The Year 1985: The Uneasy 80s

Year 1985 in the Uneasy Eighties. President Reagan has a new opposite number in Moscow: Mikhail Gorbachev, who soon calls for an end to the Cold War, including its runaway arms race. Meanwhile famine, disease, debt, oppression and civil strife escalate in most Third World countries. Canada’s Prime Minister Brian Mulroney leads a new Progressive Conservative government. Pope John Paul II continues papal visits to every continent.

Fr. Jack Lynch is editor of Scarboro Missions, now a full-colour publication. Subscribers total 43,000 and pay $5 annually.

Various global themes were examined in most 1985 issues. The United Nations’ International Youth Year was the first cover story. The state of the Catholic Church in Cuba was examined in articles reprinted from Missions Etrangeres, published by the Quebec Foreign Mission Society. Several Latin American bishops who witnessed to “the faith that does justice” were profiled, and tribute was paid to Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, assassinated five years before. The justice themes Pope John Paul stressed during his 1984 Canadian visit were recalled.

The editor shared some reflections on social justice when he called for a “comprehensive” pro-life ethic: “To promote life we must also promote quality of life. We can’t, for example, argue with any consistency for the rights of the unborn without an equally diligent commitment to the unwed mother. Nor can we feed the hungry through piecemeal efforts – a food basket at Christmas simply will not do. The quality of life also entails that we work to see that our government’s policies, church structures and institutions address the needs of the powerless – the unemployed, elderly, handicapped, homeless and hungry.”

Some of that year’s regular features: The Global Parish reproduced reports and talks from many quarters. Focus on Facts provided data on missions around the world. The Word offered various contributors’ insights on the Scriptures. Fr. David Warren examined the Missionary Vocation issue by issue. The ever-popular I Remember column continued as before. Scarboro members who shared memories included Frs. Charles Gervais, Frank Moylan, Rogers Pelow, John O’Connor, John Gault and Robert Cranley. As well, Scarboro personnel, including lay men and women missioners, shared Personal Reflections.

“My mission has me returning to the fundamentals,” Louise Malnachuk wrote in one such Reflections column. She described her experiences in Taiwan and Hong Kong where Christians are a tiny minority. During two years in Chiapas, Mexico, Ron MacDonnell discovered that “the Amerindian culture is something deep and special within the Latin American context… We can learn from their profound spirituality, about the ways God is alive in another culture.” And Fr. John Carten, serving in Japan, shared the tension he experienced “between a desire to share with others my own belief in a God who is creator of all, and the need to recognize and learn from the presence of the Spirit already present among Buddhists and Shintoists.” This mission experience “moves me to look at Canada differently, recognizing our gifts but also our blindness.”

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