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PONTIFEX MINIMUS: PRESIDENTIAL REFLECTIONS ON THE CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL TRADITION

BY DR. MICHAEL W. HIGGINS, PRESIDENT AND VICE-CHANCELLOR OF CORPUS CHRISTI-ST. MARK'S AT UBC

We live in a cynical time.  Deeply distrustful of authority—all authority—and because we have in great measure been disappointed, disillusioned, and disabused by these various bodies, we have come to a point in time when we accept little at face value.  This is especially true when it comes to the media.

We are right to be skeptical.  To wonder about the spin, critique the operating if hidden biases, and dismiss the calculated appeal to our heart.  It is all so manipulative.  But there are exceptions and one such exception I saw last week on CBC and CTV—an interview with Rémy Bélanger de Beaufort, a professional cellist who had been viciously maimed by a man wielding a sword in Old Quebec City on Halloween.

Disfigured, one of his hands mangled, several broken bones, severed muscles and significant blood loss, he survived his ordeal.  On TV he struggled to lift his cello—enwrapped by bandages, splints, and other medical instruments—and managed to even hold his bow, in spite of having one of his fingers miraculously re-attached.  But it wasn’t these impressive feats of adaptation that most struck me:  it was his spiritual demeanour, his deeply humanist sensibility that touched me.

He publicly forgave his attacker and prayed that a process of “transformative justice” would be accorded his assailant so that he could get the kind of mental health treatment he desperately needs.

In other words, Christ-like, he moved beyond a facile forgiveness to a place of deep compassion and non-judgement. Astonishing.

Was this a staged cameo?  A contrived media moment?  Or was it a real disclosure of honest feeling and conviction?

For me, it was the latter.  A reminder of what happens when the heart is free, open and generous.

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