Coast to Coast: November 8 to 14, 2014

In Toronto, different religious groups are working together by opening their place of worship on winter nights to keep the city’s homeless out of the cold.

In Saskatoon, Bishop Don Bolen is calling on Catholics to get better informed about the cases of missing aboriginal women in the province and the country, and pray for families whose sisters and daughters are missing.

In Edmonton, Fr. Leo Hoffman offers tips and suggestions on dealing with people who are grieving.

And in Vancouver, the archdiocese is preparing to move into a new chancery building, complete with custom artwork.

Vatican Connections: November 14, 2014

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A group of Catholic and Muslim scholars meeting at the Vatican this week unanimously condemned acts of terrorism and violence, persecution, and desecration of sacred places.

The 12 Catholic and 12 Muslim scholars were taking part in the third Catholic – Muslim Forum which focused on “Working together to Serve Others.”

The participants acknowledged that their meeting took place at a time of great tension and conflict and said that makes mutual cooperation more important than ever.

In a statement released at the end of the three day meeting, forum participants pointed to education as a key to promoting respect for others. According to participants, textbooks used in schools, churches and mosques must offer a respectful land objective portrayal of other religions and ethnic groups.

The forum was established in 2008 after more than 100 Muslim scholars launched the “Common Word” initiative to foster understanding and dialogue between Muslims and Christians.

The alleged killing of 43 student teachers in Mexico, which prompted Pope Francis to denounce the violence behind drug trafficking, has taken another tragic twist.

In the search for the bodies of the 43 missing student teachers, searchers found a mass grave containing 38 bodies, including that of a priest who disappeared in April.

Father John Ssenysondo, a Comboni Missionary originally from Uganda, disappeared April 30 after celebrating Mass in the town of Chilapa de Alvarez. Local media report the priest disappeared after refusing to baptize the child of a couple who were known members of a local drug gang.

None of the bodies found in the grave with Fr. Ssenysondo have been identified as those of the missing student teachers.

In his general audience on Wednesday Pope Francis expressed his closeness with Mexican citizens and said although the 43 teachers are legally disappeared, “we know they are killed.” He said their disappearance and deaths “make visible the dramatic reality that exists behind the sale and trafficking of drugs.”

 

 

 

Coast to Coast: November 1 to 7, 2014

Here are some things that have been happening in the church across Canada:

The Catholic Register in Toronto gives us a look at Canada’s Religious Freedom Office.

Community groups representing live-in caregivers are skeptical of the federal government’s plan to give permanent residency to 60,000 foreign caregivers.

In Saskatoon, Catholic Elders are looking how to get to a more indigenous church.

 

 

 

Coast to Coast: Oct 25 to 31, 2014

Here are some things making headlines across the church in Canada this week:

A Catholic family in Montreal has been deported after their refugee claim was repeatedly denied. The family’s parish vows to help the family get back to Canada.

In Regina, the provincial government’s throne speech promises the development and roll out of an anti-poverty strategy.

And in Vancouver the archdiocese backs an ethical way of collecting stem cells for medical research.

Vatican Connections: October 31, 2014

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Things are returning to a normal pace at the Vatican after the end of the extraordinary synod. Pope Francis kept a full schedule this week, which included his daily masses, a meeting with members of popular movements from around the world (non-religious movements that advocate for worker’s rights, indigenous land rights, fair wages, and access to housing) and he unveiled a bronze bust of a his predecessor. At that unveiling he also said the so-called “big bang theory” is not incompatible with faith. This sparked a media frenzy, quickly quelled when Catholic scholars pointed out that it was indeed a Catholic priest who first developed the big bang theory.

Another memorable quote was delivered during the pope’s talk to the members of popular movements. He said “we see with sadness that [these three things] are increasingly unattainable for most people: land, roof, and work. It’s strange but when I talk about these things, some people feel the pope is communist.” Pope Francis went on to say that these three things are actually at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine. This leads to an interesting point: how many people actually know what is in the Church’s social doctrine? For those who are curious, the compendium of social doctrine of the Church can be found here.

Other notable events this week: a new batch of consultors have been named to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 

Coast to Coast: October 18 to 24

In Ottawa, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast reacted to this week’s shooting at parliament hill.

In Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario one couple celebrates 10 years of giving up everything to help bring water to campesinos in rural Guatemala.

Archbishop Paul Andre Durocher shares his thoughts on the Extraordinary Synod on the Family that just ended in Rome.

In Vancouver, a chapter of the Catholic Voices group has been established and the head of the Canadian branch shares tips on how to defend the faith without getting mad.

 

Vatican Connections: October 24, 2014

Turkey

With the Synod of Bishops wrapped up this week was rather quiet at the Vatican. One surprise did arrive: the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will be visiting Turkey at the end of November.

He will fly to Ankara on November 28, where he will meet with government officials. From there he continues on to Istanbul where he will stop at the Haiga Sofia and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (known as the “Blue Mosque”). While in Istanbul Pope Francis will take part in an ecumenical prayer service and celebrate a Divine Liturgy. In between he will meet privately with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

In a talk to the Orientale Lumen Foundation the pope said his visit to Turkey and his meeting there with Patriarch Bartholmew is a sign of hte profound ties that unite Rome and Constantinople, and the mutual desire to overcome the obstacles that separate the two churches.

Also this week the Vatican released the schedule of liturgical celebrations that the Pope Francis will take part in during the month of November:

November 1 – Solemnity of All Saints

Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at Rome’s Verano cemetery

November 2 – All Souls

Pope Francis will hold a prayer service in the Vatican Grottoes to remember all the faithful departed

November 3

Pope Francis will preside at a Mass to remember all the cardinals and bishops who died in the past year

November 23 – Solemnity of Christ the King

Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at 10:30 am in St. Peter’s square to canonize six new saints:

Giovanni Antonio Farina

Kuriakose Elias Chavara of the Holy Family

Ludovico da Casoria

Nicola da Longobardi

Eufrasia Eluvathingal of the Sacred Heart

Amato Ronconi

 

Coast to Coast: October 12 – 17

Here’s what’s been going on in the church in Canada this week:

National events have been obscured by the Synod of Bishops in Rome. Archbishop Paul Andre Durocher of Gatineau is there representing the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has been posting to his blog “Sing and Walk” on a daily basis. Check it out for an insider’s explanation of the Synod.

In Edmonton, parishes are finding new and creative ways to reach out to kids.

In Ottawa, where the supreme court is debating over Canada’s  “assisted suicide” or euthanasia laws, one expert says the opposition to euthanasia needs to be framed in non-religious terms if it is to win in court.

 

Vatican Connections: Friday, October 10 – 2014


The first week of the Synod on the family has wrapped up in Rome. Participants have moved from general working sessions into small group sessions where they will go over the issues discussed “in aula” and work towards creating a unified document that can be presented to Pope Francis.

While there has been unity among the Synod participants on some issues, there remain divisions on the issues of sacraments for divorced and (civilly) remarried Catholics, homosexuals – specifically welcoming them in parishes, and the annulment process.

There seems to have been agreement among synod fathers that church doctrine on marriage and divorce cannot change, but a new pastoral approach is needed because people are suffering. As well, it was recognized that no two cases are the same and treating each case in the exact same way is not pastorally effective. Of course there are prelates who remain steadfastly opposed to any discussion about what could be done differently when it comes to this issue.

Other issues that came up with week: the knowledge and use of natural family planning. One French couple gave a witness talk speaking about the benefits of NFP, although it has had mixed results for them.

The synod also focused on the situation in the middle east. On Friday members of the synod issued a message of solidarity for all families suffering the effects of war and violence, especially those in Iraq and Syria.

Next week the synod participants will spend the bulk of the week working in small groups. They will have the opportunity to delve deeper into the various issues presented, and undoubtedly have face to face discussions with those members who hold different views on the issues.

Coast to Coast: October 6 to 10

Here’s a few things happening in the church across Canada:

In Montreal, one family is fighting to stay in the country after their refugee claims were denied. The family’s parish has launched a campaign to raise public awareness about their case. The parish pastor calls the government’s reaction so far a “wall of indifference.”

In Edmonton, parishioners mourn the loss of one young priest whose unique look and creative approach to ministry was model for reaching out to young people.

and in Mission, B.C. the Benedictines unveil the latest addition to their monastery church: a bejeweled crucifix that took seven years to complete…no small feat given that the artist is 90 years old.

and on a lighthearted note, Bishop Gary Gordon of Victoria, B.C. posted  a blog about the recent plenary assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. It seems Bishop Gordon has embraced the art of the “selfie” and is sharing his knowledge with his brother bishops.