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Religious, political leaders condemn fatal shooting of six at Quebec mosque

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Catholic News Service

QUEBEC CITY — Faith and political leaders condemned a shooting at Quebec’s main mosque that left at least six people dead.

Vigils were scheduled Jan. 30 in Quebec City and Montreal, the evening after two men entered the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center and opened fire, killing at least six men who were praying and injuring 19 more. Police later arrested two suspects, two men aged between 20 and 30. The motive behind the attack remained unclear.

Pope Francis embraces Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec after celebrating morning Mass in the chapel of his residence at the Vatican Jan. 30. A Vatican statement said the pope assured Cardinal Lacroix of his prayers for the victims of a shooting in a mosque in Quebec City. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano,)

Pope Francis embraces Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec after celebrating morning Mass in the chapel of his residence at the Vatican Jan. 30. A Vatican statement said the pope assured Cardinal Lacroix of his prayers for the victims of a shooting in a mosque in Quebec City. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano,)

Pope Francis met with Quebec Archbishop Cardinal Gerald Lacroix in Rome Jan. 30 and assured him of his prayers for the victims of the attack on the mosque. A Vatican statement said the pope highlighted the importance of Christians and Muslims remaining united in prayer in these moments.

Afterward, the cardinal immediately departed for Canada.

Archbishop Christian Lepine of Montreal said: “Nothing can justify such murderous acts aimed at innocent people. We are called to say again that, whatever our beliefs are, as human beings we are all brothers and sisters, all equal in dignity.”

The Anglican bishops of Quebec City and Montreal were in Canterbury, England, when the attack occurred.

In a joint statement on the shooting, Coadjutor Bishop Bruce Myers of Quebec and Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson of Montreal said: “Along with our grief and prayers we are called as disciples of Jesus to express our solidarity with our neighbors who are Muslim.”

“We wish to express directly to our Muslim neighbors in Quebec our grief and repugnance at this brutal act of violence against another community of faith, and one in the midst of prayer. When one is attacked, we are all attacked, and our whole society is diminished,” they insisted.

Over the years, the mosque had been targeted by hate crimes. A few months ago, a pig’s head was left at the front door, sparking indignation throughout the city.

Quebec City is the capital of the province and its second-biggest city, with more than 500,000 people. It has 6,100 Muslims.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to be in Quebec City Jan. 30.

“It was with tremendous shock, sadness and anger that I heard of this (Jan. 29) evening’s tragic and fatal shooting,” he said. “We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge.”

Quebec Mayor Regis Labeaume stayed up all night to assess the situation.

“My first thoughts go to the victims and their families hit while they were gathered to pray. Quebec is an open city where all must be allowed to live together in security and respect,” he said.

“I invite the population to come together and stand united. Quebec is strong, Quebec is proud, Quebec is opened to the world,” he added.

 

Vaillancourt is editor on Montreal-based Presence info.

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Rwanda bishops ask forgiveness for Catholics’ role in 1994 genocide

November 22nd, 2016 Posted in Featured, International News

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Catholic News Service

MONTREAL — The Catholic bishops of Rwanda asked forgiveness for Catholics’ role in the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were killed.

The letter was published to coincide with the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. All the bishops in the country signed the three-page document, which was read in every church Nov. 20.

A boy takes part in a torchlight march for the victims of the Rwanda genocide, in Brussels, Belgium, in this 2014 file photo. In a letter to mark the end of the Year of Mercy, Rwanda's Catholic bishops asked forgiveness for Catholics' role in the genocide, in which more than 800,000 people -- mostly Tutsis -- were killed. (CNS photo/Julien Warnand, EPA)

A boy takes part in a torchlight march for the victims of the Rwanda genocide, in Brussels, Belgium, in this 2014 file photo. In a letter to mark the end of the Year of Mercy, Rwanda’s Catholic bishops asked forgiveness for Catholics’ role in the genocide, in which more than 800,000 people — mostly Tutsis — were killed. (CNS photo/Julien Warnand, EPA)

Written in Kinyarwanda, it should soon be translated in English and French, Rwanda’s other official languages.

In 14 points, the bishops ask forgiveness for the role that some members of the Catholic Church played during the genocide, especially for the pastors that “sowed seeds of hate,” said French Catholic newspaper La Croix.

Criticized for its proximity with the Hutu regime at that time, priests and religious are still facing justice for what they did before and during the genocide. However, Catholic authorities, both in Rome and in Kigali, have always said that they never ordered killings.

Bishop Philippe Rukamba of Butare, president of the Rwandese bishops’ conference, told Radio France Internationale that forgiveness was mostly asked for all Christians involved in the genocide, not so much for the church as an institution.

During the 1994 Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, St. John Paul II spoke out against the violence that started after the attack on the plane carrying the presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi. For the centenary of the Rwandese church in 2001, bishops from all of the country’s nine dioceses expressed regrets. At that time, many deemed these apologies were not enough.

Bishop Rukamba also told RFI that the bishops of Rwanda would again ask forgiveness in 2019, for the genocide’s 25th anniversary.

From April to July 1994, between 800,000 and 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Some massacres occurred in churches.

 

Vaillancourt is editor of Presence info in Montreal.

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Priest finds hope amid violence that has killed millions in Congo

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Catholic News Service

This story contains a description of a horrible act of violence

QUEBEC CITY — For Father Gaston Ndaleghana Mumbere, the feast of the Assumption represents his hope for better tomorrows for Congo.

Father Gaston Ndaleghana Mumbere poses for a photo in Quebec City Aug. 10. In his recently published book, this 35-year-old Assumptionist priest describes the violence that plagues his home country. (CNS photo/Philippe Vaillancourt, Presence)

Father Gaston Ndaleghana Mumbere poses for a photo in Quebec City Aug. 10. In his recently published book, this 35-year-old Assumptionist priest describes the violence that plagues his home country. (CNS photo/Philippe Vaillancourt, Presence)

In his recently published book, this 35-year-old Assumptionist priest describes the violence that plagues his home country. But mostly, he writes to allow a people used to crying from under the rubble of chaos to speak once again.

Father Mumbere is from North Kivu, a Congolese province that, for 20 years, has been at the heart of a conflict that has killed up to 8 million people in the East African nation.

Sent to Quebec City by his religious order in 2009 to study theology, he eventually took up writing to tell of the Congolese drama. His French-language book, “La cloche ne sonnera plus a l’eglise de Butembo-Beni” (“The Bell Won’t Ring Anymore at Butembo-Beni’s Church”), is written like a series of letters addressed to his Aunt Assumpta, a fictitious name that serves two purposes: to protect her identity, and to have a constant reference to the feast of the Assumption.

“Mary has walked the path that awaits us: the path of the Resurrection,” said Father Mumbere. “The path toward the Father. She’s like a model that encourages us, that tells us it’s possible to make it. Stay strong. Mary is not the path. Jesus is.”

In this sense, he said, the Assumption is not just a devotion, “It’s something real, alive.”

Father Mumbere bases his Marian reflection on the Bible, and he used it as a basis for preaching in August at the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Canadian Montmartre. He said the New Testament tells of how Mary feels the pain of others.

“It’s at this moment that this woman is a model, an inspiration. Mary becomes important, not because I must venerate her, but because she shows me how I must care for the others, for what is lacking in their lives.”

He said he wanted his book to rely on this path of the Assumption to tell about the harsh Congolese reality.

“For me, the first thing, the urgency, is to liberate the word,” he said in French, giving his sentence a double meaning, since it could translate as “to speak freely” or as “to free the Word of God.”

“It’s not enough to say: ‘Bah, 8 million people died in Congo and that’s it.’ I vouch for the word. The muffled word.”

The priest compared the Congolese people to victims stuck under rubble. They cannot talk; they can only cry out, hoping someone will hear them.

Father Mumbere reminded people that in a context of terror, such as in North Kivu, it is difficult to speak freely.

Without delving in all the atrocities, Father Mumbere’s book tells of the dehumanizing violence, such as an incident with his grandmother’s neighbors, when armed men raped the mother and her daughters, before forcing the husband and sons to rape them as well to have their lives spared.

“I wish free speech for them,” said the priest. “We must speak ‘for’ these raped women, and not ‘of’ them. I wish the readers to enter the dynamic of also speaking for these women. For me, it’s biblical. To speak for the others is like a place of salvation.”

Among the victims he wants to speak for, Father Mumbere remembers his Assumptionist friends, kidnapped Oct. 19, 2012. Fathers Jean-Pierre Ndulani, Anselme Wasukundi, and Edmond Bamutupe were all ministering at the Mbau parish, in the Butembo-Beni Diocese, when they were taken. Although many people think the priests have been killed, their fate remains unknown.

“It was a motivation to speak out. I cannot just stay in my sacristy. My prayer, I want it to be active. To pay tribute to these priests is to speak of the chaotic situation in Congo,” he said.

“They give me the energy to write, to speak. And if they’re dead, I think they pray for Congo. They pray for the Assumption. For the church. If they’re alive, it will be a great joy to see them again,” he added, his voice stifled with emotion.

“And to speak with them.”

Vaillancourt is editor-in-chief of Presence info based in Montreal.

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Remembering the little ones: Annual celebration helps parents cope with the loss of their babies

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Catholic News Service

 

QUEBEC CITY — Cars continued to arrive in the parking lot of St. Cecilia Church, an unusual sight on a chilly and gray Saturday morning. A bit hesitant, the occupants slowly gathered in the church.

The crowd was mostly men and women in their 30s and 40s. Some were accompanied by children. Despite polite smiles and warm welcomes, the atmosphere was heavy.

They all had something in common: mourning the loss of a baby. Read more »

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