Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CNEWA Canada, a Papal Charity - Visit by Anglican Primate

Each year during the CCCB Plenary, groups of bishops from various regions or associated in some way hold meetings. This was true yesterday when the bishops associated with CNEWA Canada, a papal charity that serves Christians in the Middle East, India, Eastern Europe, held their annual meeting.

Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet is the vice-chair (as Archbishop of Ottawa, I serve as chair) and the following are Directors: Winnipeg Archeparch Lawrence Huculak, O.S.B., Archbishops Thomas Collins (Toronto), Martin Currie (St. John's) and Michael Miller, C.S.B. (Vancouver).

Msgr. Robert Stern from the international head office in New York, joined Canadian Director Carl Hetu for the session.




Mr. Hetu had spoken to the assembled bishops about the possibility of establishing a program to welcome Christian Iraqi refugees for sponsorship to come to Canada. Other concerns that have come to be featured in CNEWA Canada's outreach include flooding in Ukraine and drought relief in Eritrea.

Amidst the upheavals and challenges of the modern world, CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association) has been a lifeline for those in need throughout the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe for more than 75 years.

Founded in the United States in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, CNEWA’s mandate is: to support the pastoral mission and institutions of the Eastern Catholic churches; to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need without regard to nationality or creed; to promote Christian unity and interreligious understanding and collaboration; and to educate people in the West about the history, cultures, peoples and churches of the East.

CNEWA does not have inflexible priorities – they are set based upon time, place and urgency of need. We do not compete; if other agencies are doing a good work, we leave it to them. CNEWA addresses those needs that would otherwise “fall through the cracks,” enabling the power of love to reach men, women and children in need.

From training priests to serve the people of God in India to providing clean water systems to war-damaged villages in Lebanon – from providing job opportunities to unemployed Palestinians to caring for orphaned children in Ethiopia – from providing health care to the poor in Iraq to awarding scholarships for Orthodox priests to study in Catholic universities in Rome, CNEWA connects generous North Americans with those in need living in some of the remotest parts of the world.

The agency publishes a bimonthly magazine, ONE. Its name identifies the real spirit of CNEWA and its work – it is about one God, one world, one family and one church. Operationally, CNEWA’s charism is always to act as if we are all one, unless we are forced to encounter a difference.

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ANGLICAN PRIMATE ARCHBISHOP FRED HILTZ BRINGS ECUMENICAL GREEETINGS TO CANADA'S CATHOLIC BISHOPS

On the second day, an ecumenical visitor brings greetings to the Catholic bishops at their plenary. Anglican Primate Archbishop Fred Hiltz, a friend from the time he attended my New Testament classes at Atlantic School of Theology and he was Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island while I served as Archbishop of Halifax gave an encouraging address on how far our two churches have come in the last forty-plus years in overcoming past prejudices and establishing friendship in the Lord and cooperation in Christian witness and service to society in our country.

He pledged to continue with gestures and to establish newer initiatives, suggesting the possibilty of a joint meeting of the Anglican House of Bishops with the CCCB. Let us continue to pray that we foster every necessary gesture to fulfill Our Lord's prayer at the Last Supper, "that all may be one" (John 17:21).

Whitehorse Bishop Gary Gordon (left) and I greet Archbishop Fred Hiltz

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CARDINAL OUELLET REPORTS ON 2008 SYNOD

There was a brief report on the Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission held last October in Rome by Cardinal Ouellet who was Relator General of the Synod and who serves on the post-synodal committee that has delivered to the Holy Father a synthesis of the complete documentation associated with the Synod.

His Eminence spoke of the experience of the synod in general terms, reported on what we can expect from the follow-up Apostolic Exhortation and some pastoral implications that this document will lead to. The Church will be called to listen more attentively to God's Word, experience a new paradigm of understanding God's Word as a living principle rather than only an intellectual one and that it will call for the disciplines of theology and exegesis to work more closely together in service to the Church.

While the Bible is a library of scriptural writings, it is also a single book and we need to understand it this way, in union with tradition (especially the interpretations of the Fathers). The Church participates in the mission of the Word (of God) and that this is a responsibility of all the baptized.

The pastoral applications include a veritable renewal of the faith, a transformation of the formation of Christians (catechesis, seminary training and that of lay leaders), with new dynamism for the church interiorly (ad intra) and exteriorly (ad extra). The reality of God's Word leads to active charity (social justice), a commitment to ecumenism and protection of the environment.

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