(All parishioners are invited to a parish meeting on Thursday, August 14 at 7:00 PM to discuss the issues raised in this letter. Please join us!)
Dear brother priests, dear parish leaders,
How can we respond to the situation in the Middle East?
All of us, together with Pope Francis, are following with deep concern the dramatic news reports coming from Iraq, Gaza and Syria. Defenseless populations, including our Christian brothers and sisters, flee from their homes, in urgent need for protection, food, shelter and medical assistance. In solidarity with their sufferings, and in communion with the whole Church, let us, in the words of the Holy Father, “raise up with one voice a ceaseless prayer, imploring the Holy Spirit to send the gift of peace” to the Middle East.
Each parish in our diocese is invited for the coming weeks to include in the prayers of the faithful the following intention: That the Holy Spirit inspire Canadians and the international community to protect all those affected or threatened by violence in the Middle East, to be with them in solidarity and concern, and to offer them assistance and aid.
I also encourage each parish, if at all possible, to organize a holy hour of prayer in favour of peace in the Middle East.
We can also invite our parishioners to urge their Member of Parliament to encourage the Government of Canada to do even more for the Middle East — by providing Canadian emergency and reconstruction assistance, by making it easier for our country to accept refugees, by participating in international efforts to foster justice and peace in the region, and by insisting on respect for freedom of conscience and religion, as well as respect for the rights of minorities.
Three Canadian Catholic agencies are fundraising for the suffering people of the Middle East. These are the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the Catholic Near-East Welfeare Assocation – Canada, and Aid to the Church in Need – Canada. Catholics are encouraged if possible to support all three agencies in their work. They can send their donations through the diocese, or directly to the organizations on line. Here are the links:
Development and Peace: www.devp.org
Finally, let us call on our parishioners to remain informed about the ongoing situation. The Vatican’s own newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano, provides accurate information about world events. It can be consulted on its English web site at the following address: www.osservatoreromano.va/en.
Together, let us foster a spirit of solidarity among our faithful with those who suffer so much these days in the Middle East.
Yours in Christ,
+ Paul-André Durocher