MONTREAL — Two Quebec pioneers of interfaith dialogue, Victor Goldbloom and Father Irénée Beaubien, will receive awards conferred by Pope Benedict XVI in a ceremony in Montreal Oct. 4.
This is the first time a Catholic and Jew will receive their respective papal medals at the same ceremony in Vatican history, according to the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism.
Goldbloom, the first Jewish cabinet minister in Quebec and a past president of Quebec Jewish Congress, is also one of the few non-Christians to be recognized with a knighthood by a pope.
The event, a fundraising dinner for the centre, will be held at Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom.
“We had originally intended to hold the event on Sept. 4, but our sense is that Quebecers will be glued to their TV screens that night watching the results of the provincial election,” said the Ven. David Oliver, the centre’s president.
The new date is fitting, he added, as, on the Christian calendar, Oct. 4 is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. It was in Assisi that Pope John Paul II convened the first Inter-Religious World Prayer Meeting in 1986.
Father Beaubien will be awarded the pontifical medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for his outstanding contributions to the church and to the papacy.
Goldbloom will be made a Knight of the Equestrian Order of Saint Sylvestre, one of five Orders of Knighthood awarded directly by the Pope as Supreme Pontiff and head of the Catholic Church, as well as the head of state of Vatican City. He is being honoured for his exceptional dedication and service to the cause of promoting dialogue and understanding between Christians and Jews.
“These two elder statesmen have led by example, devoting their lives to building bridges of understanding between individuals of different faiths and backgrounds,” said Yves Séguin, co-chair of the gala dinner.
“Through their focus on dialogue,” added fellow co-chair Michael Goldbloom, the son of the honoree, “they have made a real difference in the lives of Quebecers and have had an impact on the world stage.”
Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine and Bishop Thomas Dowd will be joining the Ven. Oliver at the celebration.
Other members of the tribute committee include Pierre Beaubien, Marc Gold, Ronald McRobie, Roland Pillenière, Michael Prupas, John Rae, Peter Restler, H. Arnold Steinberg and Stephen Yaffe.
Tickets are $250 per person or $2,500 for a table of 10, and can be reserved by contacting Enza Martuccelli at 514-937-9176, ext. 35.