Most Reverend Gary Gordon Bishop of Victoria
August 26, 2018
August 21, 2018
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Over the course of the past few weeks, many serious accounts of sexual abuse by clergy of the Catholic Church have been revealed. I am deeply saddened and angered by these accounts of profound evil. The suffering endured by the victims of sexual abuse and their families is most painful, and is further compounded by the betrayal experienced by victims and their families from bishops, priests, and leaders of faith communities.
The failure of Church authorities to address and prevent the abuse by covering up such crimes and by simply moving perpetrators is a grave wrong and a breach of trust, demonstrating a total disregard for the pain and suffering of the victims and the church communities. If you are aware of any situation of sexual abuse, please report it immediately to law enforcement authorities at 1-800-663-9122. The Diocese of Victoria is deeply committed to the protection of minors and vulnerable persons, and any concerns should be reported to the Diocesan Responsible Ministry and Safe Environment Coordinator, Greg Beattie, at 877-237-7233 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Diocese of Victoria has for several years mandated Responsible Ministry and Safe Environment policies, protocols, screening, a reporting process, and training, details of which may be accessed via the Diocesan website at www.rcdvictoria.org. We continue to work to improve training and screening protocols for all clergy, employees, and volunteers in our Diocese to ensure that all may know they are safe and free from harm in our communities. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, issued a pastoral letter to the People of God, wherein he stated: "It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God's People” (August 20, 2018).
The pain and suffering of one victim is too much, as it affects the whole Body of Christ, and calls us to act ever more transparently and humbly before our God, and one another. I invite you to join me in prayer, penance, and fasting in solidarity, on Saturday, September 15, 2018, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, as we implore the grace of God for the healing of victims of sexual abuse and for all those who have suffered abuse by the leadership in the Church.
During this sad time, we are called to walk humbly and faithfully, trusting in the grace of Christ and the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit at work within the Church. I pray that the Good News of God 's infinite love and mercy may be proclaimed to all creation, unhindered by sin and evil, and that the Light of Christ may overcome the darkness and shadows of our lives.
Most Reverend Gary Gordon Bishop of Victoria
July 29, 2018
For the next few weeks we have Gospel readings form the Gospel of John. As always we need to keep in mind the context of these Gospel passages and what each inspired writer wished to communicate to his community. We begin on July 29 with John’s Gospel passage in chapter 6 on the multiplication of the bread and fish. John has Jesus very much in charge. Jesus is teaching. A large crowd is there. Jesus takes the initiative and asks his disciples what to do (“he himself knew what he was going to do” John 6:3). It is Jesus who distributes the loaves and the fish. Just think of the scene in John: Jesus takes the five loaves and fish and distributes them. John has Jesus personally going around to bring food to people (in John it was five thousand (!) sitting on the grass)! Jesus is personally coming to us to greet and feed us! At the end people wanted to make him king but Jesus slips away by himself. The crowd chases after him and they find him on the other side of the lake in Capernaum (John 6: 24-35, the Gospel of August 5). John does not call this a miracle but rather a “sign” and for John a sign has not just an external meaning but also an internal meaning. At the beginning of today’s Gospel he says that “a large crowd kept following Jesus because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick (John 6:1). People had seen the external sign of healing but did they really “see” the internal meaning, did they “see” what the sign revealed about Jesus? In John Jesus will try to get people to understand; he will draw them into a conversation (scribes, Pharisees, here the crowd). Why? Because it will allow Jesus to make us think and reflect on the deeper meaning of what is happening. Are we “seeing” what Jesus is doing and saying to us? WE are drawn into a conversation with Jesus: we are invited to listen and to speak to Jesus so that we may grow in our understanding of who Jesus really is and who we are called to become. We believe in Jesus Christ not because of the outward sign (no matter how spectacular), the observable facts of his miracles, but because Jesus has come to us and invited us to have a direct relationship with Jesus our Saviour. We “see signs” and believe what they reveal to us of Jesus and of God, and ultimately of ourselves, of what we are invited to become. There a million and one things in our daily life (persons, events, objects) which invite me, us to “see beyond”, to discover what they mean to me, what they are telling me and what they are calling me to. In the Gospel the people are fed physical food (again the how is not as important as what it pointed to) and no doubt it satisfied them physically. But notice, the people in chap. 6 continue to follow Jesus because they were hungry, searching for something else. Jesus dialogues with them bringing them to see how God is at work. When people in Jesus’ culture ate together, past enmities were put aside. Those who broke bread together were no longer enemies. In the Gospel 5000 people from very diverse backgrounds sat together and ate the same meal served by Jesus. WE are invited to “see” that God in Jesus was reconciling the world, the whole of creation, reconnecting us to God, overcoming the enmity, the violence which is sin and evil. That is the inner meaning of the “sign” of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Isn’t that precisely what we are doing at each Eucharistic celebration? We are people of diverse backgrounds, of very different viewpoints, and yet we come together, we sit together and eat the same meal. Despite our diversity Christ in gathering us together creates a unity, “that they may be one.” I am sure that the people following Jesus were doing so for all kinds of motives, not always the most noble or spiritual. Jesus took them where they were at. Well, the same with us. Christ takes us where we are at, with all our warts and blemishes, even if our motives coming here are not the most noble or spiritual, and helps us to see that in him, God is offering us more than a physical bread. In conversation with us Jesus in John is signaling to us: “I have something important to say to you, be still and listen!” (In the Gospel: “Very truly I tell you—the old amen, amen!) Christ is inviting us to “see” that all the physical “food” that we nourish ourselves with, that we surround ourselves with, the objects and wealth, the power and the glory, will not fulfill us; they all perish. We need a “food” that fulfills and lasts for ever: Jesus identifies himself as that “food”: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent (John 6: 29).” Our strongest huger is for intimacy with God and for the God in each other, for God’s life within us. The food we receive at the Eucharist invites us to trust in God for our “daily bread.” Jesus says: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).”
July 8, 2018
As we celebrate our births as independent nations here in North America in this month of July we are reminded of how blessed we are in so many ways especially when close by we see confusion, turmoil, violence and a seeming disregard for the plight of millions. This past World Refugee Day we were reminded that 68.5 million people in the world are forcibly displaced at the moment, that 44,400 people must flee their home every day! I firmly believe that one of the main reasons is the continued growing disparity between the rich and the poor both internally in our own countries as well as in the world as a whole. That’s not the world which God is creating but man’s inhumanity disregarding a fundamental aspect of our humanity, that of our common solidarity with one another. There will always be rich and poor people but we must work, and work hard in many different ways, to change our attitudes and our political, social and economic structures so that for the common good we narrow the existing gap. It just happens that on Canada Day one of the Scripture Readings reminded us of what we as Christians are asked to do and live. It is Paul who in 2 Corinthians 8: 7-15 writes to an economically comfortable community and makes a pitch for them to share with other less fortunate Christians. He does so by appealing to their faith. He says, “you people have received abundant gifts through your faith in Christ (elsewhere he names those gifts of healings, of knowledge, of wisdom, of solidarity), well now it is your turn to use your energy and persistence to help others. He bases his appeal on who God is for us (one who shares God self with the whole of creation) and on the gift of Jesus’ self-offering: Jesus “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor so that by his poverty you might become rich….in what lasts, the divine gift of grace!” So, Paul encourages the Corinthians and, of course, all of us to follow Jesus’ example and share from their and our abundance. To be called Christians, that is Christ-like, we must not just believe in Jesus but we must also act and live like Jesus in all our relationships. In fact Paul reminds us that our faith community here in Saanich Peninsula Parish is not an independent, isolated community that practices our faith among our own, in a kind of ghetto environment. The blood of Christ unites us all and we cannot ignore the needs of our sisters and brothers, the common good, even in a world which is so often centered on self, personal and communal self. We cannot ignore the common good! That’s the reason we are a church united with the whole Church; that’s the reason we are united with the rest of the Diocese, with the people living and dying on our city streets, with the people struggling in Eritrea & South Sudan, with the people in Pasobolong, Zamboanga City, with the people in Timor Leste. But Paul also reminds us that giving and sharing isn’t a one-way street; the poor & oppressed, the disenfranchised have an abundance to share with us: hospitality, family values, hard work and self-sacrifice, joy and happiness and satisfaction with few possessions, and especially with faith in God. As Paul says: “it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.” Let us remember the reports we receive from time to time from our many ministries in the Parish: from a person who found new hope at Anawim, from the joy and peace shared accompanying the sick and the dying, from serving soup or welcoming strangers with a smile, from the outreach to the poor by sharing with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, etc. In the Gospel of Mark 5:21-43 Jesus restores a socially and religiously outcast woman to the family of God’s people by touching and healing her; Jesus out of compassion gives life to a dead child and makes the family whole again. Each Sunday we come together to touch and be touched by Christ who reaches out a hand to raise us up. Despite our failings we know that we are healed by a merciful God and truly blessed with forgiveness and peace. And as Easter people of hope we in turn are asked to reach out and touch those who are wounded, outcasts and outsiders and to be touched by them in return. In that way God makes us all whole again as persons and as a community. Thanks be to God. Have a great summer!