Beyond Nationalism 

COVID -19 and changing demographics force religious organizations to reexamine and broaden pastoral practices. In some cases, dioceses outsource social concerns to taxpayer funded and loosely affiliated secular organizations. Many services and programs provided to new Canadians are unique to specific regions, including business development, employment readiness, language support, numeracy literacy, computer, trades, and industry training. Other programs outsourced, provide orientation, citizenship preparation, and supportive counseling for refugees fleeing countries under challenging circumstances.[1]

In March, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that China would win the "people's war" against the coronavirus after visiting Wuhan's virus-stricken district. Other world leaders employed similar war imagery to describe the present healthcare emergency. President Emmanuel Macron told the French people in a televised speech, "We are at war," announcing his lockdown measures that kept people at home for more than two months. Macron went on to say, "We're not up against another army or another nation. Nevertheless, the enemy is right there: invisible, elusive, but it is making progress." British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson declared on March 17 that his government would act "like any other wartime government" to support the British economy and take "unprecedented steps since World War II." Johnson called the virus an "enemy that can be deadly." In the same week, outgoing U.S. President, Donald Trump referred only to himself, as he so easily does. This time, the former US president was calling himself a "wartime president," and the following week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, reportedly said, "ventilators are to this war what bombs were to World War II." 

 

In contrast, J. Gerster, reported in April 2020, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, saying, this pandemic is not a war. The Prime Minister delivered his remarks to the House of Commons earlier, although he did evoke the danger and destruction of wartime, that a pandemic releases.

          There is no front line marked with barbed wire, no soldiers to be destroyed across the ocean, no             enemy combatants to defeat," Trudeau said. "The front line is everywhere: in our homes, in our                hospitals and care centers, in our grocery stores and pharmacies, at our truck stops and gas                  stations.[2]

Canadian society and values are currently undergoing another test as the nation watches its southern neighbor politicize that country's pandemic handling. Citizens from both China and Canada suffer detainment imposed by an extradition agreement Canada continues to honor. Canadians largely support, rule of law principles, and have chosen to follow due legal process.  However, was Canada tricked by a deceptive foreign administration?[3] The world's longest undefended border that separates Canada and the United States remains closed as American and Chinese diplomacy plays out in Canadian courts and hearts. With a lame-duck American president self-absorbed in chaos and division, Canadians feel betrayed in this political alliance.  A new American Executive branch, raises hope for more inclusion among like-minded nations, and the return to a better relationship.   

 

Canadian parishes reflect the nation's plurality. Ethnic clergy now generously serve many parishes reversing the outbound missionary trend from earlier generations. Calgary's Roman Catholic Diocese appears multicultural and diverse, as Catholics welcome and celebrate their church's universality. The State plays a significant role in bringing newcomers to this region and perhaps deserves credit for keeping some decaying parishes open and vibrant. Urban Roman Catholicism seems most to benefit from secular policy promoting immigration from substantially Catholic traditions.[4]  Other Christian denominations appear to have been less fortunate.

 

Laudable government policy brings only superficial relief, until Gospel values join in the battle against social injustice. COVID-19 again highlights ongoing inequities often encountered by minorities in crucial areas, such as employment, housing, health, and education. Multiculturalism progresses institutionally and bureaucratically, but has always been part of the church's apostolic charitable priority. Churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples again graciously step up to supplement the state's shortcomings, informing secular governments. Constitutional protection ensures that multiculturalism extends beyond policy ideology, although implementation has realized significant fruition at spiritualist's hands and feet on the ground.

 

Europe was once an exporter of human capital but is now a destination for migrants from Africa and refugees from war-torn places. In North America, the 45th United States president, builds physical barriers on the southern border to restrict immigration. Bishops of Rome, Constantinople, and Canterbury openly addressed the migrants' plight, as Canadians quietly construct a imperfect but just society. Pope Francis quoting from the Vatican II document (Gaudium et Spes p.39), opened his message to the world on the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2019), saying,

           

          Faith assures us that mysteriously the Kingdom of God is already present here on earth. Yet, in                our own time, we are saddened to see the obstacles and opposition it encounters. Violent                        conflicts and all-out wars continue to tear humanity apart; injustices and discrimination follow              one upon the other; economic and social imbalances on a local or global scale prove                                challenging to overcome. Above all, it is the poorest of the poor and the most disadvantaged                 who pay the price. (Par, 1)

 

[1]From Calgary Catholic Immigration Society’s  (CCIS) is a non-profit organization which provides settlement and integration services to all immigrants and refugees in Southern Alberta. Since our inception in 1981, we have been a community leader with solid experience in the design and delivery of comprehensive services for our newest neighbors. We deliver these services through a dynamic multi-cultural, multi-denominational and multi-disciplinary team of professionals, who collectively speak over 60 languages.” https://www.ccisab.ca/about/mission-vision-values.html

[2] Metaphors can be effective awakening people’s sense of duty, responsibility, hope and faith.

[3] Did the Trump administration in the US deceive Canadian officials with a malicious extradition order to detain a Chinese citizen in Vancouver Canada? The trial continue as two Canadians suffer in a Chinese prison in political retaliation.

[4]Derived from Statistics Canada 2020,

Total New Immigrants in 2019

341,180 1. India 85,585 2. China 30,260 3. Philippines 27,815 4. Nigeria 12,595 5. United States of America 10,800