This year, we have been blessed to have had a delegation of Indigenous people visit Pope Francis in Rome in order to receive his apology on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, and again to welcome the Holy Father to this land to hear his words of sorrow as he embarked on his, self described, “Pilgrimage of Penance”. Let us take this opportunity to build on the reflections offered by Pope Francis.
The Holy Father comments that he is struck by the Indigenous delegations’ wise and farsighted term “traditional wisdom” as it applies to the need to consider the impact of deliberations as far into the future as the seventh generation. Pope Francis’ understanding of the family bond over generations, and its importance in moving forward with reconciliation is instructive and it opens the door for all Catholics to learn about and apply understandings of the Indigenous world view towards reconciliation.
In Rome, Pope Francis remarked, “The ties that connect the elderly and the young are essential. They must be protected lest we lose our historical memory and very identity”. At the Mass in Edmonton, celebrating the feast day of Saints Anne and Joachim, the Holy Father recognized the gift that is family and how, “No one comes into this life detached from others. The love that awaited us and welcomed us into this world are part of a unique history that preceded us… we did not choose that history; we received it as a gift.” This is consistent with the insight from an Elder from Cold Lake, Alberta who responded to a question about why Indigenous parents were indulgent with their children, saying, “We must not injure the child’s spirit”. Children’s experiences of abuse at the hands of those who would shape their lives are contrary to this principle and that, in Indigenous settings, family ties are to be nurtured, protected, and cherished as the gift they are.
As Catholics, we share this value of strengthening nuclear and extended family ties, but we often do not see the many ways that colonization continues to impact the very thing we cherish. Indigenous voices have expressed that “residential school” continues in other forms. Child welfare authorities remove Indigenous children from nuclear and extended family settings. Canada’s justice system also removes parents from children which seriously affects opportunities for continuity of relationships, identity formation and indeed wholesome human development. As Catholics concerned about reconciliation, can we advocate for changes to these contributors to continued intergenerational trauma?
Maintenance and strengthening of family ties are very much in evidence in many Indigenous traditions from Powwows, which unite all generations in the gift of dance and feast, to the traditional wisdom demonstrated in the ‘pipe of peace’ smoking ceremony whose symbols teach the interdependence of all beings in creation.
These are but a couple of examples from many traditions that can be further explored to help us acquire an understanding of Indigenous peoples, as part of the reconciliation journey.
During his visit to Iqaluit, the last stop before his return to Rome, Pope Francis shared the words of an Elder who spoke of the beautiful spirit that reigned in Indigenous families before the advent of the Indian Residential School system. “He compared those days of grandparents, parents and children living harmoniously together as to springtime when the birds chirp happily around their mother. But then the singing stopped, families were broken up. Winter fell over everything”.
As we grow in our knowledge of one another and move away from stereotypes toward an increased understanding of our unique and shared beliefs and values, may our journey of reconciliation bring the springtime back once again and may our winter of shame be banished forever.
Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council
Bill 11, the Act modifying the Act Respecting End-of-Life Care, along with other legislative provisions presented February 16, 2023, by Quebec Health and Seniors Minister Sonia Bélanger, obliges us as Quebec citizens and Catholic bishops practising our ministries throughout this province to speak out today on this question which is of the utmost importance.
Trois-Rivières – March 10, 2023 | The Bishops of Quebec concluded their Plenary Assembly today, which had begun on March 6. The meeting was greatly inspired by the synodal process and provided an opportunity for many fruitful and stimulating exchanges...
Trois-Rivières, March 8, 2023 – On this, the second day of their two-day gathering to collect and assimilate the diocesan synodal syntheses from across the province, along with the Provincial Synthesis - Quebec and the document taking shape in the continental stage of consultations held during the Synod on Synodality launched in October 2021, a group of almost 150 people from all dioceses of Quebec are marking International Women's Day...
Share Lent is an annual highlight for Development and Peace.
It is when the bishops of Canada encourage the faithful to give to Development and Peace, especially through the collection on Solidarity Sunday, the fifth Sunday of Lent.
This Lent, let us walk in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Global South who put people and planet first.
Join us and bring Share Lent to life in your community!
A series of CCCB videos entitled Journeying through Lent will once again be available on the CCCB website. This year's Lenten meditations are given by His Eminence Gérald Cyprien Cardinal Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, and by Most Rev. Brian Joseph Dunn, Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth...
Last week, in Orlando, Florida, as part of the Synodal journey in North America, a joint writing team comprised of individuals who were appointed by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) worked together on the Continental Phase’s Final Document for North America.
The Board of Directors of the Novatio Foundation has just announced that it will fund $71,270 in projects for its first year of operation. Following the call for projects launched last fall, the Foundation received about fifteen projects. Upon the recommendation of the Project analysis and selection committee, the Foundation's Board of Directors is pleased to be associated with the realization of 11 projects in the parishes and community organizations of the Archdiocese of Gatineau.
With the support of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Aid to Church in Need (ACN), Canadian Jesuits International (CJI), Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) Canada, and Development and Peace-Caritas Canada (DPCC) are launching an emergency aid campaign in response to the destructive earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday. They have pledged the total sum of nearly one million Canadian dollars.
On 8 February 2023, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following four pastoral letters on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Intended as a framework for local engagement with Indigenous Peoples, the letters are the fruit of many months of listening, encounter, and dialogue with them, including through Listening Circles, the Indigenous Delegation to the Vatican in April 2022, and Pope Francis’ Apostolic Voyage to Canada in July of the same year.
The Vatican released Pope Francis’s message for the 31st World Day of the Sick, celebrated every year on 11 February, liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Holy Father’s message is entitled: “Take care of him” – Compassion as a synodal exercise of healing. In light of the Church’s synodal journey, Pope Francis invites “all of us to reflect on the fact that it is especially through the experience of vulnerability and illness that we can learn to walk together according to the style of God, which is closeness, compassion, and tenderness.”
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