Here is the text of a letter to Pope Francis from the leader of Canada’s bishops, on the ocassion of the March 13 anniversary of his election to the Chair of St. Peter.
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One year ago today, the Bishops of Canada along with all the faithful of our great land saw you appear for the first time on the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The simplicity of your manner and your words, the humility with which you invited us to pray for you, and your warm smile quickly gained our affection. In the following days, we learned to know you in greater depth. Already, we heard certain key words: mercy, poverty, periphery, joy, encounter… Jesus. Already, we witnessed how you lived out those key words: residing with your collaborators, washing the feet of young people in a prison, visiting the refugees at Lampedusa. In a few months, your election had become for us a symbol of a new kairos in the Church, a decisive moment of renewal and commitment.
Today, we are united with you in a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s work in you and through you. We pray that the Lord will continue to give you wisdom and strength in the major projects you have set for yourself: two Synods on the family, the year for consecrated life, the reform of the Curia, administrative and economic transparency, openness to the world, particularly the victims of war, abuse and poverty. We feel that, through you, God is sending us a pressing invitation. May God grant us to respond generously by committing ourselves to the pastoral and missionary conversion you constantly proclaim. Thus will the entire Church accomplish more and more her mission of being, in the world and for the world, the universal sacrament of salvation.
Please be assured of our unity in the faith, of our solidarity in mission, and of our constant support for the new evangelization. I implore your fatherly blessing upon your brother Bishops in Canada; upon the priests, deacons and lay pastoral associates who labour with us in the Lord’s vineyard; upon our consecrated men and women, and all the faithful of Christ who, here in Canada, strive to live the Trinitarian life in Jesus Christ and transform our history with him; and finally upon all the inhabitants of our country, so that we will build together that more beautiful and fraternal world of which you have become the herald.
In the joy of the Gospel, your brother in the episcopacy,
+ Paul-André Durocher
Archbishop of Gatineau
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops