Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 19, 2005
Bishops tackle difficult issues
Crowded annual agenda includes restructuring bishops’ conference and 2008 Eucharistic Congress
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Canada’s Catholic bishops will tackle a range of controversial and difficult topics in their annual plenary Sept. 19-23, including a review of priestly sexual abuse guidelines, restructuring of the bishops’ conference, and the upcoming 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) assembly will draw approximately 80 bishops from across the country to Cornwall, Ont., to review the past year’s programs and make decisions for the future.
The meeting also marks the end of St. John’s Archbishop Brendan O’Brien’s two-year term as CCCB president.
Last year’s plenary launched a major restructuring of the conference, resulting in about $800,000 in cuts to balance the 2005 budget.
Many staff positions were cut, and the new directors’ posts, created when offices serving bishops’ commissions were consolidated, remain empty, following the death last March of Oblate Father Richard Cote, director of ecclesial relations and doctrine, and the resignation of Joe Gunn, director of justice, peace and missions, in June.
However, CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Mario Paquette told CCN the conference expects a balanced budget for 2005 and no more cuts to staff positions. A search is underway to find the right candidates for the two key director posts.
Restructuring remains a key agenda item, as the bishops chart the future of the conference, including which episcopal commissions will continue and whether any new ones need to be created.
Almost all of Thursday Sept. 22 will be devoted to restructuring as the bishops examine what the scope of the CCCB should be in light of a recently published Vatican document entitled A Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops.
The bishops will also respond to a task force report, led by CCCB Vice-President Archbishop Andre Gaumond of Sherbrooke, examining the role of bishops’ conferences in other countries with a similar size Catholic population to Canada’s.
That same day, the special taskforce on the review of From Pain to Hope, the CCCB’s guidelines on the handling of sexual abuse by priests, will report.
Three of the five days, the bishops will meet in closed sessions to examine restructuring, finances, a discussion on the sacrament of Penance, and on the redefinition of marriage, among other issues.
On Sept. 20, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec City will give a report on the progress towards Canada’s hosting the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress.
The apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, will greet the assembly on Sept. 19.
The plenary usually takes place in October, but was moved ahead in order to allow Canadian bishops to participate in the world synod of bishops in Rome Oct. 2-23.