Pope Francis has approved a request by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops that the six mission dioceses in Northern Canada, until now under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, be transferred to the competency of the Congregation for Bishops and pass over to the jurisdiction of the common law of the Church. The transfer takes place today, January 25, 2016, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle.
The six ecclesiastical circumscriptions are the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas and its suffragan Dioceses of Churchill-Hudson Bay and Moosonee, and the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan with its suffragan Dioceses of Mackenzie-Fort Smith and Whitehorse.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, His Eminence Fernando Cardinal Filoni, and the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, His Eminence Marc Cardinal Ouellet, have informed the CCCB of the transfer. It follows previous consultations with the six dioceses and also with the CCCB.
The 2015 Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of Canada had previously agreed that a working group of Bishops be set up to bring forward recommendations on pastoral and financial collaboration, so that all Canadian dioceses and eparchies may assume greater responsibility in assisting the Church in the North.
Welcoming the decision by the Holy See, Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, president of the CCCB, states that “with the transfer of the remaining dioceses in the North to the common law of the Church, their six Bishops, with the help of all the Bishops and the Catholic faithful of Canada, are now fully responsible for the pastoral life of each of their diocesan Churches.”
He points out that “today’s decision follows almost a quarter of a century of planning by the Northern dioceses, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, dioceses in Southern Canada, and the Holy See.”
In his statement, Bishop Crosby also expresses the gratitude of the Bishops of Canada to Indigenous People “for having shared their cultural and spiritual gifts with the Church and with all Canadian society, and for those communities and many individuals among the First Nations, Metis and Inuit who are living witnesses of Our Lord’s call to mercy, healing and forgiveness.”
List of the dioceses transferred
Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas
Archbishop Murray Chatlain
Catholic population: 37, 380
Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan
Archbishop Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R.
Catholic population: 44,470
Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay
Bishop Anthony Wieslaw Krótki, O.M.I.
Catholic population: 6,115
Diocese of Moosonee
Bishop Vincent Cadieux, O.M.I.
Catholic population: 3,830
Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith
Bishop Mark Hagemoen
Catholic population: 20,110
Diocese of Whitehorse
Bishop-elect Héctor Felipe Vila
Catholic population: 8,150