Archives: Public Statements

CCCB comment on reported remarks by Bishop Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X

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Questions and concerns have been raised following recent media reports about a statement that had been made in Canada by the Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X that “the Jews” are the "enemies of the Church". The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops notes that such remarks are not in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church. As the spokesperson for the Holy See, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., has said when commenting on the statement, “It is absolutely unacceptable, impossible, to define the Jews as enemies of the Church.”

Last Updated on Friday, January 18 2013

CCCB President writes to the Prime Minister of Canada and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

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January 9, 2013

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0A2

National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
Trebla Building
473 Albert StreetSuite 900
Ottawa, Ontario  K1R 5B4

Dear Prime Minister Harper and National Chief Atleo,

On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of our country, I wish to assure you, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, the Honourable John Duncan, and the delegation of First Nations leaders of our prayers and encouragement for your upcoming meeting on January 11. We trust your discussions will contribute to a process that will address the concerns of all Indigenous People in Canada – First Nations, Inuit, and Metis.

We hope your meeting and any eventual process will find support from all Canadians and political leaders, as well as from the members and leadership of Indigenous communities. This is an important moment for building on the goodwill and efforts of the past, in order that our country can work together in finding constructive ways to resolve the major underlying issues. Current concerns about education, housing, safe drinking water, access to health care, and land settlements, while critical and pressing to the First Nations, are symptomatic of deeper economic, political and social questions among all Indigenous People. The daily sporadic demonstrations taking place across our country by members of the First Nations are a sign not only of how opportune your meeting is, but also encouraging evidence of renewed determination among Indigenous People to be a major part of the solutions to their challenges and frustrations. It is of fundamental importance that Indigenous People and their leaders remain engaged as active and responsible agents of their own cultural, economic and social development.

The Catholic Church has worked alongside Indigenous People since the very beginnings of our country. As Bishops, we are on record in our determination to assist in the conversations and collaboration that must be part of ensuring and protecting the rights and responsibilities of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis. Our history in relating with Indigenous communities, and our ongoing concern for their wellbeing and their right to self-determination, are outlined in the 1994 submission by our Conference to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Let Justice Flow like a Mighty River (available on our Conference’s webpage for Indigenous People). Over the past 20 years, our nation and our Church have witnessed and participated in many positive changes in the situations facing Indigenous People. Yet a number of major questions still need to be resolved, especially in the areas of self-determination and of authentic social, economic and constitutional development. Pope Benedict XVI, in his Message for the 2013 World Day of Peace, identifies our current challenge in these words: “the duty and right to an integral social and communitarian development” is “part of God’s plan for mankind” and thus “a fundamental moral principle” (Blessed are the Peacemakers, n. 1, January 1, 2013).

Mr. Prime Minister, you have shown creative leadership in renewing our country’s partnership with its Indigenous People by means of your momentous apology of June 2008 on behalf of the Government of Canada to former students of Indian Residential Schools. Prime Minister Harper and National Chief Atleo, you both participated in the January 2012 historic Crown - First Nation Gathering. The Catholic Bishops of Canada encourage each of you, and all levels of government in Canada, as well as civil, social and cultural institutions, together with the Assembly of First Nations and all Indigenous leaders and communities, to make the most of this present moment in renewing and concerting efforts for the human and social development of the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis. Many promises have been made over the past generations, and the outstanding issues which are key to future progress have already been identified by the Royal Commission as well as by Indigenous, federal and other agencies. What is needed now is for these many undertakings “to be sustained by fresh thinking and a new cultural synthesis so as to overcome purely technical approaches and to harmonize the various political currents with a view to the common good” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Peace, 2013, n. 6).

For Catholics, the canonization this past October of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Indigenous woman from North America to be recognized as a Catholic saint, is a sign of how special a moment this is for our country and our Church in renewing and deepening the relationship and partnership with Indigenous People. May her example, as “Protectress of Canada”, who lived at a time of tension and misunderstanding, help inspire and encourage respect, dialogue and patience in your January 11 meeting, so it may bear fruit in real hope for the future.

With the assurance of my prayers for God’s blessings upon your work and witness, I am,

Yours sincerely in Our Lord,

+ Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

c.c.:     The Honourable John Duncan
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

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Last Updated on Thursday, January 10 2013

Letter of sympathy and prayers to USCCB President Cardinal Dolan on deaths at Newtown

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December 17, 2012

His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Washington DC

Your Eminence,

On behalf of the Bishops and all the faithful of our country, I extend our heartfelt prayers and deepest sympathies on the recent horrible killings of 20 young children and six adults in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14. Please convey to the families and community of Newtown, Connecticut, and to the Diocese of Bridgeport and its parish of Saint Rose of Lima, our sentiments of sympathy and solidarity.

Canadians join with Americans and the rest of the world in lamenting this tragic moment. It is not only the local community of Newtown or your own nation which is experiencing such great loss and sorrow, but also the whole of North American society. Our culture has become mesmerized and exploited by violence in its many dehumanizing and senseless forms. Its victims are not only the dead, the wounded, their families and the citizens of Newtown. Each of us has been injured and hurt: every heart by the images of human suffering, every soul by the malice and cruelty at work in any act of violence.

Christian communities around the world are preparing to celebrate at Christmas the Gift of Life and Love. May God help our society in this tragic moment to be more respectful of the sacredness of life, and inspire all communities in their determination to serve and protect the common good.

We pray for God’s gift of healing and reconciliation in Newtown and its surrounding communities. We pray also that the people of our two nations discover a rebirth of love and a renewed appreciation for the gift and value of each human life and every human family.

With the assurance of my prayers for God's blessings upon your work and witness, I am,

Yours fraternally in Our Lord,

+ Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic

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Last Updated on Wednesday, December 19 2012

Christmas Message, 2012

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According to the Gospel of Matthew (2.11), the Magi brought three gifts to Christ: gold, myrrh, and frankincense. This past year, Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, has received three precious gifts: the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith; the canonization of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha; and the Year of Faith.

Last Updated on Wednesday, December 19 2012

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomes new Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio

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The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomes the new motu proprio by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, on “The Service of Charity”, which was released 1 December 2012 but dated 11 November, the memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, the 4th century Bishop renowned for his works of charity. Pope Benedict has issued a timely reminder that the ministry of charity is essential to the very nature of the Church, just as he had earlier reminded us that “charity demands justice” and “transcends justice” (Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, n. 6).

Last Updated on Wednesday, December 05 2012

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Canada’s oldest diocese, the Archdiocese of Quebec, was established in 1674. Most Reverend François de Laval was its first Bishop.