Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 17, 2007
Natives, Christians urged to walk toward reconciliation
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
The Catholic Aboriginal Council for Reconciliation calls for Christians to "walk together in a path toward reconciliation," noting that a chapter concerning the residential schools has closed.
The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement reached last year has entered the phase where the government's $2.2 billion in compensation is going out to former students.
"The compensation has begun to be paid to the former students, their families and their communities," says a pastoral message prepared to honour Dec. 12, the fifth anniversary of the National Day of Prayer for Aboriginal Peoples.
"We know the financial resources will not be the sole aspect that will result in healing."
The council, established by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1998 to link Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Catholics, proclaimed the National Day of Prayer in 2002. This year's message calls for an ongoing journey of reconciliation, recognizing that this journey will not be easy.
The message retells the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, describing how in December 1531, the Blessed Mother appeared to the Aztec St. Juan Diego.
It quotes Pope John Paul II when he said to Aboriginal peoples during his 1984 visit to Canada that their "encounter with the Gospel has not only enriched you, it has enriched the Church."
Brothers and sisters
The message concludes with a reminder that all "are brothers and sisters of Jesus."
"Each of us is called by Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, to be her ambassadors to welcome Jesus in our lives."
Describing Our Lady of Guadalupe as Mother of the Americas, the message says: "She wants us to follow her Son, Jesus."
The text was drafted by Judge Graydon Nicholas, an Aboriginal Catholic who is a provincial court judge in New Brunswick. The two bishops on the council are Saskatoon Bishop Albert LeGatt and Halifax Auxiliary Bishop Claude Champagne.
The full text of the message is available at www.cccb.ca.