Ten significant papal moments in the Catholic Church in Canada – Catholic World Report

Elder Fred Kelly, spiritual advisor to the First Nations delegation, prays for Pope Francis during a meeting with Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers, survivors of abuse and youth from Canada and representatives of the bishops Catholics from Canada at the Vatican on April 1, 2022, file photo. The pope plans to read his speeches in Spanish during his July 24-29 trip to Canada. While Indigenous people will be the focus of the trip, concerns for the environment and prayers for Ukraine are also expected. (CNS Photo/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis’ next visit to Canada begins tomorrow and ends next Friday, with the pontiff returning to Rome on July 30. Here, in chronological order, are 10 important moments during which the papacy influenced the life and history of the Church in Canada.

10. From the love of the begotten foster-father: Declared patron saint of the universal Church in the late 1800s, Saint Joseph had long held a special place among the Canadian faithful. In 1624, the Franciscan missionaries chose the adoptive father of Christ as the spiritual benefactor of the nascent colony of New France. Thirteen years later, Pope Urban VIII made this selection official. Perhaps the greatest tribute to this patronage is the national shrine of Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, whose grounds overlooking the city welcome 2 million visitors each year.

9. The digital transformation of a missionary: Few figures in the Canadian church rival the fame of Jesuit missionaries who endured hardships while seeking to evangelize the native peoples of Canada. One of these priests, Saint Isaac Jogues, was captured in a raid by a rival tribe. Jogues was tortured and his hands mutilated. He managed to flee to France and in 1644 obtained permission from Urban VIII to continue celebrating Mass, despite his inability to hold the Blessed Sacrament with his thumb and forefinger, as then required. Church law. Jogues returned to the New World in 1646, only to die a martyr a few months later.

8. A devotion to domestic virtue takes root: Amid the adversity of colonial life, the settlers of New France fostered a special devotion to the Holy Family. In 1663, an official Holy Family association – the first of its kind in the world – was established in Montreal (then known as Ville-Marie or “City of Mary”). Fast forward two and a quarter centuries, and Canada has won Pope Leo XIII’s approval for a feast day in honor of the Holy Family. In 1921, Pope Benedict XV added it to the general calendar of the Church worldwide.

7. A new (and massive) diocese comes of age: After decades of growth, setbacks and conflict with everyone from native tribes to British forces to Protestant rivals, New France was granted its own bishop by Pope Clement X in 1674 – François de Laval. The Diocese of Quebec was the first diocese in Canada and today’s United States, encompassing French territory as far as Louisiana. Laval presided over the development of the diocese and died in 1708, the centenary of the founding of New France. He was canonized in 2014.

6. This land is your land, this land is the land of the Jesuits: The British, already victorious in the Seven Years’ War, confiscated Jesuit lands in Quebec in the 1770s after Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus. After the restoration of their Order 40 years later, the Jesuits demanded compensation, but the Quebec hierarchy wanted funding for Catholic schools. Things escalated to the point where Pope Leo XIII helped facilitate a settlement in 1888. A motion to overturn the settlement, seen by critics as a papal intrusion, was defeated in parliament. In the aftermath, relations between Protestants and Catholics became extremely strained (more details below).

5. “Hey, teacher! Leave those Catholic kids alone! Despite their collaboration in bringing about Canadian federation in 1867, British Protestants and French Catholics had their share of differences. In 1912, Ontario banned the use of French in schools. This not only exacerbated denominational divisions, but divided French Catholics and Anglo-Catholics, with Irish immigrants expressing their support. Pope Benedict XV intervened, urging the bishops of Canada to seek peace and showing his sympathy for the Francophone cause. The law was eventually repealed, but religion and language issues in Canadian schools remain as thorny today as ever.

4. A band of brother bishops: By the mid-1900s, the formation of national bishops’ conferences was a growing trend. Aimed at facilitating action and fostering brotherhood among apostolic successors in a given territory, the role of the Conference was formalized by Vatican II in 1965. Stimulated by factors such as a large geographic footprint and regional disparities, confreres of Canada were slightly ahead of the curve, having gained recognition from Pope Pius XII in 1948. Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the context of residential schools, the impetus of Pope Francis’ current visit, is a collective concern of the bishops of Canada for 30 years.

3. Canonization of local holiness: A joyful milestone for the Church in any country is the recognition of its first native-born saint. Consider the rich legacy of Elizabeth Ann Seton in America, Friar Galvao in Brazil, or Andrew Dung-Lac and the martyrs of Vietnam. For Canada, the honor goes to Marguerite D’Youville. Born in Quebec in 1701, she founded a religious order, the Sisters of Charity, which took care of poor women and were eventually entrusted with the management of the main hospital in Montreal. She was canonized by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1990.

2. A prairie crop planted with oriental seeds: A key figure in Canada’s large Ukrainian diaspora (behind Russia in number) was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001. Nykyta Budka was the first Ukrainian Catholic bishop in Canada and the first outside the country. ‘Eurasia. From 1912 to 1928, he tirelessly led communities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, multiplying the number of parishes from 25 to 170. Returning home, he was arrested by the Soviets in 1945 and died in a prison in Kazakhstan four years later. The many Ukrainian spiers that dot the prairie landscape are a lasting tribute to his legacy.

1. Once, twice, three times the “Pilgrim Pope”: During his 26 years of pontificate, Pope Saint John Paul II made 100 trips to 130 countries (more than all previous popes combined), visiting Canada three times: a 12-day tour in 1984; a 1987 trip to the Northwest Territories, which was canceled from the previous visit due to fog; and World Youth Day (WYD) in Toronto in 2002. Each trip validated papal biographer George Weigel’s claim that JPII “reinvigorated the Church, restoring the sense of adventure of discipleship”. (The author of this article fondly remembers WYD graces for his hometown and considers himself part of the JPII generation).

May the present visit of His Holiness bear fruit for the Church in Canada and in the world!

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