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Welcome to our News Page! Here you will find news stories from the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, the Church in Canada, and beyond! We also invite you to submit your own articles to our Communication Services Office. Selected articles may be included here, as well as our Weekly News Bulletin sent to all parishes in the Archdiocese. Questions and submissions may be sent to communications@archwinnipeg.caGod bless!

Note: Click on the small arrow beside each news heading to expand to the entire article. 

Catholic Education Section

St. Paul’s College recognizes Professor Rosemarie Finlay for 50 years of service
Jan 20, 2020

St. Paul's College, Winnipeg - On December 6, 2019, St. Paul’s College hosted a special gathering and presented Professor Finlay with a certificate and token of appreciation in celebration of her 50 years of service and dedication. “When one embarks on a career, one does not envision going forward 50 years. Rather, one goes step by step at a time and that accumulates over time. When I started, it was not my intention to teach and to serve for five decades, but here we are, a milestone achieved,” said Finlay at an intimate gathering in Hanley Hall in early December 2019.

Joining the University of Manitoba in 1968 as a Sessional Instructor in the Department of German and Slavic Studies (Formerly Department of German), Finlay has held several administrative and academic positions such as Instructor, Assistant Head of the Department, and later Acting Head. 

In 1970, Finlay expanded her academic and leadership experience by joining St. Paul’s College as a Faculty member. It was within the smaller community of St. Paul’s that Finlay found and developed her leadership style, starting with committee work and then with the role of Dean of Studies from 1990 to 1993. While in that position she oversaw the coordination of special celebrations, receptions, lectures and speaker series, and liturgy. She was also responsible for the allocation and presentation of Academic Awards for student members.

Continuing on her administration journey she has been involved with various committees and Board activities including serving on the College’s Board of Governors, and College Assembly. She still serves on the College Building Committee and its sub-committee the St. Paul’s College Art Committee. 

In 1994, St. Paul’s College recognized her contributions and presented her with the Fr. Cecil Ryan, SJ, Rector’s Award for outstanding service in the life of the College. 

In addition to her studies of 20th and 19th Century writers, Finlay has taken a special interest in German as a second language for English speakers and enjoys introducing University students to German culture. She found time to beta test with our U of M students and co-author a book with Johnny Geddes on English grammar. Initially, to help improve her students’ writing skills, the book Revisiting English Grammar: An Essential Guide, 2014, 3rd printing 2016, is now used by students in many disciplines across campus. In recent times she was also instrumental in the release of both of the St. Paul’s College books: St. Paul’s College: Memories and Histories of St. Paul’s College (1999) and St. Paul’s College: Facing the New Millennium (2016). 

An avid and passionate stained-glass artist, Finlay collaborated with Winnipeg’s Prairie Studio Glass on several glass panels for the College, including a panel created to honour the  Jesuits’ legacy which hangs in the window near the Jensen Theatre and two panels of Saint Paul and Saint Ignatius displayed in the entrance to Christ the King Chapel.

“I have the good fortune to work at St. Paul’s College, with great and truly dedicated colleagues. And together, we have achieved a great deal, with a vision for the College. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach and work in the College, and to serve in different capacities. The College has provided a base of good support for me,” said Finlay. 

In November of 2019, the University of Manitoba recognized Finlay for her years of service at their Anniversary Awards. In recognition of her contribution, a donation was made by the University to the Dr. Karl Schilling Memorial Prize Endowment Fund. This Fund was established in memory of her father and is a scholarship for students enrolled in German studies.

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We thank Matthew Semchyshyn for this article contribution! Matt serves at St. Paul's College as Marketing and Communications Officer.

The Archbishop Section

The Gaza Project - Extended
Jan 20, 2020

The Gaza Strip After leaving Gaza for Israel again, we soon discovered that the struggles, immense challenges and yes, successes of the amazing Catholic Community in Gaza, were to be repeated throughout the rest of the places our delegation visited in Palestine and Israel. The Catholic Schools are part of this in that they have been educating both Christian and Muslim Palestinians for a very long time and by doing so are building important bridges between these two communities.

They have no funding from taxes, they rely completely on fundraising and modest tuition fees, are poorly equipped yet it is arguable that they provide some of the best education anywhere in this region. Every year they educate thousands of young people, both Christian and Muslim, in an environment of respect for human dignity, love of God and good academic excellence. The Catholic ethos and moral framework permeate the daily life of these schools which come under the umbrella of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem. All of this must be seen within the context of very real difficulties with the political system here, discrimination experienced from the powers that be and a rising atmosphere of fundamentalism and hardline nationalism which makes little room for the weaker and powerless.

The Catholic Schools, like all the charitable institutions among the small Christian population here, see themselves as essential for the survival of the faith in the Holy Land, providing outreach to the greater society by providing witness to Jesus Christ. In what is called Palestine and Gaza, the Christians are now about 1%, where they were once 20% of the population. However, they provide about 40% of the social services in the region in spite of the difficulties listed above. We need to be aware of the great example of these Christians and to pray and support them as much as we are able.

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Photo 1: A Palestinian neighbourhood in the suburbs of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is densely populated, young in population and expensive to live in.

Photo 2: Although the wall looks pleasant with the paint and murals, on a regular basis there are people who attempt to climb it and jump down so as to be reunited with family members on the other side or attend religious festivals - some have been seriously hurt by doing this and a young girl recently died.

Photo 3: A special welcome from the pre-school.

Photo 4: Separation barrier next to the convent. The sisters say that this is something given to them that is out of their control so they do their best to deal with it from a Gospel perspective.

Photo 5: The West Bank seen from East Jerusalem. One of the Israeli Settlements can be seen clearly. The significant growth of such settlements has raised serious questions about the success of any two-state solution here.

Photo 6: We are given both a lecture and a tour by a young Israeli advocate about the situation in East Jerusalem. She is an advocate for justice among people here living in this difficult political and social reality.

Photo 7: A Palestinian town in the East Jerusalem area, now behind the separation barrier and with very limited access to the new highway below.

Photo 8: Our group at dusk looking at the old city and the Temple Mount in the distance. The golden dome of the Dome of the Rock mosque can be seen with careful observation. The very existence of the two mosques on the sight of the historic Temple is a very difficult situation in Israel and an international flashpoint.

Photo 9: Looking up at what remains of the Temple Mount from the ancient site of the City of David - an area of great contemporary controversy as it has been a Palestinian neighbourhood for a long time.

Photo 10: We have been visiting Catholic Parishes and Schools in Palestine and Gaza. Here our delegation arrives in Ramallah to visit Holy Family Parish and School. Wherever we go there is always coffee served in small cups and local food as a sign of Palestinian hospitality.

Photo 11: Many houses have their water supply on their roofs.

Photo 12: Holy Family School, like all Catholic Schools in the Holy Land, educates both Christians and Muslims and unlike the public schools, each class is co-ed. There are three Catholic Schools in Ramallah and other Christian Schools. Even though the non-Catholics do not take Christian religion classes, they are exposed to Catholic morality, teaching on human development, human dignity and world perspective. Again as in Gaza, the schools in Ramallah further the building of bridges within the greater community.

Photo 13: Stairs in the Ramallah school where the students learn their arithmetic while climbing the stairs!

Photo 14: Local pastor at Holy Family school giving us an orientation on school life within the Palestinian Authority territories. Again this school is called Holy Family to honor the Holy Family which passed by this way on the way to Egypt.

Photo 15: We meet with the Deputy Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority where we had a good discussion about the Palestinians and Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land. It was a fruitful discussion.

Photo 16: In Ramallah, there are public Christmas decorations until February 2nd in certain parts of the city. Christians are a small minority yet we see that Christmas is everywhere acknowledged.

Photo 17: There is a beautiful Christmas Nativity set up each year at city hall. When we contrast this with Canada it is amazing. This would never happen at any city hall in Canada but here in Ramallah, we see it!

Photo 18: In front of the City Hall manger.

Photo 19: We also visited this Orthodox School in the Christian village of Taybeh which is completely Christian with Catholic, Orthodox and Melkite Christians.

Photo 20: Here we see the principal on the left and two members of The Catholic Near East Association who raise funds to assist all the Christians in the Holy Land. There are very good relations between these Christians communities.

Photo 21: These are ancient artifacts from the Crusades on a wall in the Orthodox School. Many people have such artifacts in their homes since there are few museums.

Photo 22: The separation barrier which can be found throughout the region. It has made life almost unbearable for the Palestinian population. Communities are separated from one another, traffic is at a standstill and families are separated.

Photo 23: Myself with the local Orthodox Pastor in Taybeh. He has renovated a truly beautiful church which is one of the sights to see in Taybeh.

Photo 24: Behind the Greek Orthodox Church in Teybeh are the ruins of a Crusades Church. The pastor and I are standing on the 1000-year-old stairs leading up to it. The church, however, continues to be used for special occasions even though there is no roof.

Photo 25: We also took a trip to Nablus on the last day. This is off the beaten track of most pilgrimages in the Holy Land. Nablus is a Muslim city of 300, 000 people with a small Christian community of only 600. However, it is located in old Samaria and it is the place where Jesus encountered the woman at the well. There is a Greek Orthodox Church on the spot where it occurred with an ancient well on the lower floor. These marvellous floor mosaics are at the entrance and they are very reminiscent of the Roman style with vegetation and animals.

Photo 26: Inside the Orthodox Basilica.

Photo 27: The ancient well marking the spot where Jesus met the woman of Samaria. It is known as Jacob’s Well.

Photo 28: Exterior of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Photo 29: Beautiful icon of Jesus meeting the woman - located on the lower level near Jacob's well.

Photo 30: Icon depicting Jacob's Ladder in the Old Testament when he dreamed of a ladder stretching up to heaven with angels ascending and descending. This hilly part of the Holy Land is special to the Jews as it is associated with the ancient patriarch Jacob. Also one understands more clearly how far Jesus travelled from  Jerusalem and his home town of Nazareth. It was difficult travelling over these many rocky hills.

Photo 31: A curious Nativity Set which is different on all sides. It is a wonder to walk around and the best example of the Neapolitan Nativity Set I’ve seen anywhere. This style means that everything and everyone is in the scene! In the Middle East, because there are so many different Christian communities using different calendars, the Christmas Season extends to February 2nd.

Photo 32: We visited the Camboni Sisters on the Mount of Olives at Bethany overlooking Jerusalem. This is their convent chapel.

Photo 33: In the chapel is this icon of Jesus, Mary and Martha. Bethany, of course, is mentioned in the Bible where Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus lives. It is now a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood and it has been renamed after Lazarus as it is the place where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Photo 34: One of the sisters is giving us a talk about the work they do and the difficult political and social atmosphere that exists there. They do a lot of work with refugee women especially the Bedouin people who are being pushed aside in the Middle East.

Photo 35: The convent is now backed up against the separation barrier which has cut them off from an important Palestinian area where they have been traditionally involved. This is the pew-school they run behind the convent and the wall has been decorated with beautiful little scenes to please the children. It is a paradox since many children can no longer go to the school due to the barrier.

Photo 36: A pleasing mural along the wall. 

 

 

The Visit to Gaza
Jan 13, 2020

The Gaza Strip - The article below, including the photos, are from Archbishop Gagnon (scroll to the bottom for photos).

This year I have the privilege of visiting the Holy Land including Gaza. I am joined by 35 bishops, priests and laypeople who work with their respective Episcopal Conferences in Canada, United States, Germany, France, Spain, South Africa, Scotland and Ireland. Journeys to the Holy Land usually take the form of pilgrimages to the famous Holy Sites of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, etc. Our journey, however, takes a different form. It is still a pilgrimage but a pilgrimage to encounter the Palestinian Christians of the Holy Land. We begin with staying in Ramallah, one of the largest cities under the Palestinian Authority which is predominantly Muslim. The Christian population in this city is around 24,000 people.

Like other Palestinian areas, one must get used to the “checkpoints” when one enters and leaves. At times these can be very restrictive and frustrating. In general, there are restrictions as to who can use the highway systems, and in the areas of the Palestinian Authority, there are only secondary roads that are often congested and traffic moves slowly.
 
Upon approaching Gaza at the only regular entrance and exit point at Erez, one sees a large facility designed to process many thousands of people per day. In reality, very few actually enter Gaza these days and if you do, the process is painstakingly slow. It is even worse when you leave with everything you wear or are carrying, subject to examination. Our process took two hours to pass security. This is the result of a security blockade imposed since 2007.
 
Gaza is a strip of land about 40 kilometres long and 6-12 kilometres wide with over 2,000,000 people. The Christians total 1,000 persons, mostly Orthodox. There is one Catholic Parish, called Holy Family, numbering only 150 souls. Gaza is a Muslim-majority territory governed by Hamas, a Sunni Islamic government in power since 2007. The territory is very poor with its infrastructure largely destroyed. Unemployment is very high and some say that it is at the 70% level. It is hard to find work and hard to leave and if you are given permission it is very difficult to return.
 
The community I encountered was simply amazing. For one thing, their Parish is named after the Holy Family since it is believed that the Holy Family stopped there on its way to Egypt! They are proud of their parish and our international delegation was greatly appreciated as it showed support for these isolated Christians. We celebrated Mass in the Church, socialized with parishioners over Middle Eastern Cuisine, and visited some of the 18 charities operated by these Christians to serve not only Catholics but the whole community around them! The Missionaries of Charity, for example, operate a care home for children, adolescents and seniors who are physically and mentally disabled- all coming from outside the Catholic Community. Such works of mercy are deeply respected by the families concerned. We were given a presentation on an employment project for Palestinian Catholic youth which is designed to improve their professionalism and chances for being hired.
 
In all of this, the parish lives a Catholic life within the large Muslim population on all sides yet they contribute to the good of the greater whole by living joyfully the Gospel message. In a certain sense, they can be called the Gaza Project that serves as a good model for every parish. They live in an impossible political and social situation yet they do exactly what Christians are called to do - to live the Gospel.
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Photo Captions:
 
Photo 1: The wall separating the Palestinian settlements from the State of Israel throughout the country.
Photo 2: Our visit occurred on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord - the last day of Christmas. This Christmas tree is in the nursing home run by the Sisters of Charity.
Photo 3: Christmas decorations outside the church - even a snow sled in a place where snow never comes! 
Photo 4: Father Gabriel - a new pastor - explains a new initiative to engage and train youth for leadership in Gaza.
Photo 5: Youth talking about the initiative to help them find employment. 
Photo 6: Part of our group walking down a Gaza side street at night after visiting homes. 
Photo 7: One of the Christian families we visited in which we talked about their lives and challenges here. There is always coffee waiting to be served in small cups! 
Photo 8: An example of a guard tower on the separation wall.
Photo 9: Crossing into Gaza.
Photo 10: A street in Gaza.
Photo 11: Street scene in Gaza.
Photo 12: Holy Family Catholic Parish when our delegation first arrived.
Photo 13: Myself with one of the Sisters of Charity in the care home for children with disabilities.
Photo 14: A scene in the care home.
Photo 15: On the roof of the care home. Water is in great shortage in Gaza. Every house has a water tank on its roof like the one shown here. 
Photo 16: Evening walk among the rubble.
Photo 17: Derelict neighbourhood.
Photo 18: A little street vendor.
Photo 19: Places where buildings have been torn down.
Photo 20: A marketplace scene. 

In the Community Section

What can I do about the Federal Government's consultation on MAiD?
Jan 24, 2020

Click here for the online survey in English.

About the Consultation

On Monday, 13 January 2020, the Government of Canada, through the Department of Justice, launched a two-week general public consultation on the expansion of eligibility criteria for euthanasia/assisted suicide (which the Government refers to as "Medical Assistance in Dying"/MAiD). This consultation follows the September 2019 Superior Court of Québec ruling which found it unconstitutional to limit access to MAiD only to individuals nearing the end of life and which gave the federal government the option to appeal the decision or amend legislation within six months. The Government of Canada chose not to appeal the Québec court ruling, but instead has indicated it would be prepared to change the law for the entire country.

The consultation targets one specific component of the legislation ("Eligibility Criteria") and is intended to help the Government form its response to the Québec ruling. The survey does not ask whether or not euthanasia/assisted-suicide should be expanded to include persons with disabilities, that instead is assumed. It concentrates on whether a person should be allowed to request euthanasia/assisted suicide by means of his or her own advance directives or whether the Government's current "safeguards" are sufficient to prevent abuse of or pressure on patients whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable, such as individuals with mental health conditions or physical disabilities.

What Can I Do?

The consultation invites the public to share their views with the Government on the legislative changes under consideration regarding the expansion of eligibility criteria for euthanasia/assisted suicide. The consultation – available online or in PDF format – closes on Monday, 27 January 2020, at 11:59 p.m. (PST).

The Catholic faithful may wish to note that while the survey already assumes that access to euthanasia/assisted suicide will be expanded, it still offers the opportunity in three sections to provide comments. In these sections, those who wish may voice opposition to euthanasia/assisted suicide, indicating any concerns they may have about:
- dissatisfaction with the assumption built into the survey that euthanasia/assisted suicide will be expanded;
- giving medical personnel the right to presume consent for vulnerable populations (including minors, the depressed, the mentally ill, and the cognitively impaired);
- the inadequacy of the "safeguards" and the need to promote stronger ones; and
- the urgent need for viable alternatives to MAiD through more adequate government funding for palliative care, home care, and hospices.

For additional information on the opposition of Canada's Bishops prior to the passing of Bill C-14 (Medical Assistance in Dying) into law, please refer to the resources in Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. For more information about palliative care, please refer to the CCCB's submission to Health Canada for the consultation on a palliative care strategy for Canada.

Click here for the online survey in English.

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The information above is taken from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' (CCCB) website.

Changes to the law on Medically Assisted Dying
Jan 16, 2020

Canada - It has been approximately four years since the Federal Government enacted the Medically Assisted Dying law.  Since that time at least 6,700 people have chosen a medically assisted death.  Under our current law that means that 6,700 people qualified for MAID even with the restrictions embodied in the legislation.  Now the Federal Government is considering amending the law in a manner that will make MAID available for even more people, putting more vulnerable people at risk.

The present legislation has the following restrictions:

  1. You have to have a serious illness or disease;
  2. You must be so advanced in your illness that there is no chance of reversal of the condition;
  3. You must experience unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be relieved under conditions that you accept and;
  4. You must be at a point where your natural death has become reasonably foreseeable.

In September of 2019 the Superior Court of Quebec, in Trunchon v. The Attorney General of Canada decided that the criteria that “you must be at a point where your natural death has become reasonably foreseeable” was unconstitutional.  The Court said that clause should be struck from the law, but it gave the Federal Government until March 11, 2020, to revise the law.  The Federal Government decided not to appeal the Quebec Court’s decision which means that it must start its review, and if the Government does not get an extension, revise the law by March 11, 2020.  Otherwise we will be in a situation, like the abortion issue, where there is no guiding legislation on advance directives for access to MAID.

Our federal Justice Minister, David Lametti, has stated that “Canadian Society has evolved quite rapidly since the legislation passed and the experience of other countries has also helped moved public opinion” (National Post, January 12, 2020) He further has stated that “People are generally comfortable now with the concept and so my guess is that we will be able to move on those larger issues” (National Post, January 12, 2020).

If we remain silent these misconceptions of what Canadians are comfortable with will be proved. How many of us are truly aware of what is happening in other countries or even our own country with respect to medically assisted suicide? The larger issues that the Federal Government is moving for review are: the ability to have an advance directive regarding MAID, the ability of mature minors to access MAID and the ability of those with mental illness to access MAID.

An advance directive allows for a person to plan for their suicide.  Presently if a person cannot give a legally informed consent then there is no access to MAID.  An advance directive would allow a person while they are still mentally able to do so, to direct the circumstances under which they want a medically assisted death.  So, for example,  if I were diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) today I could, if the law were changed, indicate in writing who I wanted to make the decision to end my life if I could no longer make the decision, and I could advise roughly when I wanted that to happen.  I may write these directives years before the need arises.

The other issue under review is whether minors can access MAID.  In this regard the Federal Government is reviewing whether mature minors with an incurable disease can choose medically assisted death.  This means that children, who in someone’s opinion could clearly assess their life, can choose to end their life.  A child who cannot yet understand the gift of life, in all its forms, would be able to end life!  Regardless of how mature the child may seem, that child would be influenced by parents, adults and society, some of whom believe that all suffering should and must be avoided. Recently in the news, there have been stories of minors who, on discovering they have an incurable disease and limited time to live, have used that time to do wonderful things for society and to further experience the gift of life.

The other issue under review is whether those with underlying mental illness can have access to MAID.  This would mean that those with depression or some other illness could choose to have a medically assisted death.  But who makes the final decision for them?  Who decides that the person will never be able to live with the illness or lead any kind of life whatsoever?

All these issues require lengthy research and discussion.  Contrary to what has been stated a great many Canadians are not comfortable with the Medically Assisted Dying legislation and certainly not comfortable with expanding access to it.  But we who disagree with Medically Assisted Dying and its expansion must speak up and speak loudly. All are encouraged to form parish groups where the issue of MAID can be discussed, and through sharing plans can be developed for acting.  At the very least each of us should speak out, complete the survey the Government has now put online, speak and/or write to your Member of Parliament, the Justice Minister and the Prime Minister.

In the words of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Physician-assisted suicide is an affront to what is most noble, most precious in the human endeavour and a grave injustice and violation of the dignity of every human person whose natural and inherent inclination is indeed the preservation of life. We ought to surround our sick and dying, our vulnerable and disabled, with love and attention, with care and true life-giving compassion. 

Click here to view and fill out the Federal Government's Questionnaire.

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Article by Patti Fitzmaurice, the Archdiocese of Winnipeg's Social Justice Coordinator

 

 

 

 

The Universal Church Section

Resources for the 2020 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Jan 13, 2020

The Universal Church - The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be celebrated 18 to 25 January 2020 on the theme "They showed us unusual kindness" (Acts 28:2). The resources in English and in French can be freely downloaded from the Canadian website for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme and biblical texts for this annual Week of Prayer are jointly prepared by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. The thematic introduction to the 2020 materials comes from Churches in Malta. National and regional Councils of Churches adapt the resources for their local context. The resources for Canada are produced by an ecumenical writing team coordinated by the Commission on Faith and Witness of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC). The CCCB is a member of the CCC and is also represented on its Canadian writing team for the Week of Prayer.

Link to Canadian resources
Link to international version of the resources

Archbishop Gagnon heads to the Holy Land for annual meeting
Jan 13, 2020

The Holy Land - From 11 to 16 January 2020, the Most Reverend Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), will participate in the annual meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land. Archbishop Gagnon will be accompanied by Mr. Carl Hétu, National Director for Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) Canada. This annual international gathering involves representatives from Conferences of Bishops in Europe and North America who meet with the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (AOCTS) to promote dialogue and peace in the region.

This year's meeting will take place in Ramallah with planned visits to other sites in the Holy Land, including an overnight visit to Gaza. As in previous years, the delegates will have a full agenda including visits to the House of Peace run by the Missionaries of Charity, East Jerusalem, the Comboni Sisters in Bethany, as well as a school and parish in Ramallah. The Bishops will also meet with young people in both Jerusalem and Ramallah, in addition to the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzabella, and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli.

Link to the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

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This news item was taken from the CCCB website: www.cccb.ca