Parliament’s boy wonder

In a quiet corner of the East Block of the Parliament buildings is a small chapel, open to all. It boasts a fine wooden altar, perhaps unique in that there is a large rodent carved upon it. The beaver, of course. While some animals are used as Christian symbols — the fish, the eagle, the lion — I am not aware of any such role for the beaver. It’s there because the chapel is dedicated to Sean O’Sullivan and carries his name. As a MP in the 1970s, O’Sullivan had sponsored the bill that made the beaver one of Canada’s official symbols. Continue reading

Christ is Alive in His Church

At the recent consistory of cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to his red-robed brethren about the “logic of the Cross” which should animate their leadership in the Church.

A consistory of cardinals emphasizes the unity of the Church around Peter and the universality of the Church spread throughout the world; it also highlights some truly heroic pastors. Yet, just as weeds grow up amidst the wheat, there is also an off-putting dimension. It prompts some of the princes of the Church to act more like princes than churchmen. It is, for some, a moment of clerical ambition confirmed. The occasion can take on the aspect of being admitted to an elite club rather than undertaking anew the apostolic mission of preaching the Gospel. At its worst, the cardinalatial nomination crowns a career of bureaucratic longevity rather than evangelical service. Continue reading

Benedict argues for an open horizon

The most discussed part of Pope Benedict XVI’s new book may be what he did not say. He did not change the Church’s teaching regarding contraception in general, nor the specific question of using condoms in relation to HIV/AIDS.

Light of the World, a lengthy interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, covers an astonishing array of subjects. Continue reading

How Caledonia was betrayed

If you are pressed for time, abandon this column now and immediately turn to the excerpt in these pages from Christie Blatchford’s new book, Helpless. In that book, she details how two-tier justice came to Caledonia, Ontario, in 2006 — immunity for native Canadians; and neglect, contempt and harassment for the non-native victims of crime. It is a scandalous tale, simply told. Continue reading

The priest’s service provides what the world can’t provide itself

About a dozen years ago I was at a dinner party in the home of people I had not previously met. When our hostess discovered that I was a seminarian, she shrieked with perverse delight, announcing to all, “Wait until my husband hears about that!”

In due course, the husband arrived, was told the scandalous news and all waited for him to rain down ridicule on my head. But aware that it was bad manners to insult his guests, he simply said, “I just don’t think there is any future in that profession.” Continue reading