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From the category archives: Opinions

Opinion

True satire defends what is sacred, rather than belittling it

January 26, 2015

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The terrorist attacks that killed 12 people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 have rightly been described as acts of "indescribable barbarity." They were a direct assault on the sanctity of human life and the peaceful order of democratic society. However, before we make the French cartoonists into innocent martyrs to the cause of free speech, we ought to reflect on the nature of satire. The terrorist attack has created a rush of people who defend the right of cartoonists to lampoon people's most basic beliefs and to treat nothing, absolutely nothing, as sacred.

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Our differences are a sign of God's grace

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

January 26, 2015

It's common for us to see God's grace and blessing in what unites us. We naturally sense the presence of grace when, at our core, we feel a strong moral bond with certain other persons, churches and faiths. That, biblically, is what defines family. But what if what separates us, what if what makes other persons, churches and faiths seem foreign and strange is also a grace, a difference intended by God? Can we think of our differences, as we think of our unity, as a gift from God? Most religions, including Christianity, would answer affirmatively.

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God invites us to listen to his voice

Brett Fawcett

January 26, 2015
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 1, 2015

Every morning, the first words on the lips of countless priests, religious and laity are the opening lines of today's psalm: "Come, let us sing to the Lord, and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us." This "invitatory" psalm, so called because it invites us to prayer, then encourages us to "listen to his voice." It is wise to begin every day with this reminder. We often forget to stop what we are doing and allow ourselves any silence – or, if we do, it is often only so that we can refresh and strengthen ourselves (many modern techniques marketed as "meditation" focus on this), rather than opening ourselves up to listen to God's voice speaking to us from the depths of our sanctified soul.

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Pope Francis' new cardinals pay a high cost for being disciples

January 26, 2015

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Most of the news coverage of the new appointments to the College of Cardinals has focused on the geographic shift that can be seen in the appointments. This is fair enough as the appointment of cardinals from such Catholic hinterlands as Thailand, Myanmar and Tonga is striking. Just as striking is the fact that the archbishops of traditional centres of Catholicism, such as Turin and Venice, have been overlooked. If Pope Francis aims to have the College of Cardinals better represent the relative Catholic populations of the different regions of the globe, that will be a good thing. To this point, however, the shift in "representation" from Europe and North America to the so-called peripheries has been minimal.

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Muslims must halt religious distortions that spawn terror

Bishop Fred Henry

January 26, 2015

'We are not all Charlie." The Jan. 7 terrorist attack by Islamic militants on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris brought, and rightly so, widespread condemnation. The massacre of 12 civilians, including two policemen, one of whom was Muslim, constituted a heinous crime and there is a need to express our solidarity with the French people and the affected families. On Jan. 10, the international media reported that up to 2,000 civilians in and around the town of Baga, Nigeria, were slaughtered by the Islamist group Boko Haram.

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Innocent suffering helps save the world

Maria Kozakiewicz

January 26, 2015
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 8, 2015

I have just talked to my friend who works with severely handicapped children. One of them, a girl aged 13, died suddenly, after a life of cruel limitations and suffering. As my granddaughter is the same age, my heart trembled at the thought of what the girl's family must be going through. Suddenly this unknown child became very dear to me. The early teens is the most beautiful time of a child's growth, comparable with the budding of roses or gentle unfolding of leaves on trees in April. I thought about Job, the symbol of suffering, and also about another small girl, whose dresses, toys and other simple mementos I saw in a church in Rome.

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When will the west care about African people?

January 26, 2015

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As brutal as the terror attack was on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, it hardly compares in savagery with the Jan. 3 attack on several villages in northeastern Nigeria by the terrorist Boko Haram, which left as many as 2,000 people murdered. There are many "reasons" why the world's attention was riveted on Paris and not Baga, Nigeria. First, there are few journalists in the remote Baga region, Boko Haram having made it clear that it will shoot journalists first and ask questions, well, never. Second, the Nigerian conflict is an ongoing war while the Paris attack was (somewhat) out of the blue. Third, the Nigerian government is so ineffective that it barely responded to the massacre and, at this writing, the country's president, Goodluck Jonathan, still has not commented publicly on the killings.

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Holy voices best heard amidst the silence

Lasha Morningstar

January 26, 2015

Listen. I find it hard to do. Every time I kneel to pray, sit to pray, lie in bed to pray, adore to pray – even walk the dog and pray – I almost always, at some point during the prayer, whisper to God or the Holy Mother, "I don't think I am listening right." If no one is around, I even say out loud "Are you there God?" To tell you the truth, if I heard a booming voice reply "I certainly am," I'd probably run lickety-split to the doctor's office and say "I think I've got a problem." No, I think my problem, the reason I cannot know if God, the Holy Mother or whomever I am praying to is there, hearing my entreaties, my heartfelt gratitude, is that usually I do not know how to listen.

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Unfinished encyclical already coming under attack

Douglas Roche

January 26, 2015

A sure sign that Pope Francis' forthcoming encyclical on climate change will capture world attention is that it is being attacked even before publication. The pope's new encyclical will be published in time to influence the UN's major meetings next fall on reducing global warming and launching a new round of sustainable development goals. The pope also intends to convene a meeting of leaders of the major religions to call for political action to save the planet from the crippling effects of carbon emissions. And also the pope himself will make a major address at the UN General Assembly in September.

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At Cana in Galilee, Mary is mother of the new creation

Visits with Mary Logo – Small

January 26, 2015

In setting the scene for the beautiful story of the wedding feast at Cana (John 2.1-11), the evangelist writes first that the mother of Jesus was at the wedding, only then adding that Jesus and his disciples were also present. This would lead one to believe that the story is to be about the mother of Jesus – in John's Gospel, she is never called Mary – with Jesus playing a secondary role. In one sense, this is true. It is the mother of Jesus who first takes note of the fact that the wine has run out, and it is she who informs her son of this fact. In doing so, she receives what can only be interpreted as a stiff rebuke.

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