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National award from Catholic school trustees goes to Archbishop Bolen

Thu, 04/22/2021 - 15:25

The Archbishop of Regina has won a national award for exceptional contribution to Catholic education.

Archbishop Donald Bolen is the 2021 recipient of this year’s Higgins Award, presented annually by the Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association (CCSTA).

“Every year, the Canadian Catholic School Trustees Association presents the Higgins Award to a person or group who has made an outstanding contribution to Catholic education in Canada,” states the announcement on the CCSTA website.  “This highest honour is given in memory of the distinguished Canadian jurist and Catholic School Trustee, the Honourable Justice James Higgins.”

Archbishop Donald Bolen was nominated by the Regina Catholic School Division Board of Trustees for his global leadership in Catholic education, commitment to fostering Christian unity and inter-faith relationship building, and dedicated contribution to Catholic schools, reports the CCSTA.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Archbishop Bolen for many years. Whether he is defending parental choice in education, championing Truth and Reconciliation, or welcoming staff and students, it is done with grace and humility – two qualities he truly embodies,” said CCSTA President Paula Scott.

“A true community builder, especially in the context of interfaith and community relationships, Archbishop Bolen is an excellent role model for Catholic students,” stated the award summary.

“By identifying what we hold in common with others, discerning what we can do together, and demonstrating leadership and initiative by taking action, he models Christ-like servant leadership in a practical and contagious manner.

“An active supporter of Jewish-Christian relationships, he collaborated with Rabbis and Jewish communities to honour Holocaust survivors. When there was an antisemitic attack on Pittsburg’s synagogue, the Archbishop brought condolences and a message of hope at a memorial ceremony in Regina.

“Well-known in his community as a promoter of justice, especially in relationships with Indigenous communities, Archbishop Bolen has led with the heart through his engagement with the Calls to Action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Humbly leading the way, he has invited Catholic school communities to join him at the forefront of healing and reconciliation work.

“We are very proud to recognize him with this year’s Higgins Award and would like to thank him for his incredible contribution to interfaith dialogue and Catholic education in Canada.”

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More questions than clarity regarding Bill C-6, with concerns about the definition of conversion therapy in the proposed law

Thu, 04/22/2021 - 15:10

By Alison Bradish, Archdiocese of Regina News

[This Archdiocese of Regina News item is re-published with permission.]

Should the city of Regina endorse Bill C-6, a federal bill that would ban any practice, treatment, or service aimed at reducing sexual behaviour?

The city of Regina scheduled time to hear from 26 delegates who requested to speak to the Community Wellness Committee April 14, 2021 about a recommendation for the committee to ask the mayor of Regina to write to the federal government in support of Bill C-6.

Another meeting had to be scheduled to continue the discussion as 10 of the delegates did not get a chance to speak at the first meeting.

Many speakers raised concerns about the wording of Bill C-6, which will criminalize “conversion therapy.”

Some questioned how the bill would affect the ability of parents, counsellors, pastors etc. to speak openly about certain behaviours. Others said Bill C-6 is discriminatory for those in the LGBTQ community because it discriminates based on orientation.

Delegates in favour of the recommendation implored the city to ban conversion therapy because it was the right thing to do and showed solidarity with the LGBTQ community.  One delegate said the reason a municipal bylaw was necessary was that a federal election could be called, and Bill C-6 would take further time to become law in Canada; therefore, municipalities needed to take a stand.

As of December 2020, the federal bill defines conversion therapy as: “A practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change a person’s gender or gender expression to cisgender, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour or non-cisgender gender expression. For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment or service that relates to the exploration and development of an integrated personal identity without favouring any particular sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

Bill C-6 is a complaint-based model, meaning someone who overhears a conversation could raise a complaint.

Under Bill C-6, the following would be considered Criminal Code offenses:

  1. Causing a person to undergo conversion therapy without their consent
  2. Causing a minor to undergo conversion therapy
  3. Removing a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad
  4. Advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy
  5. Receiving a financial or other material benefit from providing conversation therapy

Jose Ruba is the Communications Director of Free to Care, a Canadian group opposed to Canada’s conversion therapy, saying it discriminates against those in the LGBTQ community who want to access supports without government interference.  The group says torture and coercive counselling is already illegal in Canada under the Canadian Criminal Code, and therefore legislation directed at conversion therapy is not needed.

Ruba addressed the Regina city council committee expressing how no other country, or worldwide organizations, such as the United Nations, has so broad a definition of conversion therapy as Canada’s government is attempting to create with Bill C-6.  He has researched 152 definitions of conversion therapy from various countries and notes Canada’s ban is particularly alarming because of the addition of the wording about reducing sexual behaviour.

In an interview after the meeting, Ruba said he has been watching and meeting with city councils across the country because people want to know the implications of what is being proposed and discussed.

“Frankly, I think church leadership of all denominations need to speak out because this bill is so massively intrusive to the rights of LGBTQ people, particularly those of faith, but also for the rights of those who offer support to LGBTQ people who want to come to churches for support,” says Ruba.

Ruba, a same-sex attracted person who is choosing to live a celibate life, sought out counselling in Ottawa as a student.  He says the counselling he paid for and wanted, would be made criminal under Bill C-6.  Also, under Bill C-6, a friend who shared the name of the counsellor could be seen as promoting conversion therapy and face jail time.

“Every world religion teaches something about reducing sexual behaviour of some kind…we believe God designed us in a way that our sexuality should honour Him and used for His Glory, and that is a different worldview than that we heard in the meeting.  The point is that is our choice, though.  What this bill does is prevent us from practicing that choice,” says Ruba.

Dr. Brett Salkeld, theologian with the Archdiocese of Regina, wonders why amendments could not be made to the text of Bill C-6 to make the intention of the law clearer.

He says the Church wants to make careful distinctions that the federal bill and the bylaws of many municipalities fail to make.

“We would affirm the intention of the federal bill as we understand it…we are against any coercive or manipulative counseling practices. It is pretty clear that certain kinds of things like trying to change people’s basic orientation by threats of hellfire don’t work and, in fact, lead to terrible outcomes for people,” says Salkeld.

However, Salkeld points out that people seek counseling for all sorts of reasons related to their sexuality, whether that is trying to understand themselves better or eliminate unwanted behaviours.

He notes the way in which Bill C-6 is drafted makes it illegal to seek out help to limit homosexual behaviour, even if the person wants to.

“It actually ends up discriminating against the very group they are supposed to be protecting because they can’t seek all kinds of help that opposite-sex attracted people can seek,” says Salkeld.

“A further consideration is that it is not only professional counseling but conversations at your school or with your pastor, or even in your family, could conceivably be illegal under this bill,” says Salkeld noting proponents of the ban indicate this is not the intention.

However, Salkeld referred to Cardinal Collins comments made during an intervention with the justice sub-committee.  At that time, Collins noted the intention is not what is written within the law, so why not rewrite the law, so the intention matches the text?

“In this Bill there is no requirement that the practise, treatment or service in question be coercive or cause harm. The Bill fails to define exactly what constitutes a practice, treatment or service.  Actions which are now lawful could be subject to the criminal code.” – Cardinal Collins during testimony at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Juustice and Human Rights.

Cardinal Collins Bill C-6 Testimony Link to Video

“We (church leaders) said several years ago that the logic behind the assisted suicide law was going to lead in a certain direction and people said, ‘whoa no, that’s not the intention, don’t cry wolf’, all this stuff, and sure enough it happens.  We need to be vigilant that the law actually says what it’s suppose to say, and it’s aimed at the goals that we can agree are good goals, and doesn’t accidentally paint with this overly broad-brush,” says Salkeld.

For now, the city of Regina will continue its deliberations about the recommendation to support Bill C-6.

Saskatoon banned conversion therapy with a bylaw passed in February 2021. During the debate, Saskatoon city council heard from a number of church representatives and others opposing the bylaw, as well as those in favour. The Saskatoon bylaw also reflects the Bill C-6 definition of conversion therapy.

In their statement about Bill C-6, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says: “The Bill makes no provision for legitimate diversity concerning viewpoints on human sexuality arising from religious beliefs, from philosophical debate, or from scientific and medical study; nor does it make any provision for conscientious dissent related to such matters in forums of teaching or public presentations.”

Statement by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on Bill C-6 – English  / French

An online Fix the Definition” petition  at https://fixthedefinition.ca is asking government to BOTH ban “coercive, degrading practices that are designed to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity” and at the same time ENSURE that no laws discriminate against Canadians by limiting what services they can receive based on their sexual orientation or gender identity; that the law allows parents to speak with their own children about sexuality and gender, and set family rules about sex and relationships; that the law allows free and open conversations about sexuality and sexual behaviour; and that the law not criminalize professional and religious counseling voluntarily requested and consented to by LGBTQ2 Canadians.

“Fix the Definition” petition online: LINK

Contact Members of Parliament to express concerns about Bill C-6: MP information

Find other resources and information on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon website: LINK

Related: “Irish moves to ban LGBT ‘conversion therapy’ will help silence religion, critics warn” – CNA Article

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Time will tell if federal budget struck the right balance on issues important to religious and social justice groups

Thu, 04/22/2021 - 14:49

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – Billions of dollars will be poured into some of the key priorities of faith and social justice groups according to a new federal budget unveiled on April 19.

But exactly how that money will be spent and how much impact the funding will have on issues such as reconciliation with Canada’s Frist Nations, transitioning Canada to a greener economy, providing child care support to families and helping Canadian charities survive the economic devastation of the COVID pandemic is open to debate.

Along with forecasting a deficit of $354 billion for the 2020-21 fiscal year and $154.7 billion for 2021-22, the minority federal Liberal government is promising to continue to support Canadians and Canadian businesses financially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that is currently in a third wave across the country.

“This budget is about finishing the fight against COVID-19. It’s about healing the wounds left by the COVID-19 recession. And it’s about creating more jobs and prosperity for Canadians in the days — and decades — to come,” said Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland during her budget speech.

Freeland, who is also deputy prime minister, unveiled in her first budget as finance minister a plethora of spending initiatives, many of which focused on environmental concerns that have been at the forefront of demands by groups such as For The Love Of Creation initiative that brings together environmental and religious organizations including Catholic groups to lobby on behalf of action to address climate change.

In the budget, $101 billion in new spending was earmarked for the next three years to help transition to a green economy, something which religious groups and social justice organizations have been calling for in what they have labeled a “just transition.”

While the many “green” aspects of the budget are being applauded by organizations such as the faith-based Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ), an Ottawa-based spokesperson for CPJ said the government could and should have gone further down that road.

“Investments in clean transportation, energy efficiency, adaptation and mitigation and resilient agriculture are all key,” said CPJ senior policy analyst Karri Munn-Venn.

“Unfortunately, by coupling these measures with extensive supports to the oil and gas sector it becomes clear that the federal government has yet to grasp the severity and urgency of the global climate crisis or the devastating ramifications of inadequate action.”

Also promised in the budget was $30 billion over five years and $8.3 billion per year after that for a national child care program, $18 billion to go towards what is being called “safer” and “healthier” Indigenous communities, $17.6 billion towards other “green recovery” efforts, $3 billion over five years to help improve long-term care, and $2.5 billion for housing units for vulnerable Canadians.

The federal government has been promising to bring in a national daycare system, but what they propose is disappointing to the religious think tank Cardus, which has been advocating for a flexible system for parents and not a one-size fits all government system as is currently in place in Quebec.

“Families know how to make the choices that work best for them. Federal policy should maximize the flexibility of families to make varied choices across the country, emphasizing respect for these choices and decisions in the arena of caring for children and elders,” a Cardus family support position paper states.

“The child care plan proposed in Budget 2021 is structurally opposed to equity for all families. All families will pay for the plan, but only families who choose or can access the type of care the federal government favours receive the subsidized benefit,” a statement released by Cardus after the federal budget was released said.

“While the federal budget speaks of quality care, the budgeted amount and the timeframe are not enough to create a quality system.

“Child care is the care of a child no matter who provides the care or where the care takes place. Supporting parents directly is the equitable way to help all families, regardless of the type of care arrangement they use, including caring for their own children,” said Cardus.

“The proposed plan devalues the work parents and other caregivers do outside of an institutional setting.

“Families know how to make the choices that work best for them. Federal policy should maximize the flexibility of families to make varied choices across the country, emphasizing respect for these choices and decisions in the arena of caring for children.”

However, another CPJ spokesperson Natalie Appleyard praised the federal support for a national childcare program to be created with the help of the provinces.

“Long-awaited and critical investments towards the goal of $10-a-day childcare fees are to be celebrated,” Appleyard said.

Also included in the budget is more financial support for Canada’s charitable sector, which has been hard hit financially by the COVID pandemic. However, that support falls short of what many in the charitable sector have been asking for.

A statement released by Canada Cares, a coalition of charity groups, said “the budget takes encouraging first steps towards delivering” on a promise to help charities “with a temporary Community Services Recovery Fund of $400 million in 2021-22.”

“While this may deliver comprehensive support, it does not address the unique and diverse needs of different charitable organizations,” the charity lobby organization said.

“We are especially disappointed that the federal budget did not include an initiative that would double the support for charities by leveraging private donations to assist government efforts. This will have long-term negative effects on the sector’s ability to recover.”

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CMIC St. Joseph Award recipient is a missionary on the go

Thu, 04/22/2021 - 14:10

By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – People well acquainted with Fr. Frank Salmon, OMI, know connecting with him via phone, especially during warmer months, is a bit of a difficult proposition.

That’s because the Oblate missionary is fully immersed in serving and conversing with people of the Binche Whut’en, Nak’azdli and Tl’azt’en First Nations bands that live around Fort St. James, B.C.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Salmon hops on his bicycle and tours the area and stops to have socially-distanced, face-to-face conversations.

The pastor of Our Lady of Snows Parish in the Diocese of Prince George would tell you that he doesn’t have a pre-planned design of his activities whenever he leaves the parish for these outings.

“I say a prayer to myself whenever I leave the house to start the day,” said Salmon, who has been in Fort St. James since 2002. “I ask Him to let God guide me where I need to go. I wouldn’t know what I would be working on or who I would be visiting that day.”

His activities could range from helping someone with day-to-day tasks like mending nets, providing counsel to couples and families having a difficult time, celebrating Mass and presiding over funerals, to dropping in for light social visits.

Salmon’s willingness to surrender to God’s will, and his desire for social interaction, are two of the reasons Catholic Missions In Canada (CMIC) has tapped him as this year’s missionary recipient of the St. Joseph’s Award. The 75-year-old will be feted in a ceremony led by Cardinal Thomas Collins during CMIC’s virtual Tastes of Heaven Gala April 29.

Since being ordained at St. Jude’s Parish in Vancouver over 48 years ago, Salmon has devoted the vast majority of his years of service working with First Nations peoples in Duncan, Fort St. James and along the west coast of British Columbia.

Salmon’s mother “couldn’t decide if she would name me after Francis of Assisi or Francis Xavier, so she named me after both of them.” He’s learned from each.

“Xavier did real work in India and in the missions, and he made a real effort to learn the culture of the people he was speaking to by doing the Mass in their language and, to some extent, their tradition. His and the Jesuits’ effort to learn culture really impressed me. One of my contributions was to learn the culture.”

Interestingly, just like Xavier, Salmon toured different parts of India to serve the Lord. He credits that experience over four decades ago as formative for his life now.

Salmon modelled Francis of Assisi by not growing anxious about where his next meal would come from. He said he exhibited this spirit in Duncan, during his time with the coastal missions and now in Fort St. James.

Salmon received a great taste of how impactful his 48 years of missionary service has been during a Zoom celebration to celebrate his 75th birthday earlier this year. Each of the dozens of guests delivered a two-minute tribute.

The greeting from Louis Frank, who mentored Salmon during his time with the Ahousaht on Vancouver Island, was special. Salmon said the relationship melded into a brotherhood between the two. Frank expressed that sentiment.

“We are more than friends, we are more like brothers. I always appreciated that you accept us as we are and at the same time invited us to be part of your way of life and way of prayer without giving up any of our ways.”

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Catholic Conscience gets set for next election, while providing on-going resources in-between votes

Thu, 04/22/2021 - 13:48

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – When Pope Francis was elected in 2013, he declared, “A good Catholic meddles in politics.” Eight years on, the young, non-partisan organization Catholic Conscience is ramping up its meddling to encompass all of Canada.

“We’re preparing for the scenario where there is a (federal) election this year,” Catholic Conscience executive director Brendan Steven told The Catholic Register.

It would be the second national vote for Catholic Conscience, which is now working to help Catholics beyond the Greater Toronto Area “think through their vote.”

Steven is making sure the organization is ready by updating its website (catholicconscience.org), launching a two-day series of webinars for political candidates and policy leaders, and beefing up its outreach to new Canadians in the pews.

“We think about politics as a very competitive, adversarial sort of system. But ideally it’s a forum where different perspectives, different interests come together and synthesize new approaches with the truth that they bring to those conversations,” Steven said.

“Our Church, especially in the next election, will be saying, ‘How do we bring Canadians — Catholic and non-Catholic — together in thinking deeply, in moral and spiritual ways, about the future of our country.’ ”

Catholic Leaders’ Mission – two-day formation session May 29 and June 5: INFORMATION

Catholic Conscience’s first run at a national election was in 2019, when it staged a typical, pre-COVID event — hundreds of Catholics were together in the Toronto Convention Centre to hear candidates from every party answer specific questions about their party’s political commitments. Since then, the organization has branched out to stage voter engagement campaigns during recent British Columbia and Saskatchewan provincial votes.

COVID-19 has also helped the Toronto-based organization become more national.

“The advantage of COVID is that it has forced us online in a big way,” Steven said. “But also in a way that allows us to reach new audiences.”

Given the huge influence immigration has on Canada’s ever-shifting Catholic population, Steven and his volunteer team is also putting a lot of thought into what first-time voters, new-to-Canada, might be looking for when trying to decide how to cast that first ballot.

Translating Catholic Conscience’s platform summaries for every party into languages other than English and French is an emerging priority, Steven said.

“A lot of those political tools are not as easily accessible for folks who are new immigrants,” he said. “A lot of folks coming in are Catholics, often devout Catholics.”

Catholic Conscience wants to be there for them when they’re deciding how to vote — helping them to decide without telling them what to decide.

“Community-based organizations, including faith communities who have relationships of trust in their communities, can play a valuable role in demystifying the voting process and providing non-partisan information to help people make informed decisions,” John Beebe of Ryerson University’s Democratic Engagement Exchange said in an e-mail.

“This is particularly important at a moment when social media is spreading misinformation and disinformation.”

But the big change this time out will be Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti. Steven calls it “a watershed moment for our mission.”

“Fratelli Tutti is beautiful because it really gives us a vision of the political vocation, where it is just acting out of the love of God and love of neighbour that we experience in our everyday lives,” Steven said. “But it’s lived out in this grander sense, at the political level.”

Pope Francis’ vision of politics as an expression of love stands in stark contrast to the cynicism and suspicion that dominates contemporary political culture, said Regina archdiocesan theologian Brett Salkeld.

Nothing about the cynicism that dismisses politics and politicians as sleazy, self-interested, manipulative and money-driven is likely to produce a functioning democracy, Salkeld points out.

Fratelli Tutti comes from a Pope who is aware of the morally corrosive effects of out-of-control social media use — the ways in which it amplifies mendacity and steamrolls over contemplation — and a culture that seeks competition at every turn.

For Pope Francis, the process of dialogue describes our political struggle for truth.

“The process is the Catholic part,” said Steven. “When we charitably have conversations around politics with one another, then other people have the opportunity to introduce perspective to us that we haven’t considered.”

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St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation AGM acknowledges significant fundraising accomplishments in 2020

Thu, 04/22/2021 - 13:30

By St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation

St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation held its Annual General Meeting April 22, 2021, acknowledging the community for giving so generously of time and resources to ensure the health and well- being of patients and their families.

“Donor generosity has a tremendous impact on patient care, bringing much needed medical equipment, programs, services and professional development opportunities to St. Paul’s Hospital and the Hospice at Glengarda that would simply not be feasible otherwise,” said outgoing Foundation Board Chair Neil Weber.

“We are very grateful to all our donors and supporters, and together we are helping our Hospital achieve its vision for A Community of Health, Hope and Compassion for All.”

At the event, the Foundation reported on a number of noteworthy fundraising accomplishments including the completion of the Close to Home Campaign for Hospice and End-of-Life Care on May 12, 2020 with over $21 million raised to build the Hospice at Glengarda, to renovate the Palliative Care Unit at St. Paul’s Hospital, to advance education and training, and to expand holistic end-of-life-care in Saskatchewan.

Another noteworthy accomplishment included the allocation of $6.9 million to St. Paul’s Hospital in 2020 to support a variety of other important initiatives, including an entertainment system for the Cameco Community Renal Health Centre, a holmium laser for urology surgical services, and holistic care programming.

At the April 22 meeting, St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation welcomed Larry Long to its Board of Directors.

Dr. Vivian Walker is the new chair of the board with Neil Weber (past chair), Gwen Dueck (vice-chair), and Nicholle Povhe (treasurer), along with directors Shari Watson, Arlene Jorgenson, Doreen Howlett, Kevin Sharfe, Ron Hyggen, Steeg Holmes, Dr. Bruce Berscheid (local council), Tracy Muggli (St. Paul’s Hospital Executive Director), and Lecina Hicke (St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation CEO).

The Honourable Madam Justice, Leah Schatz resigned her position on the board due to her appointment to the Court of Queen’s Bench. The Foundation thanked her for her ongoing dedication and commitment to St. Paul’s Hospital, Foundation and the community.

St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation has allocated more than $79 million to the Hospital since the Foundation was formed in 1982.

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Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus hold virtual convention April 16-17

Wed, 04/21/2021 - 11:18

By Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus

The 99th Annual State Council Meeting of the Knights of Columbus of Saskatchewan was held by virtual video conference on April 16-17, 2021, due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

There was a call for Knights to hold fast to the Catholic principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism around which the men’s order was founded 139 years ago.

Download the Press Release (including list of award winners) – PDF

Under the theme “In the Footsteps of the Father” State Deputy Joseph Riffel, along with the State executive, and the delegates from around the province celebrated the past year’s successes and deliberated on how to better serve the Church, its bishops and priests, and the wider community.

Deceased members were acknowledged and remembered during the convention, and several State awards were presented to councils and team members.

The Family of the Year 2020-2021 Award went to Lawrence and Marg Brossart and Family of Council #9761 St. Agatha, Shellbrook, SK.

Delegates to the convention reaffirmed several resolutions at the 99th Annual Convention including: “That the Knights of Columbus deplore the trafficking of women and children and speak out against printed material, movies, internet websites and television programs that depict gratuitous sex and violence and which also degrade men and women promote sexism and exploit children. Further that all Knights deplore sacrilegious attacks and disrespectful depictions of those things that are sacred to people of all religions.”

Also, the delegates adopted a resolution that the Saskatchewan State Council encourages all councils and its more than 10,300 Brother Knights within the State and their families, to join with Filipino priests and members as they celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, and to recognize and celebrate their contributions to our Catholic faith in parishes throughout Saskatchewan.

The State Council re-elected the following executive effective July 1, 2021:

  • State Deputy – Joseph Riffel of Saskatoon
  • State Secretary – Larry Packet of Davidson
  • State Treasurer – Marte Clemente Marquez Nogot of Saskatoon
  • State Advocate – Greg Dozorec of Regina
  • State Warden – Agnel George of Regina

Chris Bencharski of Meadow Lake will continue on the executive as Immediate Past State Deputy.

State Deputy Joseph Riffel also announced the following re-appointments; State Chaplain Father Ed Gibney and Associate State Chaplain Bishop Bryan Bayda.

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Pension fund video highlights the impact of retired priests

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 16:15
During COVID-19, the annual collection for Priests’ Pension & Retirement Fund relies on mail and online promotion

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

A video featuring vocation reflections by two retirement-age priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon was launched April 16 as part of this year’s annual collection for a priests’ pension fund.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions on the number that can gather for worship, the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation is relying on mail and electronic distribution — including the video — to raise awareness about the annual collection, and the need to support the Priests’ Pension & Retirement Fund.

View the video:

 

The video is currently being shared by the Catholic Foundation, by parishes in the diocese, through social media, and online – including at the end of the live-streaming of Sunday Mass April 18 celebrated by Bishop Mark Hagemoen at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.

Make a gift to the Priests’ Pension & Retirement Fund online – LINK

Fr. Emile April and Fr. Denis Phaneuf were interviewed for the video. Both of these diocesan priests continue to serve the diocese during their retirement years, with April currently serving as pastor of the Trinité/Trinity pastoral region that includes Vonda, Prud’homme and St. Denis, and Phaneuf assisting at St. Paul Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon — even during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The video includes reflections on the impact of long-serving priests by Fr. Geoffrey Young, a young priest who serves as pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes in Saskatoon, as well as a message from Bishop Mark Hagemoen.

“The priests of the diocese of Saskatoon depend on one key support source when they retire – and that is our Priest Pension & Retirement Fund which support the St. Joseph’s Mutual Aid Society for our clergy,” he explains. “In addition to this pension fund, our clergy also receive Old Age Pension and Canada Pension Plan amounts. This amount is reduced given that their regular income through their working years is far below the level that most laity earn.”

The bishop adds: “Priests are also encouraged to try to save for their retirement through RSP’s, but this will only be a small amount. By far the most significant contribution to their retirement support comes from the Priest Pension & Retirement Fund.”

In conclusion, the bishop expresses thanks for support and generosity for the 2021 collection for the pension fund. “I also ask you to join with me in prayer for support and healing, as many of our senior clergy – along with many of the elders throughout our province – have been very much affected by the circumstances and isolation caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.”

In a letter sent to Catholic parishioners across the diocese about the pension fund collection, Don Gorsalitz, Executive Director of the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation notes: “The examples of people reaching out to support each other and to help our most vulnerable brothers and sisters in need during this challenging time have been profound and heartwarming. Despite the risk, our retired priests too continue to respond to various needs and serve among us, giving themselves generously with dedication and love as they continue to answer the calling of their hearts and life service.”

Gifts can be made online at dscf.ca/priest-pension-fund.  Gifts of cheques can be sent to the following address: Priests’ Pension & Retirement Fund, 123 Nelson Road, Saskatoon SK  S7S 1H1.

 

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Taking science back from the culture wars: Vatican Observatory launches new website and social media strategy

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 15:25

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

In the COVID era, there’s no news like science news — the fastest vaccine development in human history has been news all year.

But public exposure of science has also exposed us to the dangers of half-understood or deliberately manipulated science on social media.

Who can forget the Wisconsin pharmacist who deliberately sabotaged vials of COVID-19 vaccine because he believed it would change people’s DNA?

Jesuit astronomer and president of the Vatican Observatory Br. Guy Consolmangno has a plan to help Catholics, or anybody, think more rationally and less politically about science.

“We want to be able to pull it out of the culture wars,” Consolmagno told The Catholic Register.

Consolmagno and his team — based in part at the old Vatican observatory in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, and also in Arizona — have used funding from the Templeton Foundation to launch a new website and social media strategy, vaticanobservatory.org.

Think of it as the Catholic, good-science site where you can find podcasts, daily articles, graphics, spectacular photos and lesson plans for every grade level.

The need for better public engagement with science could not be more acute, St. Joseph’s College professor of science and religion Denis Lamoureux believes.

“The culture is so polarized and the extreme left and right spin information to support their views. They even do it with scientific information,” Lamoureux wrote in an e-mail.

Lamoureux believes the Internet is the place where misinformation and twisted agendas must be met.

“With all the craziness going on in the culture, it hit me that it’s the Internet that has definitely contributed to this,” he said. “Any complete fool can set up a website and say anything they want. And there will be people who will believe in madness.”

Getting science out of the culture wars isn’t all that difficult, said Consolmagno.

“Even the most arch-fundamentalist of the Evangelical Christians will still talk about what they believe as ‘creation science,’” he said. “They still love the caché of that word ‘science’ — and rightly so.”

It’s not all conspiracy theories spawned in dark corners of the worldwide web. Even major, real scientists with big media profiles, such as Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson, have a penchant for making people of faith nervous about scientists.

For instance, on April 11 Dawkins tweeted out: “Roman Catholics are required to believe that communion wine actually is literally the blood of Christ, and the wafer literally is His body. Not symbolically but literally. Not a metaphor but literally. That way madness lies. At very least it’s a pernicious abuse of language.”

“These guys have personal agendas that are not favourable to the Church,” points out Consolmagno.

While a theologian can easily correct Dawkins’ weak understanding of theology — as Archdiocese of Regina theologian Brett Salkeld did in replying to Dawkins that “the Church quite deliberately avoids confusing and rather indeterminate adverbs, like ‘literally,’ ‘physically’ or even ‘actually’ precisely because they would be an abuse of language” — faithful scientists such as Consolmagno can correct the misuse of science for political or cultural agendas.

“When I present the science, I can reach the very people who are understandably leery of the other public advocates for science, while not compromising the science at all,” Consolmagno said. “Because truth is the truth and God is truth. You are only going to find God where you find truth.”

Consolmagno is not afraid of science mixing with politics. Even the Vatican Observatory has a political history. The modern observatory was set up by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 as a way of countering Italian claims that the Holy See was not legitimately a country.

“Science is used for political purposes today, absolutely,” he said. “As long as there are human beings there are going to be politics.”

While it’s legitimate for science to contribute to public policy and perhaps build a better political culture, Consolmagno believes science ultimately is there to feed our souls. It was a lesson he learned as a young Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya in the 1980s.

“I had been doing astronomy (before joining the Peace Corps) and I thought, ‘Why am I doing astronomy when people are starving in the world?’ ” he said. “Only to find out that the people in Kenya were fascinated by astronomy. They all wanted to look through my telescope. Of course, that’s what human beings do. We don’t just live to eat. We don’t live by bread alone. You have to feed your soul.”

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End of Delta Hospice Society court battle ‘worrisome’ for private societies, say observers

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 15:03

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – Delta Hospice Society has lost its final legal opportunity to prevent a takeover of its board by euthanasia advocates, and observers say the the implications for private societies are worrisome.

On April 8, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal by the society in its efforts to become a society that operated on Christian principles and supported life until “natural death,” thus making it exempt from the mandate to allow assisted suicide on their premises.

After refusing to meet a Feb. 3 deadline from the Fraser Health Authority and Health Minister Adrian Dix to start allowing legal assisted suicides, Fraser Health took control of the building.

Father Deacon Andrew Bennett, director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute, says the Supreme Court’s April 8 dismissal of the Delta Hospice Society’s appeal “absolutely” could have implications for other organizations.

“Within our health-care system there has to be room for conscience and there has to be room for alternative forms of end-of-life care. I think that’s commensurate with living in a democracy. It’s also commensurate with living in a country that respects freedom of religion and freedom of conscience and, by extension, freedom of association,” he told The B.C. Catholic.

“If a group of private individuals of a particular religious tradition, or not, want to come together to establish a privately funded hospice to provide end-of-life care, that should be permitted as long as they are adhering to the right regulations for that type of care and they are transparent and following appropriate charity regulations.”

The Delta Hospice Society has come publicly under fire for refusing to provide euthanasia at the 10-bed hospice it built 10 years ago, before assisted suicide was legalized in 2016. The Fraser Health Authority gave the society a February 2020 deadline to permit assisted suicide on site, but the society refused, saying the practice is not part of hospice care and trying various means to escape the mandate including considering becoming a faith-based organization.

Before the controversy, society membership was around 150. It shot up to 1,500 in late 2019 and is now approaching 9,000. As membership requests suddenly increased, including from people board president Angelina Ireland believes are linked to a pro-assisted suicide lobby group, the board tried to limit who was in and who was out.

“It appears a strategic campaign to infiltrate the society was planned,” Ireland said.

In B.C. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals last year, the hospice was told it must allow anyone who applies for membership and pays a nominal fee to become a member, and that to pick and choose members based on other criteria would be in “bad faith” and against its own bylaws.

They appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the country’s top court dismissed the case.

“Every private society in Canada must now fear that their constitutional rights of freedom of conscience and freedom of association are at risk,” Ireland said.

“By the Supreme Court of Canada deciding to dismiss our case, we have been told in essence that the private is now public and a governing body of an organization is vulnerable to any agenda, special interest group, or social media movement. Essentially, it is powerless to define its purposes and protect its assets and its membership.”

Supporters of assisted suicide in the hospice, who have formed a group called Take Back Delta Hospice, are pleased with the court’s ruling.

“What an ordeal it has been to have to fight all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada so that local residents who wish to become members of the society are treated fairly,” spokesperson Chris Pettypiece told media.

The Supreme Court did not provide a reason for dismissing the appeal, as is customary.

“The effects of the decisions in the lower courts seem to me very worrisome,” said Peter Stockland, editor-in-chief of Convivium, a publication exploring topics of religion and conscience rights.

“From the documents I’ve read, it appears to mean any private society is vulnerable not only to having its membership taken over by those willing to pay a few bucks to join, but those who join can seek ends that are antithetical to the original mission,” he told The B.C. Catholic.

He suggested, by way of analogy, that a private organization raising funds for cancer research should not be vulnerable to being swamped by members seeking to promote health benefits of smoking.

“Yet that’s what seems to have happened here. A group committed to MAiD decided to ‘take back’ a hospice society that, in its constitution, is committed to ensuring patients ‘live as fully and as comfortably as possible.’ On what planet can administering MAiD be consistent with ‘living fully and comfortably’? In other words, they ‘took back’ what they never had, and knew full well their intentions violated the beliefs and goals of the Delta Hospital Society.”

Stockland believes people disappointed with this outcome shouldn’t point fingers at the Supreme Court, but at the loophole that allowed this and the political action that could close it.

Currently religious organizations are exempt from having to providing assisted suicide. Bennett believes that same right should be extended to every private society, religious or not.

“You can have people who value palliative care and are opposed to euthanasia who do not come from a particular religious tradition to back up their position. They might come from a secular humanist position or another philosophical position,” he said.

“That is a question of freedom of conscience and that needs to be protected as much as people who come together of a religious tradition.”

Ireland said the society plans to continue fighting and is in communication with a lawyer, preparing evidence for another court battle in the near future.

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No middle ground over sex selection abortion bill in House

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 14:48

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – Debate surrounding the protection of female babies from being aborted in Canada for the sole reason that they are female degenerated in the House of Commons into an attack on the motives of pro-life MPs when the Sex Selective Abortion Act came before MPs on April 14.

“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,” Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall said during second reading of her proposed Bill C-233 in the House of Commons.

Wagantall says she is speaking on behalf of “pro-choice and pro-life” and “religious and non-religious” Canadians who she said polls show support some limits on abortion in Canada, limits which at this time do not exist in Canadian law.

“The absence of any law to protect preborn girls shouts to the world that valuing one sex over the other is permissible in Canada,” Wagantall said. “We are the only democratic country that has no law against it, the only one.

“The only other country that also fails in any way to protect preborn children from sex selection is North Korea, not good company for Canada. Our health care profession has shown concern about sex-selective abortion and discourages the practice,” she said, adding that the federal Liberal government, which often touts its adherence to women’s equality on a number of issues, should support the thrust of her proposed bill.

The bill has been supported by many pro-life groups in Canada such as the We Need A Law organization and the Campaign Life Coalition.

But MPs from the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties dismissed Wagantall’s proposed bill as being a “back-door” way to limit existing abortion rights in Canada, with NDP MP Lindsay Mathyssen calling it “nothing short of a direct attack on women.”

“Despite all the rhetoric claiming to be in defence of women’s equality and despite the Conservative leader’s assurances that his party will not reopen the abortion debate in Canada, we are debating a bill that does just that,” she said of Wagantall’s bill which Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has said he will personally vote against.

“The argument that is being used within the bill is couched in language around gender equality,” but she said “Bill C-233 does nothing to address gender equality. It is a step toward regulating and eroding access to abortion.”

Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois MPs echoed that argument the during second reading of the bill in the House of Commons. Debate on the proposed bill started on April 14 and will continue for another hour in the House in May on a date that is still to be determined.

Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell, who is parliamentary secretary to the federal health minister, said no one supports abortions undertaken because of the sex of a baby, but dismissed that concern as being a non-issue in Canada and questioned Wagantall’s motives for putting forward the bill.

“Ninety per cent of abortions that take place in the country are within the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy when we cannot even determine sex. This is just another example of Conservatives who just recently got together to strategize on how to create backdoor anti-abortion legislation,” O’Connell said.

But Wagantall said on this specific issue, she is more on-side with the views of Canadians than her critics are.

“It is really important that we recognize that the Canadian Medical Association did major studies in 2012 and 2016 with ethnic researchers involved and with the ethnic community involved, and they indicated that this is a growing problem in Canada that needs to be addressed,” said Wagantall

“The truth of the matter is that this is a scenario where the majority of Canadians are saying they are not polarized the way certain groups would like them to think they are. This is an issue where Canadians come together and want a law that restricts sex selection as an option for abortion,” she said.

Bloc MP Andreanne Larouche also claimed the proposed bill is just an effort to eat away at existing abortion rights in Canada, regardless of what supporters of the bill claim.

“The fight against sex-selective abortion is a pretext used by the Conservatives to initiate a debate on abortion rights. Although the Conservatives claim that they do not want to reopen the debate on this issue, they keep coming back to it. Bill C-233 is yet another example,” Larouche said.

“The Conservatives are looking for new legal grounds to criminalize abortion. Although sex-selective abortion is based on misogynistic and sexist ideas, we cannot fight it by imposing more social control on women. We cannot fight sexism with sexism,” she said.

Conservative MP Karen Vecchio said she is disheartened by the tone of the debate surrounding Bill C-233 as it shows that on issues that involve abortion in the House of Commons, there is a lack of willingness on all sides of the debate to listen to the other side.

Vecchio said it is a “debate characterized by a great deal of animosity from all sides with no resolutions.”

“This is a topic that people are very vocal on, with people being labelled as either absolutely right or completely wrong. Everyone has a label forced on them, but is that really what we want when it comes to such a complex issue?” she said, adding that she supports women having a choice.

“This should not be about how we feel on the right to choose to have an abortion. This is whether sex-selection abortion is happening in Canada and what is ethical in this situation,” Vecchio said.

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Tastes of Heaven goes virtual in support of Catholic Missions in Canada

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 19:46

By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – The annual Tastes of Heaven gala fundraiser for Catholic Missions In Canada (CMIC) was not staged in 2020, one of the long list of victims of the COVID-19 virus, but the keystone event returns April 29 in a virtual realm.

Joe Gennaro said taking the annual gala — the largest fundraiser each year in support of Catholic Missions and its support for the Catholic Church in Canada’s mission territories — online serves two purposes.

“The reason why we chose the format is to stay in front of our donors to show them that we are trying to operate during this time so that our missions could receive their help,” said Gennaro, stewardship officer with Catholic Missions.

“We also thought it would be interesting to try and grab a wider audience — basically all of Canada could participate — compared to in the past when a limited audience from the (Greater Toronto Area) could attend.”

CMIC has already succeeded in its bid to attract a more national audience for the 2021 gala. Gennaro told The Catholic Register already confirmed are virtual attendees from eight of the provinces and all three Canadian territories.

This is a result of Catholic Missions inserting gala invitations into all the magazine mailings it sent out over the past six months and building awareness via social media and Catholic media outlets from coast to coast.

Gennaro will collaborate with Fr. David Reilander, the president of Catholic Missions, to lead the proceedings. The two will present the virtual viewers with an in-depth snapshot of what is involved in sustaining Canada’s missions. They will touch upon how donors directly contribute to food, utilities and transportation costs for the evangelists who endeavour to be a witness for Jesus Christ in poor and remote Canadian communities.

The pre-event attendance figures have been so strong that the optional wine tasting package is listed on the Catholic Missions website as “no longer available.” Dieter Unruh, a senior instructor of the International Sommelier Guild (sommelier is French for wine steward), will host the virtual wine tasting.

He has selected a red and a white wine from the Two Sisters Vineyard based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. The showcased red wine is a 2013 Stone Eagle Estate Reserve and the white is a 2019 Sauvignon Blanc.

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, will also feature in the proceedings as he will present the St. Joseph’s Award to Fr. Frank Salmon, OMI, for being an exemplary Canadian missionary. Salmon has served as a pastor in the Diocese of Prince George in B.C and has devoted over 45 years of his life working with First Nations people.

Over its two decades, Tastes of Heaven has raised $3 million for Catholic Missions, said Gennaro, with these funds primarily directed towards providing sustenance for approximately 600 missionaries across the country. Catholic Missions essentially has a footprint in each of the 10 provinces and three territories.

The annual event generally attracts hundreds of guests for a gala event for a gourmet dinner, served by famed chef Biagio Vinci of Biagio’s Ristorante in downtown Toronto. The event has been garnering upwards of $300,000 in recent years.

The fundraising goal for the 2021 virtual gala, at $75,000, is par for the times. As of April 11, $47,091 of that total had been collected.

Though Catholic Missions has taken its lumps during the pandemic, Gennaro said the generosity of donors since the pandemic struck just over a year ago has made sure its situation is not as dire as it could have been.

“I’d say in terms of Catholic Missions feels — or at least what I feel — is that we’re not in as bad of shape as it could have been because of the pandemic. But we are definitely in need of help — missionaries especially. They are having difficulty with limited mobility reaching people in remote areas. Travel is just so difficult with the pandemic,” he said.

For more on the gala, see cmic.info/tastes-of-heaven/.

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Many people of faith in Canada find government worship restrictions during COVID-19 pandemic harsh: survey

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 19:32

By Bryan Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – Most Catholics and other religious Canadians are trying to maintain a connection to their faith during the ongoing COVID pandemic.

But they are struggling to maintain the sense of spiritual connection that comes from being able to gather with other members of their faith at religious services and events, says a new Angus Reid survey of more than 1,000 Canadians conducted just before Easter.

Religious Canadians have seen their places of worship shuttered at times and attendance severely restricted when allowed to open in the past year since the global health emergency changed everyday life across the globe. That has led a significant number of Canadians to feel that the restrictions placed on religious communities have been unfair while many commercial operations have been allowed to continue with limited restrictions.

“The evidence shows widespread compliance with public health orders among religious communities, despite a significant feeling the orders have been unfair when compared to other places where folks gather,” said Cardus religious think tank executive director Ray Pennings.

When asked how gathering restrictions on places of worship compare with those imposed on other venues, “two-in-five (39 per cent) of Canadians who normally attend religious services say they have been unfairly harsh,” the survey found.

The Angus Reid Institute survey, which was undertaken in conjunction with Cardus, was released April 1. The survey asked 1,059 Canadian adults who had attended religious services at least once a month before the COVID pandemic how they have been meeting their religious and faith needs since public health-mandated measures have limited public faith gatherings.

Among the survey findings were that 55 per cent of “respondents who identify as Roman Catholic” miss being able to take part in Communion in person.

“Communal worship is a core part of many believers’ identity and lockdowns are personally costly for them,” said Pennings.

The results show religious Canadians have been engaged in “more personal prayer (32 per cent)” but they feel less connected to their religious community (50 per cent).

“Many long for a return to in-person worship (49 per cent), but among those who’ve had an opportunity to do so under pandemic restrictions, a plurality (42 per cent) describe the experience as less satisfying. The pandemic has also had equal parts positive and negative impacts on their own spirituality,” said an Angus Reid release.

“As with almost every aspect of pandemic life, online services have been a lifeline for those craving contact with their churches, temples and synagogues. The vast majority (77 per cent) of Canadians who regularly attended religious services pre-pandemic say they’ve streamed or ‘attended’ a religious service online, most of them on a regular basis, and most praising it in absence of no other alternative.

“Indeed, more than three times as many say they would maintain the availability of online services rather than discontinue them post-pandemic (56 per cent versus 17 per cent respectively).”

While Cardus’ Pennings said the results of the survey show that Canadians are going online to stay connected to their faith, as many as eight out of every 10 religious Canadians surveyed said they miss the ability to gather with other members of their faith community.

“Every Canadian has faced challenges in dealing with the pandemic and restrictive health orders,” Pennings said, pointing out that donations to charity are down across the board as well and that many people who go online to stay connected to their faith community are alone when they are online and miss the feeling of community offered by communal, in-person worship.

“These findings add a previously unexplored facet to the overall story about how COVID-19 has affected our society.”

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Bishop Hagemoen encourages faithful to contact government about concerns on limits to worship

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 16:22

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

 In a message issued in conjunction with updated COVID-19 directives for worship released April 14, Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon calls on those concerned about current restrictions to contact government representatives.

Acknowledging the frustration and even anger prompted by a return to the 30-person limit on worship services announced by the Saskatchewan Premier and Chief Medical Officer April 13, Bishop Hagemoen affirms that the diocese will continue to abide by government regulations.

Letter from Bishop Mark Hagemoen about numbers permitted to gather for worship

However, he also encourages people to express their concerns about restrictions on worship to their MLA, to the Premier and to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

“After a brief respite permitting gatherings of 30 per cent of a building’s capacity up to 150, we are again restricted to 30 persons being allowed in the building for worship services, without regard for the size of the building,” the bishop reports in his letter to the faithful.

“While we understand the need to address rising numbers in COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, and in particular, the increase in the more-dangerous variants of the virus, we are once again frustrated that churches have been singled out for greater restrictions, while other service agencies, businesses, restaurants, bars, and retail outlets, etc. are exempt from any additional restrictions,” says Hagemoen.

“It does feel as if faith communities are being unfairly singled out,” he says, adding: “For some among us, the disappointment and frustration of this is also a source of anger and even resistance.”

The diocese will continue to abide by government regulations aimed at reducing the transmission of the coronavirus, stresses Bishop Hagemoen.

“While I understand and deeply share the concerns being expressed, I wish to strongly affirm that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon will continue to cooperate with government efforts to combat the transmission of COVID-19, which remains a real and serious threat,” he says.

“This is a step we take in solidarity with all who are suffering, with those who are most vulnerable among us, in actions that are always consistent with the gospel call to guard every human life.”

In his letter, the bishop of Saskatoon invites those with concerns about government COVID-19 response and guidelines to contact elected officials, including their MLA, the Premier, and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health.

“At the same time, I continue to join other faith leaders in our province in strongly advocating for fair treatment for faith communities when it comes to numbers permitted to gather for worship, on par with restrictions placed on other sectors of our society.”

The bishop concludes with words of thanksgiving for all that parishes are doing as the global pandemic enters its second year.

“Once again, I express my profound gratitude to all who persevere in faith and charity during these times of challenge, including our pastors, who have offered the Sacraments, ministry and support throughout this pandemic,” says the bishop, adding that he is “grateful for the many creative ways you have reached out and continued to Proclaim Christ in every circumstance.”

April 14 Update of directives for celebration of the Sacraments in the Diocese of Saskatoon during COVID-19 – LINK

Diocesan COVID-19 resource page – LINK

Updated directives for worship

In the introduction to the compiled directives updated on April 14, Bishop Hagemoen again begins by referring pastors, parish leaders and the faithful of the diocese to both the Government of Saskatchewan Public Health Orders and the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan for information. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the diocese and its parishes have cooperated with public health orders, under the bishop’s ongoing directives.

The directives from the bishop include the fact that the faithful continue to be dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays. “Those who are at risk because of an underlying health issue or who are 65 or older are strongly encouraged, for their own health, to avoid the risk of attending public celebrations of the Mass,” state the directives.

“We encourage parishes to continue to live-stream Mass as they have been doing so those unable to attend in person can maintain a spiritual connection with their local parish.” Live-stream celebrations of Mass by a number of priests in the diocese can be found at saskatoonmass.com

The diocesan directives set out how liturgy is to be celebrated under the government guidelines, including the numbers permitted to gather: “Effective April 16, 2021, the total number of people attending the place of worship cannot exceed 30 individuals…. While concurrent services are permitted in other rooms in the facility, the combined capacity within the facility may not exceed 30 persons.”

The directives encourage parishes to establish a system of registration for gatherings, mandating that parishes keep a list of those in attendance at any gathering to permit “contact tracing” if that becomes necessarily.

A range of other issues, including churches being open for prayer, celebration of initiation sacraments, physical distancing, cleaning, and a range of procedures before, during and after Mass are also part of the compiled directives.

Who to contact with concerns
  1. MLA names and addresses can be found at https://www.legassembly.sk.ca/mlas/
  2. Scott Moe, Premier of Saskatchewan – E-mail: scottmoe.mla@sasktel.net or premier@gov.sk.ca / Phone:306-787-9433
  3. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health – E-mail: he.minister@gov.sk.ca / Phone 306-787-7345
  4. Faith Leaders Liaison Group to the Government of Saskatchewan Email NJesson@archregina.sk.ca to have the group pass feedback on to government.

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Canadian Baptist Ministries joins Grow Hope Saskatchewan as another ecumenical partner

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 15:51

By Grow Hope Saskatchewan team members

On April 14, Grow Hope Saskatchewan officially launched into its fourth growing season – a season marked by the addition of a new partner in the project: Canadian Baptist Ministries.

Grow Hope Saskatchewan is an intentionally ecumenical project that brings together Mennonites, Catholics and now Baptists, each coming together through their Canadian Foodgrains Bank accounts to end global hunger.

Last year with the federal government matching up to 4:1, farmers and donors came together to create a possible $636,000 impact towards not only ending global hunger but supporting people to grow their own food.

Grow Hope Saskatchewan launches another crop year – Article

The Roman Catholic Diocese was one of the founding partners of this initiative. For Myron Rogal, the diocesan Justice and Peace Coordinator, ecumenical cooperation is one of the project’s integral parts.

“For farmers and donors alike, the need to feed people, work with them in education and build relationships with local people living off the farm is not something constrained to denominational lines.   We have a common mission and purpose that brings us together,” says Rogal.

Dennis Shierman, the Western Canada Representative and Major Donor Strategist of Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) has taken on a leadership role with Grow Hope Saskatchewan.

“One of the many goals we have at Canadian Baptist Ministries, CBM, is helping the poor through Word and Deed, helping and bringing justice to those that find themselves in situations that are no fault of their own.  Our commitment in every project and partnership is to help restore dignity to the people of villages and cities we minister in,” says Shierman.

“One of those ways is to be a part of the Canadian Food Grains Bank.  CBM is one of the 15 churches and church-based church agencies that work together for the common goal of ending hunger around the world,” he adds.

“There is something unique about different church denominations working together and coming together to end hunger for everyone. We believe we are much stronger together. We all have the same goal and calling in the countries we all are involved in, and even in the same villages and communities, we have the same commitment to food security and feeding those that need it. Why should we not minister together?”

Shierman notes: “We work this way in Canada, and at CBM, we often have partnerships in the countries that we operate in that are the same—ministering in countries alongside other church denominations for the same goal. We have joined Grow Hope Saskatchewan because we are stronger together. We have a common purpose of feeding the poor. It is not about our differences. It is about what our Lord has called us all to do.”

To learn more about this unique project go to:  www.growhopesk.ca

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Having thousands of “domestic churches” across Canada takes on deeper meaning during COVID pandemic

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 15:22

By Brian Dryden,  Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – With new COVID-19 restrictions being put in place as yet another wave of the deadly global pandemic impacts daily life across the country, the idea that every Catholic household in Canada is a “domestic church” will take on even greater meaning this year when Canadian Catholics are asked to mark Life and Family Week May 9-16.

In a letter addressed to “Catholic Families,”  Winnipeg Archbishop and Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) president Richard Gagnon said that while no one is perfect, all baptized Catholics share in the mission “to proclaim the good news of God the Father’s saving love in Christ Jesus.”

Archbishop Gagnon said the theme of the week of May 9-16 will be “Family, the Domestic Church: A Sign of Hope and Life.”

“Some people may ask, ‘How can I or my family live up to the ideal of being a domestic church?’ The truth is no family is perfect; each one of us is affected by sin and therefore we all fall short of the ideal,” Archbishop Gagnon said.

“The good news is that through our baptism we have been ‘incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission,’” he said.

“This mission to the world is meant to be carried out not only by bishops, priests, and religious, but it is for lay people and families, too. In the early Church it was not only the Apostles who spread the faith,” Gagnon said. “Pope Francis reminds us that ‘from the very beginning, Christianity was preached by lay people.’ Our Holy Father repeats this teaching of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, stating that ‘in order to take root in people’s land and develop actively, the commitment of these families, these spouses, these Christian communities, of these lay faithful was necessary.’

“So too, in our day, the family’s commitment to Christ is necessary. As St. John Paul II remarked in 1979: ‘Evangelization depends largely on the domestic church.’ Recognizing our own limitations and weaknesses before such a lofty task we ask that the Holy Spirit be rekindled in you and your families so that you may proclaim joyfully the good news of salvation with a spirit of power and love,” Archbishop Gagnon said.

“With my brother bishops, it is my prayer that during this year’s Week for Life and the Family, you and your family, through the grace of your baptism and through the intercession of the Holy Family, be able to live your lives as a domestic church. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, you will be a sign of hope and life attracting others to the beauty of God’s saving love in Christ Jesus,” he said.

This year the annual Life and Family Week is part of a larger celebration of family within the Catholic Church. Pope Francis announced at the end of 2020 that the year 2021 will be dedicated to families to mark the fifth anniversary of his apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia – The Joy of Love.

According to a press release cited by the Vatican’s Catholic News Agency in Dec. 2020, 2021 will be known officially as the Year Amoris Laetitia Family.

The press release from the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life said “the pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families, which make the Church an authentic ‘family of families.’”

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Grow Hope Saskatchewan begins another growing season, working to end global hunger around the world

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 09:28

By MCC staff

Saskatoon – Launching its fourth season on April 14, Grow Hope Saskatchewan continues its effort to end global hunger around the world.

Rick Block, Saskatchewan Representative for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, invites people from across Saskatchewan to become a virtual farmer with Grow Hope Saskatchewan.

“We’ve seen support from people over the last three years. This project supports the Canadian Foodgrains Bank in its effort to end global hunger around the world by connecting urban and rural communities to share in the risk and reward of farming in Saskatchewan,” he says.

When an acre of land is sponsored for $300, it can result in proceeds up to $500 from the sale of that crop, which in turn is matched by the Government of Canada 4:1, creating a total value of $2,500 per acre donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Sponsor this year’s crop: LINK

Article about Grow Hope Field Day 2019: LINK

“We have an opportunity to make a real positive impact around the world. For those who are passionate about sustainability, global food security – this is the project for you. Consider rallying around local farmers who are donating land to grow hope on a global scale,” Block says.

For farmers Chaun and Sara Holfeld near Main Centre, Saskatchewan, there was no question about whether they would contribute the field work and fuel to support their friends, Dan and Carol Siebert in growing a crop for Grow Hope Saskatchewan.

“We both want to be a part of something that’s bigger than us. It’s not even a thought as to whether we would participate or not – it’s a few hours here and a few hours there.” Chaun says.

“We are grateful for the lives we live, and we are grateful for the opportunity to give back,” says Sara.

How it works: Generous farmers in Saskatchewan have donated land and agreed to grow a crop for Grow Hope Saskatchewan. It costs $300 per acre to provide seed, fertilizer, fuel and other inputs. You are invited to sponsor a partial acre, full acre or multiple acres to help cover these costs. After harvest, the farmers will sell the crop and donate the proceeds to Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

During the growing season, sponsors will receive field updates along with resources to help you learn more about farming and hunger in the developing world.

For more information, please contact Myron Rogal, coordinator of Justice and Peace in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon at mrogal@rcdos.ca or see the Grow Hope Saskatchewan website: growhopesk.ca or follow Grow Hope Saskatchewan on Facebook.

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Canadian bishops decry ‘perilous’ assisted suicide legislation

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 16:25

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Ottawa – Canadian Catholic News] – Canada’s Catholic bishops have issued a forceful condemnation of the country’s new assisted suicide law, saying the possible pressures it will place on Canadians with mental illness or disabilities are “all too real, perilous, and potentially destructive.”

In a statement Thursday, the Canadian Conference Catholic Bishops denounced the expansion of “medical assistance in dying” (MAiD) to those who aren’t near death. They called on people of faith to pray and to lobby elected officials about the issue.

The statement, signed by CCCB president Archbishop Richard Gagnon, said, “Our position remains unequivocal. Euthanasia and assisted suicide constitute the deliberate killing of human life in violation of God’s Commandments; they erode our shared dignity by failing to see, to accept, and to accompany those suffering and dying. Furthermore, they undermine the fundamental duty we have to take care of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.”

Canada’s Senate approved Bill C-7 on March 17, days after it was passed by the House of Commons. The new law expands access to assisted suicide to those whose death is not “reasonably foreseeable,” including the mentally ill, although that provision won’t be enshrined in law for two years to allow a review to establish protocols and safeguards. The new law also allows people to make advance requests for euthanasia if they fear losing the ability to make that decision later in life.

In the statement, released “during this Easter season as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the new life we have in him,” the bishops affirmed their support for organizations that resist euthanasia, as well as for family, friends, health care workers, and volunteers who care for the sick and dying.

The bishops said they are “categorically opposed” to allowing assisted suicide in Catholic institutions and called for conscience rights for health care workers who do not want to participate in euthanasia.

In response to the new law, the bishops called for rapid access to mental health care, social support, and suicide prevention programs for people who have chronic or degenerative diseases, live alone, or live in long-term care facilities.

“Palliative care, and not euthanasia or assisted suicide, is the compassionate and supportive response to suffering and dying,” they said.

Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller said “I fully endorse the statement from the CCCB. Moreover, I am convinced that the only way now to minimize the damage to human dignity caused by such an immoral law is to work to ensure that palliative care is affordable and accessible to every Canadian.”

Disability rights groups and Indigenous leaders in Canada have also spoken up against expanding assisted suicide.

In a letter in February, 15 Indigenous leaders and health-care workers stated, “Bill C-7 goes against many of our cultural values, belief systems, and sacred teachings.”

They said Indigenous people are “vulnerable to discrimination and coercion in the health-care system” and deserve protection from “unsolicited counsel” regarding assisted suicide. “The view that MAiD is a dignified end for the terminally ill or those living with disabilities should not be forced on our peoples.”

Canada amended the criminal prohibition against aiding or abetting a person to commit suicide with Bill C-14 in 2016, creating an exemption to the “offense of culpable homicide” so medical practitioners could administer a lethal injection to a dying person without facing criminal charges.

In 2019, 5,631 assisted deaths were reported in Canada, up from 4467 in 2018, although euthanasia opponents believe the actual number is higher.

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Canadians affirm support for nuclear weapon ban

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 16:20

Vast majority want their country to sign UN weapons treaty

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Three-quarters of Canadians say their country should sign the United Nations nuclear weapons ban treaty even if the United States and NATO oppose it.

The national Nanos Research Group survey on behalf of Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition found 55 per cent of Canadians strongly in favour of signing and ratifying the treaty and another 19 per cent who “somewhat support” it.

The survey also found less than 10 per cent of the country believes it is acceptable for any country to possess nuclear arms.

The Nanos poll was released the same day the semi-official Vatican newspaper, La Civilta Cattolica, published an April 1 article praising the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an effective instrument of international law since it came into force Jan. 22 after ratification by 50 countries.

Jesuit ethicist and international affairs expert Fr. Drew Christiansen argues that widespread, international support for the new treaty may force nuclear weapons’ states to make substantial progress at the next Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty talks scheduled for August.

“The conference next August in New York represents a fundamental moment. States will also have to show their willingness to build together the future of nuclear disarmament and novel structures of global governance, going beyond the NPT,” Christiansen argues.

Canada has stood by its NATO allies in rejecting the popular treaty. In 2017 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in line with other NATO leaders, refused to send a Canadian representatives to the UN conference that negotiated the terms of the nuclear weapons ban treaty.

Two-thirds of the world’s nations were represented.

“Substantive progress on non-proliferation and disarmament can only come via initiatives that engage all states, including those which possess nuclear weapons,” Global Affairs spokesperson Grantly Franklin said in an e-mail to The Catholic Register in January.

Four out of five Canadians surveyed by Nanos say Canada should work to eliminate nuclear weapons globally. The strong support for disarmament corresponds to a widespread conviction that any nuclear weapons use would be catastrophic.

“Over eight in 10 Canadians agree (58 per cent) or somewhat agree (28 per cent) that no government, health system or aid organization could respond to the devastation caused by nuclear weapons and they need to be eliminated,” said the Nanos report.

“Canada has long been an important player in global nuclear disarmament and remains committed to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons,” said Franklin.

Pope Francis has announced his intention to amend the Catechism of the Catholic Church to explicitly define possession of nuclear weapons as a moral evil.

“The use of nuclear weapons is immoral, which is why it must be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Not only their use, but also possessing them: because an accident or the madness of some government leader, one person’s madness can destroy humanity,” Pope Francis told reporters as he flew home from Hiroshima in 2019.

Canadians also don’t want their money invested in companies that help produce nuclear weapons. Almost half (49 per cent) agree and another 22 per cent somewhat agree they would pull their money out of any financial institution if they found out it was investing in the nuclear arms industry.

The survey of 1,007 adults was conducted both by phone and online between March 27 and March 30. Nanos gives the margin of error at plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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Groups urge federal government to ban polluting nuclear technologies from fund

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 16:14

Media release by Coalition for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), New Brunswick

Citizen and environmental groups are urging the federal government not to fund polluting nuclear technologies in the upcoming budget, and to instead invest in truly clean and renewable energy solutions across the country.

The federal government recently handed $70.5 million to private-sector companies in Ontario and New Brunswick to develop their designs for more nuclear reactors. Critics have denounced these handouts and are demanding that the federal government ban polluting small modular reactor (SMR) technology from the Clean Energy Fund announced in the Throne Speech.

The federal government is working closely with the nuclear industry and the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan to rebrand nuclear power as “clean energy.” Meanwhile, the uranium fuel chain has left a devastating legacy of radioactive poisons in First Nations and small communities across Canada.

Nuclear reactors create irradiated fuel that contains numerous radioactive materials that remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years. The process that the nuclear industry terms “recycling” only involves transferring these radioactive materials to other waste streams. No place exists on the planet that is licensed to safely store these “forever” pollutants.

More than 100 public interest, Indigenous and civil society organizations from coast to coast have endorsed a public statement against federal funding for new nuclear energy, including the United Church of Canada, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Canadian Federation of University Women, Climate Action Network and Équiterre.

The groups are in solidarity with the Assembly of First Nations, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Wolastoq Grand Council in New Brunswick that have all demanded that the federal government stop funding new nuclear reactors and cease generating more radioactive waste.

Critics say that the $70.5 million spent by the federal government so far would be a ‘drop in the bucket’ compared to the huge needs of private sector nuclear start-up companies. Their reactor designs could cost up to $2 billion to develop to a point when these could be licensed for construction.

The designs proposed are based on unproven technologies and will take a decade or more to develop, with no guarantee that they will be commercialized successfully. They will not be ready in time to help meet Canada’s climate targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

recent report by Canada’s Green Budget Coalition, made up of 25 leading environmental organizations, states that: “The federal government should provide no support for the development of SMRs.” The Coalition says that indirect subsidies for the nuclear industry – such as protection from accident liability, and sharing waste responsibilities with the private sector – also do not belong in the federal budget.

Leading international bodies have also remarked on the dismal outlook for SMRs and nuclear power in general in climate action. For instance, the 2020 World Nuclear Industry Status Report analysis found that investing in new nuclear energy is too slow to address the climate crisis, compared to investing in proven renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Funding new nuclear technologies is a bad investment – a waste of both time and money, and it delays real climate action. Canadians want affordable energy that does not pollute the environment. Why would we invest in unproven technologies that, if they ever work, will cost two to five times more than building proven renewables? Indigenous leaders across the country oppose building nuclear reactors or storing nuclear waste in their territories because it contains ‘forever’ radioactive poisons, ” says Professor Susan O’Donnell, Coalition for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) in New Brunswick

“Investing in unproven, next-generation nuclear technology is a dirty, dangerous distraction from tackling the climate crisis. Why are we locking Canadians into high cost electricity and accepting the liability for the nuclear industry when we have safe, renewable technology that is scalable now? We need to rapidly transition to a carbon-free electricity system, not invest in an energy system that we already know is plagued with delays and cost overruns. New nuclear simply can’t get us there on time,” says Kerrie Blaise, Northern Services Legal Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association.

“Several studies have shown that electricity from small modular reactors will be more expensive than electricity from large nuclear power plants, which are themselves not competitive in today’s electricity markets. There is no viable market for small modular reactors, and even building factories to manufacture these reactors would not be a sound financial investment,” says M. V. Ramana, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia

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