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Feast of the Pope 2018

  • Posted by Thomas Chirayil
  • On July 4, 2018



JUNE 29, 2018


Dear Friends,

Welcome!  I greet and thank all of you who, by your presence, honor this “House of the Pope” in Canada as together we recall and celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis.

En particulier, je salue les représentants des gouvernements fédéral, provinciaux et municipaux, les membres de la communauté diplomatique, les autorités religieuses de diverses traditions religieuses, les amis et les voisins de la Nunciature, vous toutes et tous. Je vous remercie de votre présence qui est l’expression de votre respect et de votre estime pour le Saint-Siège, et, en particulier, de votre affection pour Pape François

We began our celebration this evening with the tradition of listening to our respective national anthems. I confess to you that for some time now, participating in the National Day of the many countries that have their embassy here in Ottawa, my attention goes in a special way to the national anthems. I think that in singing, with music, every country expresses the harmony of relationships that it would like to have within itself and with other countries.  Singing and making music, in fact, asks everyone not only to perform his own part well, but also to stand back to listen attentively to others. Only if this succeeds, only if no one monopolizes center stage but in a spirit of service fits-in with the whole group, will we have a truly beautiful performance, like the one we’ve just heard. Thank you very much to our five singers who for a few minutes made us savor the harmony and symphony that we all desire for the human family.

A united world and the harmony of the human family are at the center of the mission of the Bishop of Rome. In his bold vision for a peaceful, free and just world, Pope Francis has touched on themes that have been in the headlines, like the Syrian war and the Rohingya refugee crisis. He has thanked the many countries that have welcomed refugees and he knows that Canada is one of the countries that has led the way in welcoming peoples from many troubled parts of the world.

Pope Francis truly has at heart ecumenism and respectful dialogue among the great religions of the world.  This was evident once again last week as the Pope visited the headquarters of the World Council of Churches in Geneva.  His day-long visit had as its theme: “To walk, pray and work together.” This theme or motto is a way of life and action that characterizes Pope Francis’ friendship with Canada and it is also the pastoral commitment of the Catholic Church in Canada. In a very particular way, this theme describes well our relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

En septembre dernier, alors qu’il s’adressait à l’Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies à New York, le Premier Ministre Justin Trudeau a évoqué l’histoire du Canada, en soulignant l’un des défis intérieurs majeurs du Canada, à savoir ses relations avec les peuples indigènes. À ce sujet, il s’est exprimé ainsi : «Nous avons maintenant l’occasion de parvenir à une véritable réconciliation entre le Canada et les Premières Nations, la Nation métisse et les Inuits, une réconciliation substantielle et durable ».

In recent months, a lively discussion has been underway, and it has passed through civil society and the Catholic community.  It is a discussion that relates to the well-known request contained in the Call to Action #58 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report. Through the media, opinions have circulated giving the impression that Pope Francis would not be available to listen to the request made by the Indigenous Peoples. As the Pope’s representative in Canada, I can assure you that Pope Francis is not against a gesture of reconciliation and he is willing to seek together ways that can foster the desired process of healing and reconciliation with and among the Indigenous Peoples in this country.

I wish to underline how this goal is fully shared by the Catholic Church in Canada which is committed to quietly and patiently studying ways and means of walking in a real and meaningful process of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. For its part, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, since last February, has sponsored Listening Sessions all across Canada with representatives of our Indigenous communities – mostly elders.

These meetings were born out of the conviction that the first verbs to be combined to promote an authentic process of healing and reconciliation are not “planning” and “doing”, but “listening” and “meeting”. Here is an example of a question shared during these Listening Sessions: “Where should we, as Church, be putting our energy as we continue to learn to walk with Indigenous People? What would you like to see first in strengthening relations between Indigenous People and the Catholic Church in your territory? “.  Such listening sessions show a way forward and are being encouraged in every diocese and region in the country.

Permettez-moi de vous partager une dernière pensée. Nous savons tous combien la bonne santé du monde comme celle de chaque nation dépend de manière particulière de la bonne santé des jeunes, des nouvelles générations. Le Pape François est en train de mettre le projecteur sur les jeunes, à travers ce qui s’est vécu les mois passés et ce qui est à venir, avec trois grands évènements dans la vie de l’Église : un Pré-Synode qui a eu lieu à Rome en mars dernier, le Synode des évêques d’octobre prochain entièrement consacré aux jeunes, et la Journée Mondiale de la Jeunesse qui aura lieu à Panama en janvier 2019.

Le Pré-Synode de Rome a rassemblé 315 jeunes adultes du monde entier pour une semaine intense de dialogue, de fraternité et de rencontre avec le Pape François. Cela a permis de définir l’agenda du prochain Synode des évêques. Trois canadiens étaient présents à cette rencontre et ont offert des contributions significatives : un jeune issu des premières Nations de Saskatoon, une jeune franco-ontarienne de Toronto et le recteur du Séminaire de la ville de Québec.

The October 2018 General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will focus on the challenging and timely theme: “Young People, Faith and Discernment”. Many Canadian dioceses and communities have been preparing for this great gathering of Church leaders and young adults in Rome.  Last October, I had the privilege of taking part in a live, national television “Town Hall” program from the studios of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic Television Network in Toronto. During that dynamic, trans-Canada conversation, Pope Francis himself joined us by satellite from the Vatican with a splendid Message. The many young Canadian women and men who participated in the televised consultation, coast-to-coast, realized once again how much Pope Francis wanted to hear directly from young people about their hopes and dreams for the Church.

We remember with gratitude the visit of Pope St. John Paul II to Toronto on the occasion of World Youth Day in 2002 and the great effect that it had upon both the youth who attended and upon the wider society.  Many Canadian young people will travel to Panama in January of 2019 to participate with Pope Francis in the 33rd World Youth Day and I am confident they will bring back with them something of that unity and harmony of which we have spoken and which is so important to Pope Francis.

This evening as we celebrate the Feast Day of the Pope we also say “Congratulations” to Canada as it basks in the afterglow of its 150th Anniversary of Confederation one year ago! Thank you once again for your presence at this Reception in the Pope’s house on our shores.  Enjoy the evening!