Celebrating the 150th of Canadian Confederation and the 50th of Development and Peace – Caritas Canada

Wednesday, September 27 2017

(CCCB – Ottawa)… On the second day of the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the Bishops travelled to Ottawa in the afternoon for a Solemn Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica to celebrate the feast of the Canadian Martyrs, the secondary patrons of Canada. In addition to marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation by consecrating Canada to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Eucharistic celebration also highlighted the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace – Caritas Canada.

In the presence of more than a thousand people, including a number of dignitaries and elected officials from various levels of government, the Mass was presided by the Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Archbishop of Ottawa and Apostolic Administrator of Alexandria-Cornwall, with the Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton and President of the CCCB, and the Most Reverend Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil and Vice President of the CCCB, as the two principal concelebrants. His Eminence Gérald Cyprien Cardinal Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec and Primate of Canada, was the homilist and led the prayer of consecration to Mary together with His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, and His Eminence Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, who is Archbishop Emeritus of Québec.

In his homily, Cardinal Lacroix said that “as we come together in our nation’s capital to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, we give thanks to the Lord for the many saints, holy men and women who, like the Canadian Martyrs, came to the New World, bringing with them the Good News of Jesus Christ. We can literally say that our country was founded by saints. The Gospel they brought from Europe was not only in Bibles and in books; it was deeply rooted in their lives. They were bearers of the Good News. And that is why they were able to witness faithfully and persevere in the midst of many trials.” He also noted how the Canadian Martyrs and other missionaries gave their lives in service to the Indigenous Peoples.

At the reception following the Mass, Bishop Crosby spoke of the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace – Caritas Canada. He recalled that “when founding Development and Peace, the Bishops were building on exemplary Canadian traditions of missionary work, formation in the social teaching of the Church, and the apostolate of the laity. The CCODP mission can be summed up in the word ‘mercy‘. In Hebrew the words for mercy and womb are closely related. The womb of Mary bore and gave birth to Jesus Christ, just as we in our mercy are called to do today.” He also highlighted how “Development and Peace is part of the structure and mission of the Church, working with and on behalf of the Catholic Bishops and faithful in our country.” Finally, he recalled the CCCB Pastoral Letter published in November 2016 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the organization being founded and mandated by the Bishops of Canada.

Human Trafficking

In the morning, the Bishops had the opportunity to reflect on the problem of human trafficking by means of presentations on the work of the Santa Marta Group and on the efforts of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Comité d’action contre la traite humaine interne et international (CATHII), as well as a number of women’s institutes of consecrated life in Canada and also internationally. In collaboration with the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Pope Francis instituted the Santa Marta Group, an international effort to focus on closer cooperation in anti-trafficking initiatives by the Catholic Church and law enforcement agencies worldwide. Since its founding, the Santa Marta Group has held four conferences attended by a Bishop representing the CCCB.

The second day of the Plenary Assembly also included reports by the National Episcopal Commissions, various committees including the Ad hoc Committee on the Transition of the Northern Dioceses, as well as the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF).