Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 29, 2007
Bishops called to more active participation in CCCB
Funding crunch affects conference's future – Weisgerber
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' (CCCB) new president reported "grave concern about the future in terms of financing the conference."
"Costs are rising as everything else does in Canada," said Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber in a telephone interview Oct. 23. "The sources of income are not going up."
Yet he stressed the CCCB's focus on restructuring is not just to save money. "We are also restructuring to be able to respond more quickly and effectively to opportunities to announce the teachings of the Church.
The Good News
"I hope we can find new spaces and more creative ways of announcing the Good News of the Gospel in our culture."
But a new internal culture is also required at the conference, one that demands "much more active participation" on the part of the bishops.
At the CCCB's plenary assembly Oct. 15-19, the bishops approved a balanced budget.
Weisgerber described lots of "energy" around discussions of a proposal for a "more flexible structure" that could see the number of episcopal commissions reduced from six to three and the creation of new standing committees that would include lay experts.
A consensus emerged to defer the decision to the CCCB's permanent council's meeting in late November.
The three new commissions would include social affairs; theology or doctrine; and ecumenical and interfaith relations. New standing committees would include one on public or media relations so as "to be more proactive," Weisgerber said.
"There's a definite challenge," he said. "The media tends to want to point to difficulties and negative things. We want to get a more positive message out."
Another committee would deal with relationships with associations of clergy and consecrated life, he said.
A November permanent council decision will enable the CCCB to be ready in the spring to elect people to these commissions and committees.
One primary focus in the upcoming year will be Canada's First Nations, he said. "While the First Nations are everywhere, this is a really significant issue for the Prairies."
Weisgerber said the bishops are looking forward to participating in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is part of the implementation of the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
"The bishops want to be very positively involved," he said.
The federal government is in the process of choosing commissioners. It is still uncertain how the commission will operate.
Weisgerber has spoken publicly about a widely-accepted narrative about residential schools that paints the Church in a negative light and how difficult it is to change that outlook.
He said he looks forward to the commission's work in determining the truth of what transpired in these institutions.
Weisgerber said the CCCB needs to have people with an expertise in relations with Aboriginal peoples.