Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
October 15, 2001
Canadian bishops push for collaboration
Weisgerber cautions synod against 'excessive centralization'
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
VATICAN CITY — The archbishop of Winnipeg cautioned against "excessive centralization" in the Church in an address to the Synod of Bishops in Rome, attended by Pope John Paul and about 250 delegates from around the world.
"The Church must ensure that (papal) primacy and collegiality (among bishops) are exercised in balance with each other," said Archbishop James Weisgerber Oct. 9. Due to "historical developments," there is an imbalance in the exercise of two.
Weisgerber was the last of five Canadian bishops to address the month-long synod examining the role of the bishop in the new millennium.
Conferences of bishops are not obstacles between "primacy and collegiality" but rather "contemporary ways that local churches can engage local culture to develop the particular characteristics reflecting the richness of the multiform wisdom of God," he said.
"The competence and authority of episcopal conferences must be promoted and respected."
Weisgerber said the working document for the synod warns of the forces of globalization and their "tendency to reduce everything to a common denominator and undervalue differences."
But the archbishop warned, "Excessive centralization creates the same danger for the Church."
In his presentation to the assembly earlier, Bishop Raymond Lahey of St. George's, Nfld., said "episcope," the Greek word from which the word "bishop" is derived, is usually understood as "oversight."
However, he said, the bishop should not be seen as an "overseer" but one who keeps God's saving mysteries alive for his people.
The bishop keeps alive "the memory of God's saving visitation by his preaching and teaching," said Lahey. "In celebrating the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, he makes present anew in each successive age the graced encounter of God's visit."
Bishop Gilles Cazabon, of Saint Jerome, Que., in his address said the bishop has two passions: "to live with Christ and to be in solidarity with the men and women of his era."
The two passions are at the heart of his spirituality, giving it form and vitality, he said. "They are so fundamental to the exercise of his ministry that he can say, 'Christ is my life' and also, 'we have made ourselves all for all'"
Christ becomes the defining element of a bishop's life to such an extent that "without this divine presence, his life is senseless and he becomes unable to fulfill his ministry," Cazabon said.
Bishop Pierre Morissette of Baie Comeau, Que, told the assembly in his presentation that the bishop is "a witness of hope for the world."
He is foremost a man of faith who is unwavering in belief in God "active in the world as well as in God victor over death," he said.
"The bishop is also to be a man of vision, well-versed in reading the 'signs of the times,' discerning the positive elements of life in contemporary society and heralding with strength the Gospel in modes of expression suited to the understanding of today's people."
Morissette said the Church "must revisit the figure of the bishop so that it may better exemplify the image of the Good Shepherd and of the servant washing the feet of his disciples."
Bishop Joseph Khoury, eparch for the Maronites in Canada, was invited to participate in the synod by Pope John Paul.
In his talk, he said new forms of communication between the Eastern and Western churches are needed and he proposed the formation of a task force.
The Synod of Bishops opened in Rome Sept. 30 and continues until Oct. 27. Each speaker is allowed eight minutes to deliver an intervention.
A post-synodal council named by the pope is to study propositions made in group discussions following the interventions. The council is to forward recommendations to the pope to be included in an apostolic exhortation after the synod.
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