Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 22, 2007
Afghanistan needs true peace process, says CCCB head
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
The war in Afghanistan, ongoing efforts to update sexual abuse policies and Amnesty International's abortion policy were among the many issues on the Canadian Catholic bishops' agenda over the past year.
"Canada is at war and its presence in Afghanistan cannot leave us indifferent," the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) told the annual plenary meeting Oct. 15-19 in Cornwall.
Archbishop Andre Gaumond of Sherbrooke told about 80 bishops from across Canada that the war prompted in-depth discussions at the conference's permanent council and social affairs commission.
"One thing is becoming clearer," he said. "There will be not peace in Afghanistan without a true peace process which involves all the parties."
With his two-year term as president coming to an end, Gaumond looked back over the issues that have dominated the conference in recent years.
The prevention of sexual abuse is another issue on the bishops' agenda. Gaumond noted that the CCCB has been developing policies over the past 15 years. Each diocese has to implement policies according to its resources and circumstances.
The conference has been reviewing and revising the document From Pain to Hope and looking at how policies in all dioceses can be updated.
Gaumond also raised Amnesty International's new policy promoting abortion. Since many Catholics have traditionally supported the organization's work on behalf of human rights, the CCCB has been "invited to discuss this question in view of clarifying our position."
There have been conversations with Amnesty's Canadian leadership, but the CCCB's opposition remains, he said.
"What a paradox that the smallest of human beings - unborn children - are now being put at risk by those who should be their defenders," he said.
The CCCB has strengthened its dialogue with religious communities since the Canadian Religious Conference released a controversial letter on the eve of the bishops' 2006 ad limina visits to Rome.
This letter called for more dialogue on "controversial issues such as the ordination of women and married men, and same-sex marriage." A group of three CCCB representatives has been meeting regularly with three CRC representatives.
Gaumond applauded the work Cardinal Marc Ouellet is doing in organizing the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City next June.
"There is every sign this international meeting will be an historic moment in the life of the Catholic Church in Canada."
On Sept. 16, the bishops elected Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber CCCB president for a two-year term. Weisgerber moves into the president's chair after two years as vice-president.
Baie-Comeau Bishop Pierre Morissette, who just completed four years as co-treasurer was elected vice-president. If the pattern holds, he will eventually become president and St. Catharine's Bishop James Wingle, who just completed a term as co-treasurer, will become vice-president in two year's time.
Alexandria-Cornwall Bishop Paul-André Durocher, from the French sector, was elected to serve as co-treasurer.