Archives: Public Statements

Letter of the CCCB President on the emergency appeal for West Africa

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June 7, 2012

Dear brother Bishops,

News has been emerging over the past months about the growing crisis in West Africa and the Sahel. An estimated 12 million people, including a million children, are at risk because of famine. Seven of the eight governments in this arid zone between the Sahara desert in North Africa and Sudan's Savannas to the south have declared national emergencies. In his address this past February to the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, Pope Benedict XVI urged “serious action to relieve the extreme poverty of these peoples whose living conditions are deteriorating.” That same month, a United Nations meeting described the situation as critical, and called for comprehensive and rapid assistance to the millions of people affected. In March, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the President of the worldwide Catholic relief network Caritas Internationalis, said that “if we act now it is not too late to prevent a major humanitarian crisis.”

During May, our Conference joined with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace in a joint emergency fundraising appeal in response to the food shortage and drought in West Africa and the Sahel. I now invite you to consider establishing a timeframe in your respective dioceses for promoting and organizing a collection between now and Sunday, September 16, inclusive. This extended period will allow for summer schedules and other previous pastoral commitments. However spread out the parish collections may be over this summer, the situation in the Sahel is already described as a “disaster in the making”. The emergency needs there will only increase as the weeks go by, so it will certainly not be too early or too late over the next three months for our collective efforts to help make a difference.

Development and Peace has special envelopes available for parish collections. Pastors and pastoral workers wishing to order the envelopes can communicate with the CCODP national office in Montreal or with their local Development and Peace animator. As well, Development and Peace will be updating the materials and information on its website throughout the summer. You may wish to encourage the faithful of your dioceses to visit the website for regular updates. Development and Peace is the Canadian member of Caritas Internationalis. Contributions made through CCODP will assist the projects that are being organized in the Sahel by Caritas Internationalis and Caritas members in West Africa.

The Sahel has special significance for Catholics. Almost 30 years ago, in 1984, Blessed Pope John Paul II established the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, to collaborate with the peoples of Africa in meeting their challenges for development and self-sufficiency, including agriculture and food supplies. The Foundation encourages collaboration among the different faiths in the Sahel, and has become known as an instrument and leaven for interfaith dialogue and human advancement, as well as a practical response to desertification. Caritas Internationalis works closely with the John Paul II Foundation.

The United Nations’ World Day to Combat Desertification is observed every year on June 17. This year’s slogan reminds us that “Healthy soil sustains your life.” In his address earlier this year to the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, the Holy Father called Africa the “continent of the future”. May the prayers and contributions of Canadian Catholics to assist West Africa and the Sahel be an expression of our common commitment to sustaining life and shaping a future of justice, peace and solidarity for all our brothers and sisters.

Fraternally in Our Lord,

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

The following webpages provide more information on Catholic efforts to assist the people of the Sahel:

- Development and Peace,
- Caritas Internationalis,
- John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel,
- Pope Benedict XVI, address to representatives of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, February 10, 2012.

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Last Updated on Friday, June 08 2012

CCCB Statement on Raymond Lahey

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On May 4, 2011, then Bishop Raymond Lahey entered a plea of guilty in civil court to the possession of child pornography. He was sentenced in accordance with civil law on January 4, 2012. It remained for the Holy See to follow the canonical procedures in effect for such cases to determine what appropriate disciplinary or penal measures would be imposed. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has now been informed by the Holy See that Raymond Lahey has been dismissed from the clerical state. According to Canon 292 of the Code of Canon Law, the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has the following effects: loss of the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by Canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire. Raymond Lahey has accepted the Decree of Dismissal, which also requires him to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in reparation for the harm and the scandal he has caused, and for the sanctification of clergy.

May 16, 2012

Last Updated on Wednesday, May 16 2012


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dandpenIt is with great regret that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has learned of a significant reduction in funding for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).  During the 5-year period from 2006 to 2011, CCODP’s regular program received $44.6 million in CIDA funding support.   It has reduced this contribution for the coming five years to $14.5 million.

Last Updated on Friday, March 23 2012


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kateriIt is with great joy that the Bishops of Canada welcome the 18 February 2012 announcement that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, will canonize Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, elevating her to sainthood this coming October. This event will be a great honour to all of North America, but also in a particular way to its Aboriginal Peoples, of whom Kateri will be the first to receive this dignity.

Last Updated on Tuesday, February 21 2012

Statement by CCCB President Archbishop Richard Smith On the designation by the Holy Father of Archbishop Thomas Collins as a member of the College of Cardinals

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Collins_2012_CardinalAs President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, it is a great joy for me, on behalf of all the Bishops of Canada, to extend our congratulations to the Most Reverend Thomas Collins for his having been designated by our Holy Father as a Cardinal of the Church of Rome. This appointment by Pope Benedict XVI is a great honour for all the Church in our country, as well as indicating the importance of the See of Toronto in the life of the Universal Church.

Cardinal-designate Collins has already provided excellent leadership for the Church in Toronto and throughout Canada by his dedication to and involvement in lectio divina, the quality of his preaching, and for his insistence on safe and secure environments in our communities for the vulnerable and the young.

Last Updated on Friday, January 06 2012

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On January 13th 2010, Most Reverend Vincent Nguyen became Canada’s first Catholic Bishop of East Asian descent. He is the great-grandson of a Vietnamese Martyr.