Church leaders send Trudeau their wish lists

Canadian Church leaders have sent their policy proposals to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

CNS PHOTO | JIM YOUNG, REUTERS

Canadian Church leaders have sent their policy proposals to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

November 23, 2015
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

OTTAWA - Canada's Catholic bishops and the Canadian Council of Churches sent congratulations and a wish list to Prime Minister Trudeau Nov. 4, highlighting climate change and poverty.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) also reiterated its call to Parliament to invoke the notwithstanding clause to suspend the Supreme Court assisted suicide decision that will come into effect in three months.

CCCB president Bishop Douglas Crosby urged the Canadian government to "take responsible action on the urgent climatic, environmental and social challenges facing the world, as outlined so forcefully by Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si', issued this past May 24.

"The whole of society needs to be involved, including industry, if there are to be fair, binding and truly transformational climate agreements both nationally and internationally," Crosby wrote.

Crosby, the bishop of Hamilton, Ont., also appealed to the new prime minister to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) Calls to Action.

In particular, the bishops say access to education for Aboriginal people should be improved, the epidemic of murdered and missing indigenous women must be confronted, indigenous families and communities should receive greater support, and the Canadian justice and correctional systems must be better equipped to respond to Aboriginal realities.

The CCCB president also reminded the prime minister of earlier calls by the bishops and other religious leaders to expand and speed up private refugee sponsorship programs to respond to the refugee crisis.

He further urged the government to work with the international community to bring peace through diplomatic efforts in world conflicts that are forcing people to flee their homelands.

Last but not least, Crosby pointed out Canada faces a looming deadline on Feb. 6 when the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on doctor-assisted death comes into effect.

"Together with other religious leaders - Christians as well as members of other world religions - we consider physician-assisted suicide ethically and morally wrong," said Crosby.

"The court's decision is divisive; polls indicate almost two-thirds of Canadian physicians would refuse to assist in such suicides," he said. As well, Parliament has been nearly unanimous in calling for improved access to palliative care.

The Catholic bishops unanimously support invoking the notwithstanding clause to halt implementation of the court ruling, he said.

Invoking the clause would prevent implementation of the ruling for five years, providing an opportunity for a closer look at its implications.

Also Nov. 4, the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) president Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan sent the prime minister a brief letter of congratulations along with the recent statement On Climate Justice and Poverty in Canada.

"Today we understand the twin challenges of climate and poverty are linked by a spiritual, moral and ethical human crisis: how will Canadians act as a good neighbour in both the natural and human communities since in the long run the health of one depends on the health of the other?" Barnett-Cowan asked.

The CCC asked the new government to provide global leadership on climate, to develop a national poverty elimination plan and to respond to the TRC recommendations.

It also urged the Liberal government to respond to a report on a recent meeting the CCC co-organized with the Church of Sweden on the Future of Life in the Arctic - the Impact of Climate Change, Indigenous and Religious Perspectives.

Leaders of 25 churches signed the Climate Justice and Poverty statement, representing about 85 per cent of the Christian faith community.

Citizens for Public Justice has created Prayers for Paris, a resource for Church groups to pray for the UN conference on climate change in Paris in December. The worship resources are at cpj.ca/climate.