A daily salve for a wounded culture

It’s over. But not really. Wednesday night was Oprah’s last show. Daytime TV will be different. The show closed so Oprah can devote time to her own network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN. It’s all hers. Daytime, night time, all the time. Oprah said goodbye, but she is not going anywhere.

I watched the two-part special tribute earlier this week. Of course, Aretha Franklin could have been singing the Wolfe Island phone directory and I would have watched that, too. For Oprah she sang Amazing Grace. An added bonus, Patti Labelle showed up to teach Josh Groban a thing or two about performing. Continue reading

Missionary work is cultural as well

The first Jesuits in North America arrived 400 years ago. In 1611, two Jesuit priests arrived in what is now Nova Scotia, a few months after the local Mi’kmaq chief decided to be baptized along with his family, becoming the first aboriginal Christians in Canada. With the conversion of the chief, the first Jesuits found a secure welcome and lived with the Mi’kmaq for several years. Consequently the quatercentenary emphasized the initial encounter between the Jesuits and the Mi’kmaq. But as reported in The Catholic Register (Jesuits mark 400 years of ministry in Canada), the Mi’kmaq were not only looking to the past. They want the Jesuits to help with the future. Continue reading

The Tories’ dynamic duo

– in Ottawa, Ontario –
It was mostly old, a few bits new, rather boring and Tory blue. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had his new cabinet sworn in, and continuity was the theme. With few changes in major portfolios, it was rather dull, but Mr. Harper is successful in part because he offers as little drama as possible. Stable government was the campaign slogan. Stability was what Canadians got.

There was one major vacancy – foreign affairs – and one senior minister who had to move, John Baird, his talents no longer needed as house leader in a majority parliament. The two were matched up, and for the most part the other key players were left in place – Finance, Justice, Public Safety and Defence left unchanged. Continue reading

Catholics are once again embracing meatless Fridays

Fish’n’chips, anyone? It’s either that or, given the preponderance of Indian takeout in England today, vegetable samosas and prawn curry for Catholics on Friday come this fall.

Last week the Catholic bishops of England and Wales decided to bring back Friday abstinence from meat, an initiative of potentially enormous significance. The abandonment of Friday abstinence was one of the great pastoral blunders in history, a self-inflicted neutering of Catholic identity and an assault on our own tradition. Its restoration marks a sign of increasing Catholic confidence and common sense. Continue reading

The enduring power of forgiveness

Thirty years ago tomorrow, Pope John Paul II was shot in Saint Peter’s Square by Mehmet Ali Agca. It was the year of the assassins – Ronald Reagan survived the attempt on his life by a madman in March, while Anwar Sadat was killed in September by Islamists enraged by his making peace with Israel. Regarding Agca, the Turk with Bulgarian connections, however lucid he may have been at the time of the shooting, his subsequent explanations have been contradictory, even delusional. Continue reading