Catholic Bishops join Development and Peace - Caritas Canada on solidarity mission to the Middle East

February 1, 2017

Montréal, QC, Wednesday, February 1—In response to an invitation from Catholic bishops in the Middle East, a Canadian delegation composed of Catholic bishops and representatives from Development and Peace—Caritas Canada are taking part in a solidarity mission in Syria and Lebanon. The mission, which includes a Roman Catholic Bishop as well as a Ukrainian Eparchial Bishop, left the country on January 30 and will return on February 9, 2017.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle

L-R : Gilio Brunelli, Director – Development and Peace International Programs Department; Father Paul Karam, President of Caritas Lebanon; the Most Reverend Raymond Poisson, Bishop of Joliette, Quebec; The Most Reverend Gabriel Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon; the Most Reverend Kenneth Nowakowski, Ukrainian Eparchial Bishop of New Westminster, British-Columbia; Kyle Ferguson, Advisor, Ecclesial and Interfaith Relations (CCCB); and Hélène Tremblay-Boyko, Vice-President, Development and Peace National Council.

While there, the delegation will meet with the local bishops and Caritas offices in each country, as well as long-time partners such as the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and others. Members of the delegation will also visit a number of community organizations and projects that provide humanitarian aid and help strengthen the resilience of refugees and local populations.

“Our participation in this mission, which is wished by the entirety of the Bishops of Canada, expresses our disquiet and our will to act in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Middle East,” says Bishop of Joliette, Raymond Poisson, on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

The delegation seeks to obtain a better understanding of the region and its dynamics. The wars in Syria and Iraq have displaced millions of people, inflicting great human suffering and draining the countries’ resources. Given the length and magnitude of the conflicts, frontline aid workers are also becoming tired and losing morale.

By way of this mission and projects supported by Development and Peace, the Catholic Church is confirming its commitment to lessening human suffering, working for just and sustainable long-term solutions and expressing its solidarity with this region’s peoples and the victims of these conflicts.

“For nearly six years, we have been providing assistance to refugees and victims of war in Syria and neighbouring countries,” says Gilio Brunelli, Director, International Programs, Development and Peace. “This conflict is having a brutal impact on millions of innocent people. Our goal is to improve our understanding of the complexities of the challenges they face so that we can be assured that all our actions in the region have the maximum benefit.”

The Delegation will include:

  • the Most Reverend Ken Nowakowski, Ukrainian Eparchial Bishop of New Westminster, British-Columbia, and member of the Standing Committee for Development and Peace. CCCB
  • the Most Reverend Raymond Poisson, Bishop of Joliette, Quebec, and member of the CCCB Permanent Council and Commission for Justice and Peace;
  • Mrs. Hélène Tremblay-Boyko, Vice President of the National Council of Development and Peace;
  • Mr. Kyle Ferguson, Advisor for Ecclesial and Interfaith Relations at the CCCB,
  • Mr. Gilio Brunelli, Director of International Programs, Development and Peace.

Bishops and other members of the delegation will be available for media interviews upon their return in February.

About Development and Peace – Caritas Canada

Development and Peace is one of the most important international development organizations in Canada. It was founded in 1967 by the Canadian Catholic Bishops as a means of inspiring Canadians to act in solidarity with their sisters and brothers in the Global South who are suffering the injustice of poverty. Over the past 50 years, Development and Peace has invested $600 million in more than 15,000 projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.

Development and Peace is a strong and diverse movement that brings together Canadians from all over the country working for justice to enable that the poorest people to live with respect and dignity. Development and Peace is also Caritas Canada, official member of the Caritas Internationalis confederation, an international network of more than 160 Catholic development organizations.

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To arrange an interview after February 10, 2017:

Marie-Hélène Bachand, Communications Officer (Francophone Media)
514 257-8711 Ext. 318

Gay Decker, Communications Officer (Anglophone Media)
514 257 8710 Ext 365