Pope Benedict XVI Bestows Papal Honours Upon Canadian Pioneers of Dialogue, Rev. Dr. Irénée Beaubien, s.j., CM, and Dr. Victor Goldbloom, CC, O.Q., M.D.

MONTREAL, Canada — May 11, 2012 — It is announced that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI has bestowed Papal Honours upon two prominent Canadian pioneers of inter-Christian, Christian-Jewish and Interfaith Dialogue. The announcement was made at a private reception hosted by the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism at the residence of the new Archbishop of Montreal, Christian Lépine last Thursday. The honours will be officially bestowed at a ceremonial gala to be held on Tuesday evening, September 4, 2012, at the Gelber Centre and will be under the patronage of Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop Christian Lépine and Bishop Thomas Dowd.


Rev. Dr. Irénée Beaubien, s.j., CM, is awarded the Pontifical medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice which was created by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 as a means to honour extraordinary service to the Church and the papacy. The medal itself is in the shape of a gold colored cross with images of the Saints Peter and Paul and the presiding Pope. By bestowing this papal honour upon Father Irénée Beaubien, a Jesuit priest, theologian, author and an ecumenist, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI is recognizing his outstanding accomplishments in service to the Church, including his work in promoting dialogue and understanding between Catholics and other Christian and non-Christian faiths. He is among a very short list of Canadians to have the papal honour conferred upon him.


The Papal Honour of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of Saint Sylvester Pope and Martyr to be bestowed upon Dr. Victor Goldbloom, CC, O.Q., M.D., is one of only five Orders of Knighthood awarded directly by the Pope as Supreme Pontiff and head of the Catholic Church and as the Head of State of Vatican City. One of the oldest and prized of the papal orders, its bestowment recognizes Dr. Goldbloom’s exceptional dedication and service to the cause of promoting dialogue and understanding between Christians and Jews. Notable members include Oscar Shindler and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, and he is among a handful of Canadians, and the first non-Christian in the history of the Archdiocese of Montreal and Quebec, to have the papal honour conferred on him.


In announcing the awards, Bishop Dowd said, “Father Irénée Beaubien is a pioneer in Canada’s ecumenical movement. A far-sighted and dynamic pastor, Father Beaubien has had a profound influence on people in many countries. After 75 years of religious life he still shares his message of service, love, forgiveness, dialogue, bridge-building and peaceful coexistence with Christians and non-Christians alike throughout Quebec, Canada and beyond.”


“As President and CEO of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, former President of the International Council of Christians and Jews and founding president of Christian-Jewish Relations Canada, Dr. Victor Goldbloom has spent the better part of his public and private life working for greater understanding between Christian, Jews and people of all faiths.”


The Venerable David Oliver, Chairman of the Board of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, explained why it was historically significant that both men, a Christian and a Jew, will be honoured at the same gala in September. “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first session of the Second Vatican Council, an event that changed the relationship between the Catholic Church and the modern world. Leading up to the Council, it was men like Father Beaubien and Dr. Goldbloom, often working against opposition from within their own religious communities, who paved the way. They are two Quebecers, two Canadians, two men of faith who helped shape the open and tolerant society we enjoy today. Every generation that follows owes them a debt of gratitude for their courage, perseverance and unwavering commitment to dialogue as the path to peace and reconciliation.”


Tickets for the award dinner gala on September 4, 2012, are available by calling or e-mailing the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism. The cost is $250.00. A partial tax-deductible charitable receipt will be issued. Proceeds will help continue the interfaith work pioneered by the recipients.

To purchase tickets call or e-mail the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism.
About the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism

Founded in 1963, the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism facilitates understanding and cooperation among various Christian traditions and world religions. The Centre maintains collaborative links with the Canadian Council of Churches and provides resources, speakers, support and expertise to individuals, and to secular and non-secular public and private institutions, on issues pertaining to faith in the public square; reasonable accommodation, social justice and religious freedom. Its quarterly periodical Ecumenism is received in 40 countries and the Centre maintains a specialized 9,000-volume library accessible to the public.

– 30 –

For more information, or for ticket sales:

Enza Martuccelli
Associate Director
Canadian Centre for Ecumenism
1819 René-Lévesque O. #003
Montréal, QC H3H 2P5
Tel (514) 937-9176 ext. 33
Fax (514) 937-4986

For more on the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, please visit: www.oikoumene.ca