Independent schools should be encouraged, funded in Ontario

A survey shows that independent school graduates are much more likely to work for the common good. How can that be bad?

Independent schools should be encouraged, funded in OntarioBy Doug Sikkema and Dr. Beth Green Cardus More than six per cent of children in Ontario are enrolled in independent (non-public) schools. In the 1960s, such independent school enrolments made up a mere 1.8 per cent of the student population. Six per cent might not seem like much, but the long-term trend in Ontario…

The same truths are part of every religious and philosophical tradition

Each of us needs to be true to our mission if we’re to be effective agents of universal change

The same truths are part of every religious and philosophical traditionReligion can provide guiding principles for a meaningful life, yet few concepts have been more divisive in human history. Seeing the tensions of the first half of the 20th century, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a deeply spiritual man, came to the following conclusion: “One should accept the faith into which one was born, but seek always…

A spiritual leadership grounded in reality

When your last name is Arab and you’re not a Muslim or terrorist, you defy a few Islamophobic stereotypes yourself. I’m Arab in name, but my father’s religion is Maronite Catholic – an early branch of the Roman Catholic Church. I was brought up Roman Catholic and indoctrinated in papal infallibility. So the idea of…

Compassion and tenderness can overcome evil

It’s far too easy to look at others as the problem with the world. It’s much harder to see our own commonality as humans

Compassion and tenderness can overcome evilWhen we read the newspaper or watch our news feeds, we learn about people doing horrendous things to each other. If we allowed ourselves, we could become inundated with evidence of our inherent inhumanity. It then becomes very easy to conclude that evil people walk among us and that something drastic needs to be done…

Waiting for enlightenment in fundamentalist Islamic law

Religious authorities still hold on to their power, insisting that completely outdated concepts must stay

Waiting for enlightenment in fundamentalist Islamic lawShariah law is based on the Qur’an and the Hadith, the collections of sayings attributed to Mohammed. Islamic fundamentalists believe that Shariah courts should decide virtually all disputes, based on that law. Such courts are a fixture in Islamic countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some fundamentalists even want to see them established in North…

How to confront sex abuse in the Catholic church

If we’re to rid the world of this horrendous theft of innocence, we need to approach it the same way we approached the Holocaust

How to confront sex abuse in the Catholic churchIn the song Sympathy for the Devil, the Rolling Stones repeat several times, “Pleased to meet you. Hope you guessed my name. But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.” In essence, the Stones are talking about the nature of evil and our relation to it. We see it but we often don’t…

Call for papal apology an affront to religious liberty

MPs telling bishops what to do is a monstrous misunderstanding of the relationship between political power and civil society

Call for papal apology an affront to religious libertyParliament will set back both truth and reconciliation if it passes a motion proposed by Charlie Angus, the NDP MP from Timmins-James Bay. He wants Canada’s Catholic bishops to invite Pope Francis to visit Canada to apologize for the role of the Catholic Church in residential schools. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) included a…

The overwhelming imagery of the Crucifixion

The child that was me experienced the lead-up to Easter as foreboding rather than inspiring

The overwhelming imagery of the CrucifixionI was never big on Easter. As a Catholic schoolboy in 1950s Ireland, Easter played second fiddle to Christmas. In fact, the competition wasn’t even close. Christmas had several advantages. For one thing, school holidays were longer. Whereas Easter only delivered a week and a half, Christmas tacked on a further full week. The tone,…

The pope, the president and the resurrection of Poland

Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan shared a vision of an independent Poland. Together, they helped the country break free from the Soviet bloc

The pope, the president and the resurrection of PolandIn a recent column, I wrote about Poland’s 20th century tragedy, culminating in the “betrayal” to Josef Stalin at the February 1945 Yalta Conference. So it’s appropriate to finish the story by writing about Poland’s resurrection. While the Poles were the main players in this resurrection, they did have external help. Changing circumstances in the Soviet…

Sorry is more than just a word: show that you mean it

Contrition that’s merely on the lips changes nothing in the heart or, for that matter, around the waistline, within the workplace, inside troubled relationships

Sorry is more than just a word: show that you mean itIt’s traditional to head into a new year full of resolve fuelled by last year’s regret. Our commitment to renewed discipline, diets and dream-achieving over the coming 12 months is all too often driven by short-term overindulgence during Christmas festivities. More importantly, there’s a lingering sense of another year lost by not doing what we…

Silent Night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright

For 199 years, this beloved Christmas carol has resonated. More than 26,000 versions have been recorded and it enticed soldiers to lay down their arms

Silent Night, holy night, all is calm, all is brightSilent Night, which is probably the most famous Christmas carol of all, will be 199 years old this Christmas Eve. It was first performed at the parish church in the Austrian village of Oberndorf during midnight mass on Dec. 24, 1818. And, fittingly, the performers included the two men who’d written it. The words had…

The lasting – and troubling – legacy of Martin Luther

It’s now 500 years since Luther threw down the gauntlet, taking on the power of the papacy in an era predating the separation of church and state

The lasting – and troubling – legacy of Martin LutherWhen I was a child in 1950s Catholic Ireland, Martin Luther had a nasty reputation. If not viewed as the devil incarnate, he was certainly seen as a deeply dodgy fellow. And it wasn’t uncommon to hear the tale of his alleged “bad death” put forward as proof of his iniquity. The whole story, of…

In search of the Promised Land

Migration has always been part of the human experience, as people escape natural disasters, drought, famine and/or oppression

In search of the Promised LandEven inflammatory statements may contain a kernel of truth. Such is the case with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s remarks regarding the opposition of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind DACA. The USCCB unequivocally denounced the decision. In their statement, the bishops called it “reprehensible”…

‘Be not afraid.’ Why the words of John Paul II still resonate

No force on earth is more powerful than a movement that embraces the truths of personal empowerment, forgiveness, courage, acceptance and love

‘Be not afraid.’ Why the words of John Paul II still resonateThere are many dark pages in the history of the 20th century, notably the tens of millions of deaths cased by Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Caught between the regimes of these cruel dictators was the Poland where Karol Wojtyla came of age. The leaders of Nazism and Soviet communism tried to convince people that they…

The power of Fatima and Catholic mysticism

One hundred years after three Portuguese children reported seeing an apparition while they tended a flock of sheep, the story of Our Lady of Fatima endures

The power of Fatima and Catholic mysticismOne afternoon when I was eight, we were marched off to see The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima. Several hundred schoolboys walking two abreast surely interfered the flow of local pedestrian traffic but we weren’t bothered. Getting the afternoon off school was the main thing, even if the movie we were going to see…