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Bishop McGrattan at the Mosque

Bishop McGrattan, along with Imam Taha Syed, will be speaking at Baitan Nur Mosque, on the theme of Forgiveness, Punishment and Justice on September 9. Please see the Diocesan Dates listing on page 20 for all the details.

Our city has a wonderful relationship with the Muslim communities. The Diocese was one of the founders of the Muslim-Christian Dialogue in 2001. Bishop Henry was very friendly with the community, and attended several events, or spoke at Muslim-Christian dialogue groups. The Diocese has chaired the Muslim-Christian Dialogue for many years, and is continuing its role by co-chairing the Education Committee of the Calgary Interfaith Council, which won first prize in 2017 for Interfaith Dialogue excellence from His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Early Islamic Philosophy and Christian Scholasticism had interesting dialogue in the Middle Ages. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Contra Gentiles, mentions Islamic philosophers in some of his monologues. He appears to agree with Muslim philosophers in some cases, but also to disagree with them in others. Some scholars (such as James Windrow Sweetman) go on to say that many of the scholars of the time exchanged thoughts and religious ideas when understanding Monotheism (the belief in One God) and ethics. 

One theological idea with which both Islamic and Christian philosophers struggled was God’s determining of human destiny. Islamic philosophy emphasized determinism: the belief that God has determined all human destiny. Christian philosophy, while not wholly answering the paradox of God’s ultimate power and omnipotence, emphasized the importance of the human will in determining and working out justice in the world. Come see the interaction of these ideas in the dialogue between Christianity and Islam in Forgiveness, Punishment and Justice.


Bishop McGrattan will be speaking at Baitan Nur Mosque (4353 54 Ave. NE, Calgary), on the theme of “Forgiveness, Punishment and Justice” along with Islamic Imam Taha Syed on Sept. 9, 2017 from 4:30-6:00pm with a free dinner provided. 

Please RSVP by Sept. 8th to: 1-866-628-5435.

Related Offices Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs Office
Related Themes Peace Inter-Religious Interfaith

Letter to Minister Dion re: Situation in the Holy Land & Middle East

The Honourable Stéphane Dion, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister,

Greetings on behalf of the Catholic Bishops in Canada. I would like to bring forward to your attention two proposed recommendations which are of great importance to the Bishops of Canada: 1) to encourage the Government of Israel to recognize claims by a small Palestinian Christian community in the Cremisan Valley, and 2) to classify as "genocide" the atrocities carried out by the so-called "Islamic State". Although these two matters are not related to each other, we consider both to be issues of justice and peace, and which have significant impact not only for Christians but for all people in the Middle East.

As background, I should mention that in addition to many instances over the past 50 years of national and local involvement by our country's Catholic dioceses and eparchies in interfaith conversations and collaboration, for the past 16 years either the President of our Conference, or another member of our Executive Committee, has participated in annual week-long meetings in Israel and Palestine. Known as the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land, it began at the prompting of the Holy See and includes delegates from a number of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe as well as those of the United States and South Africa. This past January, following its customary approach of engaging in conversations with local Christians, Jews and Muslims, the Coordination's meeting focused on visits to Gaza, the Cremisan Valley and Jordan.

Our Conference's delegate for the Coordination's 2016 visit was the Most Reverend Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil. This was his second experience as delegate. Although he heard and witnessed the fears of many in the Holy Land dealing with violence and imminent war, Bishop Gendron likewise noted small but significant signs of hope. These included grassroots efforts among Muslims and Christians, in addition to examples of inspiring collaborative efforts among Jews and Muslims with the encouragement and assistance of local Christians. Bishop Gendron, and the Bishops from the other countries as well, were struck by the quiet and courageous determination among the ordinary people of Gaza to rebuild their homes, despite the scarcity of construction materials and the heavy impediments of security. At the same time, we also acknowledge the legitimate security concerns that the State of Israel and Egypt face regarding extremist elements in Gaza. Our Conference shares with other Catholic Bishops around the world a deep concern for all the peoples of the Holy Land to live free from fear, violence and hatred.

1. Encouraging Israeli authorities to recognize claims concerning the Cremisan Valley

The first matter of concern which our Conference urges the Government of Canada to consider is that you encourage Israeli authorities to recognize and remedy the difficult situation being experienced by the Christian community in the Cremisan Valley. This is a mainly agricultural area in the West Bank on the Palestinian side of the Green Line, adjacent to the towns of Beit Jala and Bethlehem. The Ministry of Defence seems determined to construct a security wall that will cut off 58 Palestinian Christian families from their agricultural lands which are among the most fertile in the Holy Land. Not only will the families lose their land and livelihood, but the local Catholic Salesian monastery there, as well as the nearby convent of Salesian Sisters, will be severely restricted in their educational services to 450 disadvantaged children—girls and boys, Muslims and Christians—from the surrounding towns and villages.

In August 2015, the Israeli army began building the security wall in the area, specifically on the privately owned lands of Beir Onah - Beit Jala, uprooting olive trees and bulldozing agricultural lands as sections of the wall are completed. Construction work on the wall in the Cremisan intensified at the beginning of April 2016 with eight-meter high sections of concrete now being put in place. This past September 2, the St. Yves Society issued a comprehensive outline of the legal case, entitled The Last Nail in the Coffin: The Annexation Wall in Cremisan. The text has been posted on the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, http://en.lpj.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/20150902063619.pdf. As noted on page 18 of the outline, the Cremisan Valley has not been the site of militant action in the recent past.

This past February, the Israeli High Court, while dismissing the latest petitions in the case, recognized that the landowners have the right to object to any route of the wall that does not maintain their right to access their lands freely, while the Salesian Sisters have the right to object to the final route of the security wall in the future. We join our voice to those of the other Conferences of Bishops which participate in the Holy Land Coordination, urging our respective governments to encourage all parties involved to exercise a more humanitarian approach to the Cremisan situation, and to seek alternative approaches through dialogue and negotiation.

At the same time as advocating for a just solution to the situation in the Cremisan Valley, we also wish to underscore our deep concern and total rejection of the use of violence and terror in the Holy Land. According to recent media reports, the Israeli Foreign Ministry indicates 34 Israelis have been killed in terrorist attacks and 404 people injured, including four Palestinians, in the wave of violence that began last autumn. This includes 331 stabbings and other attacks or attempted attacks. According to the international NGO Defence for Children International, some 180 Palestinians were killed and more than 15,000 injured from September through February, with some of the injured and killed including the attackers

As underscored by the Holy See in its 2015 document on Catholic - Jewish relations, "The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable", Judaism is not simply another religion with which the Catholic Church is in dialogue. Jews are our "elder brothers", our "fathers in faith". Because of these strong bonds, the Catholic Church feels a particular obligation to stand together with the Jewish community to decry any and all forms of anti-Semitism, wherever it may be found. At the same time, this close bond of friendship provides a bridge, a trusted relationship, whereby Catholics and Jews can speak in truth and love with one another, including matters which are of great mutual concern, including those such as the situation of Christian communities in the State of Israel and in Palestine, as well as the troubling signs of anti-Semitism in our day.

2. Classifying as "genocide" atrocities carried out by the so-called "Islamic State"

Our second recommendation follows up the joint letter which the Co-Chair of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus, Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl, and I forwarded you on December 15, 2015, requesting that Canada make a priority of advocating for at-risk Christian communities in the Middle East as well as Africa. The international organization Aid to the Church in Need wrote to the Prime Minister of Canada and yourself this past February 3 on the dire situation of Christians in both Iraq and Syria. While it is evident that all religious minorities, including Shi'ite Muslims and Yezidis, risk persecution and oppression by the so-called "Islamic State" and thus fully deserve every effort toward protection and assistance, I wish to note, as Rabbi Frydman-Kohl and I pointed out in the said letter, that Christians, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East, are facing more persecution, restrictions, hostility and harassment than any other religious group. These statistics are confirmed by the 2014 findings of the Pew Research Center in the United States, as well as by an extensive report in Great Britain last year by Aid to the Church in Need.

Similar concerns about the religious minorities in the Middle East have been further articulated in the Marrakesh Declaration, developed at a Middle East conference this past January 25–27 which brought together Muslim leaders from more than 120 countries plus representatives of the region's persecuted religious communities. The Declaration recognizes that "conditions in various parts of the Muslim world have deteriorated dangerously due to the use of violence and armed struggle as a tool for settling conflicts and imposing one's point of view"; that criminal groups "alarmingly distort" Islam's "fundamental principles and goals"; and that it "is unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries."

For these urgent reasons, our Conference urges you to make your own the recent assertion by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that "Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims." Secretary Kerry's March 17 statement comes immediately after a March 14 bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, unanimously supporting a resolution condemning as genocide the atrocities by the so-called "Islamic State". These actions by the United States follow the February 4 decision of the European Parliament to classify atrocities and religious cleansing by the "Islamic State" as genocide. Previously, during July 2015, Pope Francis also described the situation as genocide: "… we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus. This too needs to be denounced: in this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide—I insist on the word—is taking place, and it must end" (address given at the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, July 9, 2015). By following with a similar intervention of your own, you would also help give support to the Marrakesh Declaration.

We welcome, Minister, your response to these suggestions and reflections. Should it be of assistance, Bishop Gendron and other representatives of our Conference would be most happy to meet with you to discuss these considerations further, as well as to work with you and the Government of Canada to promote efforts toward peace, justice and security in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East. Please be assured that our prayers and best wishes are with you.

Sincerely,

(Most Rev.) Douglas Crosby, OMI
Bishop of Hamilton
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Related Offices Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs Office Social Justice Bishop's
Related Themes Social Justice Peace

Syrian Crisis Relief Effort

The Holy Father has appealed international efforts to assist Syrian refugees fleeing Syria and to encourage peace efforts in this region. Our Diocese is accepting financial donations to assist Syrian refugee victims and all funds will be forwarded to CNEWA-Canada.

The Holy Father has appealed international efforts to assist Syrian refugees fleeing Syria and to encourage peace efforts in this region. The Holy Father's most recent appeal can be found on the Vatican website here.

CNEWA - Canada, the Canadian Catholic Near East Welfare Association is collecting funds to assist refugees fleeing Syria. Our Diocese is accepting financial donations to assist Syrian refugee victims and all funds will be forwarded to CNEWA-Canada. Donations can be made as follows:

  • by sending a cheque payable to your parish earmarked "Syrian Relief Effort"
  • by sending a cheque payable to the Diocese earmarked "Syrian Relief Effort" and sent to the Pastoral Centre, 120 17th Ave S.W., Calgary AB T2S 2T2.

Furthermore, the CCCB has recently released a Holy Land Coordination Final Communique 2013 from the Annual Meeting of International Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land. From January 5 to 13, 2013, the Most Reverend Richard Smith participated in this annual meeting that involves representatives from Conferences of Bishops in Europe and North America, who meet with the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (AOCTS). Archbishop Smith was accompanied by Mr. Carl Hétu, National Secretary of CNEWA-Canada. The theme for the 2013 annual meeting was "Suffering and vulnerable people in the Holy Land".

The Final Communique can be found on the CCCB website: here

Photo from www.cccb.ca website!

Related Offices Social Justice
Related Themes Social Justice Charities Discipleship Peace Emergency Appeal Donation

Syrian Crisis

Background Information on the Syrian Crisis - Videos have been produced by Salt & Light Television on the Syrian Crisis and are accessible to parishes. A video featuring an interview with Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, a Jesuit priest expelled from Syria earlier this year can be viewed here.

Salt & Light TV also produced a Perspectives Video titled "What's the Christian Response to Syria?" It can be viewed on the Salt & Light website here.

Syrian Crisis Relief Effort - The Holy Father has appealed international efforts to assist Syrian refugees fleeing Syria and to encourage peace efforts in this region. The Holy Father's most recent appeal can be found on the Vatican website here.

CNEWA - Canada, the Canadian Catholic Near East Welfare Association is collecting funds to assist refugees fleeing Syria. Our Diocese of Calgary is accepting financial donations to assist Syrian refugee victims and all funds will be forwarded to CNEWA-Canada. Donations can be made as follows:

  • by sending a cheque payable to your parish earmarked "Syrian Relief Effort"
  • by sending a cheque payable to the Diocese earmarked "Syrian Relief Effort" and sent to the Pastoral Centre, 120 17th Ave S.W., Calgary AB T2S 2T2.

More information from CNEWA-Canada on Syrian Relief efforts is available on its website here.

For further questions, please contact Jana Drapal at the Social Justice Office at 403-218-5519 or e-mail socialjustice@calgarydiocese.ca.

Related Offices Social Justice
Related Themes Social Justice Charities Discipleship Peace Emergency Appeal Donation

We stand ready to help!

Please find attached a letter from the Catholic Bishops of Alberta to the Honourable Chris Alexander from the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories 


13 November 2014
The Honourable Chris Alexander, P.C., M.P.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1

Dear Mr. Alexander,

Re: Iraqi and Syrian Refugees

The situation in Iraq and Syria continues to deteriorate, with respect to the survival of religious minorities, especially Christians, who are being targeted by the Islamic State (also known as ISIL and ISIS). This situation has captured the attention of the media and many religious congregations, as well as the general public.

In June, the Montréal Gazette reported that an estimated 100,000 Iraqi Christians fled the Mosul Plain in several panicked waves as the ISIS swept east from the Syrian border, murdering, raping and kidnapping as it went. In every place the Islamic State conquered, it immediately issued an ultimatum to Christians repeating the stark choice they had given to Syrian Christians when they seized large parts of that country over the past two years: "Either, pay a huge ransom for their freedom, convert to Islam, or be killed." Although Christians have lived in this area for more than a millennium, this is their last stand in Iraq. They have faced the sword many times for their beliefs and, in the next few years, Christians will likely no longer be living in this area, with some living in Canada, the USA or Australia. "What we are living is the last chapter of an ancient story," said Father Rian, a Chaldean Catholic priest. Known as the cradle of civilisation, the area in the midst of the conflict is of considerable historical and current relevance to the Western world. The current situation in Iraq and Syria is not only very serious for religious minorities, especially Christians, but also of considerable relevance to the Canadian government, which continues to be very supportive.

We acknowledge that your department has raised estimated immigration increases for 2015. Given the situation in the Middle East, we suggest that Canada could also commit to doing more for refugees:

  • Bring in an additional 10,000 refugees, that is, some 10% of the 100,000 to which the UN High Commission (UNHCR) has committed;
  • Expedite the processing of current applications submitted by religious minorities from Iraq and Syria; and
  • Allow applications from displaced persons from Iraq and Syria, while still in their own country living in refugee-like situations.

We believe that this is not much to ask as the need is great! We stand ready to help. Your office will be aware, for example, that the Diocese of Calgary and the Archdiocese of Edmonton, with the assistance of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and Edmonton's Catholic Social Services respectively, have over time assisted thousands of refugees to come to Canada. We can continue to offer this much needed support.

We are available for further discussion of these important issues, and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your officials.

Yours sincerely,

Most Reverend Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton

Most Reverend Frederick Henry
Bishop of Calgary

Most Reverend Gregory J. Bittman
Auxiliary Bishop of Edmonton

Most Reverend Gerard Pettipas CSsR
Archbishop Grouard-McLennan

Most Reverend David Motiuk
Bishop of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Edmonton

Most Reverend Mark Hagemoen
Bishop of Mackenzie-Fort Smith

Most Reverend Paul Terrio
Bishop of St. Paul

Catholic Bishops of Alberta/ Northwest Territories

cc. Alberta Members of Parliament
Fariborz Birjandian, Executive Director, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS)
Stephen Carattini, CEO, Catholic Social Services

Related Offices Social Justice
Related Themes Social Justice Peace
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