Open Letter to the Premier of Ontario

Bishop Pryse and other religious leaders issued the following open letter to the Premier of Ontario on December 2, 2015.  The Bishop encourages congregations and individuals to consider making similar interventions with political leaders at all levels within your own particular context. Many voices really can make a difference!


December 2, 2015

Dear Premier Wynne

The tragic events in Beirut, Paris, Mali and elsewhere have profoundly touched us all. In the wake of these events, we are saddened by the racist actions taken by some people toward our Muslim neighbours in Canada. Such violence and hatred have no place in our country. There can be no religious justification or defence of racist and intolerant attacks on the essential dignity of people.

 

Bringing to justice those responsible and thwarting the capacity of the perpetrators of such crimes and acts of hatred is obviously important and essential. But so too, is the Canadian response of reaching out and reaching beyond the violence and bigotry to build a peace founded on understanding, compassion and justice. Particularly in Canada, such a response is supported by all faiths and shared by many beyond our faith communities. Nowhere is that response put to the test more than in our response to the current national project to bring Syrian refugees to Canada. We have been heartened by the generous and compassionate response of Canadians across the country. Many in our faith communities have pledged their support and are working very hard to help welcome these people.

We write to encourage you as a leader in our Province as you undertake important work to ensure the human rights of all and build a culture of peace. We are painfully aware that seeds of doubt and fear have been sown amidst the compassion and commitment of Canadians. The issues that have led to war in the region and have forced people to flee their homes are as complicated as they are horrific. But this is a moment that summons all of us to exercise public courage in the face of such fears. Extending a welcome to those who reject violence and have been displaced by such perverse visions is one concrete way that each and every one of us in Ontario can work to safeguard respect for human rights and build peace in the midst of conflict.

We understand the daunting challenges involved in preparing to receive such a large number of people and families. Disappointments and setbacks will no doubt punctuate the moments of elation. Nevertheless, without challenges, there are no accomplishments. The work of building peace in our world and in our communities is a difficult, uncertain and an imprecise task but it remains a compelling one. We do not write to you with simple answers to the very difficult questions you will have to address. We write to assure you of our prayers, the support of many of our members, and encourage you in your leadership in doing what is right for vulnerable people whose very lives are in the balance.

We remain faithfully yours,

 

The Rev. Dr. Susan Eagle

Chairperson of ISARC

United Church of Canada

 

The Most Rev. Douglas Crosby OMI

Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton

 

The Most Rev. Colin Johnson

Anglican Archbishop of Toronto

Metropolitan of Ontario

 

The Rev. Karen R. Horst

Moderator, 141st General Assembly,

The Presbyterian Church in Canada

 

Ms. Angela Schwartz

President, United Church Women, Toronto

Conference, United Church of Canada

 

The Rev. Cathy Larmond,

President, London Conference

United Church of Canada

 

The Rev. Stewart Walker

President, Manitou Conference

United Church of Canada

 

(Fr.) Paul E. Hansen C.Ss.R.

Director, Redemptorists Biblical Justice

Consultancy

 

The Rev. Dr. William Smith

Executive Secretary, Bay of Quinte Conference

United Church of Canada

 

Imam Habeeb Alli

International and Development and Relief

Foundation

 

Ms. Val Hyman

ISARC Steering Committee

Toronto’s Reconstructionist Congregation

Darchei Noam

 

Mr. Nathan Gilbert

Toronto’s Reconstructionist Congregation

Darchei Noam

 

Rabbi Shalom Schachter

ISARC Steering Committee

Toronto Board of Rabbis

 

Mr. Ryan Weston

ISARC Steering Committee

Anglican Diocese of Toronto

 

Rev. Brian McIntosh

United Church Social Justice Network

Bloordale United Church, Toronto

 

Rev. Glen Eagle

United Church Social Justice Network

Churchill-Gilford United Churches, Toronto Conference

 

The Rev. Dr. Michael Pryse

Bishop of the Eastern Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

 

The Rev. Gordon Dunbar

President of Hamilton Conference

United Church of Canada

 

The Rev. Bryan Ransom

President, Toronto Conference

United Church of Canada

The Rev. David Allen

Executive Secretary, Toronto Conference,

United Church of Canada

 

Mr. Charles Barrett

United Church Social Justice Network

Cambrian Presbytery, Thunder Bay

 

Mr. Joe Gunn

Executive Director

Citizens for Public Justice

 

Mr. Murray MacAdam

ISARC Communication and Policy Coordinator

 

The Rev. David Martin

Executive Minister

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada

 

Mr. Irshad Osman

Toronto Islamic Centre

ISARC Steering Committee

 

The Rev. Michael Hackbusch,

Chaplaincy Director

House of Friendship, Kitchener

ISARC Steering Committee

 

The Rev. Dr. David Pfrimmer

Professor of Public Ethics

Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

 

Rev. Carly Gaylor

ISARC Steering Committee

Unitarian Universalist Church

 

Ms. Diane Matheson-Jimenez

Minister for Social Justice Hamilton Conference

United Church of Canada

 

The Rev. Katherine Altenburg

Director of Public Policy and Service

Ministries, Eastern Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

 

Rev. Marg Murray

United Church Social Justice Network

London Conference

 

Rev. Carey Wagner

Chair, Social Justice Division

London Conference, United Church of Canada