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Around the Arch
Nov 19
Statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins re: Bill C-7 (Medical Assistance in Dying)

Note: The statement below includes content from an earlier communication, released in February 2020, when Bill C-7 was introduced in an earlier session of Parliament.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has taken the lives of more than 11,000 Canadians. During this health emergency, we have also identified a crisis of isolation and neglect for the elderly and marginalized. It is deeply troubling that at a time where we need, more than ever, to find innovative and thoughtful strategies to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us, we are making it easier to hasten their deaths. 

The federal government has, once again, introduced new legislation expanding the eligibility criteria for euthanasia. The inaccurate term, medical assistance in dying (MAiD), is currently used to describe what is more accurately called euthanasia or assisted suicide. Pain medication and other resources and procedures can be used effectively to medically assist people who are dying, but that is not what MAiD means. It means giving a lethal injection to people who are not dying, so that they will die.

Those who oppose euthanasia expressed concern in 2016, when it was first legalized, that once the state legally provided death for some, it would only be a matter of time before the criteria for that would be expanded. This was dismissed as a slippery slope argument; we were told that “safeguards” would protect the most vulnerable. Now, just four years later, we are far down the slope, and the criteria for euthanasia have been radically expanded. 

In recent weeks, thoughtful statements asking for a pause or changes to the legislation have come from more than 70 religious leaders, 1,000 doctors, 150 lawyers and 100 disability rights’ groups or advocates. One would hope that concerns from this cross section of Canadians would compel our legislators to recognize the profound impact expanded access to euthanasia will have on our country. Yet the sprint to allow greater access to lethal injection for more vulnerable Canadians continues. 

There is no longer a requirement that the person receiving euthanasia be terminally ill. Under this legislation, any serious incurable illness, disease, or disability would render one eligible for euthanasia. Additionally, without any further study or direction from the courts, the new legislation would legalize euthanasia where consent is obtained by an advance directive. This is a new chapter of death on demand. Canada has cast aside restrictions at a far quicker pace than any other jurisdiction in the world that has legalized euthanasia. 

As our legislators and country consider Bill C-7, we should be mindful of the following:

  • Under the proposed legislation, disabled Canadians with no terminal illness will now be eligible for lethal injection. People with disabilities already face substantial challenges and discrimination relating to employment, housing, appropriate medical care and support. Their lives matter. They should never be seen as a burden to our society. We should be alarmed that those who have struggled for decades to be treated with equality may well be pressured, whether from family, friends or even their own health care professionals, to “ease their burden” and end their lives. These people need assisted living, not assisted death. 

  • In 2016, the government indicated that before any new legislation would be introduced, there would be a thorough five-year review of the impact of euthanasia in Canada – no such review has taken place. Yet the government moves forward without such critical analysis, even though it is reported that since 2016 at least 13,000 people have died from lethal injection. 

  • Where is the political will to push forward on palliative care for all Canadians? Only 30 per cent of Canadians have access to quality palliative care even though we know that pain and loneliness are among the biggest fears of those who are suffering. Palliative care can address these issues. If all Canadians had access to quality palliative care, fewer would seek lethal injection. Instead of developing an overall culture of care, we are rushing towards death on demand. The same doctors who are trying to care for their patients will now be called on to endorse euthanasia for them. 

Those who feel that their life no longer has value must be assured by all of us that this is absolutely not the case – there is dignity within each human life, not just when we are young, healthy and able, but even more so, when we are fragile and vulnerable.

It is up to every Canadian to foster a culture of care and love for one another. The answer is not assisted death in its many forms; it is accompanying our family, our friends and even strangers to assist them in life, recognizing the inherent dignity of every person.   

Cardinal Thomas Collins  
Archbishop of Toronto 
November 2020

Nov 13
Remember Persecuted Christians This Red Wednesday

​On Wednesday, November 18, 2020 Aid to the Church in Need asks you to stand in solidarity with the world’s persecuted Christians as it marks the third annual Red Wednesday. 

The Archdiocese of Toronto will do its part to raise awareness of this global plight. 

Red Wednesday is an opportunity for us to remember that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. Christians are the victims of 75 per cent of the world’s religiously motivated violence and more than 300 million Christians live in countries where discrimination and persecution are a daily struggle. 

At 7 and 9 p.m. EST on Wednesday, November 18, Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, will join Sister Micheline Lattouf of Lebanon and the archbishops of Montreal, Vancouver and Abuja, Nigeria for a virtual evening of listening, reflecting and praying.

You can join in on this virtual evening by registering here.  

Also, on Red Wednesday, St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto will be illuminated in red lights to join hundreds of buildings around the world that use this as a powerful symbol of the suffering of persecuted Christians.

To learn more about persecuted Christians, you can watch this webinar that the Archdiocese of Toronto hosted in September, which featured Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need Canada.   

Nov 03
New Online Mental Health Services Are Available for Catholic Adults

The Southdown Institute has a long history of helping the clergy of the Archdiocese of Toronto. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the institute is using the internet to reach out to the Catholic laity who are experiencing mental health and spiritual challenges.

Sr. Susan Davy, Communications and Outreach Officer at The Southdown Institute, explains how the organization hopes to help the people in the pews.  

1. For those who have never heard of The Southdown Institute before, what do they need to know about your organization?

The Southdown Institute is an independent, accredited health care organization that has operated in the Greater Toronto Area since 1966. We have many programs and services, including: a 14-week residential program for clergy and vowed religious; clinical and candidate assessments; outpatient services; education; leadership consultation; and outreach. 

While our focus continues to be the provision of mental health services to clergy and vowed religious (and, more recently, lay pastoral ministers), we are also aware that many of the Catholic lay faithful may need our psychological and spiritual support. This is why we have created new online mental health resources, for both ordained and lay alike.  

2. Southdown is calling these new resources for the laity, “Community Wellness Services.” What are you hoping to achieve with this new initiative? 

Our intention is to reach a greater number of people and help them work through the many pressing psychological and spiritual challenges of our times. The many online psycho-educational and group offerings address issues of grief, stress management, loneliness, isolation, anxiety and spiritual concerns. 

This will all be done in a safe, trusting and confidential environment. The online Community Wellness Services is provided through a secure virtual platform.

3. Why do you think this program is especially needed now? 

As we continue to navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are aware of the toll these challenging times are taking on all of us. There is a growing sense of fatigue being experienced by many. Under these circumstances, paying attention to our mental and emotional health is of the utmost importance – now more than ever. 

Since its foundation, Southdown’s programs and services have evolved to respond to the needs of the present moment. Expanding our mental health services to the online world to reach even more members of the Catholic faith community is in keeping with that tradition.    

4. Who can take part in the Community Wellness Services? 

The online webinars and small group meetings are available to the Catholic adult population, ordained and lay alike. Interested individuals are encouraged to learn more about each offering and to register for the online webinars by visiting:

Select webinars are available in French and Spanish.  

5. What are some of the things that you have planned for the early days of the Community Wellness Services?

Community Wellness Services offer an exciting variety of interactive psycho-educational, spirituality and psychotherapy groups, including: 

You can learn more about these, and more, upcoming sessions of the Community Wellness Services at The Southdown Institute by clicking here to download a flyer.  

There is nothing wrong with admitting that you are struggling. This is especially true during the pandemic, which has upended our lives in so many ways. If you could use help, please click here to learn more about the Community Wellness Services at The Southdown Institute. 

Oct 27
Seeking Indulgences for the Faithful Departed During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In November, the Church remembers in a special way the faithful departed. Traditionally, in the first week of November, many Catholics seek indulgences for loved ones whose souls are being purified in Purgatory before they can enter Heaven.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made obtaining these indulgences more difficult for some people. Many are sick or forced to quarantine and, in some parts of the world, churches and cemeteries are closed. As a result, the Vatican has released a decree that adapts this year's process for receiving a indulgences for those in Purgatory.

Those who are unable to attend a cemetery and pray for the dead between November 1 and November 8, 2020 (as is traditional), will now be able to do this on any date in November and receive a plenary (full) indulgence for a soul in Purgatory.

Anyone who is unable to attend a church on All Souls' Day (November 2) to recite the Our Father and the Creed to receive an indulgence for a soul in Purgatory may now do so on any day in November.

Those who will be unable to leave their homes at all during November, can receive an indulgence for a soul in Purgatory by reciting a list of prayers before an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The faithful who are seeking an indulgence for a soul in Purgatory must meet the following conditions:

  • Have an interior disposition that is completely detached from sin (even venial)
  • Receive confession
  • Receive the Eucharist (preferably at Mass)
  • Recite prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father (one Our Father and one Hail Mary is considered the minimum)

If some of the above conditions are not met, the indulgence becomes partial rather than plenary. Those who are unable to leave their home at this time are advised to meet the above conditions as soon as possible.

Indulgences removes part or all of the temporal punishment of sin before God.

To read the decree, please click here

The Crux provides more information on the decree here.

And to learn more about indulgences more generally, please click here.   

Oct 21
St. Brigid’s Parish Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Even during difficult times, it is important to mark momentous occasions. St. Brigid’s Parish, located just off Danforth Ave. in Toronto, will be doing that on Sunday, October 25, 2020 when it commemorates its 100th anniversary. 

The first Mass at St. Brigid’s was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1920 in what was then a humble wooden church surrounded by fields. Over the following generations, its parishioners have seen a number of hardships, including the Depression and World War Two. But the St. Brigid’s community endured and now has a grand church and a vibrant parish community. 

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, will celebrate a Mass for St. Brigid’s centenary on Sunday, October 25 at 11 a.m., which you can watch on the parish’s Facebook page.    

To learn more about St. Brigid’s centenary, please visit the parish’s website or read this recent Catholic Register article.  

Oct 16
Join the Cardinal’s Dinner on TV and Online

This year’s Cardinal Dinner is going virtual and everyone is invited to join us for this inspirational night from the comfort of their home. 

On Thursday, November 5, 2020 starting at 7 p.m., the Cardinal’s Dinner will be broadcasted on Salt and Light TV and livestreamed on the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Facebook page. The one-hour program will feature musical performances, profiles of Cardinal’s Dinner charitable beneficiaries and an interview with Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto.  

Over the past 40 years, the Cardinal’s Dinner has raised more than $6 million for local charities and we’re hoping that the parishioners of the Archdiocese of Toronto will continue this much needed tradition of generosity during these difficult times. 

There is no cost to join the evening, but if you can support your neighbours who need support during the COVID-19 pandemic, we would welcome your gift here

More information is to come on a special takeout/delivery dinner option for the evening of the Cardinal’s Dinner.

We look forward to welcoming you to our virtual table!

Oct 07
The Sisters of St. Joseph Celebrate Their 170th Year in Toronto

​The Archdiocese of Toronto thanks the Sisters of St. Joseph for their tireless service to our parishioners, as the religious order enters its 170th year in Toronto. 

On October 7, 1851 the first of the Sisters of St. Joseph arrived in Toronto from Philadelphia to care for the children who were orphaned by the typhus epidemic. Under the direction of Mother Delphine, the first leader of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Toronto, the order quickly grew. 

Since then, the sisters have served the most vulnerable members of society and helped build some of the most enduring Catholic institutions in the Archdiocese of Toronto, including the St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and Providence Healthcare (now jointly known as Unity Health).

More recently, the Sisters of St. Joseph have created ministries as diverse the Furniture Bank, which helps those in need to turn a living space into a home and the Fontbonne Ministries, which brings people together at a time when we are increasingly isolated.

Over the next year, the Sisters of St. Joseph will tell the story of their time in Toronto via their website and social media accounts. We encourage you to learn more about their contribution to this region. 

Sisters of St. Joseph, we couldn’t imagine the Archdiocese of Toronto without you!

Oct 02
Anonymous Donor Matches ShareLife Donations

There has never been a better time to give to ShareLife

A generous donor has committed to match every dollar donated to ShareLife until November 8 (up to a total of $500,000).

There has never been a time when doubling your ShareLife gift has been more needed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented number of people are asking ShareLife-funded agencies for help.   

ShareLife-funded agencies do amazing work in our communities. Thanks to ShareLife:

  • 288 seniors receive excellent long-term care at Providence Healthcare and 11,000 other seniors get access to other assistance programs each year
  • 208 vulnerable young people get a second chance every year through Covenant House’s transitional housing and programs
  • 20,000 people per year have access to affordable counselling and wellness programs through Catholic Family Services
  • 1,600 young mothers and their babies are helped each year

No matter how much you can give, it will make a world of difference in the life of one of your neighbours. And until November 8, that gift will automatically double in size. 

If you can, please donate to ShareLife here.  

Sep 27
Video Messages for World Day of Migrants and Refugees

​The Archdiocese of Toronto is pleased to share the following video messages, as well as a Mass and a homily from Cardinal Collins, to mark the 106th annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Sep 23
Daily Video Reflections Now Available From the Office of Vocations

If you are looking for daily religious contemplation and inspiration, you should definitely subscribe to the YouTube channel of the Office of Vocations at the Archdiocese of Toronto. There you will find daily video reflections featuring a rotation of priests. 

The video for Wednesday, September 23, 2020 features Fr. Favin Alemao, who is currently studying at the Pontificio Collegio Canadese in Rome, reflecting on the work of St. Padre Pio. 

Fr. Favin reminds us that some of the Churches greatest missionaries were people who hardly ever left their hometowns. He asks us to reflect on how we could become a good instrument in God’s hands, like Padre Pio.

To watch Fr. Favin’s reflection, please click the image below. 

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