SPECIAL PRESENTATION — At the recent CCCB plenary, Thunder Bay Bishop Fred Colli presented Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, the apostolic nuncio, with a special stole to mark the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha in October. (CCN/Gyapong photo)
Nuncio warns of religious freedom threats in Canada
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
SAINTE-ADELE, Que. (CCN) — Canada’s apostolic nuncio warned Sept. 24 of threats to Catholic education in Canada and urged Canada’s bishops to “remain aware of developments in our society that jeopardize religious freedom.”
Using careful diplomatic language, he criticized Quebec’s Ethics
and Religious Culture program (ERC) and Ontario’s Bill 13, which
would impose gay-straight alliances on Catholic schools. This mandatory
program was also imposed on private schools, including Catholic schools.
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.”
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,” he said.
The program “impedes the right of the church to teach a right anthropology
according to the truths of the faith,” he said.
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 spoke of the importance of new evangelization in light of
the upcoming Synod on New Evangelization in Rome, to which the CCCB is
sending delegates, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second
Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic
“The Holy Father hopes to awaken in all the baptized the profound
gift of faith and also the responsibility to evangelize,” he said,
and that includes in evangelizing in the workplace, in scientific endeavours
and economic life “so they may be turned into places for proclaiming
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.
The pope made three trips recently to places where “common sense
and prudence” might advise one to “avoid,” Lopez Quintana
said. Pope Benedict travelled to Benin, to Mexico and Cuba and most recently
“This most recent visit was taken amidst potential dangers,” he
said. But 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, he 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,” he
said, noting 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.