minutes:

There are lots more pictures here.
And speaking of birthdays----here is some news about the fifth birthday party of the most beautiful boy in the world:

Since we were in Greer on Ben's birthday, we had his birthday party a week later. This is the first real birthday party I have thrown for him and I think it was a HUGE success. He chose transformer theme (well, I kind of encouraged that theme since I had obtained all the decoration and plates etc on clearance:) ). We had 4 kids show up and it was the perfect number - any more and it would have been chaos!

When the kids arrived they were greeted by a large Optimus Prime Truck. I had built it out of cardboard boxes and table cloths, with Ben (and Mae's) assistance. I was sure the party would destroy it but it turned out to be super sturdy and is STILL sitting in my front room 1 week later. Not sure what I am going to do with it as it's too cool to throw out!
We also had a table set up with a bunch of Ben's transformer toys for the kids to play with.
After everyone had arrived, our 1st activity was making our own transformer pictures. I had precut all different shapes and colors of construction paper and gave each child a glue stick and blank paper to create their transformer on. This activity was completed in about 4 minutes :)