Peter Novecosky, OSB

Reflection on two killings

The killing of two military personnel last week has stunned and shocked Canadians. Attention now is focused on how to prevent such acts in the future.

Quebec Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was accompanying another soldier to a veterans office in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Oct. 20 when he was run down by Couture-Rouleau.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, was shot and killed at the National War Memorial in Ottawa two days later. His attacker, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, then stormed the Centre Block building on Parliament Hill, where he was killed in a firefight that included RCMP and Sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers.

An immediate reaction to these acts of senseless violence is to tighten Canadian laws and enforce stricter punishment. This is understandable in view of the loss of innocent lives.

On Oct. 27 Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney tabled a bill in the House of Commons to expand the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada’s spy agency. Bill C-44 is dubbed the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act.

The ultimate goal of the bill is to give authorities greater power to deal with some Canadians already on a watch list who are considered most dangerous, sources told CBC. “We will not overreact. But it is also time that we stop under-reacting to the great threats against us,” Blaney said during Question Period on Oct. 27.

Faith leaders, as reported in this issue of the PM, are encouraging a Christian response to these acts of violence. Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher praised Canada’s history of peace, co-operation and inter-cultural collaboration. “This outbreak of violence contradicts God’s intention for each one of us,” he said. He stressed the importance of continuing dialogue with Muslim communities. Many of them have condemned the acts of violence as aberrations of their faith.

Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice and a PM columnist, suggests Canadians need to bring Christian values forward. He said, “Let’s get tough on social injustice in Canada, too.”

Interestingly, Pope Francis made a similar comment Oct. 23 to a meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law in Rome. He called for abolition of the death penalty as well as life imprisonment; he also denounced what he called a “penal populism” that promises to solve society’s problems by punishing crime instead of pursuing social justice.

The pope said some politicians and members of the media promote “violence and revenge, public and private, not only against those responsible for crimes, but also against those under suspicion, justified or not.”

He denounced a growing tendency to think that the “most varied social problems can be resolved through public punishment . . . that by means of that punishment we can obtain benefits that would require the implementation of another type of social policy, economic policy and policy of social inclusion.”

While Pope Francis was not addressing the recent events in Canada, his advice should help us temper a too quick and retaliatory response that would create another injustice to other innocent people.

Benefit of chastity

The word “chastity” is rarely used in the media today or even in everyday conversation. The sexualization of human relationships, especially among teens, has made this word almost redundant in today’s western culture, if not an embarrassment.

However, teens interested in promoting healthy relationships are urging sexual “purity” and “chastity” to promote a lifestyle once taken for granted before marriage.

The point was made by speakers at a recent annual youth rally sponsored by the Diocese of Sioux City by the founders of the Chastity Project.

Jason Evert and his wife, Crystalina, told 500 people that research shows that people who get married as virgins have a divorce rate about 70 per cent lower than couples who don’t wait for marriage to have sex.

Jason said a lot of couples today think they need to live together before marriage to see if they are compatible. “If you are a guy and she’s a girl, you are not compatible,” he quipped.

This may be a tough sell in today’s culture. But research backs it up.

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