Glen Argan

Glen Argan

Glen Argan, former editor of Western Catholic Reporter, writes from Edmonton. See www.glenargan.com.

Indian residential schools were established by Canada’s federal government, but Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, bought into the plan with enthusiasm.

“Was this story about love, money, conquest or disaster?” That was the question Gordon Sinclair asked week after week on CBC-TV’s long-running Front Page Challenge. If a news story did not have at least one of those four elements, Sinclair surmised, it might be a story, but it wasn’t news.

Forty years ago, I moved to Alberta from Saskatchewan imbued with the stereotype that my new province was full of cowboys, fundamentalists and wealthy oil barons who cared nothing about the environment. It didn’t take me long to realize that while there was truth in the stereotype, Alberta had numerous people who fell outside this cartoonish caricature.

Pope Francis has long held in esteem the late Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen van Thuan, the archbishop of Saigon who spent 13 years in a communist prison camp, including nine years in solitary confinement.

Nicodemus is the organization man who realizes his organization does not have the answers. So, he looks further afield. You are not supposed to do that, but he does it anyway. His heart hungers for more than arid policies, and what do you know, but he finds that something more.

Perhaps the notion of the common good will soon have its day in the sun.

Last May, my wife, daughters and I stayed at a resort on a First Nations reserve on Vancouver Island to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday. The last night we were there, my mother-in-law moved into town, and my wife and I slept in the yurt where she had stayed.

The disciplines of Lent — prayer, fasting and almsgiving — are an exercise in conscience formation. Lent is much more than conscience formation, but it is that.
Canadian Catholics should perhaps be upset with governments that trample on our basic rights. Whether our silence reveals resilience or indifference may be determined by the test of time.

Time magazine’s choice of “the silence breakers” as its 2017 Person of the Year acknowledges the importance of a movement that is changing our culture for the better.

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