Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

In reading sacred scriptures, it seems religious figures want to challenge our complacency. So why do so many churches settle for mere respectability?

The Church constantly challenges the complacency of all. For instance, oth Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have worked to increase our sensitivity to environmental causes.

In recent months, Pope Benedict has made several strong appeals for the protection of the environment, saying issues such as climate change had become gravely important for the entire human race.Under Benedict the Vatican has become progressively "green." They are increasing their use of alternative methods such as the use of solar panels for heating Vatican buildings.

In February of this year, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vaticans permanent observer to the United Nations spoke to every level of society at the 62nd General Assembly: "The challenge of climate change is at once individual, local, national and global. Accordingly, it urges a multilevel co-ordinated response, with mitigation and adaptation programmes simultaneously individual, local, national and global in their vision and scope. ... It demands a global alliance for the adoption of a co-ordinated international political strategy towards a healthy environment for all".

Just this week, Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti of the Vaticans Sacred Penitentiary, granted an interview to the lOsservatore Romano, in which he spoke of many modern evils: polluting the environment, genetic manipulation (stem cell research), economic injustices and drug trafficking. Last Saturday, in a front page article in The Ottawa Citizen, Archbishop Prendergast reminded public officials that he will engage in dialogue with Catholics who supports access to abortion. To those who "obstinately" refuse to change their positions, he will eventually suggest that they should refrain from publicly receiving communion until they "change their minds".

The Church never shies away from challenging us. Many would say that our teachings, especially on sexuality and marriage (to name but two areas) go against many popular convictions. I for one thank the Lord for the leadership we are given by our Church.