Pastoral Message on National Day of Prayer for Aboriginal Peoples

Monday, December 10 2007

Marking 12 December 2007 as the fifth anniversary of the National Day of Prayer for Aboriginal Peoples, the Catholic Aboriginal Council for Reconciliation has published a pastoral message.

In 2002, the Council first proclaimed 12 December as the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer as an occasion to invite Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Catholics to unite in prayer and spiritual solidarity.

In its message, the Aboriginal Council recounts the story of Saint Juan Diego, the Aztec Indian to whom the Blessed Mother appeared on 12 December 1531 in Guadalupe, Mexico. This event, as Pope John Paul II underlined when he canonized Juan Diego, marked the beginning of the evangelization of Aboriginal Peoples in America “with a vitality that surpassed all expectations.”

Throughout his pontificate, Pope John Paul II maintained special relationship with the First Nations. The 2007 message from the Aboriginal Council quotes the Holy Father when he met with Aboriginal Peoples at the Shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupré in September 1984 during his visit to Canada. “In addition, your Amerindian and Inuit traditions permit the development of new ways of expressing the message of salvation and they help us better understand to what point Jesus is the Saviour and how universal his salvation is,” the Pope said at the time.

New mandate

The Catholic Aboriginal Council for Reconciliation was created by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in 1998. In March 2007, the Council was granted a new mandate by the Conference, focusing on the study and analysis of issues related to Catholic Aboriginal spirituality and education.

The Aboriginal Council is to serve as a major link between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Catholics and establish partnerships that promote and advocate for meaningful relationships between Aboriginal Peoples and the Catholic Church at large. The Council also advises the Bishops of Canada on Aboriginal issues.

For more information on the new mandate and the members of the Aboriginal Council, please visit the CCCB website.