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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

Last Saturday, May 11, Bishop Riscylla, Bishop Kevin and I participated in the Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage in Toronto, organized by KAIROS. This global movement of walking (or rolling) in prayerful solidarity with the people of Gaza is helping to raise awareness, raise money for humanitarian aid, and hopefully exert pressure on our leaders to urge a ceasefire now.  We walked with Anglicans and members of other faith communities along the 41km route (the length of Gaza). Similar walks were organized in towns, cities and villages around the world.

Then on Wednesday, I joined the last leg of the Canadian pilgrimage in Ottawa. A parade of a hundred or so pilgrims walked slowly up Elgin Street to Parliament Hill, where we assembled under a warm sun to sing, to listen, to speak and to pray for peace in the Land of the Holy One. I had the honour of sharing a reflection by our Primate, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, who was unable to be present. In part she writes, “During my recent visit to Rome with the Primates of the Anglican Communion, we were received by Pope Francis. In his personal comments to us on the state of our world, he strongly reiterated, ‘wars are always, always, always defeat.’ We have not learned to love our neighbour as ourselves and find our deepest peace in seeking the common good and serving one another…”

These words from our Primate, the testimony of Rula Odeh, a Palestinian Christian living in Montreal who is the board chair of the Canadian Friends of Sabeel, and the echoes of a crowd singing “Dona Nobis Pacem” accompanied my steps for the rest of the day. I joined the Rt. Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne, Moderator of the United Church of Canada, the Rev. Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Doug Klassen, Executive Minister of Mennonite Church Canada, Ms. Leah Reesor-Keller, Transitional Executive Director of KAIROS Canada and the Rev. Dr. Dorcas Gordon, Principal Emerita, Knox College, the Presbyterian Church in Canada at a press conference immediately after the vigil.

A contingent of Church leaders, staff and members of KAIROS spent the balance of the day meeting with Members of Parliament to raise awareness for our cause for peace and to appeal for action. I was grateful for the opportunity to speak to some of the issues, to engage in conversation, to bring to mind the suffering of so many and to leave behind a trace of the prayerful presence of faithful people from across this land pining for Shalom in the Land of the Holy One.

One never knows the impact of moments like these. One never really knows whether actions such as these will help move things along for the sake of peace. One never knows… And yet, as our Primate writes, “we may have little personal ability to effect an end to the conflict, but we can and must wail loudly and shout our pain. We must demand more from our government to do what it can to add its voice to that of international bodies for justice and peace, to use its economic and political influence wherever possible. To do nothing is to be complicit.”

Dona Nobis Pacem.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto