Reconciliation, communicating like a Catholic, a politician-saint, and a new name
COMMON SENSE. COMMON PROJECT. COMMON GROUND. COMMON GOOD.
You may have noticed the slightly different subject line of this email, and some of you may have already guessed: we are changing the name of the Common Good Catholic to the Catholic Commons. Why? As you know, the common good is a central principle of Catholic social teaching—and one we treasure at Catholic Conscience. But in our time leading this lay apostolate, the word “common” has come up in a few different ways related to Catholic social teaching and our work. We’ve talked for some time about these ideas, and changing the name of the newsletter to reflect them. These “commons” are:
Common sense: Talking to Catholics across the political spectrum, with different vocations and different issues-of-interest, we have often heard Catholic social teaching described as common sense. We’ve come to value this description. When you radically assert the infinite dignity of every single human being, and work to conform politics and communal life to this fundamental truth, a certain common sense—that is, a sense of what is or should be common—emerges in how we should approach the issues we face as a society. We honour Catholic social teaching by pointing out that its values and principles are common sense for a well-formed person, willing the good of their neighbour.
Common project: This simple line from Gaudium et Spes—Vatican II’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world—has served as a spiritual commission for our work here at Catholic Conscience: “Great care must be taken about civic and political formation, which is of the utmost necessity today for the population as a whole, and especially for youth, so that all citizens can play their part in the life of the political community.” The key word here is all. Central to the expression of human dignity is participation. We all have something unique and irreplaceable to contribute to our communities, our civil society, and the wider political life of our country. We share, as Pope Francis writes in Fratelli tutti, a duty to a common project: “To be part of a people is to be part of a shared identity arising from social and cultural bonds. And that is not something automatic, but rather a slow, difficult process… of advancing towards a common project.” We belong to God, therefore we belong to each other—even when we disagree! This common project becomes a source of unity, even though we often contest its characteristics, challenges, and course towards the Kingdom. This brings us to…
Common ground: This is a cornerstone of our work, and indeed, it’s a cornerstone of Catholic social teaching overall. We all have unique gifts, unique contributions to the common project that is our shared civic and political life together. When bringing together differing perspectives and differing knowledge, disagreement arises often and energetically. We’ve seen when disagreement delves into hatred, disunity, and the intense polarization that today defines too much of our public discourse. It is good that we disagree. Indeed, we cannot come to the fullness of the truth without the fullness of the perspectives a wide array of brothers and sisters brings to the table. However, we should always disagree with a deep sense of respect for those who share their differing points of view with us. When we approach it properly, we share a common ground in our Catholic faith, even when we disagree. The most important common ground we have is this, and the fact we are all children of God. He loves us equally and zealously. In Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis writes, “Political charity is… expressed in a spirit of openness to everyone. Government leaders should be the first to make the sacrifices that foster encounter and to seek convergence on at least some issues. They should be ready to listen to other points of view and to make room for everyone. Through sacrifice and patience, they can help to create a beautiful polyhedral reality in which everyone has a place. Here, economic negotiations do not work. Something else is required: an exchange of gifts for the common good. It may seem naïve and utopian, yet we cannot renounce this lofty aim.” That aim is the last and first “common” we have come to treasure.
Common good: In Catholic social teaching, all roads lead here. It was the first name of this newsletter, and of course it remains at the centre of this project. For this is the final goal of all our work at Catholic Conscience, whether we are forming civic and political leaders, or supporting Catholic voters in their discernment, or doing our best to inspire inventive and inspired Catholic service in civic life. All of these are aimed at the common good, that high ground all human beings fully alive with God’s love march towards together. Pope Francis writes: “When the dignity of the human person is respected, and his or her rights recognized and guaranteed, creativity and interdependence thrive, and the creativity of the human personality is released through actions that further the common good.”
Releasing and engaging the creativity of the human personality through actions that further the common good—as always, the Holy Father puts excellently our goals as a lay apostolate, and indeed, the goals of this newsletter you are reading now.
With the spirit of these “commons” in mind, we hope you enjoy this edition of the new Catholic Commons. We pray it releases the creativity of action that the common sense of Catholic social teaching, the common project of civic life, the common ground of our shared dignity as children of God, and our “lofty” goal, the common good, offer all of us.
Matthew Marquardt & Brendan Steven
ANNOUNCING OUR JUNE CATHOLIC CIVICS WORKSHOP: USING MONEY LIKE A CATHOLIC
Matthew 6:24 famously reads, “You cannot serve God and wealth.” Yet as a Catholic living 2021, there’s no avoiding money and its powerful role in our lives and the society we participate in every day. How we use money lovingly, effectively, and with Catholic social teaching in mind is crucial to how we serve God and neighbour in this life. How do we as Christian disciples use our money in Christian ways? How do we steward the money of others, in our professional workplaces or our community projects? And how can we resist a money-centric culture that often reduces our human dignity to consumption and production, while also recognizing money’s role in pursuing the common good?
Join us on Wednesday, June 30 at 7:00 PM EDT for a Catholic Civics Workshop with two Catholic experts who will help us answer these critical questions: Michael Ryall, Professor of Strategic Management at the Rotman School of Management, and Paul Perrone, a Chartered Financial Analyst and experienced investment industry professional.
ANNOUNCING OUR JULY CATHOLIC CIVICS WORKSHOP: COMMUNICATING LIKE A CATHOLIC
On Wednesday, July 21 at 7:00 PM EDT, we invite you to join us for July’s Catholic Civics Workshop. Our topic is a critical one for Catholics in public life today: communicating like a Catholic. It will be a conversation about having political conversations—how we can live out the dignity of the human person in the ways we evangelize, advocate, and communicate with our fellow citizens in public discourse, on social media and elsewhere; and how we can model Christ through love, joy, and hope amid a polarized public conversation too often defined by hatred and dehumanization. This is especially critical when in conversation with those who disagree with us.
This workshop is all about effective communication and, crucially, charitable communication through the lens of our Christian faith. How do we communicate with others as disciples called to see the face of Christ in everyone we talk to? This workshop aims to answer that crucial question and empower you as a Christian communicator no matter your vocation.
This is an important skillset for every Catholic civic and political leader—which is all of Christ’s disciples, including you! We hope you’ll join us for the discussion, featuring two extraordinary Catholic leaders and communicators:
- Catholic author and speaker Leah Perrault; and,
- Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation producer and host, Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann.
RSVP by clicking below for webinar login details.
👉 CLICK HERE TO RSVP
Works of Mercy In Our Community
A CATHOLIC APPROACH TO TRUTH & RECONCILIATION WITH OUR INDIGENOUS NEIGHBOURS
We have all been disturbed by the recent news out of Kamloops and Saskatchewan, where the unidentified, unmarked graves of children were identified on the grounds of former residential school once operated by Catholics. Since this news, there has been an authentic desire among many lay Catholics to make a greater contribution to the work of reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers and sisters in Canada. This is a good and healthy instinct. But where to start and what to do? Discerning this is not always clear. The public conversation around these graves has also made it clear that many Canadians—including Catholics—are not aware about the history of residential schools, the role the Church played in them, and importantly, the work the Church has done and is currently doing to advance reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples.
Writing in the B.C. Catholic, the Catholic Conscience team has outlined some of the challenges our Catholic community faces in productively moving forward on the reconciliation journey, as well as a new initiative we are working on to help Catholics discern their own contribution and become better informed about the Catholic role in Reconciliation:
I once had an Indigenous colleague who, in response to the feeling of helplessness arising from the enormity of the challenge of reconciliation, made a good suggestion: organizations in Canada should look seriously at committing to one or two of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls-to-Action, specifically those that the organization has the expertise or mission wherein a tangible contribution would be possible.
At the thoughtful prompting of one of Catholic Conscience’s closest collaborators – Sabrina Chiefari with the Sisters of St. Joseph – we’re thinking about the potential of building out some resources for Catholics discerning the question, “What must we do?” when it comes to reconciliation.
Here’s what we are considering:
- Putting together a compilation of resources for Catholics who want to become better educated on the history of these issues and want to better understand reconciliation. We think this is an important component, to direct Catholics to resources that will leave them feeling empowered, rather than media narratives which can leave Catholics with many mixed feelings;
- Assisting Catholics and Catholic organizations in discerning which of the TRC Calls to Action they could commit to. Specifically, which ones fit with their pre-existing mission and expertise and could be effectively integrated into their own work. Obviously, this fits well with our mission to offer formation for effective and engaged Catholic citizenship;
- Potentially, some Conscience Conversations with key voices from a Catholic perspective on how Catholics can productively move forward on reconciliation.
We are not experts in reconciliation. Perhaps what I’m describing already exists, either from a secular perspective or a Catholic perspective. If you have thoughts or ideas on this subject, please share them with us. We are still discerning. If we do proceed, we want to do so thoughtfully and prudentially. We also want to ensure that we consult with and engage the support of Indigenous individuals who are actively involved in Reconciliation work and can help us provide the best possible supports for the project.
My hope in this is to help Catholic Canadians feel like they can productively engage in this issue, and can make a positive contribution – allowing them to do something, instead of just abiding in the painful realities of the history and the contemporary situation.
JOIN THE CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ NOVENA TO SAINT JOSEPH IN THE LEAD-UP TO CANADA DAY
To mark the Year of Saint Joseph—Patron of the Universal Church and Patron of Canada—the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has launched a new initiative of consecration and entrustment to Saint Joseph across our country:
In keeping with the celebration of the “Year of Saint Joseph”, the CCCB National Liturgy Office and the Office national de liturgie have composed a Novena and an Act of Entrustment to Saint Joseph. The Novena begins on June 22 and ends on June 30, and is followed by the Act of Entrustment on Thursday, 1 July 2021 (Canada Day). The Novena and Act of Entrustment are available for wide use and distribution in dioceses/eparchies, parishes, religious communities, families (domestic churches) and schools.
Saint Joseph is a special patron for all Canadians—patron of our country, guardian of our Church, and a model of Christian virtues and trust in God. We all aspire to be like Saint Joseph in life and spirit, and so we at Catholic Conscience are very excited to be participating in this novena. We’ll be sharing the novena prayers each day on our Facebook—please follow along by liking our page!
Providentially, the end of the novena is timed perfectly for our next Catholic Civics Workshop on using money like a Catholic. We invite you to join us at this free event, where we will pray the final novena prayer together.
Serving Your Community
THANK YOU TO OUR FIRST-EVER CATHOLIC LEADERS MISSION COHORT!
n 2021, Catholic Conscience launched our newest project—the Catholic Leaders Mission. Designed to fill a gap in formation opportunities for Catholics in civic and political life, the program brought together leaders from across civil society and the political spectrum to grow in their faith, deepen their knowledge of Catholic social teaching, and learn more about how Catholics are called to love and serve their neighbours as servant-leaders. We were joined by approximately fifteen participants across two days of intimate workshops featuring Catholic leaders from across Canada. Our participants represented different political parties and different vocations—from political staffers to candidate, to activists and policy experts—all of whom shared a common desire to become more effective servants of their neighbours in public life, through the lens of their faith.
Thank you to our participants, trainers, presenters, and supporters, all of whom were essential to bringing this first CLM program to life!
Stay tuned for details about next year’s Catholic Leaders Mission cohort, and how you can participate.
From The Holy Father
REGINA’S ARCHBISHOP BOLEN SAYS CANADIAN BISHOPS ORGANIZING MEETING WITH POPE AND CANADIAN INDIGENOUS LEADERS
We encourage you to read this interview with Regina’s Archbishop Donald Bolen, given to the Regina Leader-Post in the aftermath of recent news that the unmarked graves of children were found on the grounds of a former, Catholic-operated residential school.
Archbishop Bolen has been energetically engaged in the work of reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers and sisters and shares his thoughts about the tragedy in this interview, as well as information about a planned, upcoming meeting in 2021 between the Pope and Canadian Indigenous leaders.
“We will do everything we can,” Bolen added.
In a letter, written and addressed to Delorme on Thursday, Bolen expressed his grief upon hearing the news out of Cowessess.
“The news is overwhelming and I can only imagine the pain and waves of emotion that you and your people are experiencing right now,” wrote Bolen.
Having been in the role since 2016, Bolen said he has worked towards reconciliation with First Nations. In his letter, Bolen recounted how Delorme had reached out in 2018, with regards to the cemetery at Cowessess.
“I extended an apology for the failures and sins of Church leaders and staff in the past towards the people of Cowessess. I know that apologies seem a very small step as the weight of past suffering comes into greater light, but I extend that apology again,” said Bolen in his letter.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE
An important note about this article: The article states that the Pope has not apologized for the Church’s role in residential schools. This claim has been widely reported without context and is misleading. In 2009, Pope Benedict expressed his sorrow to a delegation of Indigenous Canadian leaders who had travelled to the Vatican to meet with the Holy Father about this issue.
In the aftermath of that meeting, Phil Fontaine—then the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations—said, “I think His Holiness understands the pain that was endured by so many and I heard him say that it caused him great anguish… I also heard His Holiness say that the abuse of the nature that was inflicted on us has no place in the Church, it’s intolerable and it caused him great anguish.” “What I heard,” Fontaine added, “it gives me comfort.”
When the Truth & Reconciliation Commission presented its final report in 2015, it asked the Pope to offer a more expansive apology than the one offered at the 2009 Vatican meeting—an apology on Canadian soil, in the style of the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse. Call to Action #58 of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission final report states:
We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.
You can read further details about why the TRC is calling for an apology of this nature on pages 219-223 of the Truth & Reconciliation final report summary by clicking here.
On the issue of the Pope apologizing in Canada, Archbishop Bolen notes in his interview with the Regina Leader-Post:
Bolen said he and others have been trying to facilitate such an apology, but have thus far been unsuccessful.
“We tried to bring, as Saskatchewan bishops, we tried to bring the Pope to apologize here five years ago. We learned that you can’t do that as a little group of Saskatchewan bishops,” he said.
Bolen said right now the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has a “working group” on Indigenous relations and has arranged that a delegation of “Indigenous leaders and survivors and elders, knowledge keepers and youth will go to meet with Pope Francis before the end of the year.”
What We’re Watching
A NEW POLITICIAN-SAINT? POPE FRANCIS SETS FORMER FRENCH PRIME MINISTER AND “FATHER OF EUROPE” ON PATH TO SAINTHOOD
All of us—even politicians—are called to be saints. Pope Francis is giving us a new model of sainthood in political life and public service. In June, the Church recognized the heroic virtues of former French Prime Minister and Robert Schuman, according him the title “Venerable” and beginning the formal path to sainthood. This will not be his first title of honour—contemporary Europeans refer to him as the “Father of Europe”. A miracle attributed to Schuman as part of the canonization process would lead to his beatification; another miracle would, in turn, lead to Schuman being declared a saint.
So, who is Robert Schuman? From Vatican News:
Robert Schuman (1886-1963) was a French Catholic committed to politics – understood as a mission and a service, and as an act of obedience to God’s will – who lived in prayer and was nourished by the daily Eucharist. He was arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo from 14 September 1940 to 12 April 1941. He managed to escape and lived in hiding until the end of [World War 2], taking refuge mainly in convents and monasteries. At the end of the war, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly of France in 1945 and 1946. As a member of parliament, he took on important roles in the French government: Minister of Finance, Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice, becoming a moral point of reference for the country and working for the creation of a common system of economic and social growth. Together with Konrad Adenauer and Alcide De Gasperi, he is considered one of the founding fathers of a united Europe. Their work led to the Treaty of Rome of 25 March 1957, which established the European Economic Community. In 1958 he was elected by acclamation as the first President of the new European Parliament. The following year he was struck down by a severe form of cerebral sclerosis. Unable to continue his work, he was appointed honorary president of the European Parliamentary Assembly. He died in Scy-Chazelles (France) on 4th September 1963, at the age of 77.
AN ACT OF ENTRUSTMENT TO SAINT JOSEPH
The Canada-wide novena to Saint Joseph instituted by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops culminates on July 1—Canada Day—where Canadian Catholics will together pray an Act of Entrustment to the Patron of Canada. We encourage you to pray the below Act of Entrustment to Saint Joseph on July 1, that our entire country may be guarded and guided by this great saint who intercedes for us always.
SIGN OF THE CROSS
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
ACT OF ENTRUSTMENT
O loving and humble Saint Joseph,
Protector of the Holy Family
and Patron of the Universal Church and of Canada,
we honour you as the model of Christian virtues
and entrust ourselves to you
as our inspiration and guide in living an authentic Christian life.
Modelled after you, whom the Scriptures call the Just man,
draw us closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
that we may easily turn to the Lord in every circumstance of our lives
and, consecrated to Him, we may know, in our vocation,
the peace and joy of a holy life.
A man of listening and of action,
you who have always been so attentive to the voice of the Lord
and to the fulfilling of His will,
help us to discern the signs of the times
and to engage in the transformation of our world.
Husband, father and worker,
in solidarity with the human condition,
teach us how to be faithful to our baptismal promises
and sensitive to the sufferings and needs of our sisters and brothers.
A man of great faith, unshakeable hope
and a heart burning with charity,
come to the aid of the Church and our country,
watch over the elderly, the weak and the infirm,
protect our children and families,
and sustain those who give of themselves selflessly in pastoral and health care.
Merciful and compassionate companion on our journey,
you who know the burdens weighing heavily on our hearts,
intercede for our many needs, so that, by your powerful prayer,
we may be delivered from the many dangers that surround us
so as to experience safety and solace in the Lord and, at the hour of our death,
come at last to the glory of our eternal home.
V. Joseph, who placed your hope in the Lord,
R. Pray for us.
V. Joseph, who experienced the unconditional love of Jesus and Mary,
R. Pray for us.
V. Joseph, whose poverty was turned into treasures in God,
R. Pray for us.
V. Joseph, who taught Jesus how to pray,
R. Pray for us.
V. Light of the Patriarchs,
R. You enlighten our path by welcoming the One who is the Light of the world.
V. Patron of the dying,
R. You accompany us on our journey into Life.