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These six priorities for our Church’s life and mission are: Evangelization,Ongoing Faith Formation, Liturgy and Worship, Building and Sustaining Community, Justice and Peace and Strengthening the Unity of our Diocese.

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Updated: 1 year 6 days ago

Marking 25 years of Oblates of Mary Immaculate in partnership with the poor in Kenya

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 15:38

UPDATED March 18: The celebration planned at St. Philip Neri Parish has been POSTPONED.

By Diane Lepage, AMMI Lacombe Canada MAMI  (Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate)

A celebration marking 25 years of partnership with the poor in Kenya by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate will be held once measures related to COVID-19 are lifted.

A presentation with two of the founding team members of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate who established a new mission in Kenya in 1995 – Fr. Bill Stang, OMI and Fr. Ken Forster, OMI – was originally planned for March 31 has been postponed

The Oblates and Canadian supporters have empowered the Kenya people over the past 25 years through the many projects that have been funded.

Opportunities continue for partnering with the Oblates to explore how we can continue to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters; a funding partnership that includes the direction and commitment of the poor themselves.

Let us share the Oblate Spirit!


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Sisters of the Presentation of Mary welcome bishop for blessing of new residence and chapel

Mon, 03/09/2020 - 17:27

The new Saskatoon residence for the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary — and its chapel — were blessed March 6 by Bishop Mark Hagemoen.

Presently home to three members of the religious community who live in Saskatoon, the building located in the Willowgrove neighbourhood was purchased in October 2019, after Discernment House – the Sisters’ former, much larger residence on University Avenue – was sold.

Downsizing from the former Discernment House residence was a difficult but necessary decision, Sr. Lise Paquette, PM, explained at the time.

And after several months settling into their new home, the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary are getting to know their neighbours, and are continuing their various ministries from the new location — albeit without the “live-in” program for young women that was offered for many years at Discernment House. Most recently, a Lenten four-week Ignatian retreat in ordinary life is underway, coordinated by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary from their new location.

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Clergy gather in diocese of Saskatoon for days of study and recollection

Mon, 03/09/2020 - 16:39

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Priests from across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon gathered March 3 and 4 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family for days of study and prayer.

The “Clergy Study Day” March 3 and the “Clergy Day of Recollection” March 4 were an opportunity for priests and deacons to receive information about a number of issues and initiatives, as well as to spend time in prayer and reflection together, focused on their vocation.

Topics during the Clergy Study Day included priestly renewal and support, including theology and support tools, liturgical themes and practice, marriage and funeral rites, the theology and practice of collaboration and mission, and updates about safeguarding from abuse, as well as information about “Pentecost 2020” — an upcoming ecumenical gathering of Christians to be held at Sasktel Centre on the afternoon of Sunday, May 31.

During celebration of Mass during the two-day gathering of priests, the life and ministry of Bishop James Mahoney was remembered, marking the recent 25th anniversary of the long-time bishop’s death on March 2, 1995.

The Day of Recollection for clergy was initiated last year at the request of Pope Francis. It again included reflections led by local priests about past Chrism Mass homilies by Saint Pope John Paul II, by Pope Benedict, and by Pope Francis, as well as time for quiet prayer and Eucharistic Adoration.

Jim Anderson of St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission gives a presentation during the Clergy Study Day. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)


Patrick Clarke, diocesan Director of Human Resources, gives a presentation at Clergy Study Day March 3. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)


Bishop Mark Hagemoen provides an update about the diocese of Saskatoon’s safeguarding action plan to protect children, youth and the vulnerable, and to respond to allegations of misconduct, including sexual abuse. Brenda Fitzgerald, chair of the diocesan Safeguarding Committee, and Theresa Campbell, Director of Operations and Diocesan Coordinator of Care also spoke about the diocese’s safeguarding action plan. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)


Fr. Jakob Palm of Holy Covenant Evangelical Church was welcomed by Bishop Mark Hagemoen to present information about Pentecost 2020 to be held May 31 at Sasktel Centre in Saskatoon. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)


Times of quite prayer and adoration were part of the Clergy Day of Recollection March 4 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)


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Pentecost 2020 event in Saskatoon highlighted at diocesan Clergy Day

Mon, 03/09/2020 - 15:52

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Information about a gathering of Christians from many backgrounds and denominations to be held on Pentecost Sunday, May 31 at Sasktel Centre in Saskatoon was presented at a recent diocesan Clergy Day at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.

During the gathering of priests on March 3, Bishop Mark Hagemoen introduced guest speaker Fr. Jakob Palm of Holy Covenant Evangelical Orthodox Church, who is on the organizing committee for Pentecost 2020. The Catholic diocese of Saskatoon is one of a growing list of partners promoting the Pentecost 2020 event in their faith communities.

Information about Pentecost 2020 was presented by Fr. Jakob Palm at a recent Clergy Day held in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Pentecost 2020 will be an “extraordinary event,” Palm told priests from across the Catholic diocese of Saskatoon, describing it in terms of the prayer of Jesus Christ in John 17:21 for his followers: “that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”

The kingdom of God stands in stark contrast to sin and the wounds of division and separation, Palm said. “Jesus says that we as his followers must love one another,” Palm added, describing how love is manifest by listening to one another, by sharing together (even when it is difficult), and by “acknowledging where we miss the mark.”

“We want to praise God together, encourage each other, and confess our faith in Christ as our healer and saviour.” – Pentecost 2020 organizers

Pentecost 2020 will not feature a popular or well-known speaker, but will instead focus on events in the life of Jesus Christ and his message of salvation, redemption and reconciliation, Palm emphasized. “We are not signing a document or agreeing on everything — we acknowledge we have our differences as the Christian church — but we can come together under Jesus’s headship.”

In addition to attending on the day of Pentecost 2020, Palm described practical ways for the Catholic clergy to get involved, including praying for the event, publicizing the event in their parishes, sharing materials and digital resources with parishioners and the wider community, and participating in activities to prepare for and take part in the service — including having individual parishes create a symbol to bring forth during the celebration to place at the foot of the cross.

A Pentecost 2020 website has been launched with more details about the event. “We want to praise God together, encourage each other, and confess our faith in Christ as our healer and saviour,” say organizers.

A Facebook page and an Instagram account have been set up for the Pentecost 2020 event, with a promotional video in production.

Photograph taken during the recent filming of a Pentecost 2020 promotional video. (Photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

On the day of Pentecost 2020, doors will open at Sasktel Centre at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 31, with the worship service beginning at 3 p.m. The service will include an ecumenical choir with singers and musicians from different churches in Saskatoon leading familiar hymns and songs.

There will be volunteer opportunities for those who are able to assist at the event. There will also be opportunities to help with fundraising via an online campaign at:

In addition to Palm, the organizing team for Pentecost 2020 includes Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, Pastor Linda Walker and Sherry Waugh of the Bridge Fellowship Centre, Pastor Brock Fehr of C3 Church, Rev. Roberto DeSandoli of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, and Pastor Dale Kary of Hope Fellowship Church.

In a recent media release, Pentecost 2020 organizers said that they envision the gathering as an overdue “family reunion” for the Christian churches in Saskatoon – while adding that it is a family reunion with an open invitation to anyone who might be curious about God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. “Pentecost 2020 is a time and place to see the church as one expression of Christian faith in all its diversity,” stated the recent media release.

In addition to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, partnering churches and organizations include:

  • The Bridge Fellowship Center
  • C3 Church Saskatoon
  • Holy Covenant Evangelical Orthodox Church
  • Hope Fellowship Church
  • Emmanuel Baptist Church
  • Awakening Church
  • Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon
  • Elim Church
  • 15:5 Church
  • The Rock Church
  • St Andrew Presbyterian Church
  • Forest Grove Community Church
  • Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
  • House For All Nations
  • Prairie Centre for Ecumenism
  • Louise Street Community Church of the Nazarene
  • Campus Collective
  • Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon
  • City Centre Church
  • Mile Two Church
  • Inspire YXE




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‘Freed because of Jesus’- Asia Bibi shares her story

Fri, 03/06/2020 - 15:17

Catholic News Agency (CNA)

(A version of this story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.)

[Paris, France – CNA] – Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Catholic woman who was sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy against Islam.  After more than eight years in prison, she was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2018.

“I was accused because of the name of Jesus and I knew I would be freed because of Jesus,” Bibi said at a recent Paris press conference.

Bibi said that during her time on death row, her faith “was always strong because I knew that God was with me, God never leaves you alone, he always accompanies you.”

Together with French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet, Bibi has written her autobiography,“Enfin Libre” (Free at Last). The English edition is due out in September.

According to UCA News, Tollet campaigned for Bibi’s release and is the only journalist to interview her in Canada, where Bibi was granted refugee status last year.

Bibi has been living with her husband and two daughters in Canada since last May. Her refugee status is due to expire at the end of this year, and she is seeking political asylum in France, where she met with French president Emmanuel Macron Feb. 28.

Accompanied by her daughter at the press conference, Bibi recounted how the priest who baptized her told her parents that “this little girl will be tested by God.”

“My parents told me that, and I knew that something would happen one day,” she said.

During her incarceration, even when she was sentenced to death by hanging, Bibi said she prayed to God for his help to overcome her ordeal.

“If you trust in God, your faith becomes stronger,” she said.

“I knew I was going to be released because I was accused because of  the name of Jesus and I would be freed because of Jesus,” Bibi said.

A mother of five, Bibi especially thanked all the people who prayed for her during her years in prison, especially pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

“When my husband came to tell me that His Holiness the Pope prayed for me, I felt really blessed from the bottom of my heart because I knew that was a blessing from God. I was very happy, I don’t have the words to thank him,” she added.

Bibi said one of her greatest desires is to meet Pope Francis.

Asked how her children handled her years in prison, Bibi’s daughter broke into tears.  “Don’t worry, your mom is here,” Bibi consoled her daughter.

“All these people have come to see you, to meet you, to give you their love…smile,” Bibi added.

Bibi also honored the memory of the Minister for Minorities, Shabbaz Batthi, who was assassinated for defending her innocence and opposing the law on blasphemy.

She said she mourned his death very much, and added that “whoever dies for the truth and for his faith, is always alive, he never dies.”

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, named Bibi an honorary citizen of the city Feb. 24, 2020, RTL news reported.


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Green Churches Network keeps eye on the prize

Fri, 03/06/2020 - 14:58

By Mickey Conlon, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News (CCN)] – It has been a slow process for the Green Churches Network in striving for its aim to be a truly national chain of faith-based organizations bent on improving environmental practices, but it is making small gains every day, said its new director.

Erica Follon was hired as the full-time director at the start of the year and has been busy getting herself up to speed as the network nears the end of its three-year action plan launched in 2017. She’s been “diving in the deep end” to learn the ropes as the network hopes to become a presence in all Canadian provinces and territories and expand on its Quebec-based, mostly Catholic roots.

“Hopefully our results, tangible or not, will be evident within the next year,” said Follon, an environmental scientist with a background in the non-profit sector, including past work with the United and Anglican Churches, as well as in schools.

The ambitious goal is running behind right now, with 80 members to date. The goal was to have 110 churches, dioceses, religious orders and other organizations on board by the end of 2018, and 200 by this year’s end. Rather than being discouraged however, Follon said the network is soldiering on to meet its goal. She has stepped right into the recruitment drive and was recently speaking with an Alberta organization about the prospect of joining.

The charitable network helps Christian communities in the care of God’s creation, offering tips for energy efficiency for religious buildings and environmental campaigns and prayers for the liturgy to make environmental stewardship a reality in Canadian churches.

The Green Churches Network has recognized it needs to step up its efforts and that’s one of the reasons Follon was brought on board. She takes over from Gregory Lynch, who held the position part-time, but it was realized a full-time person was needed for the position (Lynch remains on the board of directors).

The aim is to get churches — of all denominations — involved as environmental beacons in their communities. Despite a decline in numbers for most faiths, churches still abound across the country and many are transitioning into important community hubs in their neighbourhoods.

“(The goal) is to have churches and religious buildings becoming so environmentally advanced that they attract the attention of their surrounding communities, their neighbourhoods and serve as examples,” said Follon. “They see the advancement of ecological actions, steps that have been taken and that spreads forward into their own houses and communities.”

Follon is convinced the eventual success will come down to youth. Today’s youngest generations have all been raised with the idea of going green, but that is a challenge in an aging church.

“We have this general situation where churches are not as filled with youth as they could be or used to be,” she said. “The churches that have youth groups, those are hopeful places to begin taking these steps because the youth are very motivated.”

Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si’  has been an important tool for the network to use in spreading its message since its 2015 release, and Follon plans to continue using it. She said it has started a conversation and now is the time for action.

“It starts with talk and then action takes a little more effort.”

Another key tool at its disposal is the annual Season of Creation, celebrated each year beginning on Sept. 1 — the day Patriarch Demetrios I, patriarch of Constantinople, dedicated to the protection of the environment in 1989, and in 2015 was established as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation by Pope Francis — through Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

Christian communities are invited to organize activities on the theme of creation care during those five weeks dubbed Season of Creation.

The Green Church Network also hosts its annual Green Churches Forum to stimulate ecological initiatives.


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Saskatoon woman inspires youth with story of pain, trauma and redemption

Wed, 03/04/2020 - 14:01

By Kyle Greenham, Grandin Media

[Saskatoon – Canadian Catholic News (CCN)] – Shawna Arnold’s scars run deep, but there’s no wound her faith hasn’t healed.

Her life was once focused on the pain of addiction, abuse and abortion. But now God has turned her trauma into a mission to help others.

Over the last 10 years, Arnold has spoken at Catholic high schools, youth groups and churches across Saskatchewan, appeared on the Catholic television network EWTN, and published her life story in a book.

Ryan LeBlanc

“I have so much strength now,” said Arnold, 44. “It feels like a weight has been lifted off of me. God is just constantly working miracles in my life. I’ve been through so much rejection, guilt and shame. I know how it feels to be unwanted and I thought I was destined for that life. But when I look back now, I can’t believe I ever was that person.”

Her redemptive story from a scarred childhood to rebuilding her life as a Catholic has already inspired thousands.

“What I appreciate is that her story is not just the grim details of her difficult life, but it’s about how God was able to find her and speak to her heart,” said Ryan Leblanc, a religion teacher and lay chaplain at E.D. Feehan Catholic High School in Saskatoon. Arnold speaks to his Grade 10 religion classes each semester.

“A lot of our students may be struggling with mental illness, trauma or addictions, and the classroom is not the easiest place to explore that,” Leblanc said.

“With Shawna, the students not only appreciate her willingness and compassion for sharing the difficult things she experienced; she also shows them what hope looks like. And it’s really explicit that the hope is in God and in His healing power.”

Born in Humboldt, Sask., Arnold had the odds stacked against her. Her biological father abandoned the family. Her mother was addicted to prescription pills and often lashed out with emotional and physical abuse.

Arnold was raised Catholic, but she had little faith.

“I grew up with all this garbage going on around me. It has a way of consuming you,” she said. “I totally distanced myself from religion. With all the suffering and the negativity I was going through  –  I couldn’t understand if there was a God.”

Shawna Arnold

As a teenager, her life spiraled out of control. She became addicted to alcohol, wound up in a juvenile detention centre three times, and was encouraged by her mother to have an abortion at 18. It was a decision Arnold would spend her life regretting.

When she was 20, her mother died of an overdose and Arnold became pregnant for a second time. Feeling distraught and alone, she decided to have the child and raised him as a single parent.

In 2004, she packed up her things and moved to Prince Albert, looking for a fresh start.

“I was just at the bottom of the barrel at that time,” Arnold said. “I had this sense there must be more to life than what I’m living. At that same time, I started to get this desire to go to church. I never knew you could know God or have a relationship with Him. But I figured, what else should I do?”

Arnold began attending Mass at St. Joseph’s Parish in Prince Albert, where she was invited to a retreat that would forever change her.

“The man putting on the retreat said ‘Imagine God is before you,’” Arnold recalled. “And all of a sudden … I heard words. They were audible. They could’ve been within my heart, but I heard a voice say to me ‘I am your father, and I love you.’ I got a rush of excitement and I was in tears.

“I prayed that God would heal me, help me, love me  – all of these things,” she continued. “All of this was going through my head and I felt this love and peace come over me; it was so strong. No one can tell me God isn’t real, because my heart was touched so deep that night.”

Soon weekly adoration, routine confession and daily prayer became part of Arnold’s life. Her faith gave her the ability to work through many of her past trauma and mistakes.

“That was the start of my transformation,” she said. “When you’ve been abused your whole life, you’re not going to be instantly healed. So I took this journey with God. I just began to pour out all of my garbage at the feet of Jesus.

“It was only through God making His presence known to me and going to the sacraments that I actually learned to love myself and overcome all I had experienced.”

It’s a recovery that has stirred the hearts of many. In 2016 Arnold wrote an autobiography, From Darkness Into Light: Finding My Way to the Father’s Merciful Love. The book has sold more than 1,000 copies and led to her appearance on EWTN last year.

Arnold is most passionate about speaking with young people. Many of the difficulties she faced  ̶  from growing up without a father to struggling with addiction  – are familiar to many. It makes her journey all the more pertinent, and it’s why she wants to expand her speaking engagements to Catholic schools and youth groups beyond Saskatchewan.

“My heart is for anyone hurting, but especially for troubled kids. I feel for them tremendously,” she said. “Sometimes in a classroom of 30 maybe only four or five are practising Catholics. So one thing I always hear from young people who don’t really know God is that my story made them realize there must be something out there.

“Above all, I want them to know that God is real and that God can heal them.”

She is now in the beginning stages of planning speaking dates in other parts of Canada, as well as the U.S. For more information, email Arnold at or visit her blog.


Editor’s Note: Shawna Arnold’s testimony was also featured on a “My Catholic Story” video series in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon (below).


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CWL workshop Feb. 29: reflections on justice, life membership and strategic plan

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 12:43

By Connie McGrath, Catholic Women’s League

The Cathedral of the Holy Family CWL hosted a workshop Saturday, Feb. 29, for Our Lady of Grace Region. Nine of the 10 Saskatoon councils were represented, plus councils from St. Mary, Lanigan, and St. Michael, Tramping Lake.

Ingrid Eggerman, president of Saskatoon CWL Diocese and Audrey Zimmerman, president-elect welcomed members.

Ingrid Eggerman and Audrey Zimmerman welcomed CWL members to the workshop Feb. 29 in Saskatoon. (Photo by Connie McGrath, CWL)

Marlene VanDresar, past-president, guided members through spiritual and social justice reflections. She said Pope Francis encourages us to create a culture of care by embracing social love. Others know this as social justice. Pope Francis calls us to intervene in the concerns for the planet and “Care for Our Common Home.” We can join heaven and earth by connecting to God in the Eucharist. It is a privilege to do so, VanDresar described.

Mary Nordick, co-president of St. Philip Neri CWL, was introduced as a Life Member. This honour gives her a permanent place on the national council, voting privileges, a voice in affairs and eligibility for a national appointment. With privilege comes responsibility. A Life Member is expected to provide support and active service in her own parish council and be available to serve, as facilitator/mentor when requested at all League levels.

Mary Nordick explains the responsibilities of being awarded Life Membership (Photo by Connie McGrath, CWL)

Connie Crichton and Margot de la Gorgendiere explained the five-year Strategic Plan, (started two years ago) which aims to revamp the CWL organization. The eight standing committees (and 35 subcommittees) are being merged into three strong foundational pillars: Faith; Service; Social Justice. Councils are free to prioritize but are encouraged to be as active as time and energy allow.

Follow the progress at .

The workshop closed with the Prayer for Renewal. With God’s guidance and grace, the members pray that the Catholic Women’s League will remain vibrant for the next 100 years.

Connie Crichton explains the five-year Strategic Plan in a power point presentation. (Photo by Connie McGrath, CWL)


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Cardinal Collins denounces Canadian assisted dying laws

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 11:16

Catholic News Agency

[Toronto – CNA] – Canada is embracing “death on demand” in its healthcare laws, according to Cardinal Thomas Collins.

The Archbishop of Toronto issued a strong denunciation of the so-called Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) laws in an op-ed published Monday, March 2.

Cardinal Collins used the column in The Star to denounce Bill C-7, which would remove safeguards and expand eligibility criteria for euthanasia and assisted suicide. The bill was introduced in Parliament last week and, if passed, will create advance directives to allow patients to authorize euthanasia in advance and permit those who do not have a terminal illness to receive a physician-administered death.

“Pain medication and other resources and procedures can indeed be used effectively to medically assist people who are dying,” said Collins. “But that is not what MAiD involves: it means giving a lethal injection to people who are not dying, so that they will die.”

“Under this legislation, any serious incurable illness, disease, or disability would render a person eligible for euthanasia,” said the cardinal.

In Canada, those who are approved for an assisted death do not have to self-administer the drugs. The vast majority of patients accessing assisted death opt for euthanasia, in which the doctor is the one to end their lives.

Bill C-7 would also remove a 10-day waiting period between being approved for an assisted death and receiving the drugs for those who have a condition that would cause a “reasonably foreseeable” death.

Collins pointed out that if this bill were to become law, there would be waiting periods in his home province of Ontario “for gym memberships and new condominium purchases,” but not for assisted deaths.

“This is a new chapter of death on demand,” he said. “Canada has cast aside restrictions at a far quicker pace than any other jurisdiction in the world that has legalized euthanasia.”

When euthanasia and assisted suicide was first legalized in 2016, the Canadian government promised to do a “thorough” review prior to introducing new legislation. This did not happen, said Collins.

Bill C-7 was introduced in response to a September 2019 Quebec Superior Court decision which found that the “reasonably foreseeable death” stipulation was a violation of human rights. The Canadian government said they did not wish to appeal that decision.

Collins also decried the lack of widely-available palliative care services, and questioned why there was no “political will to push forward on palliative care for all Canadians.” About a third of Canadians have access to palliative care, but medically assisted deaths are guaranteed, widely available, and fully-funded under Canada’s health law.

“If all Canadians had access to quality palliative care, fewer would seek lethal injection. Instead of developing an overall culture of care, we are rushing towards death on demand,” said the cardinal. “The same doctors who are trying to care for their patients will now be called on to approve euthanasia for them.”

In Canada, doctors are able to refuse to administer an assisted death, but must refer patients to a willing physician.

The sick, elderly, and disabled “need assisted living, not assisted death,” said Collins. “They should never be seen as a burden to our society.” He wrote that he is worried that these vulnerable populations, having suddenly become eligible for assisted death, “may well be pressured, whether from family, friends or even their own health care professionals, to ‘ease their burden’ and end their lives.”

To combat this mentality, Collins wrote, it is imperative for Canadians to “foster a culture of care and love for one another” and strive to accompany friends, family “and even strangers…recognizing the inherent dignity of every person.”


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Poverty rates dropping but true picture of poverty in Canada remains fuzzy

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 11:04

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – The federal government is touting recent statistics that indicate that the poverty rate in Canada is on a downward spiral, but social justice and anti-poverty groups say the statistics don’t tell the whole story and there is still a lot of work to be done if Canada going to reduce poverty levels for Indigenous Canadians and those who live in remote areas of the country.

According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s poverty rate has dropped dramatically in recent years, but there are still more than 566,000 children who live below the poverty line in Canada, although that is down from about one million children from five years ago.

According to statistics released on Feb. 24, 2020, the overall national poverty rate dropped to 8.7 per cent in 2018 compared to 9.5 per cent in 2017. The number of those living below the poverty line is about 3.2 million in total.

One of the reasons cited for the drop in the number of children living below the poverty line is the federal Liberal government’s child benefits programs.

“The Government of Canada is committed to growing the middle class and helping those working hard to join it. The results of the 2018 Canadian Income Survey are further proof that our plan is working,” said Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen.

“However, we know there is much more to do. That is why we will keep working hard to reduce poverty and make sure that every Canadian has a real and fair chance to succeed,” Hussen said.

But while the federal government says the statistics show that its Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy, which targets a 50-per-cent reduction by 2030 compared to 2015 levels, is working, Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ), a faith-based social justice group, said more changes need to be undertaken in the way poverty is measured in Canada for a better snapshot of what is actually happening on the ground.

“Statistics Canada is to be commended on the process and results of their most recent review of the Market Basket Measure (MBM), Canada’s Official Poverty Line,” according to a statement from CPJ.

“Unfortunately, through no fault of Statistics Canada, the MBM still falls short of being an adequate or appropriate official measure of poverty for Canada. The most glaring shortcoming of the MBM is that these measures are unavailable for people living on reserves, in the territories, or in remote communities where people experience disproportionately high rates of low income, food insecurity, and core housing need,” the CPJ said.

Statistics Canada is in the process of reviewing changes to the way it calculates the MBM, and concedes that the number of those living in poverty would be higher under one MBM change scenario it has reviewed.

Statistics Canada said that under a proposed new way of measuring poverty, the number of people living in poverty in Canada would go up to about four million rather than the 3.2 million cited in the statistics released last month.

“We welcome the changes proposed to the MBM,” said Natalie Appleyard, the socio-economic policy analyst at CPJ.

“But we cannot fathom how a measure that excludes the territories, people living on reserve, and people living in remote communities could possibly merit selection as Canada’s Official Poverty Line. The MBM may very well be a useful measure to track, but it is certainly not the most representative available to us,” she said.


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Proposed sex selection abortion bill calls out Canada to live up to its equality ideals

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 10:48

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN]  – A Conservative MP is calling on Canadians and her fellow MPs to rally around an effort to stop abortions based on the sex of a child after introducing a private member’s bill in the House of Commons on Feb. 26 that would target health workers who knowingly abort a fetus because it is a girl.

“In a country which seeks to foster equality between men and women, the practice of using abortion for sex selection needs to be prohibited,” said Yorkton—Melville MP Cathay Wagantall.

“Eighty-four percent of Canadians are against sex selective abortion. Legislators have the responsibility to ensure that it is prohibited by law. Sex selective abortion is antithetical to our commitment to equality and needs to be prohibited as an unacceptable practice,” she said of her proposed bill the Sex Selective Abortion Act.

Wagantall’s effort to raise the issue of abortion for debate in the House of Commons again is being praised by pro-life groups who continue to condemn Canada’s lack of any laws surrounding abortion.

“Canada is the only democratic country in the world that has no abortion law. We know that this complete lack of restrictions means abortion is used for sex selection, which is inherently discrimination. As a society that values equality of the sexes, we have an opportunity here to take a stand against the inequality manifest in deciding a child’s wantedness based on their sex,” said Tabitha Ewert, legal counsel for We Need a Law.

According to Wagantall, the legislation she proposes would create a new penalty “for medical practitioners who knowingly perform an abortion when the sole reason is the genetic sex of the pre-born child.”

This not the first time that Wagantall has attempted to change the law in Canada on abortion.

She introduced a private members bill in February 2016 called the “Protection of Pregnant Women and Their Preborn Children Act” that was eventually defeated in the House on Oct 19, 2016, by a vote of 209-76.

Wagantall, like the We Need A Law group, hopes that by putting the issue up for debate in the House, a larger discussion about abortion laws in Canada will be held.

“It is true that the majority of Canadians agree to having access to abortion,” Wagantall said, but she said it is also true that the vast majority of Canadians are against sex selection as a reason for an abortion and that “we have a responsibility to widely condemn this practice that is going on in Canada.”

“If we truly want equality, then we must stand in defense of equality,” she said.

Wagantall’s proposed bill targeting sex selection in abortion is not the first time this specific issue has been raised by an MP in the House of Commons. Most recently a motion to “condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination” was put forward by Conservative MP Mark Warawa in 2012.

And numerous motions and proposed private members bills have come forward since the late 1980s from members of the Conservatives, Liberals and former Reform and Canadian Alliance parties, none of which have received the required support in the House of Commons to change Canadian law surrounding abortion.

Wagantall said that targeting females in an abortion goes against what all Canadians stand for.

“Our silence condones and possibly perpetuates the practice of sex selection,” she said. “Canada must act now to condemn this practice and to make it apparent to all that Canada values women and equality. If there is even one female pre-born child who is terminated because of her sex, we need to act.”

And members of We need A Law are hoping that Wagantall’s fellow MPs will indeed act this time.

“We admire Ms. Wagantall’s commitment to defending the vulnerable and are thankful for her understanding of the value of life from its earliest stages,” Ewert said.

“We support her efforts to engage her colleagues in the ongoing abortion conversation in Canada, and hope to see hearts and minds changed through the debate around this bill.”



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The Rite of Election: another step on the journey to baptism for 47 catechumens from across the diocese of Saskatoon

Mon, 03/02/2020 - 02:42

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

At the diocesan Rite of Election March 1, 2020, Bishop Mark Hagemoen welcomed and blessed 47 catechumens from across the diocese who are journeying toward the initiation sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist.

Affirmed by their parishes and by their sponsors, the catechumens wrote their names in the Book of the Elect, and entered another stage of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). The newly-elect now begin a season of purification and enlighten during Lent, before celebrating the sacraments at Easter.

Bishop Hagemoen also welcomed and blessed 21 candidates — already baptized Christians who are preparing to be received into the Catholic Church.

The Rite of Election included celebration of Sunday Eucharist for the First Sunday of Lent. In attendance were a number of priests from parishes that are preparing catechumens and candidates to receive sacraments at Easter.

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Canadian bishops condemn new medical suicide measures

Sat, 02/29/2020 - 09:04

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency

[Ottawa – CNA] – The Catholic bishops of Canada issued a statement on Ash Wednesday, condemning parliament’s efforts to further expand medically assisted suicide to those who do not have terminal illnesses.

The legislation, known as Bill C-7, was introduced in parliament on Feb. 23, 2020. In addition to permitting people without terminal illnesses to end their lives, the bill also creates the possibility for patients to issue advance directives, authorizing their own death in advance.

According to the language of the bill, it would “remove the requirement for a person’s natural death to be reasonably foreseeable in order to be eligible for medical assistance in dying,” and would “introduce a two-track approach to procedural safeguards” depending on if a person’s natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.”

“The Catholic Bishops of Canada wish to express the greatest concern and dismay in regards to the (introduction) of Bill C-7 which seeks to expand the eligibility criteria for euthanasia and assisted suicide,” said the bishops Feb. 26.

CCCB response to Bill C-7 – PDF

The bishops condemned “the lamentable legislative aim” of broadening access to assisted dying, and insisted “that every opportunity for due diligence be taken during the parliamentary process.”

“Every effort [must] be made to understand more fully the grave implications of what is being contemplated by way of Bill C-7, including the unavoidable, negative and detrimental dangers facing those who are most vulnerable in society,” added the statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

The bishops called for the Canadian House of Commons to refer the legislation to a committee for further debate and examination prior to the bill’s second reading in parliament. If the bill were to be moved to committee, witnesses should be permitted to testify “in a manner which is fully public, transparent, and open to a wide range of voices,” they said.

The bishops expressed their hope that a committee hearing would result in “full and prudent consideration of inviolable moral and ethical principles, the common good, and concern for future generations.”

The bishops also expressed concerns about the loosening of existing safeguards for “medically assisted deaths,” drawing attention to the bill’s provision for “advance directives.”

“This means that those who change their minds at a later date, but whose ability to communicate has since been impaired, would be left to express their refusal in potentially vague ‘words, sounds, and gestures,’” said the bishops.

This would make it “immensely difficult and highly subjective for medical practitioners and lawyers to decipher whether or not the patient still wishes to consent to the lethal procedure,” they said.

The bishops also noted that the government ignored an open letter signed by more than 65 Canadian disability advocacy organizations, as well as the advice of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Bill C-7 is the Canadian government’s attempt to accommodate a ruling by the Quebec Superior Court, which found in September 2019 that the previous requirement that euthanasia be reserved for the terminally ill was a human rights violation.

“The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada regrettably chose not to appeal the Quebec Superior Court decision,” said the bishops.

Additionally, the bishops took issue with a two-week online opinion survey on assisted dying in January. The results of that survey helped to shape the text of Bill C-7.

“The questions in this survey were framed in a manner which presupposed agreement with euthanasia and assisted suicide, including its broadening, without giving Canadians who are opposed an equal voice,” they said.

The bishops were further concerned that although less than one per cent of the Canadian population responded to the survey, “it regrettably did not ask for detailed and essential demographic data from participants,” including questions about age, gender, or disability status. The bishops noted that the online-only nature of the survey could exclude low-income, elderly, cognitively disabled, or rural Canadians, who may lack internet access.

“The online survey cannot purport to represent a ‘wide spectrum’ of the Canadian population, as has been claimed,” they said.

“Such a flawed survey cannot be used realistically to justify Bill C-7,” said the bishops.

The Catholic Church condemns euthanasia as outlined in the catechism, and Pope Francis recently reiterated the Church’s rejection of the practice.

The bishops are now calling on Canadians to “make their voices heard,” and they “strongly urge members of Parliament to acknowledge the giftedness of life as an inalienable right not to be taken away by others.”


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Vatican launches task force to work with bishops around the world to implement abuse guidelines

Fri, 02/28/2020 - 10:24

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – The Vatican has created a task force to help under-resourced bishops’ conferences enact guidelines on the protection of minors and the pope’s 2019 norms on abuse allegations against bishops.

The task force was one of the promised follow-ups to last year’s Vatican summit on child protection and sexual abuse in the Church.

According to a press release Feb. 28, the working group will assist bishops’ conferences and religious institutes and societies of apostolic life with implementing and updating child protection guidelines and putting in place the requirements of Pope Francis’ 2019 motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.

Vos estis lux mundi, promulgated in May 2019, enacted policy on the Church’s response to sexual abuse allegations made against bishops.

The world’s bishops’ conferences were first asked in 2011, in a letter sent by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to adopt stringent guidelines to fight sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

Canadian Bishops update national guidelines for preventing and dealing with abuse LINK

Diocese of Saskatoon update on safeguarding against sexual abuse and responding to allegations LINK

Fr. Federico Lombardi told journalists Feb. 28, 2020 that there is “a minority” of bishops’ conferences around the world which have not yet implemented child protection guidelines, calling the task force a “small step” in initiating “a process of help.”

Lombardi was the moderator of the February 2019 Vatican abuse summit. He said Friday, “there are very few exceptions that do not have [guidelines]” and they are typically in countries which have limited resources and which may be affected by war or poverty.

Lombardi guessed there are “around a dozen” bishops’ conferences in this situation but said he did not know the exact number.

The task force, which has a two-year commission starting this month, is made up of canon lawyers of different nationalities and has a fund, maintained by “benefactors” at its disposal, according to Friday’s press release.

The group is coordinated by Andrew Azzopardi, a social worker and abuse expert in charge of the safeguarding commission of the Church in Malta.

Azzopardi said Feb. 28 there are now on the task force about 10 or so members, mostly canon lawyers, but they would like to expand this to include other experts.

Azzopardi said members of the working group will primarily be sent to work on the ground in the local Churches and religious institutes, advising on the writing and enforcing of guidelines, keeping in mind the local culture and laws.

As coordinator, Azzopardi will report quarterly to the substitute for general affairs of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, on the task force’s activity.

The activities of the task force will also be overseen by the 2019 abuse summit organizers: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, and Fr. Hans Zollner, SJ.

The task force will, at the request of bishops’ conferences, “assist the local Church to make the Church safer for children and vulnerable adults and more accessible for victims and survivors,” Azzopardi said.

He said one of the challenges will be to make sure that Vos estis lux mundi  “is implemented, understood, and that it’s a real document and that we can build on that.”

“I think that is a challenge, not an insurmountable challenge.”


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Bishop James Mahoney remembered on the 25th anniversary of his death

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 15:28

James Patrick Mahoney Dec. 7, 1927- March 2, 1995

Fourth Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, 1967-1995

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News with files from Margaret Sanche, Diocesan Archivist

Monday, March 2 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Bishop James Mahoney, who served as fourth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon for some 27 years.

“He was our shepherd for a long time and his passing came too soon… He was deeply loved  by so many people.” – Donna Rogal

A memorial Mass for Bishop Mahoney was celebrated by Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen at noon hour March 2, 2020 at St. Paul Co-Cathedra in Saskatoon — the church where the late bishop was ordained both a priest and a bishop, and from which he served the diocese for more than 27 years as its shepherd.

Bishop Mahoney’s history, contributions and legacy are the focus of a reflection recently undertaken by Diocesan Archivist Margaret Sanche to mark the anniversary of the well-loved bishop’s death on March 2, 1995.

“Bishop Mahoney was much respected in the Catholic community and beyond, and was able to forge important links with people of non-Catholic churches and faiths, as well as with the civic leaders of Saskatoon, many of whom participated in the celebration of his 25th anniversary as bishop in 1992,” says Sanche.

The son of Denis and Anna Mahoney, James Patrick Mahoney was born in Saskatoon on Dec. 7, 1927. He was educated at St. Paul’s Elementary School and City Park Collegiate in Saskatoon, and at St. Peter’s College in Muenster. After his seminary studies at St. Peter’s Seminary in London, ON, James Mahoney was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 24 years by Bishop Francis Klein of Saskatoon on June 7, 1952.

Fr. James Mahoney visits a classroom in the 1950s. As a priest and as a bishop he was always an advocate for Catholic education. (Photo courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon Archives)

During the first 15 years of his priesthood, Mahoney served pastorally at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Saskatoon, as well as at parishes in Delisle, Colonsay and Blucher. He also taught at St. Paul’s High School, and was the first principal of Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon. He also pursued studies in Family Life and Counselling at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Soon after returning to Saskatoon in 1967, he was named fourth bishop of Saskatoon by Pope Paul VI and was ordained to the episcopacy on Dec. 13, 1967 at the age of 40. Bishop James Mahoney chose as his motto: Fidelis Deus: “God is Faithful.”

James Patrick Mahoney was ordained the fourth bishop of Saskatoon on Dec. 13, 1967. (Photo courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon Archives)

In his 27 years as spiritual leader of the Roman Catholics of the Saskatoon diocese, Mahoney undertook and supported a number of notable works within the Catholic church and in the larger community related to Catholic education, ecumenism, health care, vocations, the spiritual formation of priests and laity, the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Women’s League, the Brazil mission, and social justice endeavours, describes Sanche.

His commitment to Catholic education and his contributions to the community were recognized in a special way with the naming of Bishop James Mahoney High School, which was officially blessed and dedicated in 1985.

“Over the years, Bishop Mahoney’s faith provided a strong witness to the People of God in the diocese of Saskatoon. His genuine love of people, young and old, his insightfulness, his compassion and his warm and wonderful sense of humour were gifts which enabled those who saw and heard him to receive the deeper message — the Good News of Christ — which it was his mission to proclaim,” she says.

When priests from across the diocese gathered for days of reflection and recollection during the first week of March this year at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, their celebration of the Eucharist included Mass with prayers of remembrance and thanksgiving for the well-loved bishop.

Fr. Kevin McGee, diocesan Vicar General, has fond memories of the late bishop. “I would not be in the diocese of Saskatoon if it were not for him,” he says.

“I came to Saskatoon at a stage of formation still discerning where I was being called. One major reason I stayed in Saskatoon was because of the hospitality and generosity and graciousness shown to me by Bishop James Mahoney. It set the trajectory of my priesthood.”

Bishop Mahoney’s regular visits to Pius X Seminary were a highlight for McGee and other seminarians: “He brought so much joy and laughter into the seminary.”

Donna Rogal, who has worked at the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Saskatoon since 1972, recalls Bishop James Mahoney as a friend, a pastor and a great leader.

“It is with profound  gratitude that I give God thanks for the gift of Bishop Mahoney to our diocese and the privilege I had to know him, work for him and call him friend,” says Rogal. “When  I started out as a very young staff member, I noticed that Bishop Mahoney was great at affirmation, empowering others, and listening with his heart.  This included the staff, the clergy, and whoever walked through the door.”

His contributions include being instrumental in helping to establish Saskatoon Friendship Inn, setting up a diocesan office of justice and peace, launching the Lay Formation (Adult Faith Enrichment) program, and the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, which has supported a range of ministries and outreach in the diocese and beyond for more than 30 years.

A gifted speaker, known for his humour and accessibility, Mahoney gained the respect of those from other faiths and from the community at large, both urban and rural, recalls Rogal, who noted his incredible memory for names. “He had a persona  that attracted people wherever he went.  His laughter was infectious.” She remembers the bishop giving the weather report on the ‘Wall and Den Show’ on local radio. He was also well-known for his marriage preparation advice of “PPF” – put your partner first – that many couples recall decades later.

“He was our shepherd for a long time and his passing came too soon,” says Rogal. “He was deeply loved  by so many people. Personally, he was very kind to me and my family and I will never forget his love.”

Bishop Mahoney died on March 2, 1995 at the age of 67 years. Following his funeral on March 7, 1995, his body was interred in Woodlawn Cemetery, Saskatoon. The James. P. Mahoney Institute for the Family was established in his memory to support projects designed to strengthen families and family life.







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‘Worship of initiatives’ is replacing faith, Pope Francis warns priests

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 14:22

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican – CNA] – In a message Thursday, Feb. 27, Pope Francis criticized placing so much importance on church programs that the essential teachings of the faith are lost. The pope also said a priest’s agreement with such initiatives should not be the measure of his ministry.

“The worship of initiatives is replacing the essential: one faith, one baptism, one God the Father of all. Adherence to initiatives risks becoming the yardstick of communion,” the pope said, in a message read aloud to the priests of the Diocese of Rome. Pope Francis was scheduled to deliver the speech in person at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, but decided to remain close to the Vatican after feeling unwell, the Holy See spokesman, Matteo Bruni, said Thursday.

Instead, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, read the speech on the pope’s behalf.

In his speech, Francis outlined the different reasons why priests may become “embittered” in their ministry, noting that his observations came from many conversations with priests and are not only his opinion.

Today, he said, there seems to be a “general atmosphere” of “widespread mediocrity” – and not only in the priesthood.

“The fact remains that much bitterness in the life of a priest” is rooted in the omissions of his bishop, Francis said in a footnote of the speech.

Priests risk losing their ministry as pastors, their role as teachers of the faith, he said, as they become “suffocated” by management problems and personnel emergencies. But, he added, “who is the catechist of that permanent disciple who is the priest? The bishop of course!”

Francis said it could be argued that priests do not usually want to be educated by bishops, but even if this is true, “it is not a good reason” for bishops to give up the “munus docendi” (the duty to teach, based on Christ’s role as prophet).

“The holy people of God have the right to have priests who teach them to believe; and deacons and priests have the right to have a bishop who teaches them in turn to believe and hope in the One Master, the Way, the Truth and the Life, who inflames their faith,” he said.

The pope also said that, as a priest, he would want his bishop to help him believe, not just make him happy, and he lamented that often bishops end up only attending to their priests in times of crisis, and not making the time to listen to them outside of emergencies.

In his speech, Pope Francis also argued that another cause of bitterness in the priesthood is problems between priests.

He pointed to the financial and sexual scandals of recent years as having caused suspicion among priests and hindered meaningful bonds. “There is more ‘community,’ but less communion,” the pope said.

Francis also said that with these scandals, the devil tempts people to have a Donatist vision of the Church. Donatism is a heresy from the 4th to 6th centuries which argued that Catholic priests had to be without sin or fault for the sacraments they administer to be valid.

“We have false conceptions of the militant Church, in a sort of ecclesiological puritanism,” he said.

“The question we ask ourselves when we meet a new brother priest emerges silently: ‘Who do I really have before me? Can I trust him?’”

Prayer is important to combat this, he said.

The pope also warned priests against an “individualized conscience” – a feeling of being “more special, powerful, gifted” and therefore needing to start every new parish assignment with a “clean slate,” instead of building on the good already there from the previous pastor.

Cautioning against the risk of isolation, Francis advised priests to find an old and astute priest to be a spiritual father.


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B.C. government ready to take hospice from society that refuses to provide assisted suicide/euthanasia

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 11:59

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

Delta Hospice Society president Angelina Ireland is “shocked and outraged” that the B.C. government will pull all funding from the hospice by 2021.

Delta Hospice is a small 10-bed facility that provides palliative care for seriously ill patients and support groups for families in South Delta. Earlier this year, the Fraser Health Authority and Health Minister Adrian Dix said the hospice would face unspecified consequences if it did not start allowing legal assisted suicides to happen on site by Feb. 3.

Ireland responded that the hospice would rather give up $750,000 of its government funding (and put the hospice below the 50 per cent funding threshold set by government) than end the lives of its patients. She offered to do so.

Then, there was silence. The Feb. 3 deadline passed and there was no response from the health minister or Fraser Health Authority for another 22 days – until Feb. 25, when Dix announced the government was terminating the contract with Delta Hospice.

“Putting the patient first is what matters most,” said Dix. “No organization can influence this decision or impose it. I respect anyone’s right to disagree, and no one has ever required hospice staff to deliver medical assistance in dying, but they must allow eligible residents who want the service to access it.”

He said he made the decision “reluctantly” and after making “every effort to support the board to come into compliance.”

“When the role of the Delta Hospice Society concludes, patients in publicly funded hospice care will again be able to fully access their medical rights.”

Ireland doesn’t see it that way. In a Feb. 26 statement she said the government cancelled the contract with Delta Hospice “abruptly” and “without even acknowledging or responding” to the hospice’s attempts to negotiate.

“The actions of the ministry reveal that the issue of MAiD (medical assistance in dying) vs. palliative care is an agenda-driven policy rather than one that ensures access to skilled and compassionate palliative care.”

Delta Hospice has been serving the public since 1991. When assisted suicide became legal in 2016, it was made available at the Delta Hospital across the street, which shows accessibility is not the issue, says Ireland.

“If the government wants to open MAiD facilities, that’s their option, but they must not be allowed to download it onto the backs of private palliative care facilities.”

To ensure hospice care remains available in Delta, Dix said the government would take over management of the current building or open another 10-bed hospice somewhere else in the area.

The hospice was built at a cost of about $9 million, paid for without government funding, said Ireland. For the ministry to take the site now “is a scandalous appropriation of private assets.”

Ian Paton, Delta South MLA, told media he sees the situation as “government literally stealing the assets of the people of Delta that worked so hard for many years” building the hospice.

Liberal health critic Norm Letnick criticized Dix’ announcement, saying the minister should have agreed to “work with the local association to make sure that all the investment that the local people have put into this building stays in the community under the control of the people who invested the money.”

Hospice supporters are planning a rally at the B.C. Legislature Saturday, April 4. Meanwhile, Ireland said the Delta Hospice Society is looking at legal and other options to continue serving patients who don’t want to end their lives by assisted suicide or die in a facility that offers it.

The debate about whether private non-religious hospices should offer MAiD is also playing out in North Bay, Ont., where the newly-opened Nipissing Serenity Hospice is facing backlash for deciding not to include assisted suicide among its services.

Vivian Papaiz, chair of the board of directors, said the decision is based in part on a recent joint statement from the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians, who agreed ending a patient’s life with a lethal injection is not part of the practice of palliative care.

Under current legislation, faith-based institutions are exempt from having to provide MAiD.

Meanwhile, the federal government plans to change assisted dying laws to eliminate the requirement that a person’s death must be “reasonably forseeable.”



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Vanier: Sad, awful truth leaves L’Arche reeling

Wed, 02/26/2020 - 16:37

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – For the people with disabilities who are the core members of L’Arche, news that Jean Vanier sexually abused six women over a 35-year period hit particularly hard.

At a L’Arche Toronto community meeting to discuss the stunning revelations, several members rose to speak their truth, said John Guido, the L’Arche Toronto outreach co-ordinator. And that truth is “that this was bad — he’s a bad man who has done something to harm people, and that’s not right.”

Many of the intellectually disabled at L’Arche have survived abusive situations themselves, whether in dysfunctional homes or institutions, Guido said.

“It was a very powerful meeting,” he said. “That they could stand up with such courage and speak this truth, knowing that they would be heard, knowing that they were respected, was very, very moving.”

Statement from the CCCB regarding Jean Vanier revelations  – English / – French

L’Arche Canada is the oldest L’Arche movement outside of France. Its leaders had wanted more time to prepare its members, the disabled, for the report that their beloved founder had used his charismatic personality and status to coerce and manipulate women into sexual relationships. But when the International Federation of L’Arche Communities went public on Feb. 22, L’Arche Canada had to react, Guido said.

“We made sure that it was not sugar-coated. It was delivered honestly, but in multiple formats so that people could — the widest number of people could — understand the seriousness of this.”

L’Arche International’s investigation began in March 2019, a month before Vanier died at age 90. The Paris-based leadership assigned the investigation to GCPS, a U.K.-based organization that consults with Church and non-governmental organizations on abuse protocols and prevention.

A report based on the GCPS findings and on research by Church historian Antoine Mourges revealed that Vanier engaged in “manipulative sexual relationships” with women in the context of spiritual direction or accompaniment. Six women who did not know each other, including L’Arche assistants and nuns, testified to a pattern of abusive behaviour stretching over a period from 1970 to 2005. None of the women were disabled.


Mourges’ research, supported by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome and the archives of the Dominican Fathers in Paris, indicates that Vanier was influenced by a Dominican priest whom Vanier called his “spiritual father.” Fr. Thomas Philippe took a 22-year-old Vanier under his wing in 1950. By 1956 Philippe had been convicted in Rome of abuse and dismissed from the clerical state.

According to a Feb. 22 letter from L’Arche International, Vanier was in a “trusting relationship with Fr. Thomas Phillippe and would have shared some of the sexual practices initiated by Fr. Philippe.”

L’Arche was founded by Vanier at the instigation of Philippe in 1964. By the mid-1960s Philippe was operating freely as a priest within and outside of L’Arche. In 2014, L’Arche International asked its accompanying bishop, Bishop Pierre Paul Oscar d’Ornellas, for a canonical inquiry into Philippe, who had died in 1993.

L’Arche leaders had confronted Vanier in 2016 about a single complaint that came to light at that time.

“Jean Vanier acknowledged the relationship, which he had believed to be ‘reciprocal.’ He initiated a request for forgiveness with regard to this woman,” L’Arche International said in a summary of its investigations.

Investigators uncovered no evidence of Vanier abusing anyone who was intellectually disabled or part of L’Arche’s core membership. He targeted single, married and vowed celibate religious women.

One woman told investigators she was abused for “three or four years.”

“Each time I was frozen, I was unable to distinguish what was right and what was wrong…. He told me that this was part of the accompaniment,” she said.

Guido said he can’t imagine the suffering caused by Vanier.

“It’s brutal to discover this secret side of him that was so harmful,” said Guido. “And to imagine these women who have lived always hearing about this man who had harmed them as (being) this living saint.”

Author Beth Porter, who spent the largest part of her life living in a L’Arche community or working for L’Arche, said she was “still processing the very sad news.”

“I spent many years writing educational materials based on his vision of inclusion and belonging and making the world a better place,” Porter wrote on Facebook. “I grieve for his victims and also for the students and teachers who were inspired by him and may feel deeply disillusioned.”

L’Ache was praised for commissioning the report and releasing its findings. “We don’t know yet what the way forward is, only that today we need to face the truth and work to help those most impacted by the news,” said Guido.


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Prohibition on euthanasia for the mentally ill retained in proposed changes to legislation

Wed, 02/26/2020 - 07:55

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] –  The federal government’s proposed changes to what they call “medical assistance in dying”  or “MAiD” is eliminating the requirement that a person’s death must be reasonably foreseeable for medically-assisted suicide or euthanasia in Canada. However, the prohibition on assisted suicide or euthanasia for those who are suffering from mental illness remains.

“Medical assistance in dying is a deeply personal issue that touches real people and real families. Canadians have shown us during the consultations just how important this issue is to them,” Federal Justice Minister David Lametti said Feb. 24 as the federal government introduced proposed changes to Canada’s medical suicide rules.

“The proposed amendments aim to reduce suffering, while also supporting individual autonomy and freedom of choice,” Lametti said of the new Bill C-7 that the government introduced to make amendments to the assisted suicide/euthanasia rules so that they fall in line with a September 2019 Quebec court decision that ruled that the “reasonably foreseeable” requirement was too restrictive.

One of the most prominent opponents of legal euthanasia in Canada is calling on the federal government to not make any changes to the assisted death system at this time and instead wait until a mandated five-year review of the system that is supposed to start in June. “The government should wait before amending the law. In June 2020, the government will begin its consultation on five years of euthanasia in Canada,” Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) executive director Alex Schadenberg said.

He said that the elimination of the “reasonability foreseeable” requirement does open the door to including people who may want an assisted death for solely psychological reasons in the future.

“A person didn’t qualify for euthanasia based on psychological reasons alone since the law required that a person’s ‘natural death be reasonably foreseeable’ but since the Quebec court struck down this requirement, the law now permits euthanasia for psychological reasons,” Schadenberg said, adding that “Bill C-7 pretends to prevent euthanasia for psychological suffering.”

What the government’s proposed bill does do is set up a two-tier system for those whose death is reasonably foreseeable and those whose death is not. It also would allow a waiver of final consent for those who’s death is reasonably foreseeable but “who may who may lose capacity to consent before MAID can be provided”, but it specifically states that it excludes “eligibility for individuals suffering solely from mental illness.”

At the same time, the government does concede that future changes to the system could include the mentally-ill, following the five year review of the system that will start this summer. “Other important questions relating to MAiD in Canada — such as advance requests for persons newly diagnosed with a condition that could affect their decision-making capacity in the future, eligibility for persons suffering solely from mental illness and eligibility for mature minors —could be considered during a broader parliamentary review of MAiD legislation expected to begin by June 2020,” a statement from the Ministry of Justice said.

The issue of giving assisted suicide or euthanasia to those suffering from mental illness has also been considered in Quebec where the provincial government is changing its assisted dying rules to line up with what is known as the Truchon decision by allowing individuals who are not nearing the end of their lives to be eligible to receive euthanasia.

While the Quebec government will make its changes by March 11 as the Quebec court ruling mandated, it has backed away from allowing people suffering from dementia and other mental health issues to access assisted suicide or euthanasia until there is further discussion in that province around the issue.

The federal government has asked for a four-month extension of that March deadline to make the federal changes.

The faith-based think tank Cardus is also very critical of what the federal government is proposing in Bill C-7, calling it a one-sided expansion of eligibility for assisted suicide and euthanasia, and slams the proposal for not doing anything to protect the conscience rights of health workers.

“Bill C-7 is unbalanced with its heavy emphasis on expanded access to medical aid in dying without an equal measure of concern for improved guidelines and safeguards. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of People with Disabilities called on Canada last April to investigate cases of coerced MAiD and to improve protection for vulnerable people who do not want a doctor to end their lives. Yet we’ve seen no action in response to this call,” said Cardus executive vice-president Ray Pennings.

“The bill also doesn’t take protection of conscience rights seriously. Conscience rights are Charter rights. The federal government has a responsibility to protect all Canadians’ Charter rights – including the rights of medical professionals not to participate in MAiD in any way and the rights of hospices and other institutions not to cause the deaths of people in their care,” he said.


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Pope Francis’ Lent advice: Put down phone, pick up Bible

Wed, 02/26/2020 - 07:18

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – Pope Francis is urging Catholics to use the season of Lent to spend less time immersed in the chatter and noise of the world through television and their phones, and to spend more time in silence and in conversation with God.

“Lent is the right time to make room for the Word of God. It is the time to turn off the television and open the Bible. It is the time to disconnect from your cell phone and connect to the Gospel,” the pope said in his weekly audience on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26.

This penitential period, he continued, is also the time to work on giving up gossip, rumors, and useless chatter, focusing instead on giving yourself to the Lord, who spent 40 days in the desert in fasting and prayer.

During Lent, Jesus is “calling us into the desert,” Francis explained. Jesus “invites us to listen to what matters. To the devil who tempted him, he replied: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

“Like bread, more than bread we need the Word of God, we need to speak with God: we need to pray,” he urged.

“Despite the sometimes tragic presence of evil in our lives, and in the life of the Church and the world, this opportunity to change our course expresses God’s unwavering will not to interrupt his dialogue of salvation with us.” –  Message of Holy Father for Lent 2020 – English

<Malgré la présence, parfois dramatique, du mal dans nos vies ainsi que dans la vie de l’Église et du monde, cet espace offert pour un changement de cap exprime la volonté tenace de Dieu de ne pas interrompre le dialogue du salut avec nous.> Message du Pape pour le Carême 2020 – French

In his weekly general audience Feb. 26, Pope Francis reflected on the “desert” of Lent and how countercultural it is to spend time in silence, away from the noisiness of modern life.

“We live in an environment polluted by too much verbal violence, by many offensive and harmful words, which the internet amplifies,” he explained.

“We are inundated with empty words, with advertisements, with subtle messages. We have become used to hearing everything about everyone and we risk slipping into a worldliness that atrophies our hearts.”

In this noise, “we struggle to distinguish the voice of the Lord who speaks to us, the voice of conscience, of good,” the pope said.

According to Francis, the ‘desert’ of Lent, where we can be in conversation with the Lord, becomes a life-giving place.

He acknowledged that it is not easy to make space for silence in one’s heart, but invited everyone to imagine themselves in the desert, surrounded by a great silence, with “no noises, apart from the wind and our breath.”

“It is the absence of words to make room for another Word, the Word of God,” he said.

Pointing again to the image of the desert, Pope Francis said it recalls what is essential, and how often in life people become surrounded by many useless things.

“We chase a thousand things that seem necessary and in reality are not. How good it would be for us to get rid of so many superfluous realities, to rediscover what matters, to find the faces of those around us!” he urged.

“Prayer, fasting, works of mercy: here is the road into the Lenten desert.”

The solitude of the desert also reminds us of the people around us who are lonely and abandoned, he said, saying the “path in the Lenten desert is a path of charity towards the weaker.”

He also said fasting is a way of seeking a simpler life by giving up superfluous, vain things. But, he warned, it is not about “slimming down.”

“In the desert one finds intimacy with God, the love of the Lord,” he stated. “The road that leads us from death to life opens up in the desert. We enter the desert with Jesus, we will go out savoring Easter…”

“Have courage.”

Personal conversion needed to confront Satan’s lies, pope says in Lent message 

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

{Vatican City – CNA] – There is an urgent need for personal conversion, without which the temptations of Satan, and the presence of evil, create a “hell here on earth,” Pope Francis said Monday in his 2020 Lenten message.

“Christian joy flows from listening to, and accepting, the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus,” he said. “Whoever believes this message rejects the lie that our life is ours to do with as we will.”

Rather, the pope said, life is born of the love of God our Father.

“If we listen instead to the tempting voice of the ‘father of lies,’ we risk sinking into the abyss of absurdity, and experiencing hell here on earth, as all too many tragic events in the personal and collective human experience sadly bear witness,” he stated.

Pope Francis’ Lenten message was published Feb. 24. It was signed Oct. 7, 2019, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

With the season of Lent, the Lord gives Catholics again a time of preparation for Jesus’ death and resurrection, “the cornerstone of our personal and communal Christian life,” he said, urging Catholics to not take this time of conversion for granted.

“This new opportunity ought to awaken in us a sense of gratitude and stir us from our sloth,” he argued. “Despite the sometimes tragic presence of evil in our lives, and in the life of the Church and the world, this opportunity to change our course expresses God’s unwavering will not to interrupt his dialogue of salvation with us.”

In his message for Lent 2020, which began Feb. 26, Francis spoke about the “urgency of conversion,” and quoted his 2019 apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit.

“Keep your eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ crucified, let yourself be saved over and over again. And when you go to confess your sins, believe firmly in his mercy which frees you of your guilt.  Contemplate his blood poured out with such great love, and let yourself be cleansed by it. In this way, you can be reborn ever anew.”

During Lent, a penitential period preceding the Church’s celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ, Catholics are called to a renewed practice of almsgiving, fasting, and prayer.

Pope Francis recalled that prayer is “more than a duty,” but that it is “an expression of our need to respond to God’s love which always precedes and sustains us.”

Christians pray with the knowledge they are unworthy, but still loved by God, he said.

Francis also spoke about the paschal mystery and putting it at the center of one’s life, which he said means to have compassion for Christ crucified as represented in “the many innocent victims of wars, in attacks on life, from that of the unborn to that of the elderly, and various forms of violence.”

Christ’s wounds are also represented in “environmental disasters, the unequal distribution of the earth’s goods, human trafficking in all its forms, and the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry,” he stated.

About almsgiving, the pope said sharing one’s worldly goods helps to make the world a better place.

“Charitable giving makes us more human, whereas hoarding risks making us less human, imprisoned by our own selfishness,” he said.

Francis said apart from giving alms, Christians must also consider the structure of economic life, which is why he has convened in March a meeting with young men and women from around the world to bring about “a more just and inclusive economy.”

“The Economy of Francesco,” which will be attended by around 2,000 economists and entrepreneurs under the age of 35, will be held in Assisi March 26-28.

Pope Francis pointed to the crucified Jesus, who was sinless yet took on “the weight of our sins.”

“May we not let this time of grace pass in vain, in the foolish illusion that we can control the times and means of our conversion to him,” he urged.

“I ask Mary Most Holy to pray that our Lenten celebration will open our hearts to hear God’s call to be reconciled to himself, to fix our gaze on the paschal mystery, and to be converted to an open and sincere dialogue with him.”


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