Easter Message 2006

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Easter is the most sacred feast of the year for us but we should be conscious that it is also one of the most sacred seasons for our Jewish brothers and sisters. We celebrate the Passover of Jesus while they celebrate their Passover from slavery to freedom in the Promised Land.

It has been reported that there has been a threefold increase in incidents of anti-Semitic acts since 2001 in Canada. Recently, there was the torture and murder of a young Jewish man, Ilan Halimi, in France which horrified all of us.

In the document entitled Nostra Aetate the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council stated very clearly ?that the Church reproves every form of persecution against whomsoever it may be directed. Remembering then her common heritage with the Jews and moved not by any political consideration, but solely by religious motivation of Christian charity, she deplores all hatreds, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism leveled at any time or from any source directed at the Jews.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in his first encyclical Deus caritas est reminded us that God is Love and that it is therefore the responsibility of the whole Church and of all its members to model the self sacrificing love revealed by Jesus in his death on the cross.

The Holy Father also reminded us that the achievement of justice in a society is the responsibility of the government. The Church, however, has a role to play. The Church has the responsibility of reminding those in government of the moral principles which

form the basis of all laws. In Canada, we already have laws that prohibit any discrimination against any racial, ethnic or religious groups. But the rise in anti-Semitism reminds us that our society has a long way to go before we can claim a truly just society.

Our faith calls us to be a leaven in our society, infusing it with the kind of love that Jesus taught us. In this Easter season I would ask you to turn in love not only to your friends and neighbours but to all of our brothers and sisters who suffer from anti-Semitic acts and any racial or religious discrimination.

Yours in the Risen Christ,

+ Marcel Gervais
Archbishop of Ottawa