The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has published a Message for the National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous People, marked each year on 12 December, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Day, celebrated since 2002, is coordinated by the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council, which also prepares the annual message. This year's observance is focused on the theme 'Healing of the Earth.'
In their message, the Council reminds the faithful that "We the Body of Christ are called to live in solidarity with all peoples" and "to respect, protect, defend and nurture the oneness of all of God's Creation." The message looks to the creation stories of indigenous peoples around the world - stories that can teach us about how God created the world, the goodness and purpose of creation, and our relationship to it.
Another relationship is about healing, the message says. "God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to lead us in the way of healing and restore relationship with God, other peoples, and all creation," it continues, pointing to the Lord's use of and interaction with created things. "Jesus was in full relationship with all things of creation."
Citing Jesuit Father Rigobert Minani Bihuzo, the message says that "the Church is called to strengthen its teaching about the Earth as a gift from God." We are called not only to be good stewards, it says, but also to bring healing to relationships.
The message recalls Pope Francis' teaching on "ecological conversion," which requires respect for individual and collective human rights. "People of faith are to advocate for peoples whose way of life depends on the land, and are to defend the rights of persons who are victims of exploitation."
In the face of "the very real threats to our ecology and way of life, we must come together as one human family."
The message concludes with an expression of gratitude: "We recognize the benevolence of the Creator, who has provided us with the gifts of the Earth, water, fire and air. We are grateful for all He has provided. We express our gratitude through our lives of prayer, song, dance, story, ceremony ritual."
Read the full Message of the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council HERE
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