Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Encyclical on Catholic Education in Canada?!

I was researching "Catholic Education" in papal documents today when I came across this:



DECEMBER 8, 1897

To the Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ordinaries in the Federated States of Canada in Grace and Communion with the Holy See.

Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

1. We can scarcely address you, which we most willingly do from our heart, without remembering the mutual goodwill and that continuous interchange of good offices which have ever existed between the Apostolic See and the Canadian people. The love of the Catholic Church stood by the cradle of your State, and since the time when she received you into her maternal arms has never ceased to hold you in a close embrace, to foster you, and to load you with good things. The great works which that man of immortal memory, Francois de Montmorency Laval, wrought so successfully and so holily for the good of your country, of which your ancestors were witnesses, he accomplished through the support of the authority and favour of the Roman Pontiffs. And it was from no other source that the works of the Bishops who succeeded him, and who were men of such signal merits, took their origin and drew their hopes of success. In the same way, too, to go still further back, it was under the inspiration and on the initiative of the Apostolic See that noble bands of missionaries journeyed to your country, carrying along with the light of Christian wisdom a more elevated culture and the first seeds of civilization. And it was by these seeds, which were gradually ripened by the arduous labour of these men, that the Canadian people won a place on a level with the most civilized and most glorious nations and thus became, though late in the field, their rival.

2. All this it is pleasant for us to recall, and the more so because we see the fruits of it, and they are by no means small, still remaining. The greatest of all these fruits assuredly is that amongst the multitude of Catholics there is a love and an ardent zeal for that divine religion which your ancestors, in the first place from France, then from Ireland, and others from elsewhere, so religiously professed themselves and transmitted inviolate to their children. And if those children faithfully preserve this precious heritage it is easy for us to understand how much praise is due to your vigilance and activity, Venerable Brethren, and to the zeal of your clergy; for all work assiduously with one heart and one soul for the preservation and progress of the Catholic faith, and, to render this tribute to the truth, without meeting any disfavour or obstacle on the part of the laws of the British Empire."

The document goes on to discuss the right to Catholic education for students in Manitoba (a province in English speaking Canada - most Canadian Catholics are (were?) French speaking). Reading through this document I couldn't help but feel that the state of the Catholic Church in Canada has somewhat suffered in the past hundred years!