Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 3, 2005
Bishops reflect on CCCB structure
But no decision will be made untill the next plenary
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Canada's bishops reflected on the future of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) at their annual plenary in Cornwall Sept. 19-23, but no decisions are anticipated before the next plenary in October 2006.
No staff cuts
However, with a balanced budget expected for both 2005 and 2006, no staff cuts like those at the end of 2004 are anticipated.
In a telephone interview, CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Mario Paquette said the bishops spent a whole day in closed session looking at restructuring, but did not have time to discuss the work done in seven workshop sessions.
The detailed notes of each workshop will be compiled before mid-November meetings of the executive committee and permanent council in Ottawa.
"For the time being, the structures are the same," Paquette said, noting the bishops did not decide whether to "let some commissions go" or change them.
Many episcopal commissions have held no meetings since the 2004 plenary due to lack of staff at the general secretariat, though members did keep in touch by telephone and email.
While the CCCB remains in a holding pattern, the restructuring reflections on the theme of "What do we want to accomplish together?" appear to have been successful, according to Paquette.
"They were very much happy and satisfied with the operation," he said. "I think they were encouraged to have reflected on the role of their conference."
Among the issues discussed in addition to episcopal commissions: what issues should be handled by the CCCB, and what is better left to regional conferences; how many times the bishops should meet in plenary, the composition of the permanent council and executive committee; terms of office; election procedures and ecumenical and interfaith relations.
A common vision
In the material the bishops used for discussion, some comments included a desire for greater participation by the bishops in the life of the CCCB, keeping a balanced budget, respecting Canada's cultural duality, developing a common vision of the Church in Canada, and better coordination of current issues with diocesan concerns.
Paquette said the bishops seemed to like the fact they had time to discuss each point and were "not rushed."
At the plenary, Sherbrooke Archbishop Andre Gaumond, who begins a two-year term as CCCB president, presented a report to the bishops on research the committee on programs and priorities had gathered about how other bishops' conferences are structured.
Paquette said that Canada's vast geographical size made it difficult to compare with smaller countries like France, which has a similar number of bishops. The fact that Canada is bilingual also makes a difference in how the conference is structured.
Council too large?
Some bishops have suggested the 16-member permanent council is too large and duplicates the work of the executive committee. The CCCB executive committee includes the president, vice president and co-treasurers.