A joyful celebration of Pope Benedict XVI’s conferral of papal honours upon two eminent Canadians, Fr. Irénée Beaubien and Dr. Victor Goldbloom takes place this evening at the Temple Emanuel in Westmount.
The evening is a tribute to the exceptional role that Father Beaubien and Dr. Goldbloom have played, and continue to play, in reinforcing the values that define us as Canadians. This is the first time a Jew and a Catholic will receive their respective papal awards at the same ceremony.
Dr. Victor Goldbloom, CC, O.Q., M.D., 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 and as the Head of State of Vatican City. By receiving Dr. Goldbloom into the ranks of one of the oldest and most esteemed of the papal orders, Pope Benedict XVI honours his exceptional dedication and service to the cause of promoting dialogue and understanding between Christians and Jews. He becomes one of a handful of non-Christians ever to be knighted by the papacy.
The Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, which is organizing this event, indicate that Father Beaubien and Dr. Goldbloom helped to transform our understanding of “the other” and greatly contributed to the elimination of the social, religious and institutional barriers that divided Christians and Jews for centuries. Without their life-long dedication to bringing Christians, Jews and people of other faiths together in dialogue, the Centre says, our country would be a much different place.
“Indeed, we are indebted to them for having helped to make ours a peaceful, tolerant society that values diversity and religious freedom,” the Centre’s notice stated.
Dr. Goldbloom is a Companion of the Order of Canada and an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec. He was born and educated in Montreal, graduated in 1945 from McGill University and became a pediatrician. He practiced and taught his specialty for many years, and was actively involved in the Quebec Association of Pediatricians, the Quebec Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association. In 1962 he was elected a Governor of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Quebec.
In 1966 Victor Goldbloom was elected to Quebec’s National Assembly, for the riding of D’Arcy McGee, and reelected in 1970, 1973 and 1976. He served as Liberal MNA until 1979. He was Quebec’s first Minister of the Environment, and later Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister Responsible for the Olympic Installations Board.
In 1972 and again in 1976, he was one of Canada’s delegates to United Nations conferences on the environment. He resigned his seat to become President and CEO of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. From 1982 to 1990 he was also President of the International Council of Christians and Jews. He is founding president of Christian-Jewish Relations Canada and of L’Amitié judéo-musulmane du Québec.
He has headed Quebec’s Environmental Public Hearings Board and been Executive Director of the Quebec Health Research Foundation. From 1991 to 1999, he was Canada’s fourth Commissioner of Official Languages. Dr. Goldbloom chairs the board of the Health and Social Services Agency of Montreal. He is a founding director (1981) of the Jules and Paul-Émile Léger Foundation, was its president from 2000 to 2003, and is now its Honorary President. He holds honorary degrees from five Canadian universities: Toronto, McGill, Concordia, Ottawa and Sainte-Anne.
It gives me enormous pleasure to extend a hearty congratulations to Dr. Victor Goldbloom on this special honour. I have followed Dr. Goldbloom’s career my entire life and have found him to be one of the most remarkably accomplished individuals I have ever been fortunate enough to meet. His dedication and commitment to improving society is extraordinary. His compassion for people of all walks of life is inspiring. He is a true gentleman and a remarkable scholar. And, he was the best pediatrician a kid could ever have! Mazal Tov Dr. Goldbloom.