Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Today, through a series of pastoral letters to First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and the People of God in Canada, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) affirmed its ongoing commitment to renewing and strengthening relations with Indigenous Peoples at the national, regional, and especially the local level.
Each of the distinct pastoral letters in this series, entitled That We May Walk Together, is the fruit of many months of listening, dialogue, and encounter with Indigenous Peoples, especially through Listening Circles held in dioceses across the country, the Indigenous Delegation to the Vatican in April 2022, and Pope Francis’ Apostolic Voyage to Canada in July of the same year.
Having heard from Indigenous Survivors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Youth, and inspired by the witness of Pope Francis during his “penitential pilgrimage” in Canada, who encouraged Canada’s Bishops to continue walking with Indigenous People’s along the path of truth, justice, healing, reconciliation and hope, these letters present a framework for local engagement by Bishops with Indigenous Peoples in their dioceses/eparchies, including:
- Continuing to dialogue and discern the most effective mechanism by which respectful and fruitful collaboration can continue at the national, regional and local levels;
- Fulfilling a pledge, made at the 2021 CCCB Plenary Assembly, to undertake fundraising to support locally-discerned projects through the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (which has raised over $9 million so far and is on track to meet its five-year, $30-million commitment);
- Supporting opportunities to make Indigenous culture more widely known, including by working with Catholic educational institutions, seminaries, religious houses, and programs of pastoral formation;
- Accompanying Indigenous Peoples in the pursuit of justice, according to the spirit of the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as Catholic Social Teaching;
- Working together with local community leaders to address social challenges, including addictions, suicide, violence, poverty, and incarceration;
- Celebrating the great role that women play in many Indigenous faith communities; and
- Identifying new forms of responsibility within dioceses/eparchies to which Indigenous Elders could be invited to share their spiritual wisdom.
In addition, in the Pastoral Letter to the People of God, the Catholic faithful are invited to join their Bishops, in a spirit of love and service, as the local churches take tangible steps toward reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in view of a new era of encounter and dialogue.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is the national assembly of the Bishops of Canada. It was founded in 1943 and officially recognized by the Holy See in 1948.