This is certainly not the first time that you hear about the Collection for the Needs of the Church in Canada, held usually on the last Sunday in September in most parishes across the country. Questions may arise such as whether this Collection is truly necessary, how the collected funds are used, and whether each dollar is well invested.
As President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), I am deeply involved in its activities and can assure you that all necessary measures are taken to judiciously manage the collected funds.
These funds are absolutely essential. The Conference is one of the main elements of the Catholic Church in Canada. There is no other level within the Church where the work accomplished by the CCCB can be done. Such was the conviction of my predecessors when they founded the Conference 60 years ago, and such is the conviction still shared today among my colleagues.
The CCCB exists because the Catholic Bishops of Canada have chosen to work together through a national institution which provides them with a strong and unified voice that is far-reaching, and a forum for exchanging and sharing their views. None of us, individually in our dioceses, can have that common strength brought to bear for our Church by the CCCB. For example, had it not been for the Conference, the World Youth Day in Canada would never have taken place.
We often wonder how to make our voices heard, or about the actions that we can do in support of our prayers for peace and in support of our cry for justice in the name of God, or what to do to counter political decisions that go against the principles of our Catholic faith. In its own way, the CCCB is here to look out for the good of our Church.
On the national scene, the Conference does not hesitate to get involved in current social debates that threaten our fundamental values. The CCCB recently intervened on the following issues: same-sex union, the protection of the human embryo and freedom of religion in Canada.
On the international scene, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops intervened strongly against the war in Iraq, urging the Government of Canada not to get militarily involved in that conflict but to look rather for its resolution through peaceful and diplomatic means. Also, more than once a delegation of Canadian bishops, in collaboration with the Holy See, visited the Middle East in order to appraise the plight of Christians in the Holy Land, to discuss peace in that region with the local Church and political leaders, and to provide financial aid to our sister Churches in the Holy Land.
On behalf of my brother bishops, I thank you for promoting this collection in your community of Christians and appealing to the generosity of the faithful in your diocese. Your cooperation is essential and is a symbol of your commitment to our common mission and of your support to our ministry.
+Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V.
Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops