VATICAN CITY - The General Synod of the Church of England voted July 14 to authorize the ordination of women as bishops and approved motions pledging to respect and work with people who believe that, theologically, the vote was a mistake.

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CANTERBURY, England - Women’s rights activists greeted with delight signs the Church of England is poised to relent and allow women to be consecrated as bishops.

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VATICAN CITY - A bishop in Calabria has ordered an end to all religious processions in his diocese after 30 men carrying a large statue of Mary and hundreds of people accompanying the statue paused and bowed in front of the house of a presumed mafia boss.

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TORONTO – The Archdiocese of Toronto wished Auxiliary Bishop William McGrattan a formal farewell with a mid-afternoon Mass, Friday, June 20 at St. Paul's Basilica.

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KIEV, Ukraine - Ukrainian Catholic bishops thanked people around the world for their prayers over the last six months and asked for continued prayers for peace in their country.

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OXFORD, ENGLAND - King Juan Carlos of Spain received a tribute from the country’s bishops after he announced his decision to abdicate the throne in favour of his son.

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ISEYIN, Nigeria - Several Catholic bishops warned the Nigerian government to be wary of the consequences of granting amnesty to Boko Haram, a sect that wants to impose strict Islamic law, and at least one said Mass attendance had dropped because the Islamist sect often targeted churches with bombs.

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OTTAWA - Quebec’s promised bill to bring in “medical aid in dying” is a “dangerous” proposal that confuses medical care with euthanasia, said Quebec’s bishops, joining numerous groups in condemning the plan.

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Msgr. Serge Poitras, P.H., has been named the new bishop of Timmins in Northern Ontario.

Pope Benedict XVI made the announcement Nov. 10. At the time of his appointment, Bishop-elect Poitras was Adjunct Under Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops at the Holy See. He succeeds Bishop Paul Marchand, who died in office in 2011.  Since then, Fr. Patrick Lafleur has been diocesan administrator.

Poitras was born on May 27, 1949, in Jonquière, Que. After studies in Chicoutimi and Quebec City, he was ordained to the priesthood on May 27, 1973, for the diocese of Chicoutimi. He holds a Master’s degree in theology from Laval University and a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.

During his ministry as a priest, Poitras served the Cathedral parish of Chicoutimi as assistant pastor, the Chicoutimi minor seminary as a professor, and the diocesan centre where he was responsible for pastoral ministry with students. From 1990 to 2000, he taught at the Grand Séminaire of Montreal, where he was a member of the formation team, as well as director of studies from 1998 to 2000. During this time, he also provided pastoral assistance in a number of Montreal parishes.

In 2000, he was appointed French-language secretary at the apostolic nunciature to Canada. The Holy Father subsequently named him Adjunct Under Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops on Dec. 29, 2010.

The Timmins diocese has 26 parishes and missions, with a Catholic population of 50,605, which is served by 18 diocesan priests, four priests who are members of religious communities, 17 religious Sisters and Brothers, six permanent deacons and five lay pastoral assistants.

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TORONTO - The urban youth from Canada’s largest city got a crash course in northern life with the visit of two bishops who experience Canada’s far north every day.

Bishop Murray Chatlain of the Mackenzie-Fort diocese and Whitehorse Bishop Gary Gordon were in Toronto in late September and early October to raise awareness of the financial and physical hardships of their missions in the northern territories. The bishops were on a tour organized by Catholic Missions In Canada.

During an Oct. 1 presentation in collaboration with Ryerson University’s chaplaincy, Chatlain shared pictures of a rotting church in Fort Simpson, N.W.T. He told the small crowd in St. Michael’s Parish Hall that the Catholic community in Fort Simpson has raised $80,000 over the last three years to repair the church. But the total costs will run about $500,000.

“The Catholic community in Fort Simpson has not lost hope because they know they’re going to get some financial help from Catholic Missions In Canada,” said Chatlain. “They hope for a new church in a year or two.”

Another major cost for both bishops is travel expenses. Chatlain’s diocese covers 1.5 million square kilometres, the largest geographical diocese in the world. He flies 75 per cent of the time to reach different communities and a return trip costs $2,300 every time.

To reach all the communi

ties of his diocese in the Yukon, Gordon drives his truck about 35,000 km every year. He is able to fill the truck with gas with the funding from the Catholic Missions.

“The bottom line is we wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for the Catholic Missions In Canada,” said Gordon.

Catholic Missions was founded in 1908 and was first known as the Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada. Its main mission today is to help catechists and expand faith growth in hard to reach communities across Canada. Many First Nations communities in the Canadian territories are among the missions in need.

Gordon explains that some towns in his diocese are so far away from a more urban setting, such as Whitehorse, that there will be no priest to serve the Catholic community for months.

“The First Nations people do not want a hand out but they want a hand up,” said Gordon. “We are at a time of transition of finding people with the vision of the Church who have sense and ability to be the hand up.”

Chatlain added that the missions need as much as help as they can get from Catholic teachers, medical personnel and laypeople. His diocese serves 38 communities with huge distances between each.

Educating other people about First Nations was emphasized by both bishops. They visited high schools in the Toronto area to talk about the climate challenges and emotional problems such as alcohol abuse, violence and high suicide rates within First Nations’ communities.

“The First Nations people are people of the land. They don’t want huge communities and their people have lived on that land for thousands of years. It is the land where their ancestors are buried and family is so important to them,” said Chatlain.

Chatlain also mentioned that student groups from London, Ont’s King’s College volunteer for one month in one northern diocese. And for the past two years, the National Evangelization Team (NET) from Ottawa has been bringing young adults to volunteer for eight months. The volunteers get to know the people, join youth gatherings and visit the smaller communities spread across the diocese.

Potential volunteers can also contact the diocese by phone or e-mail, and it is advisable to have a reference from a priest ready. The diocese works out a time frame that someone is available to volunteer and plans around that schedule.

“God calls a certain type of person to work up North. It takes openness to the different ways the First Nations work. It is a trust thing,” said Chatlain.

(Jereza, 18, is a second-year journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto.)

Published in Youth Speak News

WINNIPEG - Ukrainian Catholic bishops from four continents gathered for a final celebration Sept. 16 as they closed their weeklong Synod of Bishops.

One of their emphases was on the role of the laity, and the final "gala," as it was billed, included the Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus, an honour guard and the Selo Ukrainian Dancers.

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, the elected head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, challenged his audience of 800 to live Christian life to the fullest and not as "lukewarm, nominal Christians."

"If we allow ourselves to be overcome so we don't pray or enter into liturgy, we will cease to be a Church," Shevchuk said. "We are called to be people of prayer, gasping for the air of the Holy Spirit.

"Sometimes our churches are more like Ukrainian museums. We need vibrant parishes, a place to encounter the living Christ. May our encounter today fill us with new faith, energy and perseverance."

Reinvigorating Ukrainian parishes is part of Vision 2020, the long-range pastoral plan for the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which was suppressed for decades under Soviet rule.

After an opening Divine Liturgy in Winnipeg Sept. 9, the 38 bishops in attendance moved to Portage La Prairie, a city of about 13,000 west of Winnipeg. Focusing on the theme "The Role of the Laity in the Life and Mission of the Church," they heard presentations and reports before breaking into smaller thematic groups.

A statement issued at the end of the synod said the bishops acknowledged the role of the laity in preserving the faith when the Church was suppressed in the 20th century, and they issued a pastoral letter to the laity; it was not immediately available in English.

"The laity must be collaborators with the bishops and priests in pastoral work and, with their giftedness and by their talents, contribute toward the building up of the body of Christ," the statement said.

The bishops proclaimed a patron of Ukrainian Catholic laity: Blessed Volodymyr Pryjma, a choir director from the parish of Stradch, Ukraine, who in 1941 was tortured and murdered by Soviet paramilitary agents in a forest after taking Communion to a sick woman with his priest.

They also pledged to support Ukrainians who have emigrated from their home country.

Bishop Borys Gudziak, newly named bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland, told Catholic News Service before the synod began that in the last 18 years, Ukraine has lost up to 15 per cent of its population to emigration.

"People have been leaving in droves," he said, noting that, in many countries, the Ukrainians are illegal and living on the margins of society.
Gudziak was one of four bishops elected to the permanent synod for the next five years. Others were Archbishop Volodymyr Vijtyshyn Ivano-Frankivsk,

Ukraine; Bishop Ken Nowakowski of New Westminster, B.C.; and Bishop Jaroslav Pryriz of Sambir-Drohobych, Ukraine.

Next year's general Synod of Bishops will be Aug. 11-13 in Kiev, Ukraine, and will have as its theme the new evangelization.

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Bishop David MonroeKAMLOOPS - Kamloops Bishop David Monroe suffered severe head and body injuries when he was attacked Oct. 22 by a man he was comforting in the rectory of Sacred Heart Cathedral.

At press time, Monroe was in serious but stable condition at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

“It was the most brutal beating I have ever seen,” said Kamloops Vicar General Msgr. Jerry Desmond,  who administered the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to the bishop two hours after he was admitted to hospital.

Police were called to Sacred Heart Cathedral when the bishop was found bleeding profusely in the rectory after admitting a man apparently unknown to him. At around 10 p.m., the alleged assailant encountered a parishioner outside the cathedral next to the rectory and requested a priest. Monroe admitted the man to the rectory by the front door and led him into the kitchen.

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