WCR This Week

Jay's Articles

Electrician's family disappeared; he witnessed murders

Bassam Zaarwoor

January 12, 2015
BARB FRAZE
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

ZARQA, JORDAN – Before the bombing started in Syria, Bassam Zaarwoor owned an electric shop in Homs. "I was a wealthy man," he said. "I had my own car, my own shop." But as the war worsened, some of his friends were killed in front of him, and "some of my family members, they just disappeared."

Church leaders defend Amazon region, people

January 12, 2015
BARB FRAZE
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Latin American Church leaders have apologized for historical complicity with colonial atrocities in the Amazon and called for a Church with an "Amazonian face" in a pastoral letter. "The exploitation of the Amazon through mining, the expansion of farming and ranching, road construction, hydroelectric dams and timber companies demand that the Church take a more prophetic stance," they wrote.

Ont. doctors confront need for end-of-life decisions

January 12, 2015
MICHAEL SWAN
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

Doctors may be men and women of action, but before a patient dies they should be open and available for lots of talk, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is advising its members. A new draft policy on providing care at the end of life clearly warns doctors that both euthanasia and assisted suicide are against the law.

Kasper honoured by WCR as Church 'mustard seed'

Cardinal Walter Kasper

December 29, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

For more than 30 years, Cardinal Walter Kasper has been an outspoken proponent of a more welcoming attitude to those divorced and remarried Catholics not permitted to receive the Eucharist. More recently, his theology of mercy, outlined in his popular book Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life, has had a major influence on Pope Francis and is provoking new directions in the Catholic Church. One of the world's leading theologians, Kasper served from 1999 to 2011 as secretary and then president of the Vatican's Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Bishops seek protection from bullying for all students

December 29, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON – The Alberta government's Bill 10, which would have allowed "gay-straight alliances" (GSAs) in the province's schools, made a serious attempt to reconcile the right of student safety with parental and school rights in the education and formation of children, said Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith. In a letter circulated in parishes in the archdiocese on the Dec. 13-14 weekend after the bill had been withdrawn from the legislature, Smith said public debate on the issue has continued and "the commentary has not always been kind to the leadership of our Catholic schools." Catholic schools, he said, insist that the approach to protecting children "be a fully inclusive one," one that takes into account the many reasons why children may be subjected to bullying.

Parishes called to become centres for evangelization

December 29, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Canadian parishes are in need of "profound conversion" so that they can fulfill their call to evangelization, says a statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Parishes are called to be missionary – not necessarily to foreign countries – but primarily to those around them," says the statement, The Missionary Dynamic of the Parish Today. The 11-page exhortation notes that some parishes are already experimenting with "new ways of Christian living," and it urges them to step out into their neighbourhoods to propose the faith and invite those who do not practise that faith to encounter Christ "through a vibrant parish community."

Smith learning from aboriginal people

December 29, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Catholics can learn important lessons from how God is moving in and among First Nations, Metis and Inuit people, says Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith. Smith said aboriginal people have taught him the importance of listening deeply, respect for elders and how a person's sense of identity is linked to their place in the family and the wider community. The archbishop made his comments during his homily at the Dec. 12 Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica marking the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples.

Sask. farmboy advocated for Brazilian street kids

Book cover

December 29, 2014
LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Connie Gerwing stood at the front during her book launch Dec. 12 at the Dickensfield Long Term Care Centre. Holding her just-published book about her cousin Al, a long-time advocate for street children in Brazil, she said, "Alphonse wrote almost all of this. I just filled in the spaces." By filling in the spaces, she meant talking to friends and family, sifting through Al Gerwing's letters, newspaper columns, family history and weaving the information around Al's memories.

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.