Invitation by the CCCB President to participate in the 2014 Share Lent Collection
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This coming Sunday, April 6, is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, which is reserved in most Canadian parishes for the Share Lent Collection. The collection is a principal means for Canadian Catholics to show their support for the mission and work of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP). The Share Lent campaign this year focuses on world hunger. This is the same focus as the international campaign launched several months ago by Pope Francis and Caritas Internationalis, with the same theme, One human family, food for all.
The mission of Development and Peace always remains pertinent: to assist the peoples of the Global South in their development needs, and to educate Canadians on how integral human development is an essential part of Our Lord’s saving message, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” In the words of the latest version of the CCODP General By-Laws, nos. 4-5, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace was
Founded and mandated by the Roman and Eastern Catholic Bishops of Canada in 1967 …. The Organization is inspired by the values of the Gospel and Catholic Social Teaching, particularly the preferential option for the poor…. [G]overned by a democratically elected lay leadership accountable to its members… [its] orientations and values are consonant with the teachings of the Catholic Church. By virtue of its mandate, and in pursuit of its efforts to engage all society in actions for global solidarity, the Organization collaborates with the Catholic community and the Catholic Bishops of Canada. In the pursuit of these objectives, the Organization works in close harmony with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and, within each Diocese, with each Bishop. As a member of Caritas Internationalis, the Organization also works in close cooperation with the Holy See, whose Motu Proprio Intima Ecclesiae Natura provides its clearest form of guidance.
In his Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium), nos. 209-215, Pope Francis teaches us that “Jesus, the evangelizer par excellence and the Gospel in person, identified especially with the little ones. This reminds us Christians that we are called to care for the vulnerable of the earth.” Who are these vulnerable? The Pope points to the homeless; the addicted; refugees; indigenous peoples; the elderly; migrants; victims of human trafficking; women enduring situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence; unborn children; and “other weak and defenceless beings who are frequently at the mercy of economic interests or indiscriminate exploitation.”
The Holy Father explains that “realities are more important than ideas” (nos. 231-233). Because there is “a constant tension between ideas and realities”, so “there has to be continuous dialogue between the two.” To assist Development and Peace in putting “the word into practice” and to “perform works of justice and charity which make that word fruitful,” our Conference several years ago established its Standing Committee for Development and Peace. The Bishops and Conference staff on that Standing Committee accompany and assist CCODP in its ongoing renewal and revitalization. Because of their working and dialoguing together with their counterparts from Development and Peace – the CCODP Standing Liaison Committee – there is an efficient and permanent structure to review any questions or concerns that might arise on aspects of CCODP activities or its various partners. This process has already proven to be effective. Catholics are welcome to indicate to their diocesan Bishop or to our Conference any questions they may have. These will then be referred to the CCCB Standing Committee and the CCODP Standing Liaison Committee for their joint review and recommendations.
In the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles, we recognize the constant interplay in Our Lord’s injunctions to feed the hungry, thirst for justice, love one another, and serve others. Development and Peace offers Canadian Catholics both a reminder and a means to make these words of Jesus Christ a living reality for our Church. This Sunday, on behalf of all my brother Bishops, I invite you to share generously in order that there may be “food for all”.
+ Paul-André Durocher
Archbishop of Gatineau and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops