Columns

From the category archives: Columns

Glen Argan

Assisted suicide testifies to a society that has grown cold

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February 23, 2015

However did we reach this point in Canada where the Supreme Court would legalize assisted suicide with the overwhelming support of the people? The answer is not easy to discern, but it behooves us to try. By discovering how we got lost, we may begin to find a way home. The most obvious causes of our plight are the idolatry of individual freedom in isolation from the common good and the erosion of respect for human life. That the individual ought to control his or her life is now an axiom of Canadian society. That belief is ideological, but it is an ideology rooted in the prosperity the Western world has enjoyed for several decades.

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Political issues may be at play in the falling price of oil

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February 23, 2015

For Albertans, the huge drop in oil prices is having major repercussions. The provincial government says it faces a $7-billion annual deficit unless it cuts spending, and job layoffs are beginning to affect many people both inside and outside of the petroleum industry. The lower pump price of gasoline hardly begins to compensate for the negative effects of the collapse in prices. Yet, too often the falling prices have been seen solely in terms of market economics. For some strange reason, too much oil is being produced globally and that is driving the per-barrel price downward.

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Need for theologically-educated laity is growing

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February 23, 2015

The Church could use many more theologically educated laypeople. Say that in the wrong company, and you may draw resistance. Faith is more about the heart than the head, some will respond. What good is all that knowledge if you cannot communicate it to the average person, others will ask. Learning theology can cause you to lose your faith, still others will say. Such objections, even the last one, are true. Still, it is odd to hear faithful Catholics fret about others dedicating themselves to deepening their understanding of the Bible and the tradition of the Church.

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Apple's massive profits built on exploiting workers

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February 9, 2015

Apple executives are likely proud of their recent quarterly financial results which show revenues of nearly US$75 billion for the period of October through December and a profit of US$18 billion, the largest quarterly profit for any company anywhere at any time. But if the money is rolling in and the iPhones and other electronic gadgets are rolling out, a huge human price is being paid. A BBC undercover investigation recently broadcast on CBC-TV's The Passionate Eye showed widespread violations of Apple's code of conduct for the treatment of workers by companies that build its iPhone 6 and supply raw material for the company.

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Consumer debt raises moral concerns

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February 9, 2015

The causes of the world's current economic woes are manifold and it would be folly to oversimplify them. A graver mistake, however, would be for the public to ignore those causes as technical matters to be taken care of by experts without any moral guidance. One factor in the economic slowdown is that production capacity in advanced economies exceeds demand for products by about 2.5 per cent. Over-capacity depresses the need for workers, increasing unemployment and reducing pressure to increase wages. Thus over-capacity suppresses consumer demand and creates hardship for millions of families.

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Church teaching keeps some Catholics off jury

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February 9, 2015

Out of Boston comes the news that potential jurors in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged with murder in the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, are being asked whether they are Catholic and if they agree with Church teaching on the death penalty. If the answer to both questions is "yes," they are excluded from serving on the jury, one requirement for such service being that a juror must be willing to impose the death penalty or a life sentence with no possibility of release. Catholic reaction to this news, according to an article in USA Today, has been mixed.

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

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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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