Bishop's Blog

Homily: Mass of Thanksgiving for World Youth Day 2002

Dear friends, the Church today looks to you with confidence and expects you to be the people of the Beatitudes.

Blessed are you if, like Jesus, you are poor in spirit, good and merciful; if you really seek what it just and right; if you are pure of heart, peacemakers, lovers of the poor and their servants. Blessed are you!

Only Jesus is the true Master, only Jesus speaks the unchanging message that responds to the deepest longings of the human heart, because he alone knows “what is in each person” (cf. Jn 2:25). Today he calls you to be the salt and light of the world, to choose goodness, to live in justice, to become instruments of love and peace. His call has always demanded a choice between good and evil, between light and darkness, between life and death. He makes the same invitation today to you” [Pope John Paul II].

The child had one line in the church program: “It is I. Be not afraid.” He practised in the car all the way to church, muttering to himself, “It is I. Be not afraid...It is I. Be not afraid...”

But when his big moment came, he panicked. Couldn’t remember a word. The teacher prompted from behind the curtain: “It is I. Be not afraid!” When he remained frozen, she hissed in a loud whisper, “It is I. Be not afraid.”

Coming suddenly to life, he blurted out, “Well, this is me, and I’m scared to death!”

Young people listening to me, answer the Lord with strong and generous hearts! He is counting on you. Never forget: Christ needs you to carry out his plan of salvation! Christ needs your youth and your generous enthusiasm to make his proclamation of joy resound in the new millennium. Answer his call by placing your lives at his service in your brothers and sisters! Trust Christ, because he trusts you.

The Beatitudes are for people whose hearts are set on having the Reign of God come about. Beatitudes are a way of life designed for those who want their lives to be a blessing. Beatitude people are searching people. They have this working with God on their minds and they can’t rest until the world is right and just and equitable for all. They urge us out of the comfortable and the ordinary. They invite us to risk in our daily living and meet the holy in the unsettling questions of the day. They tell us that God is forever in our midst as we bless the world with Beatitude living. The Beatitudes are values that come straight from the mind of Christ. Translated into simple language, Jesus said something like this:

  • Blessed are those who are convinced of their basic dependency on God, whose lives are emptied of all that doesn’t matter, those for whom the riches of this world just aren’t that important. The new reign of heaven is theirs.
  • Blessed are those who know that all they are is a gift from God, and so they can be content with their greatness and their smallness, knowing themselves and being true to themselves. For they shall have the earth for their heritage.
  • Blessed are those who wear compassion like a garment, those who have learned how to find themselves by losing themselves in another’s sorrow. For they too shall receive comfort.
  • Blessed are those who are hungry for goodness, those who never get enough of God and truth and righteousness. For they shall be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, those who remember how much has been forgiven them, and are able to extend this forgiveness into the lives of others. For they too shall receive God’s mercy.
  • Blessed are those whose hearts are free and simple, those who have smashed all false images and are seeking honestly for truth. For they shall see God.
  • Blessed are those whose love has been tried, like gold, in the furnace and found to be precious, genuine, and lasting, those who have lived their belief out loud, no matter what the cost or pain. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


After World Youth Day 2002, the Catholic Church in Canada ended up with a debt of $38,000,000.00 The Bishops of Canada agreed that any deficit would be apportioned to the dioceses of Canada in proportion to their respective percentage of the Canadian Catholic population.

Our share of the national debt has been set at $756,951.00 To that figure we must add the deficit of $161,758.00 from our Days in the Diocese, which represents our fund-raising shortfall for those highly successful days in our diocese. Hence the rounded off total amount which we must raise is $918,709.00*.

Wonderful things are indeed possible and thanks to the zeal and vigour that has been instilled in each of us, I am convinced that assuming our share of the debt will only allow us to put it behind us and concentrate on the real issue: to further develop the involvement of all people – young in age or young at heart – in the mission of the Church which Christ Himself entrusted to our care.

A diocesan collection at all parishes on December 7th and 8th will give opportunity to respond to this special appeal. Thank you for your generous support.

*For more information on how we incurred such a large debt, please refer to the December issue of The Carillon.

☩ Frederick Henry
Bishop Emeritus

Related Offices Youth & Young Adult Archives Bishop's
Related Themes World Youth Day Diocesan History Youth Ministry Youth Event

A People of Life and for Life

What was once seen as an act of desperation-the killing of one's own child-is now fiercely defended as a good decision, and promoted as a right. Even worse, a deadly blindness has come over our land, preventing many people of good will from recognizing the rights of innocent human lives to respect, acceptance and help. Claims of privacy and an ethic of unlimited individualism have been used to undermine the Church and government's responsibility to protect life. Legalized violence has spread through our society like a cancer. The powerless of all ages are threatened.

In our culture, we see an ongoing conflict between good and evil, a conflict between life and death. As we strive to assure peace and justice, too often it is forgotten that the common good can only be served when the right to life-the right on which all other inalienable rights of the individual rest and from which they develop-is acknowledged and defended.

I look upon this panorama with shame, with immense sympathy for all its victims, and a desire to make the service of charity consistent and more abundant.

The question-"Where does one begin?"-is easy to answer: "We must begin with a commitment never to intentionally kill, or collude in the killing, of any innocent human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled or desperate that life may seem." [Living the Gospel of Life, no. 21]

Some behaviours are always wrong, always incompatible with our love of God and the dignity of the human person. Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Abortion willed either as an end or a means is gravely contrary to the moral law.

Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offence. The Catholic Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. A person who procures an abortion incurs excommunication by the commission of the offence. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent child who is put to death, as well as to the parents, and the whole of society. Confessors have the faculties to lift such an excommunication and the bottom line is always - "Go away, and from this moment sin no more." [Jn. 8:11]

Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. This means that a human embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for and healed like any other human being.

Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus, and is directed toward its safeguarding or healing as an individual. It is gravely opposed to the moral law when done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion. Depending upon the results, a medical diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence.

It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material.

Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic, but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities. Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity and the unique and unrepeatable identity of human beings.

To focus on the evil of deliberate killing in abortion is not to ignore the many other urgent conditions that demean human dignity and threaten human rights. Opposing abortion does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life and dignity must seriously address the issues of violence in racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing and health care.

Catholic teaching is clear and consistent. The following story suggests another step once we have committed never to intentionally kill, or collude in the killing, of any innocent human life.

A contractor dies in a car accident on his 40th birthday and finds himself at the Pearly Gates. A brass band is playing, the Angels are singing a beautiful hymn, there is a huge crowd cheering and shouting his name and absolutely everyone wants to shake his hand. Just when he thinks things can't possibly get any better, Saint Peter himself runs over, apologizes for not greeting him personally at the Pearly Gates, shakes his hand and says "Congratulations son, we've been waiting a long time for you!"

Totally confused and a little embarrassed, the contractor sheepishly looks at Saint Peter and says, "Saint Peter, I tried to lead a God fearing life, I loved my family, I tried to obey the 10 Commandments, but congratulations for what? I honestly don't remember doing anything really special when I was alive." "Congratulations for what?" says Saint Peter, totally amazed at the man's modesty. "We're celebrating the fact that you lived to be 160 years old! God himself wants to see you!"

The contractor is awestruck and can only look at Saint Peter with his mouth agape. When he regains his power of speech, he looks up at Saint Peter and says "Saint Peter, I lived my life in the eternal hope that when I died I would be judged by God and be found to be worthy, but I only lived to be forty." "That's simply impossible son," says Saint Peter. "We've added up your time sheets."

I think we all have to work on our time sheets and do more for life. Reach out to women who are pregnant and in need of help and to families struggling with financial or emotional difficulties. Stand by those who wish to choose life with the witness of solidarity, hope, and service. Catholic families should be living symbols of our conviction that life is always a gift from God. Teach your children to respect human life from conception to natural death. Pray as a family for an end to this evil that destroys the weakest of the weak, the poorest of the poor.

☩ Frederick Henry
Bishop Emeritus

Related Offices Bishop's Life & Family Resource Centre (LFRC)
Related Themes Abortion Parenting Catholic Teachings Life Issues IVF Family

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