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Canada-Holy See Bilateral Relations

Canada established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1969 and maintains separate diplomatic missions to the Republic of Italy and to the Holy See. Canada recognizes the important international role and influence of the Holy See, particularly for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Recent important milestones for Canadian Catholics have been the occasion for high-level contact between the Holy See and Canada. Pope Benedict XVI canonized two Canadian saints, Saint Frère André in 2010 and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in 2012. In recent years, two Canadian archbishops were named to the College of Cardinals: Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, was named in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, and Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec, was named in 2014 by Pope Francis. Canada was represented by senior Canadian delegations on these occasions.

Governor General David Johnston represented Canada at the Inaugural Mass of Pope Francis on March 19, 2013.

In 2014, Pope Francis marked the canonization of Canada’s two newest saints, François de Laval and Marie de l’Incarnation at a Mass celebrated at St Peter’s Basilica.

The most recent visit of a pope to Canada was in 2002, when Pope John Paul II hosted World Youth Day which was celebrated by the Catholic Church in Toronto.  Pope John Paul II also visited Canada in 1987 and 1984.

In terms of foreign policy, the Holy See promotes human rights, justice and peace, disarmament, protection of the environment, inter-religious dialogue, and the sanctity of life.

As a result of continuing interest in the Holy See’s diplomatic role, several Members of Parliament from both the Senate and the House of Commons established a Canada-Holy See Parliamentary Friendship Group in 2011.


Dennis A. Savoie is the Ambassador of Canada to the Holy See.

April 2017

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