Second Sunday of Advent and the Church in Quebec

‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’ (Mt. 3:3) ⧾

The Gospel of the Mass on this second Sunday of Advent introduces us to John the Baptist, the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ John the Baptist calls us and all people to repentance; that even the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy (Rom. 15:9). St. Matthew tells us that many Pharisees and Sadducees came to receive the baptism of repentance and to them the Baptist addressed rather strong words: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you of the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance.’ The Pharisees and the Sadducees whom we encounter often in the gospels were sects within the Judaism of the day. The Jewish historian Josephus Flavius identified the Sadducees with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. As a whole they fulfilled various political, social and religious roles, including maintaining the Temple. As a governing body, we might draw an analogy and compare them to the college of bishops. Bishops in very simple terms are the governing class of the Church. John the Baptist’s challenging call to repentance included the religious authorities of his day; the same is no less true in our day.

I mention this because in a an act similar to the Baptist’s call to repentance and renewal, last month, twenty-nine young men between the ages of 18 to 44, signed an open letter titled We Ask for Faith: Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church in French Canada. (Copies of this letter are available in the vestibule and I encourage everyone but especially all our men to take a copy for your own reflection.) Addressed and sent to 23 bishops of French-speaking dioceses across Canada as well as to the Quebec Bishops’ Conference, this letter is a crie de coeur, a passionate outcry from a group of young men who sign themselves as the disinherited of French Canada. The letter is a realistic assessment of the cultural landscape of once Catholic Quebec. I quote:

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In scandalized Buffalo diocese, bishop seeks victims’ voices  

Buffalo, N.Y., Dec 9, 2019 / 08:19 pm (CNA).- Efforts to recover from clergy sex abuse scandals in Buffalo require listing to victims and others affected by the diocese’s handling of abuse, the apostolic administrator of the Buffalo diocese Bishop Edward Scharfenberger has said.

“I know there’s a lot of pain. I know that pain sometimes presents itself first as anger,” Bishop Scharfenberger said in opening remarks at a Dec. 7 symposium at Canisius College in Buffalo.

“We can’t deny the fact that there is a lot of anger and frustration. Maybe in our personal lives but also in those who expect much of us as leaders to be able to help them find a way out of the darkness that they have experienced,” he continued.

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In Argentina, poverty rate highest in ten years

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec 9, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- The latest report issued by the Argentina Observatory of Social Debt of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina showed that the rate of poverty and indigence is the highest in ten years.

The report indicated that 6.5% of households and 8.9% of people are indigent, and during the last trimester of 2019, 32.1% of households and 40.8% of people are below the poverty line.

These results show the sudden reversal of the economic conditions recouped by households during 2017.

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Pope Francis blesses 100 nativity scenes near the Vatican

Vatican City, Dec 9, 2019 / 06:59 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday stopped by the “100 Nativities in the Vatican” display to bless Christmas scenes from all over the world.

The unscheduled visit took place in the afternoon Dec. 9, with the pope spending about 40 minutes meeting the staff and artists of the exhibition and viewing the nearly 130 nativities from 30 different countries.

He also recited a prayer and blessed those present.

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Acclaimed atheist poet Sally Read becomes Catholic: ‘My tears just stopped’…

“If you’re there, you have to help me.” Those are the words that poet Sally Read said to an icon of Jesus in 2010. Read, a British poet and atheist, had stopped into a church in Santa Marinella, Italy. She felt burdened. Her young daughter was having health issues. Her husband Fabio was enduring some stress at work. “There was this incredible experience where this presence almost came down…

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The significance of Cardinal Tagle’s appointment: “What Pope Francis wants is clear — his successor”…

For the world’s oldest continuous office, it was “the most fabulous crowd” Peter ever saw. Five years ago next month – two decades after a record 5 million thronged the Quirino Grandstand in Manila’s Luneta Park for Mass with John Paul II – Cardinal Chito Tagle and Pope Francis combined to outdo their respective predecessors by at least seven figures…

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