Bishops’ packed plenary agenda marks historic events
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
OTTAWA (CCN) — The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (CCCB)
annual plenary Sept. 24 - 28 will mark many firsts this year, from distinguished
guests to reflections on topics as diverse as the Second Vatican Council
and the worldwide economic crisis.
The gathering, which is expected to draw 80 bishops from across Canada, comes on the eve several historic events that will also be addressed: the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council Oct. 11, the Synod of Bishops on New Evangelization Oct. 7 - 28 in Rome and the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks, on Oct. 21.
“(The plenary) is always such an important moment in the life of the Canadian church,” said CCCB general secretary Msgr. Patrick Powers. The CCCB executive and secretariat staff “always look forward to the many, many things that will be decided upon in the course of that meeting.”
Among the highlights of this year’s agenda is the visit of Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, of Kiev-Halych (Ukraine) who will offer a reflection Sept. 25 after having presided at the worldwide Ukrainian Catholic Church Synod of Bishops in Winnipeg from Sept. 9 -16. He has made pastoral visits to various cities in Canada over recent months to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Nyktyta Budka to Canada.
The new ordinary for the United States’ Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, will also attend. The ordinariate was erected in January 2012 to provide a home for people from the Anglican tradition who wish to become Catholic while maintaining aspects of Anglican liturgy and patrimony under the pope’s 2008 Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.
Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, the episcopal delegate for Anglicanorum coetibus in Canada, will give a report on progress, Powers said.
The newly elected president of the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) Michel Proulx, O. PRAEM, will greet the assembly, as will the new president of the Canadian Council of Churches, Major Jim Champ of the Salvation Army.
The canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha gets prominent billing. Saint-Jean-Longueil bishop and CCCB co-treasurer Lionel Gendron, who heads a temporary secretariat to co-ordinate events in Canada and in Rome surrounding the canonization, will make a presentation on this significant event to the church and to Aboriginal Catholics.
Powers said the bishops will see a rough cut of Salt + Light TV’s documentary on Tekakwitha, who lived in both New York and Quebec.
“This documentary will have its premiere at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome on the eve of Kateri’s canonization,” Powers said. “We’re very pleased the Canadian delegation will be having these events.”
The Canadian bishops will also host a Mass of Thanksgiving in this historic basilica, the Cathedral of Rome, on the Monday after the canonization, Powers said.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, Laval University theologian Gilles Routhier, who is an expert on the Canadian contribution to Vatican II, will deliver a talk.
The bishops will also see “an absolutely extraordinary presentation of the council” by Rev. Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt + Light TV, on Pope John XXIII and how the Council “came to be,” said Powers, who worked closely with Salt + Light to find historic film footage.
“We had hoped to find footage of Canadians participating in the council only to be reminded that Vatican television did not exist at that time,” he said. “It really was another era!”
The Canadian bishops elected last year as delegates at the Synod on New Evangelization will inform the plenary of the content of their synod interventions, Powers said. Their names have not been released by the Synod Secretariat so they have not been publicly announced by the CCCB.
The plenary will feature a panel discussion on the global economic crisis featuring economist and consultant Pierre Piché, an expert in international investment and emerging markets who prior to 2010 was vice-president of SNC-Lavalin Capital in Quebec. Joining him will be Rev. Bill Ryan, SJ, acting director of the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice based in Toronto. The panel will examine the implications of the economic crisis in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Powers said.
The bishops will hold a discussion on the upcoming Year
of Faith instituted by Pope Benedict. The agenda has dedicated “a very important chunk
of time” to the “ongoing topic of sexual abuse.”
The bishops will also hold a dinner to Canada’s Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte who retired this year as Archbishop of Montreal and Cardinal Thomas Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto who received his red hat last February.
The bishops also have a packed agenda of presentations and reports that
happen every year, such as reports from organizations like the Canadian
Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the Canadian Aboriginal
Council, Canadian Organization for Life and Family, and other groups.
The episcopal commissions will report as will standing committees, such
as communications, and Development and Peace. The bishops will address
fiscal matters and adopt a new budget.
The CCCB will meet for the first time in Sainte-Adele, Que., in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal instead of their previous venue the NavCanada Centre in Cornwall, Ont., where they have met in recent years.