Letter Concerning a National Day of Compassion for the Elderly

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The Honourable Flora MacDonald
and Mr. Don Harron
Canada Coordinating Committee (CCC)
for the International Year of Older Persons
8th Floor, Jeanne-Mance Building
Ottawa, ON
K1A 1B4

Dear Ms. MacDonald and Mr. Harron:

As President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), I wish to express the gratitude of the Bishops of Canada for the numerous initiatives our country is undertaking as part of the International Year of Older Persons.

We are especially pleased that the action program overseen by the Canadian Coordinating Committee (CCC) recognizes the dignity of the elderly and the important contributions they make to their families, to other elderly persons and to our country as a whole.

There are however two distinct groups among the elderly: those enjoying good health who are able to live an active life, and those who because of declining health are losing their autonomy and so must depend more and more on their family or society in general. The International Year of Older Persons provides a significant opportunity to focus on the
situation of the latter group.

At the 1998 Plenary Meeting in Niagara Falls, the members of the CCCB voted unanimously for a National Day of Compassion that would be observed by Catholics as well as other Canadians as a way of acknowledging those older persons who are losing their autonomy. To be celebrated on May 20, 1999, this day of recognition would be a concrete way of proclaiming the dignity of the elderly as well as our respect for all older persons and in a special way for those among them who suffer from particular problems or physical challenges that prevent them from being fully autonomous in their daily lives.

The dependence that many older persons are facing is a challenge not only to the Church but all society. Such dependence can cause serious suffering among many of the elderly. They may feel useless, suffer from lack of recognition or experience feelings of isolation, emptiness and exclusion. From the eyes of faith, it is not an exaggeration to say these persons are experiencing a new form of poverty.

On behalf of my brother bishops, I ask you as Co-Chairs of the Canadian Coordinating Committee to proclaim a National Day of Compassion for dependent older persons. You can be assured that the Catholic Church in Canada will collaborate and participate.

Thank you for your attention to this proposal.

Sincerely in Our Lord,

+ Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte
Archbishop of Montreal
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

For More Information Contact:
Deacon William Kokesch
Director, Communications Service


Last Updated on Wednesday, July 19 2006  
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