Archive for June 2014

Jesuit educated Neanderthal

June 16, 2014


The world is burning and these two leaders are laughing.


Australian PM Tony Abbott last week in Ottawa


Christopher Hume wrote this in the Star today


Unlike most world leaders — if that’s the right term — these two want to be frank; they will do nothing to stop global warming, they proudly declared, if it might hurt the economy. Not one dollar, certainly not one job, shall be lost in the fight to control climate change, the gravest issue we face today.

That pained smile Harper adopts when forced to explain his most indefensible actions to a room full of doubters was much in evidence Monday when the two PMs showered the benefit of their wisdom upon ungrateful media hordes. The difference between us and them, we were reminded, is that other nations are hypocrites and we’re not. We’re upfront about it — the environment is not our issue. Other leaders may say they care; but they don’t.


Well, actually, some do care. But not Canada or Australia. Why should we? Just because Oz is burning up and beset with drought. Just because two-thirds of Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they reach 70. Just because Canada was the only country of 27 studied by the Centre for Global Development whose record on the environment actually got worse last year. Just because the tarsands are synonymous with greed, environmental degradation and, in Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s word, “filth.”


A friend in Australia, a female religious wrote me about Abbott in these terms:


We have the most disgusting prime minister – Catholic, arch conservative and without a heart or empathy.  Tony Abbott – went to Jesuit school. Recently the whole of the senior class wrote him an open letter bewailing his betrayal of Jesuit ideals and principles.  Made no difference as I think he believes he is chosen by God and so infallible (sound familiar?)


One would ask how does a man Jesuit-educated escape with his moral compass awry? What happened on the way to the top job? Did money corrupt him? What well is he drinking from?


There is room for differences of opinion among Christians but guys like this and the Ayn Rand loving Paul Ryan the Republican VP candidate in the last  US election seem lost and disconnected from a sacramental orientation.


The beautiful thing about both Abbott and Ryan is that both men’s views were repudiated very forcefully by their Catholic contemporaries.

Ontario goes Liberal

June 13, 2014



So Ontario goes Liberal.

Not too surprising given the options.

Tim Hudak is Mike Harris redivivus, anti-union, a scary return to slash and burn, a trashing of the commons. Married to Deb Hutton and pals of Leslie Noble and Tom Long. Google them and be frightened.

Imagine running a campaign based on firing 100,000 human beings as those fired do not have families, children. He brought up far right policies from the US—not a good idea.

Andrea Horwath sadly tilting to the populist right, no big ideas, nibbling away on the fringe to titillate middle class voters. No great support for the poor, minimum wage. Very sad, a betrayal of traditional NDP values. She forced an election, now losing the voice she had in a minority government. NDP needs to get back to its roots. A resignation should be forthcoming.

People like Kathleen Wynne. They separated her from Dalton McGuinty. Very bright, compassionate and progressive.

For Christians check out where the pain is in the province and see how people voted.

Look at the capital Toronto where suffering shows itself—new immigrants struggling, a poor transportation system, a place where gays can live with dignity, where most of First Nations live off the reservation, where the poor are visible, where citizens have been suffering under an incompetent far right Tory mayor, where the world in all its diversity gathers…not a Conservative seat.

Why? Tim Hudak and Mike Harris are not Conservatives like Bill Davis was-rational, reasonable, committed to gradual not revolutionary change.



People are waking up to this fact. Maybe the Tories will.

George Bush to the Hague

June 12, 2014



The American occupation, however, has made this internal and external violence worse. The Americans destroyed the remnants of our culture, banished those among us who were struggling to create a space to think, to help us use our imaginations, to transform our society peacefully. Even under the dictatorship we had some semblance of a civic life. It was not perfect, but people were learning.
from The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq, by Hassan Blasim,
Richard Clarke, the USA’s top counterterrorism official under former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, accused Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney of committing war crimes in their 2003 invasion of Iraq . Clarke, resigned in 2003 after the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq.


George Bush whose “favourite philosopher is Jesus Christ.”
The most effective Catholic in the United States, Michael Moore, a layman who wore the prophetic mantle while so many bishops wore the stars and stripes, almost wept when the Iraq city of Mosul fell. He wrote on Facebook
So today, Mosul fell. Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq. The Iraqi government we “installed,” has now “lost” Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul and other large swaths of the country we invaded at the cost of thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and a couple trillion dollars. (What could your school district do with a trillion dollars?).
One more maddening day in this 11-year illegal, immoral, greedy and stupid war. Today in Mosul, that Iraqi Army YOU pay for, freaked out, threw down their guns, and literally RAN away. I have friends and acquaintances who lost sons in all three of those cities. I can only imagine what they’re feeling tonight. FOR WHAT? FOR WHAT! I am so sorry we couldn’t do anything to stop this when it started. A few million of us tried. Last week, Richard Clarke, Bush’s former head of counter-terrorism, said he now believes that his fellow members of the Bush administration committed “war crimes.”
I continue to await the perp walk.”

Moore suffered so much abuse in the Bush era for his powerful antiwar message,He should have been made a papal knight for his extraordinary courage


Imagine being flailed by those sunshine patriot Republican Catholics for daring to put the Sermon on the Mount into practice.


Pentecost fire

June 9, 2014



Pentecost, the feast of fire, is the omnipresence of the Holy in our lives, acknowledged or unacknowledged.

Catholicism embraces these wild images like “tongues of fire” which appeared in Sunday’s scripture reading. We remember “the burning bush”, “pillars of fire” part of our symbolic universe, striking metaphors for God. In the Pentecost story timorous followers of Jesus caught fire and the religion of Christianity spread far and wide. Maybe the ultimate proof of resurrection.

The second greatest feast in Catholicism—after Easter.

The great prayer: Come Holy Ghost fill the hearts of the faithful, enkindle in them the fire of thy love.

So at mass yesterday we had a beautiful kindling.

The prayers rolled out like lava streaming down the mountain. People expressed deep gratitude for the Holy among us. This outpouring should have been taped. Intense prayer for sick loved ones and friends, prayers for the dead and the highest prayer of all, gratitude These tumbled out with deep feeling.

Gratitude for being adopted by a father who tried his best mid alcoholic outbursts, for the gift of the refugee house and its impact on the neighbourhood,a literal rainbow edifice in our multi-hued city, gratitude for the life of Tom McKillop the founder of the unparalleled youth organization, Youth Corps, gratitude for youth gathering for a social forum, gratitude for the 50 years of L’Arche the organization founded by Jean Vanier to care for the mentally challenged, gratitude for Harvey Atin, Stanley Nieman and Louie Goldstein, local members of the YMHA who figured in my life on streets near here. After the war the Jewish community was still reeling from the anti-Pentecost, the fires of Auschwitz, Birkenau and Treblinka




This was a real eucharist (Greek, thanksgiving) beautifully led by a gifted priest.

The celebrant intoned the words: Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church.



Such faith on this June Pentecost.

Truth and Relevance

June 6, 2014



Gregory Baum at age 90 has launched yet another book, Truth and Relevance a great boon to English speaking Canada, hopelessly ignorant of the fascinating theological currents in Quebec after Vatican ll. Here he introduces and contextualizes the writings of several theologians.




One of these is a brilliant Dominican J.P.Audet.


Audet was but one of the theologians invited to address the priests for the Central Conference in the mid 60s.


Tom Cain, a married priest (like most of the priests from the 60s) recalled the work of Audet and the gutsiness of the young clergy in those years before “the set decorator” priests arrived.


In my book Never Neutral:A Teaching Life ( Tom Cain recalled the impact of this Francophone priest.

Audet, a brilliant Dominican, gave this talk on looking at the Church in an evolutionary way. Each step on the way proceeds from the one before. The next species looks like the one before. But what happens when there’s a break? That’s what happened to the Constantinian Church when it adopted the trappings of the Roman Empire. A whole new set of values invaded the Church and we lost the spirit of Jesus. We must get back there.


When I asked Bishop Pocock, who had attended the conference, if Audet was clear to him, “Very” was his answer. He was not pleased. Another time I told him that, in reading the Vatican documents, there was an emphasis on brotherhood, so I don’t think I can call you, “Your Grace.” He just looked at me. What a period that was. We were not afraid to challenge the bishops on these ideas.