Shortly after announcing that he would be known as Benedict XVI, the new Pope confirmed what some had speculated about his selection of the name: Benedict “represents a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a strong reminder of the unrenounceable Christian roots of its culture and civilization.”

Just before he was proclaimed Pope, Benedict collaborated on a book, Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, that describes the crisis in a Western culture that has strayed far from its roots in the Christian faith. The American sociologist James Davison Hunter makes the observation that never have American evangelicals been so politically powerful, but so irrelevant to influencing American culture.

Canada, too, has strayed far from its roots.

The Faith & Culture Conference, slated for Oct. 2-4 in Ottawa, will bring together people of faith – especially, Catholics and evangelicals – who are concerned about the state of Canadian culture. The conference will feature keynotes and panels that will address the pressing issues of life, marriage and family, religious freedom, and the courts. But the conference will also bring presenters who will address how Catholics and evangelicals can become creators of culture – in literature, in television, in the university and in journalism, for example. The conference will also look at how people of faith can exercise their democratic franchise and get involved in the political process – as candidates, as campaign organizers and volunteers and as political staff.

You know people who should attend this conference. Maybe you’re one of them! Are you concerned about the course Canada is on in respect of life and marriage and family issues? Do you know someone who has been thinking about running for office? Do you know someone who aspires to become the next G. K. Chesterton or C. S. Lewis, but is uncertain how to start putting legs on the dream? Or, someone who wants to work in television or journalism? If so, I urge you to attend and to send others. Perhaps you could underwrite the expenses of a young person who should participate? On the back page of The Interim, you will find registration information. Or, go to for more information or to register online.

The Pope is devoting himself to recovering Christian culture. He calls on believers to “make God credible in this world by means of the enlightened faith they live.” Will you answer the call?

Pat O’Brien is the former Liberal and independent MP for London Fanshawe and executive director of Vote Marriage Canada.