2016 National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples
The Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council has released a prayer of thanksgiving for families to mark the 2016 National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. The Aboriginal Council and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops have promoted the annual National Day of Prayer since 2002. It is celebrated on Dec. 12, the memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom Pope Pius XII proclaimed patroness of the Americas in 1946.
The devotion dates to 1531 when the Blessed Mother appeared as an Aztec princess to a humble Aboriginal peasant, Saint Juan Diego, at a place called the Hill of Tepeyac, which eventually became part of Villa de Guadalupe, a suburb of Mexico City.
PRAYER FOR FAMILIES
Let Us Pray:
O Great Creator, we give praise and thanks to you for our lives
and for our families. Your gift to us of human community
is one of your greatest blessings.
We thank you for our Elders – our grandfathers and grandmothers –
whose patience and wisdom guide our lives.
We thank you for our fathers and mothers,
who by giving their love to each other bring us into the world,
nurturing and leading us.
We thank you for our brothers and sisters,
with whom we come to know what sharing and caring really means.
We thank you for young people,
whose hope for a better world energizes and inspires us.
We thank you for the little ones – the children –
whose innocence and promise bring gladness and joy.
O Creator, may our families always be that blessed and
first community that we honour and cherish.
As you continue to make all things new, may we hear your invitation
– in all creation – to receive and share
all that is good and true with each other.
O God, we also face many challenges and crises in our lives and world.
May our families continue to be the first and constant community
that shows us how to live intimately and respectfully
with all people, and all Creation.
May all Glory, Praise, Honour and Thanksgiving be shown to you,
Father of all mercies and compassion,
Jesus Saviour and Guardian of our souls, and Spirit of peace and communion.
The First Nations Office is under the direction of the First Nations Council advisory board. The Council and the Office help in the implementation of the Archbishop’s directives regarding his First Nations pastoral vision and mandate.
Catholic TRC responses
On March 29, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council, the Canadian Religious Conference and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace released two detailed documents responding to Calls to Action #48 and #49 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Catholic responses on Call to Action 48 and questions on the “Doctrine of Discovery”
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Religious Conference, the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council, and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace have responded to Call to Action 48 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and also addressed questions about the legal concepts known as “Doctrine of Discovery” and terra nullius. The four organizations represent Bishops, institutes of consecrated life, societies of apostolic life, Indigenous People, and Catholic laity. Their two documents were developed in consultation with the Aboriginal Council, and are dated March 19, 2016, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, who is the principal patron saint of Canada.
The first of the two texts expresses support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. It affirms that “its spirit can point a way forward to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.” It also points out that the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations “explicitly endorsed this Declaration on numerous occasions.” In 2010, when the Government of Canada had announced it would support the UN Declaration, Bishop Pierre Morissette, then President of the CCCB, had signed a joint letter in which religious leaders acknowledged their appreciation for the government’s endorsement and urged it “to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples on a respectful process for the full endorsement and implementation” of the UN Declaration. The complete text is available here.
The second text reflects on the “Doctrine of Discovery” and the notion of terra nullius (no-one’s land). It “considers and repudiates illegitimate concepts and principles used by Europeans to justify the seizure of land previously held by Indigenous Peoples and often identified by the terms ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ and terra nullius.” It states “that now is an appropriate time to issue a public statement in response to the errors and falsehoods perpetuated, often by Christians, during and following the so-called Age of Discovery.” After formulating five principles which reject how these legal notions have been used to disenfranchise Indigenous Peoples, the document provides an appendix which gives an historical overview of the development of the two legal concepts vis-a-vis Catholic teaching and of their repudiation. The complete text is available here.
Both documents appeal to all Catholics — laity, members of institutes of consecrated life and of societies of apostolic life, deacons, priests, and Bishops — to make seven commitments in order to “continue to walk together with Indigenous Peoples in building a more just society where their gifts and those of all people are nurtured and honoured.” These commitments include:
- Working with Catholic educational institutions and formation programs in telling the history and experience of Indigenous Peoples
- Working with seminaries and other formation centres to promote a “culture of encounter” by including the history of the Indian Residential Schools and of Canadian missionary work with its “weaknesses and strengths”
- Encouraging partnerships between Indigenous groups and health care facilities
- Encouraging a restorative justice model within the criminal justice system
- Supporting the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women
- Deepening relationships, dialogue and collaboration with Indigenous People
- Inviting Catholic parishes and institutions to become better acquainted with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Documents to download
- Catholic Response to Doctrine of Discovery
- Catholic Response Call to Action
- Interview with Bishop Bolen
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