Pastoral Reflections on Commitments by Catholic Parties in Response to the TRC’s Calls to Action, and on the Encyclical on Care for our Common Home

Wednesday, September 28 2016

(CCCB – Ottawa)… On the second day of the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the CCCB Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace provided pastoral animation on the commitments by Catholic parties in response to the Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and how these commitments can be implemented in dioceses/eparchies. The Bishops also had an opportunity to reflect on the Encyclical Laudato Sí and continue their discernment on the pastoral response to assisted suicide and euthanasia, including approaches by Catholic pastors and pastoral workers as well as health-care providers and institutions. The day began with the celebration of Morning Prayer and Eucharist presided by the Most Reverend Robert Bourgon, Bishop of Hearst and Apostolic Administrator of Moosonee, followed withcumenical greetings and reflections by the Reverend Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan, President of the Canadian Council of Churches and a member of the Anglican Church of Canada.

In order to reflect on the eight commitments made earlier this year by Catholic parties in response to the TRC’s Calls to Action, the Commission invited the following resource persons to participate in a panel: the Most Reverend Murray Chatlain, Archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas and a member of the Commission; Mr. Irving Papineau, Vice-Chair of the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council, and Mr. Harry Lafond, one of the original members of the Aboriginal Council. Mr. Papineau is a member of the Mohawk First Nation and lives in Akwesasne, which straddles the borders of Quebec, Ontario and the State of New York; Mr. Lafond is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. In his intervention, Archbishop Chatlain stressed the importance of seeing relations with Aboriginal Peoples in a new light and being open to a conversion that moves in that direction. The four Catholic parties which jointly made the eight commitments are the CCCB, the Aboriginal Council, the Canadian Religious Conference, and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. The panel for this topic was chaired by the Most Reverend Noël Simard, Bishop of Valleyfield, who is also a member of the Commission for Justice and Peace.

Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’, on care for our common home

Following a presentation by Father Michael Czerny, S.J., a Canadian Jesuit working at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Bishops discussed the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis on care for our common home. In his intervention, Father Czerny highlighted the theological foundations of the text, as well as the process by which this Encyclical seeks to involve the whole human family, and not only members of religions, on a journey toward “sustainable and integral development” (Laudato Sí, no. 13) in order to combat poverty, restore dignity to the excluded, and protect nature.

Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia

His Eminence Gérald Cyprien Cardinal Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec and Primate of Canada, and His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, were invited to offer their reflections on Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, On Love in the Family, which brings together the results of the two Synods on the family which had been convoked by Pope Francis in 2014 and 2015. Cardinal Collins and three other Bishops from Canada had been elected by the CCCB to the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in October 2015 in Rome on the theme “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World”. The other three were the Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau, the Most Reverend Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton, and the Most Reverend Noël Simard, Bishop of Valleyfield. Cardinal Lacroix was appointed as a member of the Synod by Pope Francis, who as well named Dr. Moira McQueen, Executive Director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, as an official observer.

The second day of the Plenary also included an update report on the situation in the Middle East and the resettlement of refugees. The Most Reverend Antoine Nassif, Apostolic Exarch for Syriac Catholics in Canada, was invited to give an update on the situation. At the Plenary Assembly in 2015, the Bishops had adopted a proposal to encourage, facilitate and accelerate the private sponsorship of refugees.