By Martin Patriquin - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 0 Comments
What Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s hometown says about the state of the Church
Quebecers and Argentines share deep Catholic roots, a hot-blooded Latin temperament and a general wariness of the Church’s place in their respective societies. Catholicism is on the wane in both, to the benefit of evangelical Christianity in Argentina and secularism in Quebec. Yet if God influenced Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s ascension over Quebec’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet, then He is a pragmatic higher being indeed. For, despite their similarities, the outlook for the world’s largest Christian denominations in Quebec and Argentina could not be more different.
The newly elected Pope Francis will likely favour the fate of Catholicism in Latin America, home to nearly 40 per cent of the world’s Catholic population. Ouellet himself knew of the continent’s fertile grounds: in 1970, he left his hometown of La Motte for Colombia shortly after his ordination. One of the reasons why this might be is plain to see in La Motte itself. Had Ouellet become pope, and at a youthful 68 he still might yet, he would have overseen a dwindling hometown flock in Quebec.
La Motte—literally, “the lump”—is a village of roughly 450 souls sitting in the middle of the triangle created by the mining towns of Val D’Or, Amos and Rouyn-Noranda in Quebec’s northwestern Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. It isn’t in the middle of nowhere, in other words, yet on snowy, wind-ripped winter days, it might as well be. The locals, made up of long-time residents and a burgeoning crop of artists who have moved here over the last 20 years, like it that way. To be sure, the few grey-haired residents who crowded into the town’s community centre to see if their native son would win were sad when he didn’t. “We’re a bit disappointed, it would have rejuvenated the parish,” said Marthe Béliveau, 81. Like many parishes in Quebec, La Motte’s certainly needs rejuvenation. Ouellet was ordained at its St. Luc Church in 1968—the same year the Quebec government shut down Séminaire d’Amos, the area’s only seminary, due to a shortage of would-be priests. Ouellet’s alma mater, Montreal’s Grand Séminaire, has suffered a similar fate; there were roughly 300 students when he attended the school in the 1960s. There are 18 today.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 28 Comments
Dean Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, said on Facebook last month that it was “outrageous” the Catholic school board in Peterborough, Ont. had invited Trudeau to speak for a second time in three years. “If they are looking for a truly great speaker, who also happens to be Catholic, perhaps they might invite [Immigration] Minister Jason Kenney,” Mr. Del Mastro wrote on Oct. 12. “Are there any tenets of the Catholic faith that Justin supports?”
Here is video coverage of Mr. Trudeau’s appearance in Peterborough, including testimonials from obviously traumatized young people. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 4:32 PM - 2 Comments
Jason Kenney talks about faith and politics with the National Catholic Register.
I guess the big question is how your religious faith and your politics relate. Is there a connection?
Well, I believe in a pluralistic, liberal democracy. Everyone comes into the public square with certain core convictions, a certain worldview that’s informed by most deeply held convictions about the ultimate questions. For me, that view is partly formed by my Catholic faith. I think it’s important in a liberal democracy that people of faith not be excluded from participating in democratic debate, but it’s also important they not impose a kind of narrow, sectarian agenda, but rather to advance the common good in a way that brings others along.
For me, the lodestar is human dignity, the inviolable nature of human dignity. This is a principle which obviously is deeply grounded in Catholic social thought, but it is also one that has universal social application.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 4:00 PM - 12 Comments
‘Few people realize how powerful the pope is’
Influential theologian Fr. Hans Kung is calling on Catholics to reject the long-held notion of the absolutism of papal power. In a video message to a meeting of the American Catholic Council, Kung lamented that “few people realize how powerful the pope is,” comparing the Pontiff’s authority to that of the monarchs in pre-revolutionary France. “We have to change an absolutist system without the French Revolution,” he said. Giving in to the Church hierarchy, Kung argues, would doom the institution to irrelevance. “The world is moving on, going ahead, with or without the church,” he said. “I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ is stronger than the hierarchy.” Kung is widely recognized as one of the chief architects of the Second Vatican Council.
National Catholic Reporter
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 9:25 AM - 21 Comments
In Morinville, Alta., Catholicism is part of the public school system
The town of Morinville, Alta., population 6,775, cannot offer Donna Hunter’s children the secular, non-denominational education most Canadian parents expect as a matter of course. She is leaving for nearby north Edmonton and taking her three young children. And her sister. And her sister’s two kids. And her retired parents. Mrs. Hunter led the family’s march to Morinville in 1999; not yet a mother, she didn’t realize that all of the town’s public schools are, because of an anomaly in Alberta’s constitutional development, formally Catholic. The school board’s stated mission: “ensuring that Catholic values permeate all school activities.”
Morinville belongs to the Greater St. Albert “Catholic Public” school district—a historically French-Canadian area that declared itself Catholic for education purposes under territorial law in 1884. For generations, non-Catholic parents accepted the status quo, but Morinville schools have grown more strident about their identity even as the town becomes more diverse. Hunter leads a group of Morinville parents demanding a non-religious option, but the Catholic board will not provide one, and apparently can’t be forced to despite its officially public status. The province’s education minister acknowledges the problem but, say critics, has been slow to address it.
As Hunter leaves Morinville, her group is enjoying some progress. The Catholic board is surveying town residents to test the appetite for secular education, perhaps provided within Morinville under the auspices of a neighbouring district. “But the survey won’t count people who already left because of the Catholic monopoly, or those who never move here,” notes Hunter. “Every year that passes while we await a solution, more Morinville parents will face my choice. Stay? Leave? Wait? How long?”
By Brian Bethune - Friday, February 11, 2011 at 7:00 AM - 36 Comments
From evolution to safe sex, Benedict revealed himself to be a surprisingly activist Pope
In this story first published in 2011, Brian Bethune considered the ways Pope Benedict XVI was changing the Catholic Church:
It wasn’t supposed to be this way, not according to confounded Vatican watchers. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was already 78 years old when he became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. He was widely seen as the arch-conservative doctrinal enforcer, the sharp spear point wielded by his charismatic rock star predecessor—Joshua to Pope John Paul II’s Moses, in the words of one Jewish scholar. The consensus opinion was that Benedict would provide a quiet, business-as-usual continuance of John Paul’s 27-year reign and, given his age, a brief pontificate that would allow the 1.1 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church time to catch its breath and consider its future options.
No one, it seems, asked Benedict what he thought of the caretaker idea.
From inflaming the Islamic world by quoting medieval anti-Muhammad remarks to welcoming disaffected Anglicans into the Roman fold, becoming personally embroiled in the clerical sex-abuse scandal, endorsing the (sometimes) use of condoms, writing a passage in his newest book exonerating Jews from the charge of killing Christ, and a host of less headline-grabbing initiatives (including a casual acceptance of the theory of evolution), Benedict—as he celebrates his 84th birthday and sixth anniversary as Pope (April 16 and 19, respectively)—continues to be far more active, innovative, and outright newsworthy than expected.
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 14 Comments
He didn’t foresee the long-running sex abuse scandal suddenly igniting, but the Pope showed surprising openness in dealing with it
There is always, in the spiritual and political life of the Roman Catholic Church, a fire smouldering somewhere: minority Christians under persecution here, an abortion initiative in a Catholic country there, rebellious laity, scandalous clergy. So Pope Benedict XVI had no particular reason, on New Year’s Day, to foresee that the long-running clerical child sexual abuse scandal would suddenly burn white-hot, and spread far outside the confines of his Church. But as the penitential season of Lent began in February, hundreds more victims surfaced with their harrowing stories, not only in Ireland and the U.S., the epicentres of the scandal, but across Europe, including Benedict’s native Germany.
This time it was more than the original crimes that angered the faithful and outsiders alike. The focus was increasingly on the cover-up—the swearing of victims to secrecy, the shuffling of pedophile priests to fresh starts (and fresh opportunities) in unsuspecting parishes—and the way that cover-up touched the papacy itself. Questions were raised in the media and among Catholics about Benedict’s role, before he became pope, in determining the Vatican’s treatment of predatory clergy, a response widely condemned as ineffectual at best and criminally negligent at worst. Benedict found himself launched on an annus horribilis that would prove as awful as any experienced by a pope in modern times.
By Stephanie Findlay - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
The ice-cream ad that has been banned in Italy
An ice cream advertisement has been banned in Italy after complaints from Christians that it was offensive. The ad, which depicts a heavily pregnant nun with the line “immaculately conceived,” prompted 10 complaints to Italy’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after running in the magazines The Lady and Grazia. (Another ad in the campaign features two men in cassocks and clerical collars close to kissing, with the line “we believe in salivation.”)
The ice-cream company, Antonio Federici Gelato Italiano, defended itself against the pregnant-nun complaints, arguing that “conception” described the development of their ice cream. The company also claims that the ads are, in part, meant “to comment on and question, using satire and gentle humour, the relevance and hypocrisy of religion and the attitudes of the Church to social issues.” But the ASA ruled that the pregnant nun ad was “likely to be seen as a distortion and mockery of the beliefs of Roman Catholics,” and banned it. That wasn’t the first time the ASA has had to police the company’s ads. Last year they canned another one that depicted a priest just about to kiss a nun.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
Cardinal sins: Kickbacks for cheap real estate?
On June 11, before about 15,000 priests gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI apologized for the clergy sex abuse scandal.
On June 28, the Church issued another mea culpa of sorts on a different matter—corruption charges. The Vatican admitted to potential “errors” in the handling of real estate, following accusations that a top cardinal has been implicated in a public works scandal. And it’s got one expert wondering if a “diplomatic tussle” could result over the powers of church and state.
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 8:20 AM - 4 Comments
How Hispanics are turning American Christianity Catholic
Times change, even religiously, even in America. Just ask Luis Lugo. The director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the U.S.’s leading think tank on religious trends, came to his adopted country from Cuba in 1962, only two years after an American presidential election had turned on whether a Roman Catholic man could be trusted to lead the nation. Now 58, Lugo can look over extrapolations from population trends and predict a once undreamt-of future. Propelled by mass immigration from Latin America, the U.S. Catholic Church, already the country’s largest denomination, will, in a few decades, contain the majority of American Christians. It’s not quite the Catholicization of America, Lugo notes—increasing numbers of Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and the religiously unaffiliated will prevent that—but it does mark “the Catholicization of American Christianity.”
That alone is enough to signify an extraordinary transformation. Eminent historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr. once described anti-Catholicism as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people.” Almost every dominant strand in American thought has had a problem with the Church of Rome. From the militantly Protestant first colonists, who characterized the pope as the Antichrist or the Great Whore of Babylon (epithets still occasionally heard now), to the republican hostility that saw the Catholic Church as a despotic foreign body in secret control of its treasonous American adherents, to progressives who see it as the very fountainhead of misogyny and homophobia, anti-Catholicism has been as American as apple pie. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 10:41 AM - 12 Comments
From Dominic LeBlanc’s scrum after QP yesterday.
Question: Sir, as a Catholic, are you concerned about protesters dressing up in religious garb?
Dominic LeBlanc: I, usually that kind of costume would be reserved for Hallowe’en. That’s a little over a month from now. So maybe they’re just a bit early.