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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: 2 years 23 weeks ago

COVID-19 in India: an urgent appeal from Development and Peace

Tue, 05/11/2021 - 08:58
Development and Peace launches emergency fundraising campaign in response to the dire situation across the Indian sub-continent

By Minaz Kerawala, Communications, Development and Peace/Caritas Canada

The wailing sirens of ambulances rushing to overfull hospitals; the frustrated cries of doctors left with no drugs to administer; the gasping of oxygen-starved lungs; the lamentations of the bereaved; the round-the-clock roar of funeral pyres….

These are the soundscapes of India as it is overcome by a remorseless resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donate online: www.devp.org Numbing numbers

India had 21,077,410 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 230,168 deaths from the disease as of May 4, per World Health Organization (WHO) data. More disturbing than the scale of these numbers that make India the world’s second worst-affected country, is the ruthless rapidity of their recent rise.

On May 1, after a week of breaking case number records almost daily, India became the first country to report over 400,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours. Five days later, even that record was broken, with 412,262 cases.

The previous week, the country had surpassed another grim milestone to join the very small of group of unfortunate nations that lost more than 3,000 lives to COVID-19 in a single day. Since then, daily death tolls have remained above 3,200 and are now approaching the 4,000 mark. As of May 6, 2021 India’s health ministry is reporting more than 3.5 million active cases.

With test positivity rates ranging from 15 to 30 per cent, rapid improvement seems unlikely. Worryingly, too, the numbers are widely thought to be grossly underreported.

Dearth and death

As WHO’s regional director, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, notes, “The current rapid surge of COVID-19 cases has put immense pressure on the health systems, already overburdened since the start of the pandemic.”

Across the country, hospitals have run out of beds, medication, equipment and, crucially, medical-grade oxygen. Even in the metropolises and the private sector, where health facilities are usually better-equipped, shortages are acute and pervasive.

Graveyards are running out of space and crematoria furnaces are melting from incessant use.

To make matters worse, India’s vaccination drive, too, has slowed down after a strong start.

An urgent appeal

Last week, Fr. Paul Moonjely, executive director of Caritas India, wrote to Caritas Internationalis, asking its members to “encourage the community of [the] faithful, institutions and people of goodwill to contribute generously” to help his organization cope with the crisis.

He also sent the following video message:

Redoubling relief efforts

Since the pandemic began, India’s Catholic Church, acting principally through Caritas India, has been supporting some of the most disadvantaged groups, such as slum dwellers, migrant labourers, households with persons with special needs, widows and homeless persons.

Relief services and materials provided by the Church or with its support have included:

  • Food at kitchens and distribution centres in slums, at migration transit points, etc.
  • Masks, sanitizers and hygiene kits to vulnerable communities
  • Psychosocial support and hotline services to traumatized and grieving people
  • Public education campaigns on infection prevention and vaccination
  • Broad-spectrum services focussed on migrants
  • Support rendered to the public healthcare system, including the donation of the expertise, facilities and equipment of Church-run clinics and hospitals

To meet the challenges posed by the second wave of the pandemic, Caritas India will have to redouble these relief efforts. Fr. Moonjely wrote, “There is a strong urgency to reach out to the strained and stranded population that has been dispossessed and isolated. We are faced with a massive challenge of preventing our health care system from further collapse.”

Development and Peace — Caritas Canada has pledged $50,000 to the Caritas network to help the Indian people at this critical time.

The need, however, will far exceed that sum, especially since the scourge of COVID-19 is not restricted to India alone.

A region at risk

The pandemic is raging across the Indian subcontinent. UNICEF’s regional director, George Laryea-Adjei has noted, “The scenes we are witnessing in South Asia are unlike anything our region has seen before. We are faced with a real possibility that our health systems will be strained to a breaking point – leading to even more loss of life.”

This spring, infection rates have trended sharply upward in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

These countries’ already deficient healthcare systems risk total collapse because fewer than one in 10 people have been vaccinated in most of the subcontinent. Vaccination rates in the region and beyond are also affected as India, one of the world’s largest vaccine suppliers, grapples with its own shortages.

Laryea-Adjei’s assessment is stark: “The deadly new surge in South Asia threatens us all. It has the potential to reverse hard-earned global gains against the pandemic….”

More optimistically, Fr. Moonjely declared, “The storm will come to an end… with our collective effort,” having earlier said simply, “We look forward to your support.”

Donations can be made online at www.devp.org or by calling toll free: 1-888-234-8533 or by mail to: Development and Peace / Caritas Canada, 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor Montréal, Québec Canada, H3G 1T7.

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“Come and See” event introduces new two-year program of spiritual exploration for those over 60

Mon, 05/10/2021 - 10:10

By Sarah Donnelly, Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal

A “Come and See” two-day online event will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, June 4 and Saturday, June 5, offering more information (and a lived experience) of a new two-year program that Queen’s House is launching in September 2021 – “Growing in Wisdom: Seeking Deeper Generativity.”

Growing in Wisdom” anticipates welcoming participants from across Canada, and is co-sponsored by several Canadian retreat centres. An ecumenically-based program for those 60+ who are seeking to explore and deepen their spirituality as they age, the two-year program will primarily be offered online.

The “Come and See” program offered on Zoom June 4-5 will share with potential participants the basic outline of “Growing in Wisdom.” It is an opportunity to hear from some of the instructors, to meet others interested in the program, and to discern if this two-year commitment is of interest.

The cost for the June 4-5 “Come and See” session is $25. Register online at Queen’s House LINK or call Sarah Donnelly for assistance in registering: (306) 242-1916 Extension 226.

Today’s newly retired and maturing elders are slowly coming to terms with developments in health care which allow people to live much longer past their point of career retirement. This has left many wondering about the purpose of these final years of our lives.

We suffer from a lack of informed spirituality for our senior years. Often our religious institutions are better equipped in supporting ‘first half of life’ issues than addressing the issues, questions, concerns, and longings of those who are 60+ asking, ‘What is next? How do I live into these years in a fruitful, meaningful and thoughtful way?’

In addition, we may become aware as we age that society glamorizes youth, leaving many with the feeling that their useful years are behind them. In this youth-focused society, aging, illness, and death have become taboo subjects, leaving many having a sense that the only option in preparing for one’s death is by keeping busy or ignoring death altogether.

Yet, aging can be a time of rich growth. This is a time in which we can begin to look back on the life we have lived and find openness to new or previously undeveloped inner vistas. It is a time to begin to come to terms with our own mortality and the grace we find in facing this time in our lives with wisdom and satisfaction.

“Growing in Wisdom: Seeking Deeper Generativity” will provide an opportunity to be deeply present to our own aging process, allowing us to receive its unique gifts.

This new program, collaboratively offered by several retreat centres, is inspired by and draws from various resources developed by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, and the faculty of the Forest Dwelling Program at Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, Texas.

Fr. Rolheiser and the Forest Dwelling faculty will be offering live presentations to the program over the next two years.

“Growing in Wisdom: Seeking Deeper Generativity” is designed for those seeking to engage in their maturing years with wisdom and grace. This is a time in which we can be begin to look back on the life we have lived and find openness to new or previously undeveloped inner vistas. It is a time to begin to come to terms with our own mortality and the grace we find in facing this part of our lives with wisdom and satisfaction.

This program is not designed as a traditional educational program with highly structured material and outcomes. Rather, it is an invitation to a smorgasbord of spiritual and intellectual materials, ideas, experiences, people, poetry, arts and Mystery.

Themes may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Achievement to Fruitfulness
  • An Anthropology and Spirituality of Aging and Dying
  • Our Last Greatest Gift: Giving our Deaths Away
  • Mystical Images for Prayer: Contemplative Awareness and Practices
  • Holy Wandering: Pilgrimage in the Currents of Divine Love
  • The Earth Beneath my Feet: Life Right Here, Right Now
  • Weaving a New Shelter: Celtic Perspectives on Aging
  • Diminishment and Vitalities – Becoming a Wise Elder
  • Hallowing our Passivities

“Growing in Wisdom: Seeking Deeper Generativity” will be offered in four sessions or “intensives.” The first will take place Sept. 15-18, 2021.

Anticipated dates for the remaining intensives are February 2022, September 2022 and February 2023. All of these intensives would be offered online, with possible in-person gatherings at various retreat centres across Canada.

In addition to these four online gatherings, participants will be invited to participate in “Elder Circles” – meeting on Zoom with 8-10 other participants once a month for two hours. Each Elder Circle will be facilitated by a graduate of the Forest Dwelling program, who will be skilled in group facilitation. While many topics might be discussed in these monthly gatherings, the primary focus would be to create and maintain a supportive and caring community for each participant as they journey through this program.

Learn more about “Growing in Wisdom” at the June 4-5 sessions offered by Queen’s House (LINK) or for further information about the two-year program, contact Nancy Phillips, Program Coordinator: (204) 470-9437 or dnphil@mymts.net

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National system launched for reporting sexual abuse or cover-up by a Catholic bishop

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 06:00

The Catholic bishops of Canada have launched a national, bilingual service for reporting situations of sexual abuse either committed or covered up by a bishop. 

(CCN article updated May 11)

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[OTTAWA – CCN] –  The Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has announced the launch of a  Canadian Reporting System for Sexual Abuse or Cover-up by a Catholic Bishop.

Confidential reports of sexual misconduct or cover-up by a Catholic bishop in Canada can now be made online at www.bishopreportingsystem.ca or by calling 1-866-892-3737.

In a May 6 media release, the CCCB said the new confidential and national service furthers their “commitment to responsibility, accountability and transparency in matters of clergy sexual abuse and their commitment to facilitate healing and justice for victims-survivors.”

The CCCB said the new reporting system is the Canadian Catholic Church’s “direct response” to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”) which called on all dioceses and parches to establish “one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports.”

“With Vos estis lux mundi, the Pope indicates what procedures must be followed in the universal Church when allegations are made against a bishop,” states the CCCB release.“In doing so, he updates, clarifies and standardizes practices around the world.”

The CCCB adds: “The reporting system for bishops introduces an additional level of accountability for Church leadership in Canada, alongside the existing diocesan/eparchial protocols for reporting and responding to sexual abuse or other sexual misconduct by priests, deacons, religious, and mandated lay pastoral personnel.”

 

The new abuse reporting system was developed by the Canadian firm Clearview Strategic Partners in consultation with Canada’s bishops.

“This new reporting system is designed to receive and transmit to the proper Church authorities reports of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct (e.g., sexual harassment or possession of child pornography) or cover-up by a Catholic Bishop,” the CCCB said.

The reporting system is not intended to replace a criminal investigation or other civil action, but rather addresses the Church investigation that is required under Canon Law, when there is any allegation of abuse or misconduct against a bishop, according to a CCCB “frequently-asked questions” resource about the new initiative.

“ClearView’s technology benefits anyone wanting to make such a report by providing them with a secure and confidential platform, allowing them to remain anonymous if they so choose, and ensuring all communications are documented and preserved,” according to the CCCB media release.

Reports submitted through the new system are forwarded by ClearView to Church authorities. ClearView also abides by the requirement to report to civil authorities immediately if a minor is at risk, as per the laws of each Canadian province and territory.

The new reporting system can be accessed online 24 hours a day in English or French at BishopReportingSystem.ca or by calling toll-free 1-866-892-3737.

Frequently asked questions about the new system: LINK

More information about the new ClearView system: LINK

Reporting abuse in the Diocese of Saskatoon: LINK

Under the new Clearview system, a report can be made regarding any of the following categories of bishops: all living Roman Catholic (Latin) bishops in Canada, both active and retired, as well as those who served in Canada but who are now living outside the country, and the Eparchial bishops of three of the Eastern Churches present in Canada (Catholic Armenian, Syro-Catholic and Maronite Catholic bishops).

Dr. Delphine Collin-Vézina of Montreal’s McGill University says that the new reporting system is designed to protect abuse victims.

“Our society must aim to create a climate of safety where the abuse of children and vulnerable people is simply not tolerated, and where their support is paramount,” said Collin-Vézina, who is director of the Centre for Research on Children and Families at McGill.

“The newly established national, bilingual system for reporting sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, or cover-up by a Catholic bishop in Canada is an important step forward in this direction. This system is rooted in a victim-first approach and aims to remove the multiple barriers that prevent disclosure.

“These abuses have been silenced and covered up for too long, leaving victims and survivors unheard,” she said. “I applaud this initiative led by the bishops of Canada, which will hopefully facilitate healing and recovery for those who were abused.”

The CCCB announcement adds: “With this reporting system, the bishops make themselves accountable to live with integrity and to address reports of sexual abuse according to Church and civil law. At all times, they grieve with victims-survivors. They regret profoundly what offending bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity have inflicted on victims-survivors, as well as its effects. The bishops of Canada wish to reach out and accompany victims-survivors along the path that restores justice and promotes healing.”

This new national reporting system is just one aspect of a larger effort within the church to make sure that all instances of abuse are exposed and eliminated, says Gatineau Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher.

“We wanted to make sure there were no gaps in the system when it comes to reporting abuse,” says Durocher, who is one of four bishops on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishop’s (CCCB) Standing Committee for Responsible Ministry and the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults.

“This is another step, and in keeping with Pope Francis’ directives, to make sure there is no place for abuse within the church,” Durocher says.

“There has been a lot of effort and focus within the church to set up procedures and protocols to make sure people feel they can safely report instances of abuse, but the reporting would eventually have to through a bishop,” Durocher explains. “But what if the issue or abuse involved a bishop?

“In some ways that was a gap in the system, what if it is a bishop that is doing something wrong or is not following the proper protocols, what then? Who do you report that to? In many ways, it is plugging a hole in the system,” he notes.

 

Archbishop Durocher adds that the CCCB’s Standing Committee for Responsible Ministry and the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults played a key role in the development of the new reporting system as did the two members of the committee who are abuse survivors.

“There was a lot of discussion about this to make sure that the concerns of survivors were addressed in setting up the reporting system,” notes Durocher.

The Standing Committee for Responsible Ministry and the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults, which has been a consulting body to CCCB since being established after the 2018 Plenary Assembly of Bishops, has a mandate “to provide the appropriate CCCB bodies with researched-based information, insights, and recommendations on questions and concerns related to clergy sexual abuse.”

The goal of the CCCB committee within the Church is to “address the issues of healing and prevention comprehensively in recognition of their full impact on victims, families, local communities, society and religious faith; and to do so in a manner fully consistent with federal and provincial/ territorial laws in Canada.”

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Theology of the Body emphasizes human value

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 11:15

By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – The 2021 Theology of the Body Virtual Conference drew a robust online audience as more than 70,000 unique users from over 160 countries tuned in over the April 30-May 2 weekend to consume the free pre-recorded presentations and live prayers and sessions.

Michael Mangione, the director of events for the Theology of the Body Institute, explained via e-mail that the high volume of participating speakers — more than 80 — helped participants flesh out a more holistic personal understanding about what Theology of the Body means.

“We wanted to use this conference as an opportunity for speakers and experts from around the world to share this great teaching from their vantage point and vocation,” said Mangione. “The teaching is rooted in universal truth and therefore can resonate with everyone.”

Mangione said the institute — headquartered in Quarry, Penn. — developed four different tracks of content for the symposium to appeal to different audiences:

  • A generalized introduction to Theology of the Body;
  • A St. Joseph track conceptualized for men and women with religious vocations (also accessible for lay people);
  • A collection of content for artists with seminars from a host of professional performers; and
  • Multimedia recorded for Spanish-speaking attendees.

While no speeches were specifically advertised for teen and young adult Catholics, Mangione says education in Theology of the Body helps young people in their journey towards discovering God’s plan for them.

“In order to fully become who we are meant to be, we need to fully understand we are as we are created,” he said. “We need to understand our past, our present and where we are called to go. Theology of the Body teaches us what it means to be a human. It seems basic, but once exposed to this teaching everyone realizes they never fully understood their true identity until that moment. We are beautiful, complex, rooted in truth and meant for something great. TOB helps reveal this.”

Dr. Christopher West, Theology of the Body Institute president, perhaps provided the most impactful TOB educational material for young adults with an in-depth breakdown of the major themes that compose Pope John Paul II’s seminal book about sexuality entitled Love and Responsibility, originally published in Polish in 1960 before being translated to English in 1981.

West defined the concept of “recognizing the value of the person” as one of the sainted pope’s cornerstone contributions throughout his decades of presenting the tenets of the TOB.

“It can be summarized as an upholding, an explaining and defending of the true value of a human person,” said West. “In everything he said, taught and wrote, this was his goal.”

West referred to a teaching in Love and Responsibility to delineate what happens if this value is not upheld: “Anyone who is capable only of reacting to the sexual values connected to the person, and inherent in it, but cannot see the values of the person as such, will always go on confusing love and eros (lust).”

Canadian Kevin Muico, a lay missionary with Couples for Christ Canada, spoke about the similarities between the virtue of chastity and a morning coffee.

“Chasity and chaste people are generally happier than people who are unchaste,” declared the Milton, Ont., native. “And caffeinated people are similar in that sense. Look at your own lives: are you happier before or after drinking your coffee? I’m willing to bet that you agree we are better, happier people after that cup of coffee.”

Practising the virtues of chastity, Muico added, supplies true contentment compared to the unchaste “secular values of money, sex, fame, drugs and power,” which, he says, “is a façade that we can see through.”

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March for Life national event returns to Parliament Hill despite COVID-19 restrictions

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 11:08
Online events are also part of the annual pro-life march

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – The theme of this year’s March For Life in Canada is “You are Not Alone”.

That theme also applies if you are a pro-life Canadian and you show up on Parliament Hill on May 13 to actually physically march in Ottawa – organizers of the event promise in-person participants will not be alone.

After cancelling the in-person march completely last year, organizers of this year’s event plan to rally in-person on Parliament Hill even though the province of Ontario and much of the rest of the country continues to enact strict rules against social gatherings across the country because of the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Organizers of the march don’t know how many people will actually show up in-person considering the ongoing COVID restrictions, but speakers have been lined up to address the marchers who do attend.

For those who can’t attend the in-person rally, the event will once again this year be available to watch online.

As well, there will be a week-long online pro-life film festival and other online events geared towards youth. All online aspects of the 2021 March For Life will be available via MarchForLife.ca and the Campaign Life Coalition’s (CLC) website and social media channels.

“We haven‘t lined up any buses to bring people in, like we have in past years, and the schools are closed, so we won’t have school trips tied into the event like we have most other years, but we will have speakers on the Hill and we will make sure that our pro-life message is delivered load and clear,” Campaign Life Coalition’s Debbie Duval said.

“We are definitely going to be there on the 13th in person to exercise our rights,” she said a week before the May 13 rally.

“We will have speakers on the Hill like during past years. How many will come out to the march, we don’t know but we will be there,” said Duval, adding that along with the president of the Campaign Life Coalition Jeff Gunnarson one of the other featured speakers on May 13 will be Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

“We have some really interesting speakers lined up who will stress the importance of the pro-life cause,” Duval said, who acknowledged that some speakers who organizers were originally hoping to book for the Parliament Hill rally can’t attend because of the ongoing closure of the Canada-United States border.

“There are some people we were hoping to be able to bring in but with the border situation some of those plans have had to be changed but there is a lot that will be available online that will be very interesting for pro-life Canadians,” Duval said.

“Due to ongoing lockdowns and restrictions, we are preparing for a hybrid March For Life, which will feature a scaled-down rally and march on Parliament Hill on May 13, and a week-long schedule of virtual events including the annual Rose Dinner, Candlelight Vigil, and the Youth Conference,” a statement in advance of the May 13 rally on Parliament Hill from the CLC said.

“Due to popular demand, we are bringing back our pro-life film festival with several movies lined up for the week. This year’s theme, You Are Not Alone, speaks directly to those who are in a position of vulnerability and crisis, by assuring them that we are here to help.”

“To the pregnant mother, fearing an unknown future, you are not alone. To the beloved senior, who is feeling afraid and isolated, you are not alone, and to the child in the womb, who is dehumanized by our society today, you are not alone,” the CLC said.
Duval said that regardless of whether pro-life Canadians attend the May 13 rally in person or not, it is important that pro-life Canadians speak out in any manner that they feel comfortable.

“It is important everyone stand together, whether that is in person or not,” Duval said.

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Critics do not trust courts on “conversion therapy” definition as Bill C-6 enters third-reading stage

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 11:00

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – Most critics of the federal government’s effort to ban conversion therapy say that they do not doubt that the federal government and supporters of Bill C-6 are trying to do the right thing.

But the ongoing debate surrounding Bill C-6 shows that the critics of the effort to ban conversion therapy don’t trust how the courts will eventually interpret a ban on something that almost everyone in the debate claims they are against.

Related: “More questions than clarity regarding Bill C-6” – LINK

A small minority of federal MPs, mostly from the Conservative Party, have been raising concerns about how the wording of Bill C-6 – which is currently at the third reading stage in the House of Commons – could end up criminalizing sexual orientation conversations between parents and children as well as such conversations with faith leaders.

It is that concern that is at the heart of the Catholic Church’s opposition to Bill C-6, even though the church is quick to condemn aspects of conversion therapy.

“Like many Canadians, (the Church) is opposed to all forms of coercive and manipulative activities because they do not respect the sacred dignity of the human person and the freedoms inherent with that dignity. The protection of vulnerable Canadians from harmful acts is a necessary and important goal and one which the Bishops irrevocably support,” according to the Conference of Catholic Bishops, adding that the wording of Bill C-6 is too broad and will expose good faith efforts to address gender identity issues to the whims of the courts.

“It is generic in its scope and ambiguous in its language, and thus its application could be overextended and interpreted to include what are and should remain lawful activities,” the CCCB said of Bill C-6.

“This is mainly because of its problematic definition of conversion therapy which reads: ‘a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour,’” the CCCB said in its brief to the House of Commons regarding Bill C-6.

“In the Bill’s current form, a range of activity and well-intended actions, hitherto legitimate and lawful, that are also beneficial goals in support of individuals, could become subject to prosecution under the Criminal Code, despite the apparent claims to the contrary on the website of the Department of Justice.”

That is a concern that the federal Liberal government dismisses, but critics who have seen how the courts have continually expanded medically-provided euthanasia/ assisted suicide argue that this is a valid concern unless the wording of Bill C-6 is changed to clearly state the limits of such a ban.

“Discussions and open-ended conversations that explore identity are not conversion therapy and they are not targeted in the Bill,” said Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger, who along with the federal justice minister is one of the federal government’s lead ministers in navigating Bill C-6 through the House of Commons.

“Children should be free to ask questions about who they are and to come to know themselves. That is why health care workers, parents, teachers, religious leaders must be able to continue supporting and affirming youth in these conversations and discussions,” she said. “The challenge where it becomes conversion therapy is when it is without consent, when it is being imposed, when people are being forced to change who they are or exploring who they are.”

But Conservative MP Michael Cooper said the issue isn’t really about banning conversion therapy, which he supports, but instead how the courts will interpret Bill C-6 once it becomes law.

“It is wrong, and it is harmful,” Cooper said. “Conversion therapy should be banned. Individuals who perpetrate such harmful acts and seek to coercively change someone’s sexual orientation or sexual identity should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law under the penalty of the Criminal Code,” he said, but added that “it goes without saying that if we are to carve out any law in the Criminal Code to ban conversion therapy, it is absolutely imperative that we get the definition right.”

“The Minister of Justice and other members of the government have repeatedly said that the bill would not target voluntary, good-faith conversations,” Cooper said.

“I do not doubt their sincerity when they say that is what they believe. Consistent with that, the website of the Department of Justice states the same. However, what matters is not the minister’s interpretation of the bill. What matters is not what is on the website of the Department of Justice.

“What matters is, in fact, what is in the bill,” and how that is interpreted by the courts in the future, he said.

“The government’s intention is a good one, and the intent of the bill is a good one, but it is important that we get the definition right,” Cooper said. “I am concerned that we have not achieved that in the bill before us.”

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CCCB offers message on Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, reflecting on hardships caused by COVID-19

Mon, 05/03/2021 - 16:23

Catholic Saskatoon News

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) published a message to mark the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1, 2021.

CCCB Message for the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker May 1, 2021 – English / French

The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker was instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1955 to celebrate Joseph, the patron saint of workers on the first day of May each year.

The message from the CCCB noted that Catholic social teaching identifies work as “a human right that enhances dignity, sustains families, and contributes to the common good of society.”

In particular, the bishops addressed the difficult situation many are faced with, especially during the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Canadians have become acutely aware that despite labour laws that protect workers, there remain many inequities and indeed numerous difficult working conditions for many of our brothers and sisters,” acknowledges the message.

“We find this particularly prevalent among those deemed ‘essential workers,’ such as grocery store clerks, restaurant workers, factory employees, distribution centre workers, gas station operators, health care workers, educators, and migrants who labour in the farming industry – to name only a few,” lists the bishops’ message.

These “essential workers” do not have the option to work from home, and many do not have access to paid sick leave or other benefits, notes the message.

“Collectively, we must heed Pope Francis’ call to “review our priorities” and advocate for justice for all workers, especially those identified as essential. Work is essential for the life of an individual and of the community.”

Another “sobering effect” of the COVID-19 pandemic is rising unemployment, especially for women and youth, continues the CCCB letter.

The CCCB message concludes: “As we continue to celebrate the Year of St. Joseph, we are reminded of the words of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Letter Patris Corde, where he writes: ‘Saint Joseph’s work reminds us that God himself, in becoming man, did not disdain work. The loss of employment that affects so many of our brothers and sisters, and has increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, should serve as a summons to review our priorities. Let us implore Saint Joseph the Worker to help us find ways to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, no family should be without work!'”

 

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Spring Congress 2021: “Jesus, Light the Way” provides message of hope for those at in-person and online diocesan event

Mon, 05/03/2021 - 16:21

(Updated May 12, 2021)

By Marilyn Jackson, Director of Pastoral Ministry

[This article is part of a “Fuel-Up Friday” series in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon]

On Friday, April 23, 2021, 100 participants journeyed together at three host sites and over Zoom to hear three very different messages of hope.

It was a beautiful time of reflection and fellow ship. Even though all 100 people were no t in the same room together, we were united through a journey shared by all.

Nobody has been exempt from a year of living through a global pandemic. Thanks to technology we were able to gather as a large faith community and share our experiences.

“I will give you treasures of darkness, riches hidden away, that you may know I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name” – Isaiah 45:3

Lessons Learned – Finding Treasures in the Darkness

Sr. Claire Rolf, OP, Prioress of the Dominican contemplative Queen of Peace Monastery near Squamish, BC, started the day with a gentle, beautiful reflection around the text of Isaiah 45:3.

In this world, we have day and night. When darkness falls and we can’t see very well, sometimes it can be frightening. It doesn’t mean we are alone, Sr. Claire assured us. Our emptiness can be a space for God, but we spend so much energy trying to fill the void. We fail to see the treasures in the darkness.

Sr. Claire’s message was a reminder for us to find joy in the routines of everyday life.

Sr. Claire also shared her beautiful surroundings as she led us in an awe-inspring meditation using images of nature: mountains, standing majestic and still; flowers, turning simply and quietly toward the sun; the cedar, roots deep in the fertile ground, reaching great hheights; the glacier, appearing inert and when exposed to the light, becomes brooks and creeks and then rivers to irrigate the earth.

Lessons Learned – Hope is an Anchor of the Soul

Sr. Malou Tibayan, a Verbum Dei Missionary (who recently began serving in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon), gave participants a hopeful message for living in the light of Christ today, and moving forward in hope – not just with optimism, but with great hope.

Sr. Malou told us: “We should never confuse or alter hope with optimism, because they are not synonyms. Research shows that optimism and hope are related to some degree, but clearly distinct from each other.

“Optimism is a psychological term. It is defined as a positive emotion, a feeling of confidence that something that you want may happen. But the great problem is that when things don’t turn out the way we expect, it can quickly flip or turn into pessimism. Therefore, we can say that optimism can be considered an unreliable friend, simply because it is unpredictable.

“Optimism vanishes away when faced with adversity and ambiguity, while hope enables us not only to live with ambiguity and adversity, but also to work through them.”

Setting the World Aflame

The third speaker – Michael Dopp (founder of the New Evangelization Summit, who works with Mission of the Redeemer Ministries – reminded us that nothing has changed in terms of the Great Commission.

The heart of the mission has not changed. Nothing that has happened in the world has ever changed the mission of the Church, which is to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

He suggested that the pandemic has provided us with an opportunity to re-set, a precious moment to re-assess, re-imagine and be bold!

He outlined three ways to evangelize:

  1. Live a radical witness of faith
  2. Proclaim the “Kerygma” in a clear and simple way: Relationship: We were created to live in relationship with God for eternity / Rupture: Our relationship with God was broken by sin / Redeemer: Jesus Christ died for our salvation / Response: Make a decision to put Christ at the centre of our life.
  3. Create places of encounter in our parishes
Summary

Sr. Claire gave us a way to draw closer to God in prayer and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings and the beauty in our daily routine. Sr. Malou inspired us to have a new vision of hope, a gift that we need to cultivate, in order to keep it alive. Michael encouraged us to get up, dust ourselves off (my words, not his), and get on with the mission of the Church.

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Marilyn Jackson is the Director of Ministry Services for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – subscribe to her weekly “Fuel-Up Friday” mailout of updates and inspiration by e-mailing mjackson@rcdos.ca

 

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Quebec bishops push for ‘just recovery’ after ordeal of COVID-19 pandemic

Mon, 05/03/2021 - 15:28

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – Quebec’s Catholic bishops don’t just want a recovery, they want change.

The Quebec Assembly of Catholic Bishops’ annual May Day message calls for a basic income, higher minimum wage, an economy less dependent on fossil fuels, tax reform that redistributes wealth away from the wealthy and policies that recognize how women have been disadvantaged in our economy.

“Women and young people have been especially hard hit,” the bishops write in “Towards a Just Recovery: Paying Attention to the Lives of Workers.”

“The ordeal of the COVID-19 pandemic” inspired the bishops to take on the economic inequities that have driven a 35- to 40-per-cent increase in food bank use in Quebec.

“The first priority of any recovery plan must certainly be to foster a return to work with appropriate working conditions in those sectors that were especially affected,” the bishops wrote. “This must include an increase to the minimum wage and attention to the urgent need for paid family and medical leaves.”

As governments begin to think about a post-pandemic economy, the bishops particularly want them to think about women’s place in the labour force.

“A just recovery must start from a real recognition of the dignity and the work of those — mainly women — upon whom our public services rely at all levels,” they said.

That certainly makes sense to the president of Canada’s largest Catholic union.

“Many of what we call essential workers — either personal support workers, or working in the health industry, or working in grocery stores quite frankly — tend to be women. A lot of the time they’re immigrant women,” said Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association president Liz Stuart.

“Their work has been deemed essential and yet not essential enough to actually pay them a living wage, or not essential enough to actually provide paid sick leave for them.”

Minimum wage, paid sick days and a basic income may not be the immediate concern of well-paid, unionized teachers, said Stuart, but her union has long held these issues as priorities, “understanding that we do so from a place of privilege.”

St. Jerome’s University sociologist David Seljak sees the imprint of St. Pope John Paul II from his 1981 encyclical Laborem Exercens in the Quebec May Day message.

“The Quebec bishops have simply taken their cue from him and extended that to the poorest members of society, because those are the persons in society who are at the greatest risk of having their dignity ignored or violated.”

The tradition of Church thinking about labour goes back almost 130 years to Pope Leo XIII’s ground-breaking encyclical Rerum Novarum. But it gained a new basis in the philosophy of the Polish pope, who taught that work and human dignity can’t be separated, Seljak said.

Seljak finds it both amusing and mystifying that reviving a 40-year-old encyclical by a pope who is today a conservative icon “might strike people as progressive or overly-progressive.”

But John Paul II’s insights remain relevant, says Seljak.

“If you ignore the importance of work in the life of the person, you can easily lose the person and ignore their dignity,” said Seljak. “So much of our life is work. It’s not just the eight-hour work day, but the work we do in the house, in the home, the work we do for the family. You take away work, you take away a lot from the life of the person. If you refuse to recognize the dignity of labour, you refuse to recognize so much of what makes a human person.”

“A recovery that takes heed of the dignity of persons, of communities, and of our Common Home must be the fruit of a collaborative effort,” the Quebec bishops wrote. “We invite parish communities to develop partnerships in their own milieu and to participate actively in this collaboration to prepare the future.”

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STM facilities team on front line of war on deadly COVID-19 virus

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 14:39

This feature article from stmcollege.ca is re-published with permission.

Strict protocols, dedicated staff members have kept STM community safe during pandemic

Greg Clemence had the loneliest job on campus last year.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down St. Thomas More College building in March 2020, he was often the lone occupant of the building for extended periods of time.

As Facilities Manager, it was his responsibility to make sure the building was operating properly and was secure.

Students were forced to finish their winter semester from home, and even staff and faculty were not allowed in the building without special permission.

“It was just me, really, when we shut down completely,” said Clemence. “And the only reason I had to be here was the boilers. We can’t shut them down, so they have to be attended to every day, So, I just checked the building, made it secure, and bounced around my office quite a lot.”

“After we opened up part of the building and people started coming back, it’s been good. It’s nice to see the building getting used — at least in part.”

Clemence is charged with implementing the protocols that are keeping the faculty, staff and students at STM College safe when they visit.

The pandemic – which has killed more than 465 people in Saskatchewan — has challenged the STM facilities team to take its game to the microscopic world.

The experienced crew of Don Wiebe, Tony Wurtz and Anteneh Seyoum used to clean things like muddy footprints in the hallways and fingerprints on doors and windows. Now, it’s the unseen things they have to worry about. But they have more than risen to the challenge.

“It’s funny, because it’s simpler than it was. Their duties are more important than they were before – not that they were not important — but it’s simpler,” said Clemence. “We don’t empty as many garbage bins and we don’t clean certain areas in a regular basis. Ninety per cent of what the guys do now is repetitive cleaning of all the public areas and all of the areas that we know people have been.”

It is critically important that the facilities team know where people have been so they can target their sanitizing efforts.

“Everything gets extra attention. The guys have to pay a lot more attention to their detail and I feel for them, because it is probably the least glamorous job they could be doing right now, but their efforts have clearly shown that it’s working, and that it’s important.”

Students can now use the student lounge, Choices cafeteria, Shannon Library and the atrium, up to a maximum of 50 people. And all visitors must enter through the North Entrance.

“We intentionally limited it that way so that people don’t walk through the whole property because that just makes it impossible to clean,” said Clemence.

The faculty and staff have to report if they’ve been to a certain area so the facilities team can go in behind and sanitizes the area afterward.

Safety is everything when a tiny virus can send someone to the hospital.

“We bought a lot more hand sanitizer stations,” said Clemence. “We basically plastered them everywhere, and we have a ridiculous amount hand sanitizer on hand.”

“We have a few professors that are using designated classrooms to stream their lessons, but the vast majority are doing it from home now. I think we have three regular professors that come in and do their classes here. The rooms have a camera and multi cameras for the white boards and they can do it on there. They book the room and the facilities staff comes in afterward to sanitize again.”

“So far it’s all been working out pretty smoothly.”

With summer approaching, there are some renovation projects planned to take advantage of the empty hallways.

The floor in the Chelsea Lounge has been resurfaced and new windows were installed in the older part of the building. Crews replaced the 60-year-old single-pane windows with modern, triple-paned windows, which will help with heating costs.

A large section of roof will be revamped over the summer, and the seating in the Fr. O’Donnell Auditorium will be replaced.

“The seats in there are 20-plus years old and they’re tired,” said Clemence. “Nowadays, of course, everybody comes in with a laptop, so we’re getting modern, slightly bigger seats with slightly bigger desktops.”

“We’ve got a few capital projects on the go, and it’s really a good time to do it because even in a typical summer there are not many people here. This year there’s going to be even less.”

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