Thursday, March 31, 2011

Demand for exorcists on the rise

Internet has led to an increased interest in Satanism and the occult, Church says
Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican's official exorcist

A six-day conference on exorcism in Rome says that there is an increased interest in Satanism and the occult, the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph reported.

The conference is being held at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome, which is under the Vatican's authority.

Carlo Climati, a member of the university who specialises in the dangers posed to young people by Satanism, said easy access on the internet has fueled this issue.

"In just a few minutes you can contact Satanist groups and research occultism. The conference is not about how to become an exorcist," he said. "It's to share information about exorcism, Satanism and sects. It's to give help to families and priests. There is a particular risk for young people who are in difficulties or who are emotionally fragile."

This has led to more requests for exorcisms, though the number of genuine possessions remains fairly small, said father Gabriele Nanni, a former exorcist and a speaker at the conference.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Papal envoy dispatched to Ivory Coast

Cardinal Peter Turkson off to troubled West African Nation
Cardinal Peter Turkson
Pope Benedict XVI is sending his top envoy, Cardinal Peter Turkson, to the Ivory Coast to help with peace efforts in a country facing civil war.

The Catholic News Agency has an informative story that captures some details of the civil strife facing Ivorians.

Girl Talk

A Day of Conversation for young women

All young women throughout the Archdiocese of Vancouver are invited to the Immaculate Heart Early Childhood Education Centre Saturday April 2 for a A Day of Conversation on Religious Life.

This event is for those discerning their vocation. The conversation will be on religious life, prayer, community life, mission, and ministry.

Sister Veronica Tang, SIHM, said that about 22 young women attended the talk last year and they hope to see a similar turnout.

The day begins at 9 a.m. with breakfast. There is a break for lunch and the day will conclude at 4 p.m.

The Immaculate Heart Early Childhood Education Centre is located at 789 Alderson Ave, Coquitlam.

To register or for more information, contact Sister Tang at 604-936-3455 sihm@telus.net.

Pro-life laws lead to decrease in abortions in U.S., study

Difficulty accessing abortion leads to fewer abortions

The Washington Times reported Tuesday that a new U.S. study revealed data collected between 1985 and 2005 indicates that laws restricting but not outlawing abortion “have an impact on the childbearing decisions of women."

The report, "Analyzing the Effect of Anti-Abortion U.S. State Legislation in the Post-Casey Era" by Michael J. New, an assistant political science professor at the University of Alabama, looked at how state laws regarding informed-consent, Medicaid funding rules, and parental-notification for minors affected abortion rates in the U.S.

Poland commemorates Pope's beatification

Pope John Paul II is money and doesn't even know it

Poland is issuing gold and silver collector coins of Pope John Paul II to mark his beatification May 1.

Pope John Paul is the only Polish pope in the history of the Church.

He was born Karol Józef Wojtyła in Wadowice, Poland in 1920 and died in 2005 at the Vatican.

They were presented Wednesday at Poland's state mint and will be available in April.

There will be 500 gold coins worth 1,000 zlotys ($350) featuring a portrait of the pope on one side and Poland's national emblem of an eagle on the other. The collection will also have gold coins worth 100 zlotys ($35) and 25 zlotys ($8.75), as well as a silver 20 zloty ($7) coin.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Amazing video of the north

Norway reveals her beauty

Norwegian Terje Sorgjerd has made a visually stunning time-lapse video of the aurora borealis over Øvre Pasvik National Park in northern Norway. It's worth a look as the landscape and the northern lights are stunning.

The B.C. Catholic will be featuring the north - our Canadian north, the Diocese of Whitehorse - in a special northern supplement in our May 16 issue.

Thank God for faithful priests

I see Father John Dietzen has died at age 83.  The B.C. Catholic for years, until the end of 1998, printed his column, answering questions involving the Catholic faith sent by readers.

Eternal rest grant to Father John Dietzen, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.  Amen.  May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pope calls for end of violence in Libya

Benedict XVI makes plea for peace as fighting continues

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Pope Benedict XVI is urging diplomats to begin talks to suspend the use of arms by all sides in Libya.

This message came in light of the continued struggle in Libya between Moammar Gadhafi’s military and rebel forces, as well as the continued United Nations-sanctioned international air-strikes.

Rebels are currently fighting their way towards Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast.

Pope Benedict said that the “ever more dramatic news coming out of Libya” was increasing his “trepidation for the safety and security of the civilian population as well as (his) apprehension for how the situation, marked by the use of arms, is developing.”

Inauguration at Kyiv Cathedral

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk is enthroned
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk is installed as the patriarch of
the Ukrainian Catholic Church.


















The Ukrainian Catholic Church has a new patriarch. The enthronement took place Sunday, March 27 at the not-yet-completed Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv.

Major Archbishop Shevchuk was elected last week by over two-thirds of the vote of by the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops electoral synod in a late round of voting. After papal approval, Major Archbishop Shevchuk's ceremony took place in Kyiv.

There is video from the event (in Ukrainian) and some more coverage here.

Gregorios III, the Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, attended the enthronement in Kyiv.
"I think that the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church are both called to play a very significant role in ecumenical work, since they are the two largest Churches of the Byzantine rite (Greek and Slavonic) in communion with Rome," he said.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Lord of the Rings and the Annunciation

It is good to talk about J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings today, and not because it is Tolkien Reading Day according to the Tolkien Society, but because today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

wikipedia.org


Annunciation by Fra Angelico (wikipedia.org)
In the Lord of the Rings, which Tolkien calls "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work," the One Ring was destroyed on March 25, the day the Church celebrates the announcement of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would become the mother of the Son of God, Jesus Christ!

On this day in Middle Earth, "the climactic attempt to destroy the ring, and in consequence the Dark Lord who had forged it, occurred on 'the twenty-fifth of March,'" writes Joseph Pearce, a Catholic author whose work focuses on Catholic English writers. Pearce calls the Feast of the Annunciation "the celebration of the absolute centre of all history as the moment when God himself became incarnate as man."


I agree with Pearce when he says: "It is, however, very comforting in the midst of these dark days that the most popular book of the 20th century and the most popular movie of the new century draw their power and their glory from the light of the Gospel."

Surprise in Ukraine

Ukrainian synod elects young bishop to lead
Sviatoslav Shevchuk

The Ukrainian Catholic Bishops electoral synod has selected Sviatoslav Shevchuk, a 40-year old auxiliary bishop of the Protection of the Blessed Mary Eparchy in Buenos Aires, as the new head of the Ukrainian Church.

There is precedent for UCB electoral synod to select young leaders. In the 20th century, the synod selected two leaders both in their late 30s.

The electoral synod was meeting in Lviv after Major Archbishop Emeritus Cardinal Lubomyr Husar stepped down in February. (Cardinal Husar's health is suffering and he has lost his eyesight.)

Lubomyr Husar

The new patriarch, or major archbishop, will be enthroned as the new head of the Ukrainian Church March 27 in Kyiv at the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ.

Watch for an interview with the New Westminster Eparchy's Bishop Ken Nowakowski in an upcoming edition of The B.C. Catholic when the bishop gets back from Ukraine.

Bishops guiding info for election

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issues guide








The CCCB is getting into election mode. They've just released a guide and are inviting Catholics in Canada to read it in order to "vote with discernment."

The three-page document, called Making Our Voices Heard talks about the application of Catholic moral and social teaching. It's all meant to help analyze and evaluate public policies and programs and it's well worth the read.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Basilian visits archdiocese

Television CEO sprinkles a little Salt + Light in Vancouver
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB.

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, CEO of Salt and Light Television, visited Vancouver earlier this week. He gave a bunch of different talks around the archdiocese, engaging many people with his thoughts on the Internet and social communications.

He also premiered the newest documentary produced by his network. Called This Side of Eden, the film is about monastic life at Westminster Abbey in Mission, B.C.

The film, inspired by France's 2005 monastic offering Die Grosse Stille (Into Great Silence), captures life inside the West Coast's Benedictine monastery.

The film follows the monks in their day-to-day lives during Holy Week and the Easter Triduum.
Fr. John Chrysostom
Brost, OSB, 1912-2010

The late Benedictine monk, Father John Chrysostom Brost, OSB, is also in the film in an emotional scene.

Father Rosica talks about the documentary on the Salt and Light site, as does the abbot, Father John Braganza, OSB.

Co-director Matthew Harrison also weighs in on the production.

A trailer from the documenatary can be viewed on the Salt and Light website.

See this week's B.C. Catholic for an editorial about Father Rosica's visit and check next week's paper for full coverage of his Vancouver lectures.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Correction: Catholic After Hours

No Talk on March 27

The B.C. Catholic reported in its March 21 issue that the Catholic After Hours conversation series will continue every Sunday until April 10.  

However, there will not be a talk on March 27.


The two remaining talks will be April 3 with Dr. Christine Jones on relativism and sentimentalism, and April 10 with Pavel Reid, director of Catholic Family Services, on how to discuss morality with everyone.


Both talks will take place at the Blarney Stone Public House from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.


The Blarney Stone is located in Gastown at 216 Carrall Street.

Obama visit called "truly extrordinary"

U.S. President Barack Obama has visited the tomb of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero nearly 31 years to the day that a sniper shot the El Salvadoran archbishop who was saying Mass in the cathedral. This marks the first time a U.S. president has paid homage to the archbishop who is widely regarded throughout Latin America and whose case for beatification is undergoing study in Rome. View the YouTube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXijjCAw9R8

New Evangelization challenge for educators

Dr. John Stapleton of Corpus Christi and St. Mark's Colleges will share his thoughts this evening, March 23, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on how post secondary educators can respond to Pope Benedict's call to promote the New Evangelization in our secular world. The talk gets underway at 7:30 p.m. at Vancouver College's Kucher Centre for Performing Arts. Everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The cure for poverty isn't cash

Canada is likely heading to the polls because the federal government isn't spending enough money to lift Canadians out of poverty, according to opposition parties. There’s nothing in the budget on affordable housing, says NDP Leader Jack Layton. There's nothing for childcare, says Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.


The mythology continues that government is the best institution to get people out of poverty, and cash is the best weapon in its arsenal.


Similarly economists, unions, anti-poverty groups and pundits are still debating whether Premier Christy Clark's recently announced minimum wage hike will help rescue British Columbians from poverty.


If government spending and legislation is the key to getting people out of poverty, then there is no end in sight. In a recent letter to The Vancouver Sun, two anti-poverty groups recited a lengthy list of "recommendations for a bold child and family agenda." All involved more government intervention and more government spending.
Last week's blog entry The real cause of poverty pointed out that government and anti-poverty reports and studies consistently fail to identify the greatest contributor to poverty in Canada. In opposition criticism, in hundreds of pages of government reports, and in reams of recommendations from anti-poverty groups, you find utter silence when it comes to the leading cause of being poor: the absence of fathers in households.

All the research into the issue confirms that children who grow up without a dad are more likely to end up in poverty, crime, and substance abuse, and are far more predisposed to dropping out of school and to becoming victims of sexual abuse.

Tinkering with minimum wages and daycare programs is mere window dressing when it comes to getting to the root of poverty.
So why is there no father in the picture of so many children's lives? Let's face it, society hasn't exactly laid out a red carpet for fatherhood.

Can we really feign surprise when marriage -- the bond that holds families together more securely than anything else -- is socially downgraded, politically neutered, and financially strong-armed to the point where a married couple is the same as two men living together or serial monogamy, which are the same as hooking up or one-night stands.
With easy birth control, taxpayer-funded abortions, schools, media and entertainment equating everything to matrimony, and government constructing a system that rewards parents who place their kids in day care, it's no wonder single parenthood and poverty are flourishing.
The family is the foundation of society, and marriage is the cement. A government that truly wants to end poverty will build up that foundation instead of chipping away at it.

REAL Women intervene in safe injection site case

REAL Women of Canada has been granted leave to intervene before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Vancouver drug injection site case to be argued May 11.

The pro-family, pro-life women’s organization is the only group among nine interveners that will argue on behalf of the federal government’s position that Ottawa has the responsibility to control illegal drugs and that those laws should have a moral basis.

Preach on difficult subjects: Pope to priests

Priests must not preach “Christianity 'a la carte'” and should be willing to approach even uncomfortable aspects of the Gospel, Pope Benedict said in a meeting with priests this week.

St. Paul's advice to be humble and vigilant in preaching the faith, to make themselves completely available in service to Christ and the Church, and prayerful as they protect their “flocks” are all relevant characteristics of priests nearly 2,000 years later, said the Pope.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Senior priest to head St. Mark's, Corpus Christi Colleges

Msgr. Mark Hagemoen
Msgr. Mark Hagemoen will become the new principal and president of St. Mark's College and Corpus Christi College July 1. The board of directors of the two institutions made the announcement March 18.

Msgr. Hagemoen is the archdiocese's Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Services and its Moderator of the Curia.

"It is a tribute to the credentials Msgr. Hagemoen brings to his new position that the selection committee and board recognized they had the ideal candidate within our archdiocese," Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, said.

What a gift we have in confession

The highly readable Mark Shea has this offering, just in time for the Lent's confession season. Rediscovering the Riches of Reconciliation offers a moving reminder on what a gift we have in confession, and coming from a convert, it's especially inspiring.

Also on the topic, watch for Lenten reconciliation services coming to a parish near you.

Japanese choir at cathedral tonight

Seinan Gakuin students
Marianne phoned at lunch today to say she'd just heard the most wonderful student choir at Holy Rosary Cathedral's 12:10 p.m. Mass. They're the Seinan Gakuin Senior High School Choir from Fukuoka, Japan.

The bad news is that they're only singing today. The good news is that they're performing at the cathedral tonight at 7 p.m.

Said Marianne: "This might help many people to deal with their emotions in the face of the catastrophe in Japan. It will be a moving experience."

Church always on the scene

The Church always seems to be involved in world events, not only by praying and by providing relief and practical assistance, but also by behind-the-scenes negotiation or advice-giving.  The unrest in North Africa and the Middle East involves a few Christians, but the vast majority are Muslims, and the Church is still working to achieve more than just the safety of the Christian minorities.

Just a few weeks ago I thought that the people in these countries lived, for the most part, in peace because they were happy with their lives and their political situations.  Not so, it seems.  Discontent and unhappiness must have been simmering below the surface.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

VC comes up short

Fighting Irish miss out on AAA provincial title

The Vancouver College Fighting Irish lost their match in the 2011 AAA provincial basketball finals against the R.C. Palmer Secondary Griffins.

The March 19 victory marks the first championship for Richmond's Griffins.

The Irish hoped that this would be their first provincial title since 1967, but they came up short with a final score of 71-63.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

VC varsity boys in prov. final

The Fighting Irish are looking for their first championship since 1967.

The Vancouver College varsity boys basketball squad have a shot at winning their sixth AAA provincial title tonight when they take on the R.C. Palmer Griffins at the Langley Events Centre in the boys championship final. Tip-off is at 8:00 p.m.

The Events Centre is also offering a free webcast of the game.

See next week's B.C. Catholic for a recap of the successful Irish season.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Join Archbishop for Mass and Rite of Election

On Sunday, March 20, at 2:30 p.m. at Holy Rosary Cathedral, all are invited to a special Mass with Archbishop Miller, concelebrated by Fr. Tom Rosica of Salt and Light Television, in which unbaptized adults from around the Archdiocese will be declared the “elect,” those chosen by God to receive the sacraments of initiation at Easter.

Salt and Light in Vancouver

S+L TV CEO Father Rosica to talk in Vancouver
Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, CEO of Salt + Light Television, will be coming to Vancouver next week and is taking time out of his schedule to give two public talks.

The first talk will take place on Monday March 21 at St. Mark's College at noon in Plato's Cave, the school's café.

His topic at St. Mark's is "Plugged In: Is our Constant Connectivity Leading to Disconnect and Discontent?" It will feature Father Rosica speaking for 20 minutes and then answering questions posed by the audience.

The talk will discuss whether mass media trivializes religion and faith, and if digital dependency can hurt one's faith and even lead to atheism.

St. Mark's is located at 5935 Iona Dr. on the UBC campus.

World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto

Father Rosica will also be giving a talk at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Burnaby on Tuesday March 22 from 7 to 9 p.m.

The title of the talk is "World Youth Day 2011: An Insider's Perspective with Father Thomas Rosica."

Father Rosica was CEO and National Director of World Youth Day 2002. He will be giving the inside scoop on plans for WYD 2011 and share stories and insights of past World Youth Days.

St. Francis de Sales is located at 6656 Balmoral Street, Burnaby.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Android offers the confession app

You've heard about it, you've seen it misrepresented in the media, and now it's available for Android phones, just in time for Lent! It's the confession app, first developed for the iPhone, and now ready to tackle sins on the Android platform.

Yes, it's got an imprimatur from a real, live bishop. No, it's not confession by phone. It's Confession: A Roman Catholic App, and it's simply an examination of conscience application like the zillions that have been out there in print form for hundreds of years. The developers say, "Individuals who have been away from the sacrament will find Confession: A Roman Catholic App to be a useful and inviting tool."

The app is available for download at the Android Market.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How do I know what I'm being called to?

God is calling you to a unique purpose in life, a work of love that only you can do. Come and begin to discover this work! You have received gifts, through Baptism and Confirmation, for the ways God intends his love to reach others through you. Come and discover these gifts!

The "Called & Gifted" Workshop is a two-day live presentation by professional facilitators from the Catherine of Sienna Institute. It will include Church teaching on the lay apostleship; the nature of spiritual gifts, call, and vocation; and how to undertake the process of discernment.

Here are the details:


Friday, March 25 7:00-9:30pm
St. Patrick's Parish
2881 Main Street
Vancouver


Saturday, March 26 9:30am-4:00pm
St. Joseph's Parish
32550 - 7th Avenue
Mission

Theology of the Body for adults

If you're 18 or older and interested in learning about Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, this mini-course is for you.
 
Jake Khym will be facilitating the Introduction to the Theology of the Body DVD series by Christopher West (Ascension Press).  The course includes DVD presentations, group discussion led by Jake, small group discussions and workbook reflections.

Open to all adults and takes place at St. Ann’s Parish Centre, 33333 Mayfair Avenue, Abbotsford.
  • Session 1: Friday, April 29 6:30 - 9:30 pm
  • Session 2: Saturday, April 30 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Session 3: Friday, May 13 6:30 - 9:30 pm
  • Session 4: Saturday, May 14 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
 The cost is $30 each which includes your workbook.

To register, call Gemma at 604-852-5602 or email reo-st-anns-parish@shaw.ca

Introduction to Theology of the Body For Parents

How do you talk to your kids about their sexuality?  How can you help them find meaning and direction in life?  How can you lead them toward a healthier relationship with you, with others, and with God?

Counselor Jake Khym and Father Rob Cook from the Diocese of Boise, Idaho, have a message for parents based on the insightful teachings of Pope John Paul II known as the Theology of the Body.

This talk is especially suited for parents of teens but all parents are welcome. There is no admission fee.

Friday, March 25
7:30 - 9:00 pm
St Ann’s Parish Centre
33333 Mayfair Ave, Abbotsford

For more information or to register, call Gemma 604-852-5602

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CCODP forwarding donations to Japan

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is forwarding donations from the Canadian public to Caritas Japan for its reconstruction programs.

CCODP says, "Although Japan has the capacity to respond to the current emergency situation, Caritas Japan estimates that once the emergency phase is over, the most vulnerable will require support in regaining their lives and homes. It plans to organize reconstruction programs in the coming months to bring effective aid."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chastity pastoral letter now lettera pastorale

The pastoral letter on chastity written to young people by Canada's Catholic bishops has attracted attention in Italy where it's been translated into Italian.

'The Rite' has got something right: Vatican newspaper

Priests are portrayed in a positive light in the new film, "The Rite," said L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. In the film, Anthony Hopkins stars as a priest-exorcist. The film's main message comes when Hopkins' character says, "Choosing not to believe in the devil won't protect you from him," the Vatican newspaper said. "The devil exists whether one believes in him or not, and he subtly works to have the upper hand."

Pope John Paul II countdown underway

The countdown to Pope John Paul II's May 1 beatification is underway.

The Archdiocese of Vancouver will be marking the event with a special Eucharistic Celebration at Holy Rosary Cathedral Sunday, May 1, which is also Divine Mercy Sunday. The Mass begins at 2:30 p.m. at Holy Rosary Cathedral followed by a reception in Rosary Hall.
 
The Vatican is also hoping its online presence for John Paul II will help create a broad audience for material on the life and teachings of the soon-to-be beatified Pope.

The Holy See has posted a YouTube video of John Paul's famous first papal speech, when the Polish-born pontiff asked the Roman crowd in St. Peter's Square to correct him if he made mistakes in Italian.

The clip is one of several from the early years of John Paul's pontificate posted on the Vatican's YouTube channel and linked to on its new Facebook page ahead of the May 1 beatification.
Meanwhile the Diocese of Rome has a website dedicated to the beatification and canonization of Pope John Paul II.

Donations for Japan

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace will be announcing details for sending donations to Caritas Japan shortly. We'll have the details as soon as they're available.

'The Church in Japan will respond': Bishop

Damage from the magnitude 8.9 earthquake and ensuing tsunamis were preventing church officials in Japan from assessing needs, reports Catholic News Service.

Meanwhile Bishop Marcellinus Daiji Tani of Saitama said, “The Church in Japan will respond to the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan with prayer and solidarity.”

He said, “We must take courage, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
A 76-year-old Catholic priest from Quebec, working as a missionary in Shiogama, is the sole Canadian victim of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake to date.

And, saying he was horrified by the images of the death and destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Pope Benedict XVI asked people to join him in praying for the victims.

Our Lady near the Epicentre

The epicentre of the Japanese earthquake is located near the site of an apparition in which Mary warned about a worldwide disaster that could afflict humanity.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prayer for Japan and those affected by the earthquake

The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has made available a prayer for those affected by the Japan earthquake.

Prayer in Time of Earthquake

God our Father,
you set the earth on its foundation.
Keep us safe from the danger of earthquakes
and let us always feel the presence of your love.
May we be secure in your protection
and serve you with grateful hearts.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Catholic diocese hit by Japanese tsunami

The Catholic diocese of Sendai was the first victim of Japan’s tsunami following the earthquake. Covering a land area of 27864 square miles, the diocesan territory includes the cities of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.

Initial reports suggest that Miyagi and Fukushima were the first to fall victim to the 33ft tsunami caused by the megaquake. In Sendai, where a major oil terminal exploded when its cooling system failed, Catholics form 0.15% of the total population of 7,207,624. In Tokyo Catholics are 0.51% of a total population of 18,552,995 people. In both cities, the predominant religions are Shinto and Buddhism.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The real cause of poverty

Poverty is on everyone's mind it seems, and that's heartening. We're commanded throughout Scripture and particularly by Jesus to care for the poor.

In recent months, there's been a surge in concern about poverty. B.C.'s provincial leadership campaigns have led to a lot of discussion on increasing the minimum wage and creating more affordable housing. 

Nationally, a variety of religious groups and churches are calling for co-ordinated federal action on the problem. No less than the Canadian Council of Churches, of which the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is a member, has issued a declaration inviting the federal government to “partner with us in ending poverty.” The declaration calls for "inspired leadership and action."

The trouble is, there has been no shortage of federal reports and recommendations on poverty in the past few years. In 2008, there was Poverty, Housing and Homelessness: Issues and Options. In 2009, there was  In From The Margins: A Call To Action On Poverty, Housing And Homelessness.


Even the Salvation Army has a new poverty report. A spokesman says, "It's a case of not enough income, lack of access to the training required to get a new job, lack of affordable housing."

All of these reports have two things in common. First, they're heavy on concern and big spending, calling for more government research, programs, benefits, strategies and panels.

The second thing they have in common is that none of them comes close to identifying the greatest contributor to being poor in Canada. In the hundreds of pages of these reports, and the dozens of recommendations, there's not a single word about the primary cause of poverty.

It's the absence of fathers in households.

The effects of fatherless homes have been documented as thoroughly as the rainfall in Vancouver. Children who grow up without a father are more likely to end up in every single bad scenario you can think of, from poverty, to involvement in crime, to substance abuse, to dropping out of school, to sexual abuse.

Not only are fatherless homes a factor, they are far and away the largest factor, outweighing all the other causes put together. Fatherless kids are almost six times more likely to be poor, 20 times more likely to have behavioural disorders, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

We can tinker with the minimum wage and talk about new support programs, but that's like painting the fence while your house is burning down. It might feel like home improvement, but it distracts from what's really needed: a fire hose and a search for the arsonist who set the fire.

Next: Identifying the arsonist.





Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pro-life display will test free speech at UBC

Freedom of speech at Carleton University in Ottawa
Later today, Thursday March 10, a controversial pro-life exhibit will test UBC’s commitment to free speech and to the rule of law.

Students with the campus club Lifeline will set up the “Genocide Awareness Project” display, using large colour photos to compare abortion to various historical genocides. 

Lawyer John Carpay argues that if UBC truly is committed to free speech, it will not tolerate behaviour that attempts to shut down the display, as has happened at many other universities:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

International Women's Day: lots of work to do

Yesterday was the hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day, and the sexual exploitation of girls and women in the commercial sex trade remains a human rights crisis and a direct hindrance to women's equality.

All are invited to a presentation by Gunilla Ekberg, Internationals Women’s Human Rights Consultant, Aboriginal Women’s Action Network (AWAN) and Trisha Baptie of Formerly Exploited Voices now Educating (EVE) Thursday, March 10, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Vancouver Public Library, downtown branch, Alice Mackay Room.

Fasting, almsgiving and prayer work, Pope says in Lenten message

Wishing all Christians a "happy Lenten journey," Pope Benedict XVI said fasting, almsgiving and prayer are traditionally suggested for Lent because they have proven to be effective tools for conversion.
Recently we blogged about Whitehorse Bishop Gary Gordon, who has written a letter on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking the federal government to rethink its position on building more prison spaces and increasing the number of convicts dramatically.

Here are some additional church links and resources on the topic:

An interview in French on Radio-Canada with Laurent Champagne, president of the Canadian Church Council on Justice and Corrections board and a Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops appointee to the board.

A letter sent last fall to Minister of Public Safety Mr. Vik Toews by the National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Rev. Susan Johnson.

A video recording of a discussion on the CBC-TV program Power and Politics with Father Thomas Rosica, CSB (beginning at 01:42:12).

An audio recording of an interview on the CBC Radio program As It Happens featuring Lorraine Berzins from the CCJC (beginning at 0:48 minutes).

"Not" fair play for aid organization

Bev Oda
House of Commons speaker Peter Milliken says Conservative MP Bev Oda may have breached parliamentary privilege in statements she made to the House and a Commons committee when she said she didn't know who inserted the word "not" into a document which effectively denied $7 million in funding for the ecumenical aid organization KAIROS.  Both the Canadian Catholic Organization of Bishops and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace are members of KAIROS, along with the Anglican, Lutheran, and Presbyterian Churches of Canada and others.
Although Oda later admitted to instructing her staff to insert the word, the ruling opens up the possibility that Liberals will try to find the minister or the government in contempt of Parliament.

Leaning into lent

Last minute ideas for Lenten fasting or abstinence
Lent personified at a carnival celebration from a painting The Battle between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1559.
Lent is here and if you haven't decided what to fast or abstain from yet, Jon Swanson offers 33 ideas about what to give up on his blog 300 words a day.

Called 33 things to give up for Lent, his blog post notes some unique actions that aren't traditional things given up for Lent. But it's worth a look, if only out of interest.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, and Mardi Gras

Whatever you call the day before Ash Wednesday, it has a religious significance all its own. As the day before the beginning of Lent, Shrove Tuesday's origins can be traced back hundreds of years and signify that tomorrow a solemn time of the Church calendar begins.

Parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Vancouver will offer ashes at their Masses tomorrow. You can check this list of Ash Wednesday Masses, or, if your parish isn't listed here, visit their website.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bishop Monroe back on track

Kamloops Bishop David Monroe has told The B.C. Catholic that his recovery from last fall's beating by a mentally ill assailant is going well. The bishop, who travelled to Ottawa last week for a bishops' meeting, said that his doctors are giving him the "go ahead" to get back to normal life.  "I am feeling well and spending some time at the office each day," the bishop noted.
On Feb. 24, John Bandura was found by a judge to have been in the middle of a "severe delusional disorder" when he attacked Bishop Monroe.

Mardi Gras on campus

St. Mark's invites everyone to celebrate the season


St. Mark's College will mark the beginning of the season of Lent with their Mardi Gras Night on March 8.

Entertainment includes a charity casino, pancake buffet, and Carnivale.

The festivities will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. The entire family is welcome.

The UBC Catholic Clubs helped organize the event, including Knights of Columbus Council 13101, Newman Club, UKHAN, CCO, CCSA.

St. Mark's is located on the UBC campus at 5935 Iona Drive.

For additional information, contact St. Mark's College Campus Ministry at 604.822.4463 or stmarks.campusministry@gmail.com.

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