What it means to be a people


What it means to be a people

Catholic Conscience Newsletter
March 2022


As we collectively watch the humanitarian horror unfolding in Ukraine, Pope Francis, as always, says it best: “War is a failure of politics and of humanity, a shameful capitulation, a stinging defeat before the forces of evil.”
We have seen an outpouring of solidarity with Ukrainian victims of war, whether fleeing their country or staying and suffering the consequences. Where has this solidarity come from? It is, in part, the example of the Ukrainians themselves. Their commitment to their place, their sovereignty, and to each other, has inspired a response the world over.
Why? One answer that comes to mind: they show us what it means to be a people. In Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis writes, “The concept of a ‘people’, which naturally entails a positive view of community and cultural bonds, is usually rejected by individualistic liberal approaches, which view society as merely the sum of coexisting interests… Political charity is born of a social awareness that transcends every individualistic mindset: Social charity makes us love the common good, it makes us effectively seek the good of all people, considered not only as individuals or private persons, but also in the social dimension that unites them. Each of us is fully a person when we are part of a people.
We do not need a war to discover that we are a people. That’s why your mission in the world, for your neighbours, from God, matters. It is your calling to contribute to the common good. Because you and I belong to each other, to everyone, and we need each other. We need you, to be a people—and in turn, as Pope Francis says, you become fully a person when you are part of a people. It’s one reason we are so passionate at Catholic Conscience about equipping you through Catholic social teaching to serve and love your neighbours in civic life, however you are called.
Please send me an email at brendan@catholicconscience.org if you’d ever like to chat. We’re here to help!
Peace and joy,

Coming up at Catholic Conscience

A Catholic Vision of the Good society

April 7, 2022

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Catholic School Trustees Workshop

NEW DATE: May 28, 2022

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A Catholic Vision of Caregiving in the Age of Isolation

June 16, 2022

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Parliament Brief

This month we consider legislation directed toward development of a Canadian national strategy for implementation of a basic income guarantee.  Such initiatives offer opportunities for profound individual and social growth. However, they are complex, and raise a number of issues relevant to Church social teaching. 

Bill S-233 – An Act to develop a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income

  • Introduced by Senator Kim Pate on December 16, 2021.  At second reading in the Senate; not yet introduced in Commons. 
  • On stated premises that:
    • “every person should have access to a liveable basic income”;
    • “the provision of a guaranteed livable basic income would go a long way toward eradicating poverty and improving income equality, health conditions and educational outcomes”;
    • “the provision of a guaranteed livable basic income would benefit individuals, families and communities and protect those who are made most vulnerable in society, while facilitating the transition to an economy that responds to the climate crisis and other current major challenges;” and
    • “a guaranteed livable basic income program implemented through a national framework would ensure the respect, dignity and security of all persons in Canada;”

The Act would require the federal finance minister to “develop a national framework for the implementation of a guaranteed livable basic income program throughout Canada for any person over the age of 17, including temporary workers, permanent residents and refugee claimants.”

  • The framework established by the Finance Minister would be required to include:
    •  A determination as to “what constitutes a livable basic income for each region in Canada, taking into account the goods and services that are necessary to ensure that individuals can lead a dignified and healthy life, as well as the cost of those goods and services in accessible markets”;
    • “national standards for health and social supports that complement a guaranteed basic income program and guide the implementation of such a program in every province”;
    • assurances that “participation in education, training or the labour market is not required in order to qualify for a guaranteed livable basic income”; and
    • assurances that “the implementation of a guaranteed livable basic income program does not result in a decrease in services or benefits meant to meet an individual’s exceptional needs related to health or disability.”
  • The bill requires only development of a plan, with annual reports to Parliament. No specific steps toward implementation are proposed by the bill.


News Snip

CANADA HAS OPENED ITS DOORS FOR WAR-RAVAGED UKRAINIANS. DOES IT HAVE THE CAPACITY? Global News reports that Canada has announced two new programs to help Ukrainians come to Canada on a temporary or permanent basis, as the conflict in Ukraine causes a wave of thousands of refugees. Chris Friesen, chair of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance, said not having a defined target in terms of the number of arrivals, or a timeframe, “makes it nearly impossible to plan adequately… For us to be ready to receive Ukrainians in our communities across Canada, we need to ensure that we have the capacity to respond effectively.”

Points to ponder: In his encyclical Fratelli tutti, on social friendship and fraternity, Pope Francis writes extensively about a solidaristic response to the plight of refugees. In sections 129 and 130 of the encyclical, he writes that “Our response to the arrival of migrating persons can be summarized by four words: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. For it is not a case of implementing welfare programmes from the top down, but rather of undertaking a journey together, through these four actions, in order to build cities and countries that, while preserving their respective cultural and religious identity, are open to differences and know how to promote them in the spirit of human fraternity. This implies taking certain indispensable steps, especially in response to those who are fleeing grave humanitarian crises. As examples, we may cite: increasing and simplifying the granting of visas; adopting programmes of individual and community sponsorship; opening humanitarian corridors for the most vulnerable refugees; providing suitable and dignified housing; guaranteeing personal security and access to basic services; ensuring adequate consular assistance and the right to retain personal identity documents; equitable access to the justice system; the possibility of opening bank accounts and the guarantee of the minimum needed to survive; freedom of movement and the possibility of employment; protecting minors and ensuring their regular access to education; providing for programmes of temporary guardianship or shelter; guaranteeing religious freedom; promoting integration into society; supporting the reuniting of families; and preparing local communities for the process of integration.”

Which of the above do you think we have inadequately implemented in Canada? Can we more effectively help Ukrainians fleeing? Are we listening to the voices of the Canadian Ukrainian community, in identifying the needs of those fleeing the conflict?

If you’d like to more deeply explore what Fratelli tutti has to say about welcoming refugees and migrants, watch our conversation with Deacon Rudy Ovcjak—head of the Office for Refugees at the Archdiocese of Toronto, Canada’s largest private refugee sponsor—by clicking here.


For March 2022, Pope Francis has called on Catholics everywhere through the Worldwide Prayer Network apostolate to pray for a Christian response to contemporary bioethical challenges. Pope Francis writes:
“Let us pray that we may give a Christian response to bioethical challenges. It is evident that science has progressed, and today the field of bioethics presents us with a series of problems to which we must respond, not hiding our head like an ostrich. Applications of biotechnological must always be used based on respect for human dignity. For example, human embryos cannot be treated as disposable material, to be discarded. This throw-away culture is also applied to them; no, that can’t be done. Extending that culture this way does so much harm. Or allowing financial gain to condition biomedical research.”
Good Father, source of Life in abundance,
We know that you call us to be custodians of the gift of life that we receive from you.
May your Holy Spirit give us courage and strength to put in the centre of our interests
The life of every human being from beginning to end,
That faced with the challenges of bioethics we know to practice this gift in all times and circumstances,
As your Son Jesus, our brother and friend, defended it.
Give us courage and discernment to denounce what takes life away,
And practice compassionate love to give life to others.

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