Pope Francis prays at the Ermineskin Cree Nation Cemetery before meeting with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities at Maskwacis, Alberta, July 25, 2022. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Editorial: We need to talk

By 
  • September 15, 2022

This week, our magazine Penance and Progress that commemorates and explores Pope Francis’ penitential pilgrimage to Canada is off the press.

Although the news Niagara of the current moment can make the pontiff’s summer journey already seem like a distant cork bobbing far downstream — “forget the Pope’s visit; the Queen’s having a funeral!” — those six days in July will surely endure as a key turning point in reconciling Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations for the country and for Catholics.

The importance of the pilgrimage is why, with the support of our subscribers and generous donors as well as backing from Canadian Catholic News, The Catholic Register invested in having our Associate Editor embedded with the traveling Vatican press corps to provide front row coverage of Francis’ travels. Michael Swan was there with the Holy Father from Rome to Edmonton to Quebec City to Iqaluit and back to Rome.

It’s equally why, with tremendous support from our advertisers and a distribution agreement with the Archdiocese of Toronto, we were able to publish a 64-page full-colour magazine detailing the events in words and texts, with abundant background stories and personal reflections from Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices on the meaning of July 24-29, 2022.

The magazine is commemorative. We also sought to make it contemplative. We wanted to capture the vitality of events. But we ordered the publication to encourage deeper reflection on moving forward along the reconciliation path. Texts of the Pope’s addresses are included along with prompt questions for parishes, schools, lay associations and individuals to develop their own understanding of this critical historical moment.

Copies go out to our regular subscribers in the next week and will be distributed in bulk to parishes across the Archdiocese of Toronto to coincide with the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. We hope dioceses as well as schools and individuals across Canada will order copies, too.

Of course, at the most obvious level, a magazine is a magazine. A newspaper is a newspaper. They come. They go, albeit with more enduring power than the micro attention span theatre of internet info bits. But the deeper intention of Penance and Progress, as with The Catholic Register itself, is to contribute to robust Catholic conversation. The reality is that, as Canadian Catholics, we need to talk.

To say we need to talk as Catholics is not to say we need to force agreement. Au contraire. Among the multitudinous splendours of our Holy Mother the Church is that our faith in Christ gives us safe ground to at times charitably disagree.  But we need Catholic crucibles, forums, media in which agreement and faithful disagreement on how to live as Catholics can be expressed. The Catholic Register strives, in its way, to help mediate that need. Penance and Progress, we pray, will be a catalyst to extend a penitential pilgrimage into a robust Catholic dialogue.

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