Friday, December 19, 2014

Religious freedom is 'of concern' in Canada

Report says situation is getting worse, globally
Pilgrims carry an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12.
(Photo: Karen Callaway, Catholic New World / CNS)
Aid to the Church in Need recently released a report on global religious freedom between 2012-2014. The document rates Canada's situation as "of concern" and states:
"In the period under review, global religious freedom entered a period of serious decline."
Find out what the ACN says about any country here.

The document does have at least one critic. David Seljak, chairman of the religious studies department at St. Jerome's University College calls the study "an interesting hodge-podge." Read more on The B.C. Catholic website.

Rome Sweet Home transforms history scholar's faith

St. Francis of Assisi parishioner credits Scott & Kimberly Hahn book for challenging him to convert
When Roland Carelse-Borzel (right) googled the archdiocesan RCIA program, he met Kyle Neilson and found the two had come to the Church in similar ways. Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic.
A Pentecostal history scholar fell headlong into denominational no-man's-land when a spiritual memoir pulled the foundation of his faith out from under his feet. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:

Mary and Joseph exemplify mission, vocation of family life
Pope Francis drinks mate, the traditional Argentine herbal tea, while greeting Legionaries of Christ seminarians during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 17. The mate was presented by one of the seminarians. CNS photo / Paul Haring.
Pope Francis spoke Dec. 17 about Jesus' choice to be born into a family, saying that it shows the importance of the vocation, which Mary and Joseph epitomized through their everyday holiness. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Grade 6 students plan 'social justice' project
Conservative legislators applaud Deputy Henri Guaino after he spoke against the same-sex marriage draft law at the National Assembly in Paris in January 2013. France's National Assembly was examining a bill to legalize gay marriage and give gay couples adoption rights. CNS photo / Charles Platiau, Reuters.
Two Grade 6 students at a Catholic elementary school now have the go-ahead to do a social justice project on how a Catholic high school equity group manages gay rights. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pope welcomes Canadian ambassador

Dennis Savoie presents credentials
Dennis Savoie, the Canadian ambassador to the Holy See, met Pope Francis Dec. 15. (Photo credit: The Canadian Embassy to the Holy See)
The Canuck representative to the Vatican has kissed the ring of Pope Francis. The two met Dec. 15.

"It was a very humbling experience," said the longtime Knight of Columbus. "I met a man [the Pope] who is very, very simple, very personable, makes you feel at ease right away."

For more, check out the link to Vatican Radio.

Knights present Pope with unique gift

Silver rose given on feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Msgr. Eduardo Chavez presents a silver rose to the Holy Father Dec. 12.
Every year, the Knights of Columbus pass five silver roses from Canada to Mexico on a massive relay in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This year, Pope Francis accepted one of those roses after the long pilgrimage ended.

Was it the same one? A silver rose came through B.C. in 2013. It was here for three weeks, stopping in small towns and going as far north as Fort Saint John.
Monsignor Jerry Desmond (left) and Grand Knight Devon O'Toole admire
a silver rose as it makes a stop in Kamloops July 14, 2013. BCC file photo.
Along with the rose, the Knights of Columbus gave the pope $1.6 million for his charities on Dec. 12. Follow the links to learn more.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Pope Francis!

Seminarians surprise 78-year-old with cake
Pope Francis blows out candles in St. Peter's Square Dec. 17.
Photo: ANSA / L'Osservatore Romano
Pilgrims wished the Holy Father a happy birthday as he rode through St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience today. He received a cake and a sip of mate tea, a drink that is popular in Argentina, as he moved through the crowds.

Pope's Sri Lanka visit will go ahead as planned

Schedule unchanged despite calls for the trip to be postponed
Pope Francis presents gifts to members of a delegation from Sri Lanka during a private audience
at the Vatican Oct. 3. He will visit the country Jan. 13-15. (Photo: Paul Haring / CNS)
Pope Francis's visit to Sri Lanka Jan. 13-15 will come on the heels of a presidential election. Some Catholic priests and organizations have asked the pontiff to change his schedule so as not to get mixed up in politics, but the trip is going ahead as planned.
"There is no change in the schedule of papal visit events," Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando, national director of Catholic social communications in Sri Lanka, told NCR.

He said leading candidates have assured Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo and Catholic bishops in the south Asian country that "there would be no trouble" after the Jan. 8 polls and that "a peaceful atmosphere would prevail for the visit of the Holy Father."
Apparently, some candidates have even used edited photos of Pope Francis in their campaign posters.

Parishioners raise funds to restore Our Lady icon

Father Richard Luberti, CSsR, welcomes back 'old friend' originally put in Point Grey church in 1948
Since 1948, an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has provided a focal point for prayers and intercessions at a Point Grey parish. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:

Charity feeds Liberian children despite Ebola crisis
Mary's Meals volunteers prepare food as part of the charity's emergency response work in Liberia. Photo submitted.
An international aid organization is providing food to 80,000 schoolchildren in Liberia while the Ebola virus continues to take a toll on that country. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Montreal brings Rebuilt team to Canada
In the presence of Archbishop Christian Lepine of Montreal (right), Bishop Thomas Dowd congratulates Paul Donovan, former Loyola High School principal. Donovan received a bishop's award for his role in defending religious liberty in Canada. Photo: J. Cooper (CCN).
Do you want to rebuild your parish? Then get ready to "step out of your comfort zone" and focus your energy on disciple-making, the pastoral team from a Maryland parish told 600 faithful at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral Nov. 13. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pope Francis and the pets

All dogs go to Heaven?


What was the real story behind the latest Pope Francis media meme? One report ran this photo alongside their story about the 26 Nov 2014 general audience, but the photo was taken in 2013. (Photo: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters)

C.S. Morrissey wrote for The B.C. Catholic about how the recent press reports on pets and Pope Francis -- which alleged that Pope Francis said to a disconsolate little boy that all pets went to Heaven -- did not make any sense to him:

"Santa Pope battles Grinch Pope Emeritus in new myth"

It turns out he was right to be skeptical. The media reports about what Pope Francis allegedly said about pets turn out to stem from a report about what Pope Paul VI once allegedly said.

Perhaps there's an important lesson here. If the media can't get straight a Pope and pets story, perhaps we should be more cautious and skeptical about their coverage of more complex issues.

Canadian football officials use Catholic school's equipment in Grey Cup, again

Notre Dame has now 'saved CFL's bacon twice': vice-principal
Notre Dame Juggler head coach George Oswald (right) in 2010. His school's equipment saved the 2014 Grey Cup at B.C. Place, where Calgary beat Hamilton 20-16. Malin Jordan / The B.C. Catholic.
The Grey Cup game has provided improbable touchdowns, nail-biting goal-line stands, and last-second field goals over the past century. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:

Pope says Church must improve marriage prep, strengthen families
Felician Sister Celeste Goulet, right, gives marriage preparation courses in in Tulita, Northwest Territories. CNS photo / Michael Swan, The Catholic Register.
Pope Francis in his latest interview reflected on October's Extraordinary Synod on the Family, dismissing fears of doctrinal "collapse" while considering difficult topics like marriage preparation and the treatment of divorced and remarried Catholics. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Toronto parish in tune with Pope on autism
Linda Ward gives little Alessia Mussol a boost at the end of another Monday night of Special Olympics activities in the gym of St. Brigid's Catholic School in Toronto. Michael Swan / CCN.
If every Catholic is supposed to go to Mass on Sunday, Pope Francis wants every one of them to be well and truly welcomed when they get there - including the ones who randomly shout, rock back and forth in the pew, moan or unexpectedly laugh. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Beloved Montreal Canadiens centre dies at 83


Jean Beliveau grew up staunchly religious, met Pope Paul VI after 10th Stanley Cup championship
Jean Beliveau (right), seen in 2009, won 10 Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. Away from the rink, he spent decades raising money for disabled youth. U.S. Embassy Canada.
On the ice, six-foot-three Jean Beliveau had an imposing presence, a gifted scorer's touch, and a competitive spirit. Off the ice, "Le Gros Bill," an ardent Catholic, inspired generations of hockey players with his countless handwritten letters to play honourably. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:


Just call me 'Father Benedict'
Retired Pope Benedict XVI greets Pope Francis. CNS photo / Paul Haring.
Rather than being called by his papal name "Benedict XVI," the retired Pontiff revealed that since his retirement he has wanted to return to his original priestly title and be called simply "Father Benedict." For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Draft policy would trample conscience rights, groups say
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and other religious leaders urge the U.S. government to "expand conscience protections." The U.S. is having problems like Canada's with the issue. CNS photo / Tyler Orsburn.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) draft human rights policy would trample religious freedom and freedom of conscience, say groups defending those rights. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Cyberslums" need pastoral care, too

Italian priest urges ministries to reach out online
Turkish women use Twitter at a cafe in Istanbul. (CNS/EPA)
When Pope Francis urges people to reach out to the ghettos, that includes dark parts of the online world, Father Fortunato Di Noto tells a Vatican news conference.
"We have to make sure that these places of emotional destitution, these new digital peripheries that I would call 'digital slums,' can be made habitable," because places that lack all forms of compassion and human connection attract ravenous "vultures," he said.

His work has become a kind of online ministry, he said, that offers "real accompaniment on the Internet because there are many people who are in need because they 'live' in this place every day."
A former victim of cyberharassment also spoke at the news conference.

Dedicated educator marks his teaching jubilee

Alan Charlton, 79, has taught thousands during his 50-year career
Alan Charlton gives Notre Dame students insights during an English class. "I stumbled into teaching," he said, speaking of how it all began in 1961. Alistair Burns / The B.C. Catholic.
One local educator has lived through flower power, preppies, and the millennial generation while teaching for half a century. But retirement doesn't sound heavenly to him. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:

An ancient Christian culture might disappear
A Melkite priest walks beside St. George Melkite Catholic Church in Yaroun, Lebanon. He serves Melkite Catholic communities in southern Lebanon, where young people, Christian, and Muslim alike, are leaving to seek education and job opportunities elsewhere. CNS photo / Nancy Wiechec.
The East and West must cooperate to save ancient Christian cultures in the Middle East, to secure peace, and to protect humanity as a whole, an expert in Aramaic culture insists. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Before conversion, apologist loved stumping Catholics with Bible verses
Catholic Answers apologist and author Tim Staples speaks of how as a Protestant he used to love stumping Catholics with what he called "zingers" from the Bible. Deborah Gyapong (CCN).
Catholic apologist Tim Staples used to love stumping Catholics with Bible verses in the days he was a Pentecostal, until he met a Catholic who stumped him. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mission to Seafarers fills vital role

Chaplains will bring Christmas gifts to sailors on their ships
Sailors grin after being given presents Dec. 24, 2012, in English Bay, during a Mission to Seafarers event. Alistair Burns / The B.C. Catholic.
Three wise men will bring presents to homesick sailors Dec. 24 in an annual event. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:

Family synod gets down to basics of marriage, Pope says
Col. Daniel Anrig, commander of the Swiss Guard, lower right, walks alongside the popemobile as Pope Francis arrives for his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 26. The Pope has ordered Col. Anrig to end his service Jan. 31. In an interview with the Argentinean newspaper "La Nacion," the Pope praised the qualities of Col. Anrig but said that a "renovation would be healthy." A replacement has not been appointed. CNS photo / Paul Haring.
In his weekly general audience Pope Francis started a new catechesis on the family, and explained that discussion surrounding the topic in the synod of bishops is rooted in the fundamental truths of marriage. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Canada's nuncio recalls childhood Nativity scene in Italy
Canada's Papal Nuncio Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi remembers, when he was 5, his Aunt Rosa giving him some "little statues to make the crib" or Nativity scene. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Olympian wins a seat on Richmond city council

Councillor Alexa Loo says the parable of the talents drives her to be involved in her community
Former Olympic snowboarder Alexa Loo was elected to Richmond city council. Her goal is to maintain her home town's status as Canada's healthiest city. Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic.
A former Olympic snowboarder is channelling her community spirit into her new role as a Richmond city councillor. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:

Huge crowds flock to see St. Francis Xavier's relics on his feast day
Pilgrims pray by and view the body of St. Francis Xavier during an exposition of the saint in December 2004 at the Se Cathedral in Goa, India. CNS photo / Anto Akkara.
On Dec. 3, the 462nd anniversary of his death, an estimated 200,000 people visited Se Cathedral in Old Goa to venerate the relics of St. Francis Xavier, the "Apostle to the Far East." For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Senators introduce assisted suicide bill to fast-track debate
U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature and a former archbishop of St. Louis, speaks to a man during a May 4 pro-life demonstration in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Catholic politicians and judges who support laws in conflict with Church teaching on abortion, euthanasia, marriage, and related issues commit "sacrilege" and cause "grave scandal" if they receive Communion, the cardinal told an international conference of pro-life organizations. CNS photo / Katarzyna Artymiak.
Two senators introduced a euthanasia and assisted suicide bill Dec. 2 that may ensure debate on this controversial matter reaches the House of Commons before next year's federal election. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Homeless drop-in centre thanks volunteers

The Door is Open thanks 60 supporters before start of Christmas dinner rush
The Door is Open volunteers fill their plates in the dining hall where they regularly serve 400-500 meals to the homeless. Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic.
Longtime volunteers at a Downtown Eastside drop-in centre received a hearty thank-you for their work as they geared up to serve Christmas dinner Dec 25. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:

Author, cardinals spar over reports of conclave campaigning
The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums is pictured in this March 9, 2013, file photo, as preparations began for the conclave that elected Pope Francis. CNS photo / Paul Haring.
The 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis is news again now that four cardinals have denied a new book's claim that they campaigned for Pope Francis to be elected, though the book's author has clarified the Pope himself was not a part of their supposed campaign. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Cardinal Collins addresses Parliamentarians on faith in times of crisis
MP Mark Adler and Cardinal Thomas Collins at the All-Party Interfaith National Prayer Breakfast in Centre Block's Parliamentary restaurant Dec. 2. Bernard Thibodeau / House of Commons photographer.
Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto spoke to parliamentarians Dec. 2 on the importance of integrity and humility in public life. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bishop hails palliative care option

Justices to rule on Carter case
Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, celebrates Mass Nov. 29. Alistair Burns / The B.C. Catholic.
The Archbishop of Vancouver has asked Catholics to speak out about a credible alternative to physician-assisted suicide: palliative care. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:

Protect us! one archbishop pleads
Nigerian soldiers patrol the city of Jos, Nigeria, after elections in 2008. Rival ethnic and religious mobs burned homes, shops, mosques, and churches in Jos. At least 200 were killed. CNS photo / Akintunde Akinleye, Reuters.
As Nigeria's general elections draw near, the archbishop of the central city of Jos warned candidates not to put political agendas over people's safety and urged more rapid solutions to Boko Haram violence. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.
Christmas message from apostolic nuncio
To welcome and to share the abundance of God

We are just at the threshold of Christmas, a great event which - if we welcome it - is capable of changing our lives. A story by Tolstoy which I learned and owe to Pope Benedict XVI helps me to share the light and life that springs from Christmas. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Friday, December 5, 2014

ISIS militants keep their prisoners in churches

Places of prayer are becoming prisons in Mosul
ISIS fighters stand guard in Mosul in this file photo from June.
(Photo: Reuters / CNS)
Reports show ISIS is using some churches and monasteries as prisons. Rebwar Audish Basa, procurator of the Order of St. Anthony sant'Ormisada of the Chaldeans, is very worried.
"A possible military offensive for the liberation of Mosul could inevitably lead to consider churches as targets to hit, since they have become logistic bases of the jihadists."
Read the full article here.

To be Catholic or not to be?

Manuscript revives debate about Shakespeare's faith
The 233rd known surviving first folio was found near Calais, France.
Photo: Denis Charlet / Agence France-Presse.
A first-edition copy of William Shakespeare's plays was recently discovered in a library in France. The rare book has a connection to the Jesuits, refueling the debate over whether or not the bard was Catholic.
“People have been making vague arguments, but now for the first time we have a connection between the Jesuit college network and Shakespeare,” expert Eric Rasmussen said. “The links become a little more substantial when you have this paper trail.”
Find out more here.

High-tech scanner sought for Mount Saint Joseph Hospital

'Non-invasive diagnostic workhorse' getting a little elderly
Dr. Amie Padilla-Thornton, a radiologist, with the 10-year-old computed tomography scanner at Mount St. Joseph Hospital. The scanner is nicknamed "Delia II." Alistair Burns / The B.C. Catholic.
A physician once called one of B.C.'s oldest computed tomography (CT) scanners a "non-invasive diagnostic workhorse." Mount Saint Joseph Hospital is hoping to get a new workhorse and put its old one out to pasture. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:

Coming soon: the Vatican's report on U.S. women religious
Sister Mary Angela Highfield of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious works on her tablet Nov. 11 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. CNS photo / Bob Roller.
The Vatican has confirmed it will release its report on the state of women religious in the United States later this month, following up on the apostolic visitation that concluded in January 2012. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

CCCB head suggests changes to synod process to Pope Francis
CCCB President Gatineau Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher. (File photo / CCN).
Gatineau Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher had a chance to offer Pope Francis suggestions on how to improve the synod process during an audience Nov. 15. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christians not crucial to Rome's decline

Religion's dominance came as 'reaction to despotism': historian
A professor from the University of Chicago explained to an audience at UBC why the rise of Christianity was not a factor in the Roman Empire's downfall. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


Also newly posted:


Pope Francis prays for more fruitful dialogue after trip to Turkey
Pope Francis passes circus performers as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square Dec. 3. CNS photo / Paul Haring.
In his weekly general audience Pope Francis recalled the activities of his recent trip to Turkey, and prayed that the visit would lead to a more fruitful ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

CCCB will choose delegates for family synod by ballot process
The last CCCB plenary, in September. (CCN photo).
By the end of March 2015, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will choose four delegates and two alternates to attend the ordinary synod on the family in Rome Oct. 2015. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

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