Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 10, 2003
Pope may visit Canada in '08
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Canada's bishops have agreed to provide pastoral and financial support for an International Eucharistic Congress in Canada in 2008 - an event which would likely include a papal visit.
Following a report by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the archbishop of Quebec, the bishops voted at their annual plenary assembly Oct. 31 to renew their support for the world-scale celebration, held in a different country every four years.
The congress would coincide with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City and the 350th anniversary of Blessed Francois de Laval's appointment as Canada's first bishop. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops endorsed the initial proposal first made at its 2001 assembly.
"This project will be an occasion of celebrating the birth and development of the Catholic Church in our country, and also an opportunity to manifest the vitality of the Church today," Ouellet said. "It could make us more aware of our Christian roots and at the same time witness to the world."
In March, the Pontifical Committee for Eucharistic Congresses recommended that Quebec City host the 2008 congress. Pope John Paul is expected to make the official announcement at the closing of the International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico on Oct. 17 next year.
Saskatoon Bishop Albert Legatt proposed that a large Canadian delegation attend the Mexico congress as "a first step to creating momentum across Canada that then would lead to Quebec in 2008."
Unlike World Youth Day 2002, which resulted in a deficit of almost $38 million, dioceses in Canada are not being asked to commit to cover a possible deficit. However, the bishops did agree to promote a national collection in the churches in 2007 and, depending on the situation in each diocese, make a "voluntary" contribution once the final budget has been presented.
Ouellet told the assembly that he well understands that the cost of the congress, especially only a year after WYD, "may incite a certain reserve."
Just as WYD 2002 was a "pastoral event that bore great fruit, its deficit also severely taxed many dioceses financially," said Ouellet. The financial implications of hosting the event are being considered immediately, "so as to make sure that we avoid disagreeable surprises," he said.
The preliminary budget projects expenses more than $5.1 million. But if the pope - whoever he may be - attends the closing Mass as has been the tradition at International Eucharistic Congresses for more than 30 years, the total cost would be at least $8.1 million.
Ouellet said the pope's presence at the event would include a motorcade through the streets of Quebec City "so that the population can see the holy father very close" and the major celebrations would be held in an existing stadium with a capacity of 70,000.