For most of September and into early October my wife Martha and I walked the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. I had planned to post occasionally to my Pulpit and Politics blog but …Read More
Archive for ‘Catholicism’
A friend and I taught a night course at the Ottawa School of Theology and Spirituality in 2012 about Christian pacifism. Had you asked me when I began if I was a …Read More
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its most recent report. The blue ribbon group of scientists concluded that is 95 percent certain that global warming is occurring, that it is caused mainly …Read More
Pope Francis has completed his first days in office. Much has been made of his frugal lifestyle, his apparent simplicity and his sense of humour. Those are admirable traits and it is also refreshing to hear a religious leader talking about solidarity with the poor rather than the prosperity gospel preached by so many. On the other hand, virtually every knowledgeable commentator cautions that we should not expect changes to the hierarchy’s conservative doctrinal positions on matters such as birth control, the ordination of women or of married men. Francis may prove to be a humble man and a pastoral leader, but the substance of the message likely will not change as much as the manner of its delivery. The media has gone overboard in covering the selection and installation of a new pope. It is great television – the backdrops of St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican, the suspense, the white smoke, the pope’s first appearance on the balcony. But now at least some journalists and commentators are getting down to work, as they should, to tell us more about the man who has been elevated to this position of prominence and power.Read More
Pope Benedict XVI has left the scene and I want briefly to look at his performance as a communicator. A past anecdote may be instructive here. I worked in communications with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) for four years in the early 1990s. Those were not easy days for the church. Issues regarding the sexual abuse of children by clerics and the church’s role in residential schools were becoming hot topics and causing great angst. I recall asking one of the bishops if we should do some public opinion polling. He was amused and replied, “Bishops don’t ask for advice, they provide it.”
When Benedict succeeded Pope John Paul II in 2005, much was made of their different personalities. John Paul had been widely hailed as a great communicator while Benedict was considered to be more cerebral and introverted. John Paul was indeed a charismatic man but his communication was mostly all one way. He believed, as popes and bishops have over the centuries, that they are the repository of God’s wisdom and it is their duty to share it with the rest of us.
In that fundamental way, there was virtually no difference between the two popes. Now, on the threshold of a new papacy, we are being told that we should not expect the message to change, no matter who is elevated. Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto likes to say that Moses did not descend from the mountain with Ten Suggestions in hand. The church’s message apparently is fixed. What is at stake in communicating that message is not a change in substance but rather in the style of delivery.Read More
I worked for years in newsrooms and each December we would produce what we called Year Enders, which summarized the most significant stories that we had covered in the past 12 months. In that tradition, I have reviewed Pulpit and Politics for the year past and this is a brief summary of what I have found.Read More
The Catholic aid agency Development and Peace (D and P) is in turmoil after the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) pressured the organization in September to scuttle an educational post card campaign just as the material was about to be distributed. The postcard, which was to be sent to the Prime Minister, asked that he have a parliamentary committee undertake a national consultation on the future of Canadian development assistance. This is hardly the stuff of revolt but the CCCB said that the campaign was too political and would cause division in the church and among bishops. So the CCCB president Archbishop Richard Smith asked that the project be withdrawn and D and P’s national council decided to follow the advice.
It would appear that the CCCB’s decision that the fall campaign should be shut down may have been made without the knowledge of bishops who sit on the CCCB’s standing committee on Development and Peace. The Catholic Register newspaper quoted two of those bishops saying that they had not been contacted directly about the ultimatum to Development and Peace.
That decision has resulted in D and P staff resignations, criticism of the organization’s management team and elected National Council, and accusations from D and P supporters who accuse the CCCB of becoming too cozy with the Conservative government.Read More