English  ·  Français   ·   Italiano   ·   中文  

The Canadian Church and Indigenous Peoples – Perspectives

Today on Perspectives: Sr. Priscilla Solomon speaks to us about enculturation of the faith, the legacy of residential schools in Canada, and the next steps in the healing process.

Pope Francis Visits Armenia – Perspectives

Pope Francis spent the weekend visiting Armenia and we have highlights. Plus, during the return flight he gave an hour long press conference and we have details.

Behind Vatican Walls: Pope Francis in Armenia


Pope Francis landed in Armenia this Friday for a weekend visit that includes a stop at the Armenian Genocide Memorial, his participation in a Divine Liturgy in the Armenian rite, and a visit to the Khor Virap monastery not far from the Turkish border.

The first item on the papal itinerary was a visit to the Apostolic Cathedral of Yerevan. Armenian Catholicos Karekin II and Pope Francis prayed Psalm 121 together, before turning to the formal greetings.

Addressing the Catholicos and Armenian Apostolic clergy, Pope Francis said, “I bow before the mercy of the Lord who willed that Armenia should become, in the year 301, the first nation to accept Christianity as its religion” at a time when religious persecution was rampant. The pope added “May the Lord bless you for the luminous testimony.”

Turning his attention to ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church, the pope said “when our actions are prompted by the power of Christ’s love, understanding and reciprocal esteem grow, a fruitful ecumenical journey becomes possible.”

From there Pope Francis went on to the presidential palace for a courtesy meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. He recalled the anniversary of Armenia’s independence, and the liturgy celebrated at the Vatican by Catholicos Karekin II to commemorate the 150th anniversary of what Armenians refer to as “the great evil.” Pope Francis used the Armenian phrase “Metz Yeghern.”

The pope reiterated his admiration for the way, in the darkest moments of their history, Armenians found the strength to carry on in the cross of Christ.

The first day of the pope’s Armenian voyage concluded with a private meeting between Pope Francis and Catholicos Karekin II.

Watch this week’s episode of Vatican Connections below!


Every week brings new, exciting, and sometimes juicy headlines from behind Vatican walls and every week Alicia delves deeper into one of those headlines. For a full run down of what’s been happening behind Vatican walls, watch Vatican Connections. Already watch the program? Come back every Friday for an in-depth look at an issue, headline or person. Season 4 of Vatican Connections airs every Friday at 8:00 pm ET.

Less than a month to World Youth Day – Perspectives

The Vatican releases a statement about the case of Bishop Ma of Shanghai. We’re less than a month away from WYD Krakow and have the latest updates, and full details on our coverage of the papal visit of Armenia.

Refugees “are our brothers” – Perspectives

Today on Perspectives: Pope Francis has a pointed message on how Christians should treat others, especially refugees. Plus, an anti-death penalty conference in Norway gets a special papal message.

Reaction to Euthanasia Law – Perspectives

Today on Perspectives: There is now a law regulating euthanasia in Canada. Cardinal Thomas Collins offers some thoughts on what comes next. One Canadian bishop spent 36 hours experiencing life as a homeless person, and this week’s saint is St. Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ.

Coast to Coast: June 12 to 17




Here is a sample of what we’ve been reading about across this vast country of ours.

In Vancouver, one of the Syrian families that arrived in Canada in February sits down to share their story and their experience of welcome on the west coast.

In Winnipeg: Even though the pope’s encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ was released a year ago, awareness of the plight of our common home is still front and centre. Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg and the Manitoba office of Development and Peace are making sure of that.  

In Toronto: A Basilian priest from Edmonton has been named the new auxiliary bishop for Toronto.

In Montreal: World Youth Day pilgrims are preparing for their upcoming trip with the help of a holocaust survivor. Their itinerary includes a visit to Auschwitz, the WWII Nazi death camp.


Behind Vatican Walls: Synods and Councils

A historic gathering of orthodox leaders is scheduled to take place on the Greek island of Crete later this week. The Great and Holy Council, as it called in the Orthodox church, would be the first such meeting in over a thousand years. With days to go before the start of that that meeting various orthodox churches are bringing new concerns to the table, asking for the meeting to be postponed, and announcing boycotts.

50 years of preparation

The council was the idea of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras who was “first among equals” of the Orthodox Church from 1948 to 1972. In the 60s he launched the idea that a “Great and Holy Council” was needed. While the Roman Catholic Church was able to call an Ecumenical Council in in 1959 and convene the first session of that council in October of 1962, the Orthodox Church spent the next 50 years – and three patriarchs- planning the Great and Holy Council.

Preparations entered the final stages in the last year: a date, location and agenda were agreed upon. Following the tradition of the Orthodox Church those elements had to be agreed upon unanimously by orthodox church leaders in order to be adopted. Even with a last minute disagreement on the location, a consensus was still reached. (Originally the synod was to be held in Istanbul, seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Russian Orthodox Church officials refused to set foot on Turkish soil after a Russian military plane was shot down by Turkish forces. The patriarchs voted to move the council to Crete).

Fast forward to May of this year. One by one several of churches began raising concerns about the agenda, the working procedure, and even the seating arrangement at the council, not to mention quibbles about items that are and are not on the official agenda. The Orthodox Churches of Antioch, Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia announced that they will not attend the council.The Serbian Orthodox Church initially refused to attend then went back on that decision.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has been in Crete since early this week. The ten patriarchs who are still participating have arrived on the island and issued an appeal to the four absent churches to join them. A spokesperson for the Ecumenical Patriarch told Associated Press will reach out to the four no shows in attempt to find a way to address their concerns about synod.

What are the objections being raised by the various churches?

Antiochian Orthodox Church

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East was established in 42 AD by the apostles Paul and Barnabas. Although it was founded in what is today Antakya, Turkey the Patriarchal See of the Antiochian Church is in Damascus.

According to the patriarchate, the Antiochian Church has jurisdiction over all the middle east where there are no other autonomous churches. In 2004 the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem established a formal presence in Qatar, appointing a Bishop to be responsible for Orthodox faithful in that country. The Antiochian Patriarchate did not take this well, and has essentially refused to sit at a table where the Jerusalem Patriarch is present, unless and until the issue is resolved. (i.e. Antioch’s jurisdiction over Qatar is formally recognized by the orthodox churches).

 Orthodox Church of Bulgaria 

The reasons offered by the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria focused on the logistics of the council. The Bulgarian bishops said the seating arrangement for the council violates the principle of equality between the Ecumenical Patriarch the heads of the autonomous churches. As well, the place designated for observers and guests was deemed “inappropriate” by the Bulgarian bishops.

Aside from who sits where, the Bulgarian bishops said in a statement they feel there are items missing from the council agenda that need to be addressed because they are timely and relevant to the church today. However, there was no indication of what those topics might be.

Orthodox Church of Georgia

Doctrinal and political reasons were cited by the Georgian church as reason for not participating in the synod. Georgian church leaders said in a statement they did not see how a synod could go ahead as long as two of fourteen autonomous churches (Antioch and Jerusalem) are in a dispute. The bishops of the Georgian church also cited what they believe to be doctrinal errors in some of the documents on the synod agenda. Of particular concern: the document on the Orthodox church’s relations with other churches. According to the Georgian church, there is no such thing as a non-Orthodox Christian Church. As such any other Christian denomination should not be treated or referred to as a church. The Orthodox Churches of Georgia and Bulgaria both withdrew from the World Council of Churches for this reason.

Serbian Orthodox Church

In early June Serbian Orthodox leaders decided they could not participate in the synod. In a statement the leaders of the Serbian church pointed to disputes between some of the orthodox churches, saying those disputes need to be resolved before a synod can be considered. They proposed delaying the synod in order to resolve those differences.

By mid June the Serbian Orthodox leaders changed their mind yet again, deciding to attend the synod. The Serbian Orthodox delegation arrived in Crete June 16 but reserves the right to leave if the concerns of the Serbian Church are not addressed.

Russian Orthodox Church

Taking a slightly different approach, the Russian Orthodox Church leaders called for the synod to be postponed. In light of the Bulgarian, Georgian and Antiochian Churches pulling out of the synod, Moscow proposed postponing the synod. The June 13 proposal from Moscow suggested turning the scheduled gathering in Crete into a pre-synod preparatory meeting. However, that proposal came with an ultimatum: postpone, or we won’t participate. Just to show there were no hard feelings, the Russian bishops expressed their full collaboration in working towards a future synod.

For more on the structure and function of the Great and Holy Council, visit holycouncil.org


Every week brings new, exciting, and sometimes juicy headlines from behind Vatican walls and every week Alicia delves deeper into one of those headlines. For a full run down of what’s been happening behind Vatican walls, watch Vatican Connections. Already watch the program? Come back every Friday for an in-depth look at an issue, headline or person. Season 4 of Vatican Connections airs every Friday at 8:00 pm ET.

Jubilee of Circus Performers – Perspectives

on Today’s edition of Perspectives: Pope Francis holds a special audience with circus and carnival performers for the Jubilee of Mercy. A special conference takes place in Halifax, and Hockey legend Gordie Howe’s funeral is celebrated in Detroit’s Catholic Cathedral.

US women religious called to Rome – Perspectives

We have details of the General Audience catechesis, plus several U.S. based women’s religious communities are being called to Rome, we’ll tell you why. And one Chinese bishop is sending shock waves through the Chinese Catholic community.