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Canadian Bishops Release Pastoral Letters on Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

Posted : Feb-08-2023

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The Bishops of Canada have released a series of pastoral letters to advance the journey of healing, reconciliation and hope with Indigenous Peoples of this land. Individual letters have been prepared for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. In addition, the bishops have released a letter to the Catholic community throughout the country.

In the Archdiocese of Toronto, we will use the letters to help further our dialogue with Indigenous partners as well as educating and engaging the faithful as we walk together on the path of reconciliation.

Copies of the letters can be accessed as follows:

The letters have been informed by conversations with Indigenous partners over the past year, as well as inspiration from Pope Francis, who welcomed Indigenous Survivors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Youth to the Vatican in the spring of 2022, inviting the Bishops of Canada and the Catholic community to continue taking steps towards the transparent search for truth and to foster healing and reconciliation.

Within the letters, there are several foundational commitments, including:

  • Continuing to dialogue and discern the most effective mechanism by which respectful and fruitful collaboration can continue at the national, regional and local levels;

  • Fulfilling a pledge, made at the 2021 Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) Plenary Assembly, to undertake fundraising in each region of the country to support locally-discerned projects through the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (so far, the Fund has raised $8.9 million and is on schedule to meet its $30-million commitment over five years);

  • Supporting opportunities to make Indigenous culture more widely known, including by working with Catholic educational institutions, seminaries, religious houses, and programs of pastoral formation;

  • Accompanying Indigenous Peoples in the pursuit of justice, in the spirit of the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and Catholic Social Teaching;

  • Working together with local community leaders to address social challenges, including addictions, suicide, violence, poverty, and incarceration;

  • Celebrating the important role that women play in many Indigenous faith communities; and

  • Identifying new forms of responsibility within dioceses/eparchies through which Indigenous Elders would be invited to share their spiritual wisdom.

Catholics throughout the archdiocese are invited to reflect, learn and join in efforts to nurture and deepen our relationship with Indigenous Peoples. We pray that the letters may serve as an additional tool to guide the journey of healing, reconciliation and hope.