June 2017 - Anniversaries
In 2017, there are a number of anniversaries that we are celebrating. One is that Canada will be 150 years old. It's also 100 years since the apparitions at Fatima. But an important, and probably little known, anniversary for the Catholic Church is the consecration of the Dominion of Canada to Mary, the Mother of God, which happened in 1947, 70 years ago.
This event took place on June 22, 1947, during the National Marian Congress which was held in Ottawa. Ranked at the time as the largest religious gathering until then in North America, the celebration marked the centenary of the Archdiocese of Ottawa and focused on the hope for lasting world peace. Thousands of Canadians attended the religious event, including many bishops from around the world and representatives from all levels of government. There was even a radio address from Pope Pius XII in both English and French. Two federal cabinet ministers, Louis St-Laurent, then Secretary of State for External Affairs, and James J. McCann, Minister of National Revenue and Minister of War Services, led the prayer of consecration in French and English.
Another interesting historical point is that a replica of Our Lady of the Cape at the National Shrine to the Blessed Mother at Cap-de-Madeleine in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec was made for the Marian Congress of 1947. The statue was taken in pilgrimage throughout Ontario and Quebec to more than 300 parishes, and then finally travelling to Ottawa for the 1947 Marian Congress. Some 250,000 pilgrims attended the event. There is a film that captured many of the activities that took place at the Marian Congress. It was taken by the Quebec filmmaker Fr. Maurice Proulx. The film can be watched in French and English. The film's translation into English was done by Fr. Maurice's friend Robert Du Broy.
Canada was also consecrated to Our Lady on the occasion of the Marian Year, in 1954. It happened during a gathering held at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape, with all the Catholic Bishops of Canada, who consecrated the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This date was chosen as it marked the centenary of the solemn proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Meanwhile, as every country in the world, Canada suffered from the religious and moral debacle that followed the Council Vatican II. One of darkest days of the Catholic Church in this country happened in 1968, when the Canadian bishops disgraced themselves by issuing a document that rejected papal teaching on contraception presented in Pope Paul’s VI’s encylical, Humanae Vitae. Their collective dissent was penned in a document known as the Winnipeg Statement, which basically authorizes the use of artificial birth control for those who have an erroneously formed conscience: “In accord with the accepted principles of moral theology, if these persons have tried sincerely but without success to pursue a line of conduct in keeping with the given directives, they may be safely assured that whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience.”
Even though, a timid apology was made in 2008 by the Canadian bishops, it remains the case that the Canadian bishops as a body have never officially retracted this infamous Winnipeg statement.
But now, there may be some rays of light piercing through the dark clouds, as we heard that the Canadian Bishops are going to renew this year, more precisely on July 1st, the first consecration of Canada to Our Lady which was done in 1947. This will happen to be a most fitting way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s birthday. The news came from a statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) published April 28, feast of St. Louis-Marie-de-Montfort!
For sure, this is great news, but there is still a long way to go before the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart of May over this land of predilection, as foretold by the Act of consecration read by the Canadian bishops in 1947: “enkindle in the faithful the love of purity, the practice of Christian virtues, and an apostolic zeal, so that the servants of God may increase in holiness and in number.”
Meanwhile, this is precisely what we are doing the priests of the Society of St. Pius X, keeping the spirit of the 1947 consecration of this great land to Our Lady, Queen of Canada!
Father Dominique Boulet