To the people of the Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall,
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells his disciples, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:32)
It is much easier to hear his words than to live them. By habit, we seek what is comfortable, and too often avoid any truth that unsettles us. And yet, Christ calls us out of our comfort zone and into that unsettling mode. His words are often not a suggestion, but a fact: “You will know the truth.” But, in this case, let us not forget the second half: “And the truth will set you free.”
The wounds left by residential schools’ system in Canada continue to be felt by the Indigenous peoples. We cannot erase them from our history, but as Canadians and as Catholics, we have a duty to work towards the healing of these wounds. It is not enough to apologize or sit only in prayer. Those words must turn to tangible action through listening to the stories of survivors and giving of our own gifts to support Indigenous initiatives and needs. Acknowledging our need for change, we take courage from Scripture, which so often repeats, “Do not be afraid.”
I encourage the faithful of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall to honour this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with both prayer AND action. Don’t let this day pass without note. Be earnest participants in this journey towards truth and reconciliation, seeking the freedom it brings.
We must not be afraid of the truth. Within it, there is freedom for us all.
May the Lord, who is perfect mercy and love, change our hearts to look like his. Humbly, and with great hope, we walk together towards reconciliation.
Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall