One of the important public policy shifts of the past generations has been the realization by governments that personal virtue has public consequences.
So we have a national smoking policy that not only discourages smoking (taxation), but sets out to publicly shame those who smoke. Safety — seat belts and bike helmets and life jackets — is treated much the same way. The campaign against littering and in favour of exhaustive manipulation of one’s garbage has been on for decades. Transfats were the beginning of the push against unhealthy eating, and it is only a matter of time before mothers who put junk food in Timmy’s lunch bag will be reported to child services. And if you don’t think government is in the morality business, you have yet to see the anti-discrimination curricula in our public schools. Continue reading
In the nearly 10 years since 9/11, the preoccupying question has remained: Was the jihadist violence of that day representative of Islam or a perversion of it?
From Sept. 12 onwards, everyone from U.S. President George W. Bush to the Prince of Wales has assured us that Islam is a religion of peace. The vast majority of commentators in general, and Christian thinkers in particular, have accepted that. After all, there have been long periods in history of peaceful Islamic rule, and across the Islamic world today, jihadist extremism is fought against by Muslim leaders themselves. Continue reading
The beatification of Pope John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday this year has brought joy to both Catholics and non-Catholics the world over. At the same time, questions have been raised about the speed of the process, and whether there was a rush to judgment in this case.
Anticipating such questions, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints released a summary of the process last week, outlining that all the usual procedures were followed in John Paul’s case. The only difference was that Pope Benedict XVI gave permission for the process to begin in 2005, lifting the usual five-year waiting period. John Paul himself had done the same thing for Mother Teresa. Continue reading
The long-awaited beatification of Pope John Paul II will take place on May 1. Except it is not long-awaited at all: Karol Wojtyla will be declared “blessed” — the penultimate step to sainthood — in record time.
It only seems long-awaited because the immense crowds who came to Rome after his death began speaking of him as “St. John Paul the Great” immediately. Those crowds, dominated by young people waiting more than 12 hours in line to pray before his body, already knew he was holy. They arrived at the funeral Mass with their signs and their chants: “Santo subito!” (Sainthood immediately!). In April 2005, the Church had already made up its mind John Paul would be raised to the honours of the altar. It took six years to do the paperwork. Continue reading