Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 28, 2010
Light firecrackers under our cultural soul on this Canada Day
When we celebrate Canada Day this week, it should be a time for more than fireworks and pop stars singing on Parliament Hill. The festivities are fine, but we also need to reflect on the state of our nation.
Pope Benedict gave us a lot to ponder when, in 2006, he met separately with four groups of bishops from different regions of Canada. In those talks, he lauded Canada for its "generous commitment" to justice and peace, but lamented "disturbing trends" such as same-sex marriage and legal abortion.
Canada is losing "the cultural soul" it has had for centuries - the Christian faith - and is "marked by pluralism, subjectivism and a growing secularism," the pope said.
He singled out Canada's declining birthrate as indicating a lack of hope in the future. That pessimism grows out of our secular attitudes.
Canada has a false sense of freedom and tolerance, the pope said. Because of "the split between the Gospel and culture, with the exclusion of God from the public sphere," basic human values have been severed from their moral roots.
Relativism denies human sinfulness. Without a commitment to the truth of our moral situation, it is impossible to restore justice, he said. As difficult as it can be to face one's moral shortcomings, Canadians must do that. A chief remedy can be found in the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Even Catholic education needs to fight the tide of relativism and uphold the love of truth, Pope Benedict told the Ontario bishops.
Canada needs leadership from its Catholic bishops, he told one group, saying they should be "men of hope, preaching and teaching with passion about the splendour of the truth of Christ." They should encourage dialogue with society, but such dialogue must include proclamation of Church teachings. Watering down those teachings would undermine "the Church's contribution to the regeneration of society."
To another group, he said Christians need "to recapture the profound joy and awe of the first disciples."
To yet another group, the pope stressed the importance of participating in the Sunday liturgy. "No Christian community can build itself up if it does not have its roots and centre in the Eucharistic celebration."
Pope Benedict did not gloss over the problems facing Canadian society. Nor did he fail to point out the direction that will bring positive change. Some would say his prognosis was gloomy. A more perceptive response would note that our situation is bleak, but that Christians can help to fire our nation with hope and joy.
It is not wrong to want happy times. But when the pursuit of pleasure and comfort prevents us from seeing the truth of our situation, we are in deep trouble. Only when Canada faces the truth can it move forward to a brighter tomorrow.
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