Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza is the pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary parish on Wolfe Island, and chaplain at Newman House at Kingston, Ont.’s Queen’s University.

Every year during Holy Week, when the Church’s liturgy gives us an enormous amount of Scripture — two readings of the passion, good chunks of John’s Gospel for Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, and the history of creation and salvation at the Easter Vigil — there is usually one verse or two that strikes me anew, as if I had never heard it before, or least, never in quite that way.

The drama of Holy Week is a story about a king. The crowd that welcomes Jesus on Sunday, waving their palm branches, acclaims Him: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,
the king of Israel!”

Twenty years ago, on the Feast of the Annunciation 1995, St. John Paul II published one of his signature encyclicals, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). It’s important to return to the richness of that teaching, as many who oppose the Church’s pro-life witness having been making mischief with Pope Francis’ remark that Catholics should not be obsessed with abortion.

I had the pleasure this past week of hosting George Weigel, one of the Church’s leading public intellectuals, in Toronto and Kingston. I had long wanted to host Weigel, a mentor and friend and colleague for more than 20 years, and thought that 2015, the 10th anniversary of the death of St. John Paul II, would be the perfect year to do it.

I have been staunchly against the death penalty since I started visiting the now-defunct Kingston Penitentiary as an undergraduate, meeting weekly with a group of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment.

As I wrote last week from Jerusalem, just months after the massacre at a synagogue in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood, I felt a duty to make a visit, to pray for the dead and to offer, in a small way, solidarity with those who suffered the desecration of their house of worship.

JERUSALEM - Where is it safe for Jews to live?

One of the dynamics of last year’s Synod on the Family was the contrast between the German-speaking bishops, who have been preoccupied with finding a way for those in invalid marriages to receive Holy Communion since Joseph Ratzinger and Walter Kasper were young theologians, and the African bishops. The latter, not to put too fine a point on it, objected that it was not possible for the Church to teach that simultaneous polygamy was immoral for poor black Catholics in Africa while serial polygamy was okay for rich, white Catholics in Europe.

“Benedicite glacies et nives Domino; laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula!”

During the ice storm of 1998, a friend of my uncle took a photograph of an outdoor crucifix in Montreal, thinly covered in ice and surrounded by trees encased as if in shimmering glass.

Next month, on March 24, the Church in San Salvador will mark the 35th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Soon the whole Church will celebrate the beatification of Archbishop Romero, for on Feb. 3 Pope Francis approved the decree for his martyrdom. (Martyrs do not require a miracle for beatification, but do require one miracle after beatification for canonization.)