Saturday, December 19, 2009

H1N1: Going, going, gone!

According to the latest statistics published by the Public Health Agency of Canada, H1N1 is almost a thing of the past.  The number of reported outbreaks has crashed faster than the stock market last year.  During the latest week for which data are available, there were 28 reported outbreaks of which 27 were in Quebec and 1 in New Brunswick.  The 28 outbreaks represents a drop of about 95% compared to the peak reached about 5 weeks earlier.

The number of new confirmed cases of H1N1, as tested in provincial labs, in down by about 96% from the peak in early November.  Recently, the numbers have fallen by more than half in each week.  Check it out
  • Oct 24:   2,880
  • Oct 31:   4,802
  • Nov 7:     6,151
  • Nov 14:   6,007
  • Nov 21:   3,725
  • Nov 28:   1,764
  • Dec 5:       687
  • Dec12:      260
The cumulative number of deaths from H1N1 so far have been 397 as of December 17.  That's 397 people in 9

Find the true meaning of Christmas

This Christmas, why don't you try something different?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Really dumb idea from Diane Francis

In a recent article, Diane Francis thinks that the world's environmental problems can be solved by depopulation.  She wants to impose a one child policy like in China.  But from atop her ivory tower, she doesn't have a clue of the unspeakable suffering the Chinese have endured because of this policy: the forced abortions, the babies left to die in sewers and rice fields, the harvesting of organs from "spare" people.  I thought you had to be smarter than that to write in a national newspaper.

Here's a few points for Diane to ponder:
  • Diane, you have two children.  Which one are you going to send to the firing squad in order to save the spotted owl?  Will it be Eric or Julie?  Whoever you pick, make sure to tell them that it's nothing personal.
  • You have a sister.  So which one of you is going to commit suicide in order to save the planet?
  • Once we've gotten rid of all the humans, who's gonna be left behind to enjoy the pristine environment?
Read some sanity from Maurice Vellacott.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Credit where credit is due

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Bishop of London didn't want St. Joseph's to conduct embryonic stem cell research (see picture). To their credit, St. Joseph's implemented a policy of of "No Fetal Stem Cell Research". 

A couple of weeks ago, I contact St. Joseph's directly to inquire if this was still their policy. They confirmed that they do not conduct any embryonic stem cell research. Well done! 

Sometimes we don't understand teachings of the Church, but it is necessary to still conform to them while we are seeking understanding. God is extremely pleased when we humbly submit to legitimate authority that is in accordance with Church teaching.  However, God still wants us to seek answers so that we can understand the reasons for Church teachings.  God wants us to use our reason to complement our faith.  When we understand a teaching, we are more likely to adhere to it with fervor.  In the meantime, until we find that answer, we need to obey. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bad idea amid the H1N1 frenzy

I pray that I never see one of these in a Catholic church.

A company called Purity Solutions has developed a hands-free communion dispenser to cope with the H1N1 panic. While I can appreciate their good intentions and the practicality of this tool for Protestants who don't believe in the Real Presence, this would certainly be a no-no in a Catholic Mass.

The first picture on the right shows the device, which comes in gold, silver and "white" (whatever substance that is). Or maybe the "gold" and "silver" on their website only refers to the color of the device, not the metal it's made of.  Now gold and silver would certainly be suitable precious metals for a Catholic paten or ciborium, but if they are made of stainless steel and simply coated with gold or silver paint, that's a non-starter.  

Even if they were made of gold or silver, it gets more complicated.  As you can see by the second picture, the hosts are not directly placed inside the metal device. They are placed in plastic cartridges, much like Pringle potato chips, which are subsequently inserted into the aforementioned communion dispenser.  There they will remain remain throughout the consecration and during the distribution of communion. Somebody refresh my memory:  does plastic qualify as a valid precious material for the sacred vessels?  The company also sells hosts that are pre-soaked with wine, so that you can

Clever idea amid the H1N1 frenzy

This fellow in Italy developed a cool-looking hands-free holy water dispenser.

It works just like those hands-free soap dispensers you find in some restaurants.  You just pass your hands in front of the motion detector and the machine drops a bit of holy water in your hands.  He even designed an elegant cover with a cross and a small receptacle at the bottom to collect and wayward drops.

Sounds like a good idea to me.  I'd rather have one of these in my church than no holy water at all.  We all benefit from the grace of God that flows through this sacramental.

Well done, Luciano Marabese!! 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Troubling discussion with Fr. Prieur about embryonic stem cell research

John Pacheco at Socon Or Bust recently wrote a thought-provoking piece about Fr. Michael Prieur.  John and I researched that piece together, although John did virtually all the work in writing the article.  Collaboration among bloggers is a beautiful thing, as varied skill sets can be combined.  

If you haven't read John's article, I would highly recommend it. In my current post, I would like to focus on Fr. Prieur's controversial paper on embryonic stem cell research.  In the paper, Fr. Prieur and nine co-authors argue that it's morally licit for Catholics to conduct research on embryonic stem cells as long as the killing of the embryo and the extraction of its cells are done at another facility and that the Catholic researcher doesn't agree with the killing of the embryo.

Here are some important chronological markers to keep in mind before we go further:
  • In 2000, the Pontifical Academy for Life published a Declaration in which it clearly stated that it's morally unacceptable to conduct research on embryonic stem cells, even if the killing of the embryo and the extraction of its cells had been done at another facility and that the Catholic researcher didn't agree with the killing of the embryo.
  • In 2006, Fr. Prieur published his paper, which referenced the 2000 paper above, but his conclusions contradicted those of the Pontifical Academy for Life.  What Fr. Prieur was advocating in this paper was

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Did "Liberating Potential" undo the dissent of the Winnipeg Statement?

In September 2008, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issued a document called "Liberating Potential". The document was issued to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae. Liberating Potential is an excellent document that speaks about the greatness of the gift of sexuality and the fact that contraception and abortion are incompatible with God's plan for life. The document is very robust and doesn't contain any trace of dissent.  It is everything you would hope to see from the pen of our bishops.

I applaud the bishops for having issued this document. It was badly needed.

Given that "Liberating Potential" is in agreement with the Church's teaching on contraception, it is legitimate to ask the question as to whether this nullifies the Winnipeg Statement. In other words, did the assent in "Liberating Potential" undo the dissent of the Winnipeg Statement?  I don't think so. In my opinion, it was a good first step, but it doesn't go far enough. Let me explain why.

When the average Joe like you or me commits a sin, God requires several steps in order for us to be forgiven:

1.  We must admit our wrongdoing.
2.  We must be sorry for having offended God and others.
3.  We must change our behavior and make a firm resolve to not commit that sin again.

I think that the bishops need to be held to the same standard when it comes to the Winnipeg Statement. So let's see if Liberating Potential lives up to this standard.

1.  Admitting their wrongdoing

Have the bishops admitted the error of the Winnipeg Statement and all the erroneous pastoral actions that flowed from it over 40 years?  No.
Has there has been any admission of guilt and of the huge damage done over the last four decades?  No. 

Now someone might claim that the bishops may have privately repented of the Winnipeg Statement. That's certainly a possibility. However, bishops should know that a public sin requires a public repentance, as was