‘LET US BE EASTER PEOPLE’ – Easter Message from CCCB President

Image to accompany Chapter 3 of encyclical 'Lumen Fidei'

Below, please find the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Easter Message:

Life is stronger than death! This is the fundamental conviction of my Christian faith. It is based on a fact: Jesus’ disciples were radically transformed only a few days after his death.

Let’s put ourselves in their place. The one in whom they had hoped has died, and his death was shameful. Accused of encouraging revolt against the government, Jesus was tortured, publicly humiliated, and crucified like a most vile criminal. A phrase from the Jewish Scriptures must have haunted them: “Anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse” (Deuteronomy 21.23).

The one they had believed to be God’s Prophet now seems cursed by God. They were convinced he would restore the kingdom of Israel – but once again the Roman Empire proves all powerful. They believed that the future ages would be transformed by him, but now they are mocked by never-ending sadness and futility.

Is it surprising they fled to avoid being taken with him? That Judas took his own life? That Peter, their leader, even denied knowing him? That they hid themselves in sorrow and despair?

What happened just a few days later to bring about such a radical change in them? Jesus’ death had made them fearful; now they are full of courage. They had gone into hiding; now they preach in public. They had been dispersed, each to his separate way; they now come together for prayer and the breaking of the bread, united in unbreakable solidarity.

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Photo description: Worshipers hold candles during the Easter Vigil at St. Jude Church in Mastic Beach, N.Y. (CNS file photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Welcoming Canada’s Two New Saints

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François de Laval and Marie of the Incarnation
Statement by the Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

It is with great joy and thanksgiving that the Bishops of Canada welcome today’s proclamation by Pope Francis that the Universal Church recognizes Bishop François de Laval and Mother Marie of the Incarnation as Saints. Late last year, the Holy Father had consulted the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops about his proposal to proceed with their canonization. We responded then, and we do again today, with a resounding Amen! We are grateful to God for raising up in our midst these two wonderful examples of holiness and service. We thank Pope Francis for this great gift to the Church in Canada, and to all the people of our nation.

Saint François de Laval (1623-1708) was the first Bishop of New France. His diocesan territory originally included most of what is now Canada, much of upper New England and all the Mississippi Valley, extending even to the Rocky Mountains. He is admired for his pastoral work among the Aboriginal Peoples and the settlers of New France, and for trying to defend Native People from being exploited by merchants and governors through the sale of alcohol. He was especially committed to education, founding both a major and a minor seminary. The Séminaire de Québec, which later established Laval University, has made major contributions in the intervening centuries to higher academic education not only in Quebec and the rest of Canada, but throughout North America. Saint François de Laval was known for his commitment to evangelization and his generosity to the poor. After his resignation as Bishop of Québec, he devoted his final years to prayer, penance and the care of the poor.

Saint Marie of the Incarnation (1599-1672) was an Ursuline nun who founded a convent and school to educate girls in New France. Daughters of the French settlers and of the Aboriginal Peoples were educated together, sharing the same table and the same dwelling. After learning several Aboriginal languages, she compiled catechisms and prayers in Huron and Algonquin, as well as an Algonquin dictionary. She also maintained a voluminous correspondence. Her letters remain today an important witness to her deep and generous mystical spirituality, as well as to the day-to-day history of New France. Saint Marie of the Incarnation began a long tradition throughout our continent of Ursuline elementary and secondary schools, dedicated to the education of girls and young women of all faiths and languages. Her canonization happily coincides with the 375th anniversary of her arrival in what is today Quebec City.

Their proclamation as Saints arrives at two important junctures this year in Canadian history. The 350th anniversary of the canonical establishment of Notre-Dame-de-Québec, the first parish in North America outside Spanish-speaking territories, reminds us of the missionary nature of the Church as it was planted in Canadian soil. May Saint François de Laval and Saint Marie of the Incarnation renew in us a sense of mission and our commitment to evangelizing in the joy of the Gospel. This year also has witnessed what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission announced would be its final National Event. May our two new Saints assist all of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to build a better future that respects and reverences the contributions that each race and people brings to our country and to our world. Inspired by the examples of these two Saints, and strengthened in the Holy Spirit, let us all collaborate in renewing the face of the earth and founding a civilization of love and service.

 +Paul-André Durocher
Archbishop of Gatineau and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

April 3, 2014

CCCB President’s statement on the newest Canadian Cardinal

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President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of Gatineau Paul-André Durocher has issued the following statement on the elevation of Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec, to the College of Cardinals:

As President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, it is a great joy for me, on behalf of all the Bishops of Canada, to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the Most Reverend Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec and Primate of the Church in Canada, for his having been designated by our Holy Father as a Cardinal of the Church of Rome. This appointment by Pope Francis is a great honour for all the Church in our country, as well as indicating the importance of the See of Québec and the important role it played in evangelizing the New World. What an honour this is for the people of Québec and those of the entire country, as we celebrate the 350th anniversary of the erection of the first parish in North America outside Spanish-speaking territories.

Cardinal-designate Lacroix has already provided extraordinary leadership in the Church in Quebec for his joyful proclamation of the Good News. As Primate, he is recognized throughout the country as an extraordinary leader who is an enthusiastic preacher, with an unmistakable missionary zeal that is accented by his complete dedication to the new evangelization. He is known as a man of sincerity and humility who possesses a welcoming spirit. Most of all, he brings the person of our Lord Jesus Christ to everyone, regardless of their age, sex, culture, faith or personal circumstances. We share this joy with all the members of the “Institut Seculier Pie X”, a Society of Apostolic Life to which he belonged prior to being appointed a Bishop. His joyful character knows no bounds, and is, at all times, completely contagious.

As an ex officio member of the Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Lacroix has always contributed to its meetings much wisdom, deeply rooted in his love of the Gospel. These same qualities will help him greatly as he advises the Holy Father, which is one of the key responsibilities of every Cardinal.

+ Paul-André Durocher
Archbishop of Gatineau and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

New Years message from Canadian Bishops

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On this New Year’s Day of 2014, Pope Francis has published his first message for the

celebration of the World Day of Peace, focusing on the theme of brotherhood. As President of

the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada, I want to relay Pope Francis’s intervention to my

fellow citizens by taking a look from our own Canadian perspective at some of the questions he

has chosen to raise.

Families: The Pope identifies the family as the first school of brotherhood. Unfortunately, too

many Canadian families live in poverty, suffering from unemployment, experiencing violence,

breakdowns and indifference. Should we not commit ourselves to the full flowering of our

families as a genuine social priority?

Aid to poor countries: Francis reminds us that rich countries have a special responsibility in

building a common future for humanity. He suggests that human brotherhood presents itself in

this regard under three aspects: the duty of solidarity, the duty of social justice and the duty of

universal charity. When we consider our foreign policy, the role of our ambassadors, our

international commitments and our economic agreements, should we not consider these three

duties as foundational?

Poverty in Canada: The Pope recognizes that our world is experiencing a reduction in absolute

poverty. However, relative poverty is increasing, that is to say “inequality between people and

groups who live together in particular regions”. This certainly describes Canada, one of the most

prosperous countries of the world, where we unfortunately find too many soup kitchens, drop-in

centres and neglected, unhealthy neighbourhoods. And what about our Indian reserves where

overwhelming and devastating poverty is unfortunately rampant? Could we not foster true

brotherhood among us, a brotherhood made concrete by our care of others and our sharing with

them as well as the development of government policies and programs that make a greater

difference in people’s lives?

Voluntary Simplicity: The Pope salutes those families and individuals who intentionally choose

voluntary simplicity in their life style. This is a testimony that speaks to all, a gesture that makes

a difference. As we begin this New Year, could we not all reflect on our lifestyle, our

consumption and our priorities?

Ethics in business and finance: Francis invites business leaders to uphold the traditional virtues

of prudence, temperance, justice and perseverance as they engage in commercial and financial

activities. Otherwise, we may find ourselves beset with the continuing financial and economic

crises that have shaken our country and our world. Should not all Canadian business leaders

strive to be international models of these ethical principles?

The arms trade: The Pope’s words are incisive: “As long as so great a quantity of arms are in

circulation as at present, new pretexts can always be found for initiating hostilities.” Should

Canadian companies be complicit in the many fratricidal wars that hurt our world and kill

children? Do not our governments have an obligation to consider this question more seriously?

Organized crime: Our Pope deplores the presence of criminal organizations that profit from the

sale of drugs, corruption, human trafficking and prostitution. Persons involved in such

organizations or doing business with them should seriously listen to the call of Pope Francis: “In

the heart of every man and woman is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible longing

for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies

or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced.” How shall we help our

brothers and sisters free themselves from the scourge of organized crime?

The ecological challenge: Francis warns us of greed and the arrogance of domination,

possession, manipulation and exploitation. It would be more helpful to consider nature as “a

gracious gift which we must care for and set at the service of our brothers and sisters, including

future generations”. Since Canada is recognized for its natural beauty and its rich natural

resources, we have an even more serious obligation in this area. Harmonizing economic

development and respect for nature is not easy, yet social and political will must rise to the task.

Will we leave our grandchildren and great -grandchildren a healthy and ecologically rich

environment?

In conclusion: When I look at the state of the world today, I cannot help but count myself lucky

to live in a prosperous and peaceful country like Canada. This prosperity and peace allow us to

strive even more radically towards the ideal of brotherhood. Yes, let us rejoice in the path

already travelled, but let us also remain clear-thinking as we face the path ahead. Citizens,

governments and community organizations, I call on you with Pope Francis: let us once again

take up the pilgrim’s staff. Together, let us journey ever further along the path of brotherhood,

the true road to peace.

+ Paul- André Durocher

Archbishop of Gatineau and

President of the Canadian Conference

of Catholic Bishops

(CNS Photo)

Letter from CCCB president to Philippine Bishops’ Conference

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Archbishop Paul Andre Durocher sent this letter to Archbishop Socrates Buenaventura Villegas, President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Tuesday, November 12.

To the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Philippines,

Since Friday, we have seen the increasingly devastating reports of the tragedy which has
befallen your country. As President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), I
know I speak on behalf of all my fellow Canadian Bishops when I assure each and every one of
you of our prayers and thoughts at this trying time of national emergency.

Today, we are united with the Holy Father who, at the Angelus in Saint-Peter’s Square,
invited all people to silent and public prayer for the many who lost their lives and for all who are
in such pain at this time. We are united with the many emergency workers and volunteers who
are involved in helping those who are most in need: the injured, the homeless, the bereaved. We
are united to you as you reach out in generosity and compassion in serving the great pastoral
needs of your people.

As you know, many of your family and friends live in Canada. Their pain is particularly
evident, especially as they await news of their loved one. They also are not forgotten by us and
we pledge our care and outreach to them.

The Lord Jesus Christ stands with us in this crisis. We pray that he will give you strength
and renewed faith in this terrible time.

Sincerely yours in Christ our Lord,
+Paul-André Durocher
Archbishop of Gatineau and
President of the Canadian Conference
of Catholic Bishops

Perspectives Daily – Mon. Sept. 23 2013

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis travels to Cagliari, an attack on Christians in Pakistan, shake-up in the Roman Curia and the opening of the annual CCCB Plenary Assembly.

Archbishop Richard Smith addresses the Knights of Columbus

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Remarks of Most Rev. Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops at the States Dinner of the 131st Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in San Antonio, Texas, August 6, 2013

Your Eminences and Excellencies, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, Dorian, Brother Knights, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to address once again some brief remarks on the occasion of this States Dinner.

The relationship between the Knights of Columbus and the Bishops of Canada is strong, and I and my brother Bishops from Canada who join me on this day are pleased to underline that good rapport by our presence here during the Supreme Convention.

Allow me to share with you a story. Recently I attended the episcopal ordination of the new Bishop of Churchill-Hudson Bay, Most Reverend Anthony Krotki. It took place in the Canadian far north, in the hamlet of Rankin Inlet, in the territory of Nunavut. As part of the celebrations the local Inuit population offered everyone the opportunity to share in a traditional community feast. We gathered in the local arena. As I arrived, I saw a number of people putting down sheets of cardboard across the gymnasium floor. Then they proceeded to throw out on to this cardboard large pieces of raw, frozen fish and caribou, together with the heads and brains and inner organs of Lord knows what other animals. To this was added some raw, fresh whale blubber. After the blessing the local people sat on the floor and gathered up the food in their hands and used small knives to slice off pieces to eat. I saw only one non-local (a missionary priest from Poland — God bless him) get on the floor and join them. Most of us visitors (cowards, some would say), including yours truly, simply stood back and stared. Thanks be to God, there was other cooked food available. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the lineup for that nourishment was very long.

Getting accustomed to a strange diet is not easy. I know my own stomach recoiled at what I saw on that arena floor. Many international travellers know the experience of encountering unfamiliar food and being unable to handle it. This is, I believe, a helpful analogy for understanding the difficulties we encounter today as Christians when we undertake the new evangelization.

When we announce the Gospel, we are proposing a “diet” to which much of our western culture has grown unaccustomed, even allergic. Our “diet” is centred on the Bread of Life, Jesus Himself, truly present in the Eucharistic species. Transformed by this food, our daily diet becomes that of obedience to truth, the embrace of the Cross and self-gift for the sake of world. For anyone more accustomed to a diet of selfishness and relativism, such a proposed diet would be impossible to swallow. The “stomach” recoils. Hence the negative and sometimes vitriolic response to the Gospel and the Church that we witness today.

What is to be done? I suggest two things. First, as I watched the Inuit eat the food that I could not imagine even touching, I noticed the look of satisfaction — even joy —on their faces. Such a “witness” made me wonder if the food might be worth tasting after all. I didn’t get that far, but it at least left me thinking that there must be something good about this particular diet. The most effective way we have of proposing that diet we call the Gospel is to give witness to the joy that it brings us. Our world is living largely on the junk food of individualism and self-reliance, a diet that leaves one hungry and malnourished. By our joy, we invite those accustomed to this empty diet to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” (Psalm 34:8) and in Christ to find true nourishment and real life.

Second, we need to pay close attention to our own daily diet, to avoid giving in to the constant temptation to nibble at the “junk food” that surrounds us. The Holy Father, from his first homily as our Chief Shepherd, called us to model our lives on the custos, on Saint Joseph, by protecting the gifts God has given to us. Foundational among those gifts is that of our identity as disciples. We protect that gift by living it with integrity, which demands a careful attention to our choice of nourishment. May the Lord help each of us to choose as our food only Him and the truth he reveals, and to avoid all else. Apart from Christ, nothing can satisfy.

God bless you all.

(CNS Photo)

 

 

 

 

Perspectives Daily – Wednesday, May 22

Tonight on Perspectives: Pope Francis talks about the Holy Spirit at his General Audience, calls for prayers for China, and meets Angela Merkel.  In other news, a major international inter-religious and intercultural dialogue center begins it’s first conference.

Perspectives Daily – Tuesday, April 9

Tonight on Perspectives Pope Francis met with the General Secretary of the United Nations and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops releases a document on the environment.

Canadian bishops celebrate Papal Inauguration


On March 19, the Catholic Church celebrates Pope Francis’ election to the papacy with a special Mass of Inauguration. Published below is a message from the Most Reverend Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. For broadcast times and more information about this historical Mass, visit our dedicated Habemus Papam webpage.

This Tuesday, March 19, 2013, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we celebrate the formal inauguration of the Petrine ministry of Francis, Servant of the Servants of God. Saint Joseph is both patron of the universal Church, and principal patron of Canada.

On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of our country, I invite each member of our Church and everyone of good will to share in this moment of joy. Let us pray that God support and strengthen our new Pope in his ministry of universal pastor. May he lead, encourage and teach us all to give glory to God, and thus peace and good will to the world.

Pope Francis takes on the role of the Apostle Peter shown to us in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles: helping the disciples recognize Jesus and be a communion of love, strengthening us in the faith, witnessing to Jesus’ resurrection, and continuing Jesus’ ministry of healing and teaching (Mark 8.29,16.7; Matthew 16.18; Luke 22.32; John 20.6; Acts 2.14-49,3.2-10). He now serves, by the grace of God, as our “rock”.

From the outset, Pope Francis has invited us to turn to Mary, Mother of God, for her protection and intercession. This was manifested symbolically the day after his election, when he prayed to Our Lady at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, and left a bouquet of flowers on the altar.

Mary heard God and believed. She received into her very womb the Word made flesh. With Saint Joseph, she welcomed Jesus, and introduced him to the world. She learned from Jesus, and kept faith with him to the last. From the Cross, Jesus made Mary our mother in faith, and we her sons and daughters (John 19.26-27). With Mary, we introduce Jesus to our world, and are called to imitate Mary’s steadfast fidelity to our Lord, even in moments of betrayal, ignorance and suffering, so as to be effective witnesses to God’s life-giving glory.

With gratitude to God, let us welcome Pope Francis as he leads the Church into a new stage along the journey of evangelization and encounter. Just a few days ago, he told the Cardinals, “Do not give in to pessimism and discouragement…. [T]he Holy Spirit gives the Church… the courage to persevere and also to seek new methods of evangelization, to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to the deep needs of human existence, convincingly announcing that Christ is the only Saviour of the whole person and of all persons.”

Together, with Pope Francis, let us move forward into the future, following the way of Christ, filled with the faith, hope and love we share with Mary, journeying to the Father, emboldened, inspired and united in the Holy Spirit.

+ Richard Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

18 March 2013

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Credit: CNS photo