WCR This Week

Jay's Articles

Pope credits diplomacy for warming U.S. – Cuba relations

December 29, 2014
CAROL GLATZ
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis expressed his joy over the historic turning point in U.S.-Cuba relations as the two countries agreed to restore diplomatic ties after half a century. "Today we are happy because we have seen how two peoples who were distanced for so many years took a step toward each other yesterday," he told a group of new ambassadors. The pope credited the breakthrough to the consistent, constant efforts of the nations' ambassadors and the "noble" task of diplomacy. The pope's comments came Dec. 18 in a speech to 13 new ambassadors to the Vatican who were presenting their letters of credential to the pope.

Pact formalizes chaplains' access in Alta. health care institutions

Vickie Kaminski, Archbishop Richard Smith

December 29, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Catholic chaplains have been formally recognized as an integral part of the Alberta health care system. That recognition was solidified when the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and Alberta Health Services (AHS) signed an access agreement that clarifies the roles and responsibilities of appointed Catholic clergy in Alberta Health Services facilities across the province. The first two agreements were signed Dec. 11 by Vickie Kaminski, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith and Ukrainian Bishop David Motiuk.

Christmas Mass honours the dead

December 29, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

As they have done every month since the death of their beloved mother Veneranda Sirica last June, Gianna Trulli and her family were at the Holy Cross Mausoleum for Mass Dec. 20. This Mass, though, was a bit different. It was a Christmas Mass for the dead presided by Archbishop Richard Smith. The Mass, which the archbishop has celebrated for the last three years, is intended for people like the Trullis who have lost loved ones recently.

Bishops' letters seek to thwart misconception

Fr. Stefano Penna

December 29, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Alberta's bishops want to overcome "a narrow and distorted" presentation of the Church's response to bullying in schools by speaking directly to their parishioners, says Father Stefano Penna. Critiques of Catholic schools' resistance to a government bill that would have mandated so-called gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in Alberta high schools have presented "a caricature of Catholic schools as being narrow and exclusive," said Penna. Because of that, some Alberta bishops have issued pastoral letters on the issue, he said in an interview. Penna, a professor at Newman Theological College, is serving as the Alberta bishops' spokesperson on the issue.

Edmonton parish restores 60-year-old statue of Jesus

December 29, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

After a four-month hiatus, the statue of Jesus is back on the cross outside St. Agnes Church, 10826-62 Ave. It was returned Dec. 10 and it looks sparklingly clean and shiny. It took two cranes to lift the 450-kilogram cast iron statue up and screw it back in place. Project manager Bob Forrow, a member of the twinned pastoral council of St. Agnes and St. Anthony parishes, was happy to see the project come to an end. "It's a unique job but there was always a problem."

L'Arche pageant is an Advent favourite

John Sparks, Sally Wharry and Gabriel Mitchell

December 29, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

There were kings and angels and shepherds. Mary arrived on a donkey this year and there were spotlights on the different characters. Jeffery Fidelak was a king and arrived at the manger with a huge cardboard camel and a wide smile. As always, baby Jesus was a real baby – this time three-month-old Gabriel Mitchell. Mary and Joseph beamed with joy holding the baby, caressing him tenderly. This Christmas pageant has been going on for more than two decades but is still a favourite event of many during Advent. This year, more than 300 people attended the play at St. Thomas d'Aquin Church and most presented gifts of food for the Edmonton Food Bank.

Christian voices are tuned out

Faith Goldy

December 29, 2014
RUANE REMY
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

Religious issues are central to our times, especially in a world that is increasingly "faithphobic," says Catholic journalist Faith Goldy. Goldy, a Sun TV news reporter, delivered the keynote address to the Catholic Civil Rights League's annual general meeting in Toronto on Dec. 9. She focused on three main issues: Ontario's sex education curriculum for school children, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's pro-choice party mandate on abortion and the possibility of legal euthanasia in Canada. In 2015, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Education Minister Liz Sandals plan to re-introduce changes in Ontario's sex education curriculum for elementary and high school students.

God is here: We need not rely on ourselves

Archbishop Richard Smith

December 29, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am very pleased to greet you during this most holy season of Christmas, when Christians the world over celebrate the birth from Mary of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is an astounding, breathtaking mystery – God has become a human being, one of us. We call this the Incarnation, the taking on of human flesh by God. In Jesus, God comes to us to save us from our sins and restore us to life with himself. As wondrous as this is, and much has been written and preached about it over the centuries, I like to sum up this mystery of the Incarnation in three simple words: God is here. No longer should we consider ourselves alone, left to our own devices, struggling without help to bear our burdens, which are sometimes crushing in their weight.

Canada's long-shattered innocence can be restored

Archbishop Paul-André Durocher

December 29, 2014

As I write this Christmas message, barely a week has gone by since Remembrance Day, a day marked by the still fresh memory of the recent assassinations of two members of the Canadian Armed Forces. This year, Christmas in Canada will take on a different shading, muted and sombre, because of these events which have saddened our hearts and our spirits. Many voices proclaimed that Canada "lost its innocence" in October 2014. I understand and sympathize with that feeling. However, we should remember that our country's history has been scarred by many episodes of sporadic violence: the kidnapping of Chief Donnacona by Jacques Cartier, the assassination of member of Parliament Thomas D'Arcy McGee, the violent death of demonstrators during the Winnipeg General Strike, the assault on the Quebec National Assembly, the Montreal massacre at the École Polytechnique.

Ont. pro-life doctors may be forced from family medicine

December 29, 2014
MICHAEL SWAN
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

TORONTO – Catholic doctors who won't perform abortions or provide abortion referrals should leave family medicine, says an official of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. "It may well be that you would have to think about whether you can practise family medicine as it is defined in Canada and in most of the Western countries," said Dr. Marc Gabel, chair of the college's policy working group. The Ontario doctor's organization released a draft policy Dec. 11 that would require all doctors to provide referrals for abortions, morning-after pills and contraception. The revised policy is in response to evolving obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code, Gabel said.