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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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Pope Francis: Christian meditation ‘is not a withdrawal into ourselves’

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 11:42

Speaking at his general audience, Pope Francis reflected on what distinguishes Christian meditation from other meditative practices popular in the Western world.

He said: “For us Christians, meditating is a way of coming into contact with Jesus. And in this way, only in this way, we discover ourselves.”

“And this is not a withdrawal into ourselves, no, no: it means going to Jesus, and from Jesus, discovering ourselves, healed, risen, strong by the grace of Jesus. And encountering Jesus, the Savior of all, myself included. And this, thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

The pope gave his address, dedicated to meditative prayer, in the library of the Apostolic Palace due to coronavirus restrictions.

“We all need to meditate, to reflect, to discover ourselves, it is a human dynamic. Especially in the voracious Western world, people seek meditation because it represents a high barrier against the daily stress and emptiness that is everywhere.”

“Here, then, is the image of young people and adults sitting in meditation, in silence, with eyes half-closed… But what do these people do, we might ask? They meditate. It is a phenomenon to be looked on favorably: in fact, we are not made to run all the time, we have an inner life that cannot always be neglected. Meditating is therefore a need for everyone. Meditating, so to say, is like stopping and taking a breath in life. To stop and be still.”

The pope then considered what made Christian meditation different from other practices.

He said: “Meditating is a necessary human dimension, but meditating in the Christian context — we Christians — goes further: it is a dimension that must not be eradicated.”

“The great door through which the prayer of a baptized person passes — let us remind ourselves once again — is Jesus Christ. For the Christian, meditation enters through the door of Jesus Christ. The practice of meditation also follows this path.”

He continued: “And the Christian, when he or she prays, does not aspire to full self-transparency, does not seek the deepest center of the ego. This is legitimate, but the Christian seeks something else. The prayer of the Christian is first of all an encounter with the Other, with a capital ‘O’: the transcendent encounter with God.”

“If an experience of prayer gives us inner peace, or self-mastery, or clarity about the path to take, these results are, one might say, consequences of the grace of Christian prayer, which is the encounter with Jesus. That is, meditating means going — guided by a phrase from the Scripture, from a word — to the encounter with Jesus within us.”

The Holy Father explained that within the Christian tradition the word “meditation” has been used to refer to many different practices over the past two millennia.

“Nevertheless,” he said, “some common lines can be traced, and in this we are helped again by the Catechism, which says … ‘There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. […] But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.’”

“And here it indicates a traveling companion, one who guides: the Holy Spirit. Christian meditation is not possible without the Holy Spirit. It is he who guides us to the encounter with Jesus. Jesus said to us, ‘I will send you the Holy Spirit. He will teach you and will explain to you. He will teach you and explain to you.’ And in meditation too, he is the guide for going forward in our encounter with Jesus Christ.”

Pope Francis urged Catholics not to become overly attached to any one form of meditative prayer, saying that “the method is a road, not a goal.”

“The methods of meditation are paths to travel to arrive at the encounter with Jesus, but if you stop on the road, and just look at the path, you will never find Jesus,” he said.

“You will make a ‘god’ out of the path. The ‘god’ is not waiting for you there, it is Jesus who awaits you. And the path is there to take you to Jesus.”

He highlighted the practice of meditating on scenes from the Gospel, which was recommended by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order to which the pope belongs.

He said: “Here, then, the grace of Christian prayer is: Christ is not far away, but is always in a relationship with us. There is no aspect of his divine-human person that cannot become a place of salvation and happiness for us. Every moment of Jesus’ earthly life, through the grace of prayer, can become immediate to us, thanks to the Holy Spirit, the guide.”

In his greetings to different language groups, the pope noted that Poles celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Queen of Poland, on May 3.

Addressing Polish speakers, he said: “Since the 17th century, the Polish people have given this title to the Mother of God, placing themselves under her maternal protection and committing themselves to serve faithfully the cause of the Kingdom of her Son.”

“Remembering the vows your fathers took at Jasna Góra [in Częstochowa], also in these difficult times of ours, take up Mary’s ever-present invitation and do whatever Jesus tells you. May his blessing accompany each and every one of you, your families, and the entire Polish nation!”

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Caritas: migrants’ deaths “moment of shame” must be followed by moment of action

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 11:29

By Caritas Internationalis

[Rome – Media Release] – Following yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea, Caritas Internationalis is raising its voice to condemn the indifference and lack of political will that led to the deaths of more than 130 migrants off the Libyan coast between April 21 and April 22, 2021.

The confederation calls for mechanisms to be put in place to protect the rights and dignity of migrants along their journey, to ensure safe and legal migration routes, and to intensify support to local communities in the countries of origin so that people are not forced to migrate.

“The ‘moment of shame’, as the Holy Father rightly called it, must be followed by the moment of political will, welcome, legality and action,” says Aloysius John, Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis.

“We cannot continue to look the other way or to witness the sad and ignoble scenario of governments passing the responsibility to each other to the detriment of human lives, the value of which seems non-existent today,” says John.

A week after the tragedy that took place in the Mediterranean Sea, as media attention on the event begins to wane, Caritas Internationalis launched an appeal to keep attention focused on the drama of migrants and to ensure that international outrage is followed by concrete actions.

“We must all feel responsible and not forget that these migrants left their countries, because of the consequences of our modern unjust society which does not allow them to live in dignity in their homeland,” adds John.

Caritas Internationalis is in contact with these migrants, knows and shares their sufferings, and does its best to heal their wounds and give them comfort and solace to preserve their humanity. Caritas is active in their countries of origin, promoting programmes aimed at eradicating the causes of migration.

Caritas accompanies migrants in the countries they cross along their journey, by giving them food and water, a place to stay, psychological support, and also information about their rights and the risks they will incur on their way. Caritas welcomes migrants in their countries of arrival, helping them to integrate.

The Mediterranean Sea is a cemetery for thousands of such migrants and will continue to be unless the international community decides to act. Closing of borders is paramount to hypocrisy, because the main cause of poverty in migrants’ countries of origin is found in political, economic, and geostrategic choices of the rich countries favouring the exploitation of local resources, in complicity with corrupt local leaders who are kept in power while oppressing their population.

“As Pope Francis said ‘these migrants were human beings who begged for help which never came’. It is a shame that the international community does not want to take responsibility to save them. Each face that perished represents scars of violence, misery, poverty, hunger, and helplessness. They were entering the jaws of death with the hope that they can find a better life elsewhere.”

The Caritas confederation firmly believes that a sustainable and long-lasting solution to prevent such tragedies cannot be found, unless there is the political will to develop the least developed countries, and unless all efforts are undertaken to promote democracy through people’s participation.

After this umpteenth tragedy, which occurred amid worldwide indifference, and in line with the “Twenty Action Points on migrants and refugees”, formulated by the Vatican’s Section on Migrants & Refugees of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Caritas Internationalis asks the decision-makers to:

  • Adopt mechanisms to enable the safe and legal migration of migrants and refugees, to avoid the repetition of new massacres in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Do all that is possible to receive migrants in dignity as victims of modern exploitation and corruption
  • Allocate international aid for promoting sustainable community-based micro-projects to enable the prevention of migration as a means of survival.
  • Give ample support to NGOs involved in receiving and accompanying the migrants so that they can continue their mission.

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CNEWA Canada updates

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 06:44
Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) Canada announces changes to board of directors and renewal of contract for national director
  • Most Rev. Terrence Prendergast completes mandate
  • Most Rev. Marcel Damphousse appointed president
  • Renewed terms for Cardinal Thomas Collins as director and vice president,
  • Mr. Carl Hétu re-elected as national director

By CNEWA staff

[Ottawa – CNEWA media release] – At its 2020 annual meeting, held virtually, the board of CNEWA Canada ratified important changes to its membership.

After serving some 17 years on its board and 14 years as its president from 2006 to 2020, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast has resigned. As his replacement, the CNEWA board has appointed Most Rev. Marcel Damphousse, Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall.

The mandate of Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto and vice president of the board was also renewed.

The current Board of Directors also includes: Most Rev. Lawrence Huculak, Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Winnipeg; Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec and Treasurer of the board; Most Rev. J. Michael Miller, Archbishop of Vancouver; and Most Rev. Peter Hundt, Archbishop of St. John’s.

“I’m honoured to be able to help guide and support the work of CNEWA here in Canada and especially on the ground across the Middle and Near East through the Eastern Churches and their partners,” said Damphousse. “I wish to thank Archbishop Prendergast for his devoted service and commitment to CNEWA. We wish him a healthy and fruitful retirement.”

The board also renewed the contract of Carl Hétu, national director of CNEWA Canada since its founding in Canada in 2004, for another three-year term.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity to continue my work and I am very grateful for the generosity and trust that Canadians have shown towards CNEWA’s mission over the years,” said Hétu.  Indeed, CNEWA Canada received over $45 million in donations over the past 16 years and just over $5 million in 2020.

Hétu continued, “I’ve come to realize just how important the Church and its various members and partners are to peace, development and the wellbeing of persons throughout these regions, but also in Canada and around the world. I’m committed to this cause and look forward to working with our team, board members, donors and partners to build a better world.”

About CNEWA

An agency of the Holy See, CNEWA works for, through and with the Eastern Catholic churches throughout the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe to share the love of Christ with churches. Founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, CNEWA provides pastoral and humanitarian support to the churches and people of the East. CNEWA Canada was incorporated as a registered charity by Canada Revenue Agency in 2003.

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Novena reflects spirituality of the founders of the Church of Quebec / Neuvaine des fondateurs et fondatrices de l’Église de Québec 

Tue, 04/27/2021 - 12:50

By Fr. Pierre-Charles Robitaille, Basilica-Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec

Québec, April 22, 2021 – Persevere in the mission! is the theme of the Novena of the founders of the Church of Québec, held from Friday, April 30 to Saturday, May 8, 2021.

This annual novena is for all who wish to pray and to reflect on the spirituality of Saint Marie de l’Incarnation, Blessed Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin, the Holy Canadian Martyrs and Saint François de Laval.

Every day, a brief meditation will be given by one of our bishops or a specialist. To follow these nine days of prayer, download the interactive booklet (LINK), including the 8-minute video capsules. For more information see the website: founders.ecdq.org .

There are few places in the world that offer the possibility to celebrate in a single novena many great models of faith, and Québec City is, in this way, a holy city: in one-square kilometer, we find the memorial centers of Blessed Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin, Saint Marie de l’Incarnation, the Holy Canadian Martyrs and Saint François de Laval. We must thank God for these founders who had the courage to bring to America the faith that still fuels us today.

To virtually celebrate:

On Salt and Light (LINK), follow the Solemn Mass (in English): Sunday, May 2, at 8:00 am, presided by Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix;

On facebook.com/NDQuebec (LINK), follow the Solemn Masses (in French) for:

  • Saint Marie de l’Incarnation, on Friday, April 30, at 5 pm EDT (3 pm in SK), presided by Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix at the Ursulines’ Monastery;
  • The Holy Canadian Martyrs, on Sunday, May 2, at 9:30 am EDT (7:30 am in SK), presided by Father Marc Rizzetto at the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec;
  • Saint François de Laval, on Thursday, May 6, at 5 pm EDT (3 pm in SK), presided by Msgr. Marc Pelchat at the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec;
  • Blessed Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin, Saturday, May 8, at 10:30 am EDT (8:30 am in SK), presided by Msgr. Martin Laliberté p.m.é. at the chapel of the Augustinians’ Monastery.

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Neuvaine des fondateurs et fondatrices de l’Église de Québec édition 2021

Persévérer dans la mission ! Tel est le thème de la Neuvaine des fondateurs et fondatrices de l’Église de Québec qui se tiendra du vendredi 30 avril au samedi 8 mai 2021.

Cette neuvaine annuelle permet à qui le désire de méditer sur la spiritualité de sainte Marie de l’Incarnation, de la bienheureuse Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin, des saints Martyrs canadiens et de saint François de Laval.

Chaque jour, une brève réflexion vous est offerte par l’un de nos évêques ou par un/une spécialiste. Pour suivre ces neufs jours de prière, télécharger le  carnet interactif incluant les capsules vidéo (8 min.). Pour plus d’information:  fondateurs.ecdq.org.

Peu d’endroits dans le monde offrent la possibilité de célébrer dans le cadre d’une même neuvaine plusieurs grands modèles de la foi. Et la ville de Québec est, en ce sens, une ville sainte : nous y retrouvons dans l’espace d’à peine un kilomètre, les lieux mémoires de la bienheureuse Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin, de sainte Marie de l’Incarnation, de saint François de Laval et des saints Martyrs canadiens. Il faut rendre grâce à Dieu pour ces fondateurs qui ont osé porter, en cette terre d’Amérique, la foi qui nous anime encore aujourd’hui.

Pour célébrer avec nous en mode virtuel :

Sur facebook.com/NDQuebec suivez les messes solennelles pour célébrer: Sainte Marie de l’Incarnation, le vendredi 30 avril à 17 heures, sous la présidence de M. le cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix au Monastère des Ursulines ;

Tous les fondateurs et fondatrices de l’Église Canadienne, Messe en anglais, le dimanche 2 mai à 8 heures, sous la présidence de M. le cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix https://slmedia.org/more/mass ;

  • Saints Martyrs canadiens, le dimanche 2 mai à 9 h 30 HAE, sous la présidence du Père Marc Rizzetto, messe enregistrée à la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec ;
  • Saint François de Laval, le jeudi 6 mai à 17 heures HAE, sous la présidence de Mgr Marc Pelchat, à la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec ;
  • Bienheureuse Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin, le samedi 8 mai à 10 h 30 HAE, sous la présidence de Mgr Martin Laliberté, à la chapelle du Monastère des Augustines.

 

 

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Belarus bishop offers Mass for Chernobyl victims on 35th anniversary of nuclear disaster

Tue, 04/27/2021 - 08:42

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

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Canadian bishops, religious push for passage of Bill C-15 to implement UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Tue, 04/27/2021 - 08:21

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

With the legislation already forwarded to the Senate for study and third reading in the House of Commons expected within days, Canada’s bishops and religious orders have come out strongly in support of Bill C-15, a law that would implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

“We strongly encourage Parliamentarians currently debating Bill C-15 to work diligently, in consultation and solidarity with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, so as to ensure the timely and necessary inclusion of UNDRIP within Canadian law and thus contribute to truly respectful and just relations in this land,” said an April 26, 2021  statement from the executive committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

CCCB Statement about Bill C-15: LINK

CRC endorsement for Bill C-15: LINK

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: LINK

TRC Calls to Action: LINK

The CCCB statement comes on the heels of an April 21 endorsement of the proposed law from the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC), which represents Canada’s 11,000 religious order sisters, brothers and priests. The CRC endorsement states that the bill “is instrumental for renewing the spirit of reconciliation in Canada and encouraging the work of decolonization, in order to establish right relationships and a common vision for the future of our country.”

Bill C-15 would require that the federal government bring all of Canada’s laws into line with the UNDRIP. This is the second time since the United Nations passed the non-binding declaration in 2007 that Ottawa has tried to fold the UNDRIP principles into Canadian law. A 2018 private member’s bill sponsored by NDP MP Romeo Saganash passed the Commons with government support, but met with opposition and delay from Conservative Senators. The bill died in the Senate when Parliament dissolved for the 2019 election.

In 2016 both the CRC and the CCCB jointly declared their support for UNDRIP as a framework for reconciliation. That statement was part of the Catholic Church’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call To Action 48, which asked faith communities to adopt the principles of UNDRIP.

The CCCB’s most recent response to Bill C-15 is the result of many discussions with the Guadalupe Circle of bishops and Catholic Indigenous elders.

“Several Indigenous groups are not supporting Bill C-15 and some are highly in favour,” Keewatin-Le Pas Bishop Murray Chatlain, co-chair of the Guadalupe Circle, in an e-mail to The Catholic Register before the release of the bishops’ statement.

“We have tried to study the reasonings from both sides. We continue to encourage the incorporation of the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canadian legislation.”

The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians in Ontario is the most prominent of several smaller Indigenous organizations who believe C-15 doesn’t go far enough in recognizing prior Indigenous sovereignty over lands and resources. On the other side, several Conservative provincial governments have objected that conceding free, prior and informed consent for resource and infrastructure projects on traditional Indigenous territory goes too far.

While the outstanding issues are thorny, the religious orders hold that once the bill is passed, the process of promulgating regulations to implement C-15 can answer the unanswered questions.

“Consultations with Indigenous peoples in the development of an action plan, following the passing of the legislation, must allow for the necessary revisions and amendments to the legislative framework to ensure its compatibility with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” the CRC statement said.

The CCCB concurred that there’s still work to be done, but the passage of the bill is a necessary step in the reconciliation process.

“It’s incorporation into Canadian legislation, ensuring that its spirit and principles are in harmony throughout our society, is an important and vital step forward in this journey,” the statement said.

Watching this legislation fail a second time would undermine Indigenous trust in any process of reconciliation, said Sr. Sue Wilson of the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph’s Office for Systemic Justice.

“I think we’ve lost a path forward (if it doesn’t pass),” Wilson said. “Some Indigenous people are skeptical about the commitment to moving forward. Each time a bill like this comes forward and doesn’t go anywhere it can feed into that skepticism.”

The Sisters of St. Joseph, Jesuits, Scarboro Missions and several other Catholic institutions have joined Faith In The Declaration, an ecumenical coalition in support of C-15.

“The bottom line is that our support for Bill C-15 comes from our desire to engage in reconciliation with Indigenous people,” said Wilson. “For us, this is one way — not the only way, but one way — of saying we’re committed to listening to and learning from Indigenous people; to try to forge a new relationship. We’re committed to doing our part against discrimination, racism and poverty.”

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Second pro-life private member’s bill comes up for debate

Mon, 04/26/2021 - 10:59

By Canadian Catholic News with files from The B.C. Catholic

OTTAWA—For the second time in as many weeks, a pro-life private member’s bill will come up for debate in the House of Commons, with Saskatchewan MPs sponsoring both of them.

On Thursday, April 29, Conservative MP Kelly Block’s Bill C-268 to give health-care workers conscience rights protection from participating against their will in Canada’s “medical assistance in dying” (MAiD) system will see its first hour of debate.

Last week, another Saskatchewan MP, Conservative Cathay Wagantall, spoke in support of her private member’s bill to make abortions done on the basis of a baby’s sex illegal in Canada as Bill C-233 came up for debate in the House of Commons.

“Sex-selection abortion is wrong, it is a discriminatory practice on the basis of sex and it takes place in our country because we have no law against it,” Wagantall said April 14 during second reading of her proposed Sex Selective Abortion Act.

Next week’s debate on conscience protection comes following last month’s passing of Bill C-7, which makes it easier for Canadians to kill themselves with the help of a doctor.

Under the new law, individuals requesting assisted suicide need not be facing imminent death but can be on a “predictable trajectory” toward natural death. Two years from now it will also allow euthanasia for those suffering from grievous and irremediable mental illness.

A statement released by Block’s office said her proposed bill would “extend protections for medical professionals who have chosen to not take part, directly or indirectly, in medical assistance in dying or euthanasia.”

The bill would make it a punishable offence to use violence, threats, coercion, or intimidation to force a medical professional to take part in or refer a patient for assisted suicide. It also prohibits the firing or refusal to hire medical professionals if the sole reason is their refusal to take part in medical assistance in dying, Block’s office said.

“Freedom of conscience is one of the first fundamental rights laid out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and it is at the core of our Canadian identity,” Block said. “This private member’s bill is a response to calls from physicians and patients to ensure conscience rights for medical professionals.”

The B.C. Catholic interviewed Kelly Block on religious freedom in 2018 – LINK

Conscience rights have been a key issue for many religious and civil groups who oppose legally-sanctioned suicide and its expansion. The Catholic Civil Rights League said “safeguards” to prevent abuse “have proven to be illusory.”

Canada’s Catholic bishops have joined with other religious organizations in opposing legally-sanctioned suicide in all its forms and have also spoken out in favour of conscience rights for health-care providers.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has also opposed Bill C-7 and called for “strong, clear conscience protection” in the Criminal Code.

“No one should be compelled to participate in practices to bring about the death of another person, against their deeply held beliefs,” an EFC letter to the government stated. “This essential protection is missing from Bill C-7.”

Block said her bill would protect the doctor-patient relationship “by ensuring doctors and other medical professionals are always able to recommend and provide the care they believe is best for their patient.”

The bill would provide for “a minimum national standard of protections for the freedom of conscience of medical professionals,” she said, “while respecting the jurisdiction of my provincial colleagues to expand on this bill.”

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Vatican cardinal: The Armenian genocide is a ‘stain’ of evil on all humanity

Mon, 04/26/2021 - 08:56

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

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Vatican dedicates May to global rosary ‘marathon’ for end of COVID-19

Thu, 04/22/2021 - 16:51

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency 

The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization said April 21 that “for the deep desire of the Holy Father, the month of May will be dedicated to a prayer marathon with the theme ‘Prayer to God went up incessantly from the whole Church.’”

The council said that the world’s Catholic shrines would be involved in a special way as promoters of the rosary among Catholic individuals, families, and communities.

Thirty of the shrines will take turns leading a daily live-streamed rosary at 12 p.m. Eastern time (10 a.m. CST in Saskatchewan).

The Catholic Church dedicates the month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Francis will open the month of prayer on May 1, asking for Mary’s intercession.

Pope Francis spoke about the coronavirus and its economic effects in a video message to participants in the 27th Ibero-American Summit in Andorra April 21.

The COVID-19 pandemic “has demanded enormous sacrifices from each nation and its citizens,” he said. The crisis has called on “the entire international community to commit, united, with a spirit of responsibility and fraternity, to face the many challenges already in action, and those which will come.”

The pope said that he had prayed for the millions of people who have died from COVID-19 or who are suffering from the illness, as well as their families.

“The pandemic has made no distinctions and has hit people of all cultures, creeds, social and economic strata,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of considering anti-COVID vaccination as a “universal common good.”

He said: “In this area, initiatives that seek to create new forms of solidarity at the international level are particularly welcome, with mechanisms aimed at guaranteeing an equitable distribution of vaccines, not based on purely economic criteria, but taking into account the needs of all, especially those of the most vulnerable and needy.”

“It is urgent to consider a recovery model capable of generating new, more inclusive and sustainable solutions, aimed at the universal common good, fulfilling God’s promise for all men,” Pope Francis said.

He added that, in responding to the coronavirus, attention should be paid to reforming the international debt structure and allowing access to external financing to promote economic development “so that everyone can get out of the current situation with the best chance of recovery.”

“None of this will be possible without a strong political will that has the courage to decide to change things, mainly priorities, so that it is not the poor who pay the highest cost for these tragedies that are hitting our human family,” he said.

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Blessed Carlo Acutis was ‘an authentic apostle of the rosary’ says cardinal

Thu, 04/22/2021 - 16:47

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, made the comment in a preface to a booklet containing guided meditations for the mysteries of the rosary in Italian with short reflections on the life of the recently beatified teen.

“Pope Francis has said that ‘the prayer of the rosary is the prayer of the humble and of the saints who, through its mysteries, contemplate with Mary the life of Jesus, the merciful face of the Father.’ Among these is Blessed Carlo Acutis,” Cardinal Semeraro wrote in the preface.

“Carlo loved the prayer of the rosary: an ancient prayer, which he refreshed every day on his lips; a prayer he learned and loved since early childhood,” he said.

Blessed Carlo Acutis was a young Catholic from Italy with a passionate devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and an aptitude for computer programming.

From the ages of 12 to 14 years, he designed a website cataloging Eucharistic miracles that have occurred around the world, which he launched in 2005. He died of leukemia a year later at the age of 15, offering his suffering for the pope and the Church.

Acutis became the first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church in October 2020. The live stream of his beatification Mass in Assisi went viral, with hundreds of thousands of people watching online.

“Our Blessed was an authentic apostle of the rosary of the Blessed Virgin,” Semeraro said.

The cardinal highlighted that the young boy is known to have called the rosary “the shortest ladder to go up to heaven.”

The idea of Marian prayer as a “ladder to heaven” is a classic Catholic image, Semeraro said, noting that it can also be found in one of St. Aelred of Rievaulx’s sermons in the 12th century.

“In one of his sermons on the occasion of the feast of the Nativity of Mary, he said that to go up to God we need a light that enlightens us and is itself a ladder by which to ascend,” he said. “This light is Mary, whose name is interpreted: Star of the Sea; this ladder is still Mary and it is with her that we can begin to climb.”

Semeraro said: “If, as Tertullian well said, ‘caro salutis est cardo,’ that is, ‘the flesh is the axis of salvation,’ then praying the rosary means entering into this history of salvation and letting yourself be infected by it.”

“St. John Paul II wrote that the recitation of the rosary puts us ‘in living communion with Jesus by drawing towards the heart of the Mother,” he added.

The booklet of rosary reflections, “The shortest ladder to climb to heaven: The Rosary with Blessed Carlo Acutis,” was written by an Italian priest, Fr. Michele Munno.

Munno has recently written two other devotional booklets. One offers reflections on the Stations of the Cross with Carlo Acutis and the other is a novena prayer he wrote to the saint. Both are in Italian.

Cardinal Semeraro also wrote the introduction to Fr. Munno’s novena prayer booklet, in which he said that Acutis was like the “just one” described in the Book of Wisdom: “being perfected in a short time, he fulfilled long years.”

He said: “We find a nice comment on this wisdom saying in a letter from St. Bernard of Clairvaux: ‘True virtue,’ he wrote, ‘knows no term, it is not enclosed in time. The eternal hunger of the righteous deserves an eternal satisfaction and, even if it is consumed in a short time, it appears as if it had lasted for many centuries, given the permanence of the virtuous impulse.’”

 

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On Earth Day, Pope Francis says the world is ‘at the limit’

Thu, 04/22/2021 - 16:40

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency 

“The adversity we are experiencing with the pandemic, and which we already feel in climate change, must spur us, must push us to innovation, invention, to seek new paths,” the Holy Fatherr said April 22.

Pope Francis’  video message was played during an Earth Day live stream on YouTube organized by EarthDay.org, which oversees the event held annually on April 22 since 1970.

In his message, Pope Francis said that we do not emerge from a crisis the same, but “we come out better or worse.”

“This is the challenge, and if we do not come out better, we go down a path of self-destruction,” he said.

“In this commemoration of Earth Day, it is always good to remember that the things we have been saying to each other for a long time must not fall into oblivion,” he continued.

Francis said that for some time people have been more aware of the need to protect nature, and that interactions with the biodiversity given to us by God must take place “with the utmost attention and respect.”

The coronavirus pandemic, he said, has taught us more about the impact our lives have on nature and climate change.

“And this shows us that global nature needs our lives on this planet. It involves us all, albeit in multiple, different and unequivocal forms,” he said.

“In summary, the COVID pandemic has taught us this interdependence, this sharing of the planet. And both global disasters, COVID and the climate, show that we don’t have time to wait any longer. That time is pressing us and that, as COVID-19 has taught us, yes, we have the means to face the challenge. We have the means. It is time to act, we are at the limit.”

Pope Francis recalled a Spanish saying: “God always forgives, we men forgive from time to time, nature no longer forgives.”

“And when this destruction of nature is triggered, it is very difficult to stop it. But we still have time. And we will be more resilient if we work together instead of doing it alone,” he said.

 

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