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Living Out Laudato Si’: A Commentary and Practical Resource for Canadian Catholics

Cover Laudato Si-ENOn the occasion of the third World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has published a new resource entitled Living Out Laudato Si’: A Commentary and Practical Resource for Canadian Catholics. The preface of the document, written by the Honourable Graydon Nicholas, CM ONB, former Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, from the Tobique First Nation, states that this new resource not only presents Catholic Social Teaching but “also raises many of the environmental difficulties facing Canadians today and challenges us to discuss them frankly.” The World day of Prayer for the Care of creation, celebrated on 1 September, was instituted in 2015 by Pope Francis.

Link to the document

“I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me”: Pastoral Letter on Welcoming Refugees

Cover Pastoral Letter RefugeesI Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me,” the Pastoral Letter now being released by the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), comes at a critical time for the staggering and unprecedented number of refugees and displaced persons now present in our world. It aims at making Canadian Catholics more aware of the current situation, while also challenging them to make a difference in the lives of refugees through prayer, support, and the sponsorship of families. The Pastoral Letter is in continuity with recent statements of the CCCB, including:

Responding as Catholics to the Refugee Crisis: An Open Letter to Catholics by the then CCCB President Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, September 8, 2015
Statement of Support for Joint Fundraising Campaign for Syrian Refugees by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, CNEWA Canada, and Aid to the Church i Need Canada, September 17, 2015
Resolution by the Catholic Bishops of Canada on Refugees, CCCB 2015 Plenary Assembly, September 18, 2015.

Welcoming the stranger, as Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25.35, is not an option for Christians but a Gospel requirement. When we do this, “we open our doors to God,” as Pope Francis indicates in his 2016 Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The present Pastoral Letter echoes the call adopted by the Bishops of Canada at their recent Plenary Assembly, and issued to all parishes and religious communities in Canada, to give serious consideration to sponsoring a refugee family. More information on Catholic refugee sponsors in Canada is given below to assist those Catholic organizations that may want further information.

We also invite all our Catholic brothers and sisters in our country to pray, as the Pastoral Letter states, “that our hands and our hearts may unite with our voices in actions that will give a loving welcome to refugees in our country and in our Christian communities.”

The document is available on the CCCB Website and from CCCB Publications. Copies can be ordered by phone at 1-800-769-1147, by email at publi@cccb.ca or online at www.cccbpublications.ca.

Link to the Pastoral Letter (PDF)

Commission for Justice and Peace
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
October 2015


CONTACT INFORMATION FOR
CANADIAN CATHOLIC ORGANIZATIONS SPONSORING REFUGEES

The refugee sponsorship process is usually facilitated by means of a “Sponsorship Agreement” concluded between a diocese, eparchy or other religious or community organization, and the federal government (or, in Quebec, the provincial government). Since most dioceses and eparchies in Canada do not currently have sponsorship agreements, a list follows of those Catholic organizations that already do have such agreements. Dioceses, religious communities, or other Catholic organizations interested in sponsoring refugees may wish to contact these for information about becoming a Sponsorship Agreement Holder themselves, or perhaps to coordinate sponsorships with them (for example, the Archdiocese of Vancouver recently agreed to facilitate sponsorships for several other dioceses in British Columbia which do not have a sponsorship agreement).

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Archdiocese of Vancouver
Service and Justice Office
Phone: (604) 683 0281 x50237
Email: osj@rcav.org

Diocese of Nelson
Refugee Sponsorship Committee
kgermaine@okanagan.bc.ca

ALBERTA

Diocese of Calgary
Calgary Catholic Immigration Society
Phone: (403) 290-5750

Archdiocese of Edmonton
Catholic Social Services, Refugee Sponsorship Program
Phone: (780) 424-3545

Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan
Phone: (780) 532-9766
exec.agm@live.ca

SASKATCHEWAN

Archdiocese of Regina
Refugee Sponsorship
Phone: (306) 352-1651

Diocese of Saskatoon
Office for Migration
migration@saskatoonrcdiocese.com
Phone: (306) 242-1500

MANITOBA

Archdiocese of Saint-Boniface
Refugee Sponsorship
refugee@archsaintboniface.ca

Archdiocese of Winnipeg
Phone: (204) 452-2227

ONTARIO

Archdiocese of Toronto
Office for Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT)
Phone: (416) 645-0827
orateducator@gmail.com

Diocese of Hamilton
Office for Refugees
Phone: (905) 528-7988 x2233

Archdiocese of Ottawa
Julie Salache-Simard
Phone: (613) 232-9634 x330

Diocese of Thunder Bay
Diocesan Office of Refugee Services
Phone: (807) 343-9313
sponsorship@dotb.ca

Diocese of London
Overseas Protection of Refugees Refugee Ministry
Phone: (519) 256-0506 x1

Diocese of St. Catharine’s
Diocesan Refugee Ministry
Phone: (905) 684-0154

Diocese of Peterborough
Fr. Peter Seabrooke, Chancellor of Temporal Affairs
Phone: (705) 745-5123

Spiritans (Congregation of the Holy Ghost), Scarborough, ON
Brottier Refugee Services
Phone: (416) 691-9319 x28
brottierrefugeeservices@gmail.com

Jesus the King Melkite Catholic Church, Thornhill, ON
Phone: (905) 886-0566
church@jesustheking.com

QUEBEC

Archdiocese of Montreal
Office des communautés culturelles et rituelles
Phone: (514) 778-8950
asantopadre@diocesemontreal.org

Missions Office of the Jesuit Fathers (Province of French Canada and Haiti) – Montreal
missionsjesuites@jesuites.org
Phone: (514) 387-2541

Comité de Saint-Yves et Saint- Louis-de-France, Québec
Lucie Trudel
Phone: (418) 835-6904 luciemaison@videotron.ca
OR, Pierre Sarault
Phone: (418) 653-9439 pierresarault@yahoo.ca

ATLANTIC REGION

Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth
Refugee Sponsorship Coordinator
Phone: (902) 406-8651
ejones@isans.ca

Diocese of Charlottetown
Susan Nye-Brothers
Phone: 902-368-8005 x 228
snye_brothers@hotmail.com

In addition to the various Sponsorship Agreement Holders listed above, the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council was founded several years ago “to be a centre for coordination, advocacy and information for Catholic refugee sponsoring organizations.” It can be contacted at Phone: (204) 800-0559 crsponsorscouncil@gmail.com

A Church Seeking Justice: The Challenge of Pope Francis to the Church in Canada

Cover A Church Seeking JusticeThe Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has published a new resource entitled A Church Seeking Justice: The Challenge of Pope Francis to the Church in Canada. Since his election as Bishop of Rome, the Holy Father “has brought an immediacy and specificity to Catholic social teaching that has made it a strong mark of his pontificate thus far,” states the Episcopal Commission in its text which was released today. Dealing broadly with the themes of Human Dignity and Labour, War and Peace, and the Economics of Exclusion and Isolation, this document outlines the freshness and urgency with which Pope Francis is calling us to act for justice and offers reflection questions tailored to our Canadian context.


PDF Version

Printed copies are on sale from CCCB Publications

 

Letter to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding a young Sudanese mother found guilty of converting to Christianity

May 27, 2014

The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2

Dear Mr. Minister,

I am writing you in my capacity as the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It is with great shock and concern that I have become aware of the situation of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, the Christian Sudanese mother recently sentenced to death for “apostasy,” and to 100 lashes for “adultery.”

I therefore ask the Government of Canada to do whatever is possible to urge the Sudanese government to release Ms. Ibrahim and to respect the right to freedom of creed and worship, which is outlined in section 38 of Sudan’s Interim Constitution, as well as in article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Sudan acceded in 1986). The sentences passed against Ms. Ibrahim are neither just nor merciful, and are incompatible with the universal human rights Sudan has previously recognized.

I echo the sentiments expressed by Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Dr. Andrew Bennett, in his statement of May 15, 2014, in the hope and expectation that justice and compassion will be exercised in the expected appeal of this case.

Sincerely,

+François Lapierre, P.M.E.
Bishop of St-Hyacinthe, Canada
Chairman of the Human Rights Committee

cc: Mr. Osman Adam, Chargé d’Affaires
Dr. Andrew Bennett, Ambassador for Religious Freedom


PDF Version

The Word of God and Social Action: Insights from Verbum Domini

Word of God and Social ActionFollowing two important events for the Church in 2012-2013, the Synod on the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith, the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) offers a short reflection on Verbum Domini and its social teaching. The Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini was published in 2010 after the Synod on the Word of God, held in October 2008. In the introduction of their reflection, the Bishops of the Commission write that “to enter fully into the dynamic of the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith, we need a profound reception of the message of the 2008 Synod and the exhortation that resulted from it.” They continue by saying, “we hope that we can all come to a deeper understanding of what it means to truly be evangelized and to truly be people of faith, so that our proclamation of Jesus Christ may not be in word only, but also in action.”

This text was composed during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, and is designed to draw connections between Verbum Domini and Catholic social teaching. However, the message contained here is the same as that proclaimed by Pope Francis, who states that “it is also our duty as Catholics to work harder and harder in a serious process of spiritual conversion, to come closer every day to the Gospel that spurs us to carry out an effective practical service to individuals and to society.” (Address to the President of the Republic of Italy, 8 June 2013)

At the end of its document, the Commission proposes some questions as a guide to help individuals and groups who would like to discuss the message of Verbum Domini, especially numbers 99-108 of the Exhortation on Justice, Reconciliation and Peace, and Love.

Link to the document (PDF)

Building a New Culture – Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment

Cover_page_Text_EnvironmentThe world today is rightly concerned about the state of the environment. These concerns are shared by the Church. In his audience with representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities and other religions, after being elected to the See of Peter, Pope Francis said that “The Church is likewise conscious of the responsibility which all of us have for our world, for the whole of creation, which we must love and protect.”

The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has outlined eight central themes in recent Church teaching on the environment. “These reflect on how a Catholic approach to economic questions, social justice, and environmental questions are necessarily viewed in relation to each other,” the Episcopal Commission states in its text which was released today.

Dioceses, parishes, ecclesial movements and other Catholic organizations will wish to reflect on and discuss the Church’s teaching on the environment. The document is available on the CCCB Website and from CCCB Publications. Copies can be ordered by phone at 1-800-769-1147, by email at publi@cccb.ca or online at www.cccbpublications.ca.


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Brief texts for Parish Bulletins

Letter to the High Commissioner of Pakistan to Canada regarding the young girl suspected of desecrating the Qur’an

August 31, 2012

His Excellency Mian Gul Akbar Zeb
High Commissioner of Pakistan to Canada
10 Range Road
Ottawa ON  K1N 8J3

Your Excellency,

We wish to express our concern regarding the recent incarceration of a young girl with Down’s syndrome who is suspected of desecrating the Qur’an. The girl, who is from a Christian family, risks being sentenced to life imprisonment.

This serious situation has prompted the President of Pakistan, His Excellency Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, to call for an investigation. We welcome this gesture, given the circumstances not only of the girl herself but also of Pakistan’s religious minorities, including Christians, who are regularly the target of fundamentalist groups, in particular regarding anti-blasphemy laws.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption by all States in 1992 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons from National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

In view of this Declaration and the initiative of the President of Pakistan, we ask your government to take the necessary measures to find a solution that ensures this girl’s freedom, peace and security. These measures would be a testimony to the encounter of our two religious traditions and their Holy Books in their appeal to God’s mercy.  

Thank you for your consideration to our request.

Sincerely,

The Most Reverend François Lapierre, P.M.É
Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe
Chairman of the Human Rights Committee
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

c.c.: The Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs


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Letter to the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Canada from the Chairman of the CCCB Human Rights Committee

May 30, 2012

His Excellency Osamah Al Sanosi Ahmad
Ambassador of Saudi Arabia
201 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON
K1N 1K6

Your Excellency,

In a statement on March 12, 2012, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, reputedly one of the most influential voices in the Islamic world, said that “only one religion”, Islam, “should exist in the Arabian Peninsula”, and thus “it is necessary to destroy all churches in the region”. Although this was widely circulated by news agencies more than two months ago, there have been no reports yet indicating that Saudi Arabian authorities have since corrected or denounced this call to religious violence.  

Article 18 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”.

We ask your government to apply the principle stated in the Riyadh Declaration of 2003: “Compulsion in religion is forbidden according to the Divine law, international traditions and conventions which should not be practiced under any circumstances” (#8). Such tolerance is not evident in the statement made by Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud is respected for promoting dialogue among the world’s leading faiths, his role in the convening of the World Conference on Dialogue in Madrid, Spain, and for having encouraged a United Nations conference on dialogue in 2008. We strongly urge you to express to His Royal Highness our concerns about the statement by Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, particularly in view of the urgent need for religious harmony and tolerance in the Middle East.

May God’s peace bless all people of good will.

Sincerely,

The Most Reverend François Lapierre, P.M.É
Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe
Chairman of the Human Rights Committee
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

c.c.:     The Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs


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Letter to the High Commissioner of Nigeria to Canada regarding continuing attacks against Christians in the northern region of Nigeria

May 9, 2012

His Excellency Professor Ivorwuese Hagher, PhD, OON
High Commissioner for Nigeria
295 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario   K2P 1R9 

Your Excellency,

In an interview on April 30, 2012, with Aid to the Church in Need, the Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and President of the Nigerian Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed grave concern that the Government of Nigeria is failing to protect Christians in your country, particularly in the North. The interview, reported by Catholic News Service, indicates a great number of attacks on Christians in this region, with comparatively few arrests. According to Aid to the Church in Need, these attacks are almost daily, with Christians regularly the target. On April 29 alone, 21 people were killed and 20 others injured in coordinated attacks during Sunday worship services at a university campus in Kano and a Protestant chapel in Maiduguri.

The United Nations’ 2005 World Summit agreed that “Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means” (Article 138). Furthermore, the Summit made a clear and unambiguous condemnation of terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations”.

Further to my earlier letter to you of November 14, 2011, as President of the Human Rights Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, I wish to underline the concerns expressed by our brother Bishops in Nigeria. I therefore again request that you express to the President of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCON, GCFR, the urgent need to ensure robust and sufficient protections for the many Christians who call your country home.

Thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely,

The Most Reverend François Lapierre, P.M.É
Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe
Chairman of the Human Rights Committee
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

c.c.: The Honorable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs


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Letter to the High Commissioner of Nigeria in Canada from Bishop François Lapierre, P.M.É., Chairman of the CCCB Human Rights Committee, regarding the recent violent attacks by the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria

November 14, 2011

His Excellency The High Commissioner of Nigeria
Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher
High Commission of Nigeria in Canada
295 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, ON  K2P 1R9

Your Excellency:

We would like to share with you our deep concern about the recent violent attacks by the Boko Haram sect in the States of Yobe and Borno. Some of these attacks, directed against churches as well as mosques, claimed many victims. 

In response, Pope Benedict XVI has launched an appeal “to end all violence, which does not resolve problems but accentuates them by sowing hatred and discord, also among believers” (Message following the Angelus, 6 November 2011). As well, The Most Reverend Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria, has declared that the best solutions are to “find ways to live together in peace and go to the root of problems: economic, social and youth unemployment, which is forcing many young into the arms of fanatic political leaders. If we can solve these problems, we could live in harmony alongside each other.”

Following these statements of Benedict XVI and Archbishop Kaigama, we urge your government to take the necessary measures that will ensure the rights not only of the residents of the villages recently affected by this violence but all Nigerians, so they can live in peace and security.

Thank you for the attention that you will be giving to our request.

Sincerely,

The Most Reverend François Lapierre, P.M.É.
Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe
Chairman of the Human Rights Committee
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

c.c.:      The Honourable John Baird,
Minister of Foreign Affairs


PDF Version