By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
Canada’s Apostolic Nuncio warned Canadian bishops about threats to Catholic education in Canada and urged the bishops to “remain aware of developments in our society that jeopardize religious freedom.”
Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, the Holy See’s ambassador to Canada, addressed the annual Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops at their annual plenary Sept. 24.
“Many Catholic institutions are in danger of losing their Catholic character,” Archbishop Lopez Quintana said. He added the Pope has spoken of an “educational emergency” worldwide in the face of rampant individualism that “reduces reality to something to be manipulated."
Using careful diplomatic language, Archbishop Lopez Quintana criticized Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture program and Ontario’s Bill 13, which would impose Gay-Straight Alliances on Catholic Schools. The mandatory program was even imposed on private schools, including Catholic ones.
The Nuncio described the new religious curriculum designed for Quebec schools as “obliging a syncretistic study based on world religions” and noted the province “does not give parents the right to opt out.”
He said the Ontario government is basing its intervention into Catholic education on “a rather flawed anthropology” that sees the human person solely determined “by desires and passions” and not “in the image and likeness of God.”
The program “impedes the right of the Church to teach a right anthropology according to the truths of the faith,” he said.
Archbishop Lopez Quintana praised the CCCB Permanent Council’s pastoral letter on religious freedom. He noted one of the freedoms “cherished by the Catholic Church is the establishment of Catholic schools.”
The nuncio a spoke of the importance of new evangelization in light of the upcoming Synod on New Evangelization in Rome. The CCCB is sending delegates to the synod which also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“The Holy Father hopes to awaken in all the baptized the profound gift of faith and also the responsibility to evangelize,” Archbishop Lopez Quintana said. He said that includes evangelizing in the workplace, in scientific endeavors, and in economic life “so they may be turned into places for proclaiming the Gospel.”
The Nuncio praised the Canadian bishops for their pioneering work in responding to the sexual abuse crisis, noting that one must confront the mystery of evil in the Church.
“We who care to evangelize must be prepared to be evangelized ourselves and challenged by the very Gospel we proclaim,” he said.
Christians seem to be facing an increase in persecution and marginalization for their faith and being driven from the public square, he said. “In many cases Christians are finding themselves in minority situations.”
He added Christians in the Middle East are familiar with this minority position, while those in the West are not.
There is a connection between evangelization and the Cross, he said, noting the Christian is called to be a “witness even unto death.”
“Success can’t be numbered in numerical terms,” Archbishop Lopez Quintana said. “We are called to lead people who find themselves in the desert of unbelief to Christ the living spring."
Archbishop Lopez Quintana said the Holy Father made three trips recently to places where “common sense and prudence” might advise one to “avoid." Pope Benedict traveled to Benin, to Mexico and Cuba, and most recently to Lebanon.
“This most recent visit was taken amidst potential dangers,” he said, but noted the Holy Father’s “gentle, thoughtful presence has the effect of winning over even his most hardened critics.”
The announcement of the Gospel is part of these Apostolic journeys, the nuncio said. “The world, even if it is estranged from God, watches closely the ministrations of the successor to Peter.”
“At the heart of the work of evangelization is the transmission of the faith in the celebration of the sacred liturgy,” he said. Catholics are to be “transformed by the liturgical life and prayer.” Archbishop Lopez Quintan noted the intrinsic relationship between one’s life and how one prays.
“The recent revision of the Roman Missal has been for the most part a positive one,” he said. “Nevertheless there has been a degree of controversy over postures."
The Holy See seeks to “support the role of the bishop as the high priest of his flock, allowing adaptations as necessary,” he said.
The nuncio noted the General Instruction (43) in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal “was never meant to exclude the custom of kneeling after Holy Communion."
There are licit adaptations and liturgical activities are that are “proscribed,” he said. He said placing the Precious Blood in “decanters or flagons, the use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion when sufficient numbers of priests are present, or the use of glass vessels are not to be considered adaptations or permitted."
As he opened his talk, Archbishop Lopez Quintana acknowledged the presence of Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, the ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter established in the United States last Jan. 1 under the 2009 Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. The Nuncio said he hoped to see soon the establishment of a Canadian deanery within the Ordinariate. The bishops deliberated on the establishment of a deanery Sept. 27 following a report from Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, the episcopal delegate for Anglicanorum coetibus in Canada.