PLENARY SUMMARY 2011
Of special note in the president’s report were the theme of New Evangelization; the effort to keep the indult of financial assistance for missionary diocese past 2014, and the possibility of having a national forum on aboriginal affairs. The fact that COLF (Commission of Life and the Family) is moving forward with a “Building A Culture” on Life in the Family, including a national week for Life and Family, was good news for the northern bishops’ project of enriching marriage and family life by developing a resource materials packet. COLF will be assisting us with this effort.
The CCAC (Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council) presented a revised mandate which gives us hope that the voice of aboriginal people within the church will be heard more effectively. Rose Prince will be the model for this year’s Day of Prayer with Aboriginal Peoples.
Guest Presenter, Msgr. Robert LeGall OSB from Toulouse, France, reviewed the Apostolic Exhortations Sacramentum Caritatis and Verbum Domini. He drew out salient points from both documents and reflected on their meaning and application for us as bishops. He reminded us that the Eucharist must flow out into working for social justice, and that the Word of God must be central to all our ministry.
The Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, His Excellency Pedro López Quintana, expressed hope that the new GIRM will help us express our faith more reverently and authentically leading to renewal. He commented on the Year of Faith that has been announced by the Vatican and was presented with a copy of the new missal which became a launching of it in Canada.
A presentation on Responsible Ministry surfaced the causes of clerical sexual abuse as clericalism, isolation and authority, among others. Progress is being made and knowledge about this is growing. The process of rationalizing, minimizing and denial must be recognized. The Bishops need to show greater leadership in this area by facilitating greater mutuality with the Canadian people.
It was pointed out that Development and Peace raised $6.3 million for the Horn of Africa and that the Share Lent 2011campaign was equal to 2010, despite the challenges they faced over the past year.
The Liturgy Commission encouraged us to use the new GIRM as an occasion for on-going catechesis on the Eucharist and Scripture using CCCB resources, Sacramentum Caritatis and Verbum Dei. The Website www.romanmissal.ca
With regard to Catechesis, On Good Soil is published and is being well received. The criteria are still being worked on. The Commission on Inter-Faith Dialogue noted that there has been a successful dialogue with Evangelicals; there is question of setting up a dialogue with Buddhists, and a leaflet on Islam is being produced.
Bishop Don Dolen of Saskatoon shared with us from his expertise on Ecumenical Dialogue, noting the distinction between ecumenical and Inter-Faith Dialogue. Ecumenical dialogue works towards full visible unity; inter-religious dialogue works toward greater understanding and the common good. He reviewed the book Harvesting the Fruits, edited by Cardinal Kasper, which identifies what has been achieved in the area of ecumenical dialogue. At the moment, although Catholics were late on the scene, we are now the initiators of ecumenism, even more so than the World Council of Churches, due to our ecclesial principles.
The new primate of Canada, Archbishop Gerard LaCroix, brought us up to date on the Lineamenta for the Synod on New Evangelization, which will attempt to put new effectiveness and enthusiasm into evangelization. Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto reviewed that status of the Anglicanorum Coetibus, Anglicans wanting to become Catholic yet retain their Anglican traditions. He also noted that declaring church property a heritage site can prevent needed renovations or changes at great cost. Addressing this issue with government can be an ecumenical effort. The Regional Assemblies then presented their reports, as well as the northern bishops and the Eastern Churches.
Incoming president Archbishop Richard Smith used the gospel for the day as presider during our closing Eucharist to focus on two areas of interest for us as bishops: the need to read the signs of the time, and to work towards reconciliation. We need to know our world, to be immersed in that world that is so fragmented, and to be a sign of hope for that world. The best way we can do that is to be united among ourselves, in spite of differing opinions and views. In his closing comments, out-going president, Bishop Pierre Morissette, pointed out that those two areas were the same points that he began his presidency with two years ago. Bishop Smith added his appreciation for Bishop Pierre’s qualities of unflappable calmness, consultative leadership skills and love for the Church and his brother bishops that marked his leadership. That homily and those comments served to sum up the nature of this whole plenary, my seventh one.