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Fruits of Ecumenical Dialogue and the New Evangelization

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HarvestingCover(CCCB – Ottawa)… The second last day of the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), on October 20, included the annual meeting of the Bishops of the French Sector and also the annual report by the Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue. The information on the Commission’s activities was presented to the Plenary Assembly by the Most Reverend John A. Boissonneau, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, on behalf of Commission Chairman Bishop Martin Veillette of Trois-Rivières. His report was followed by a reflection on the fruits of ecumenical dialogue, animated by Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon. Bishop Bolen, before being named Bishop, had been on staff with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

bolenThe presentation by Bishop Bolen was based on Harvesting the Fruits: Basic Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue, by Cardinal Walter Kasper, former President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Bishop Bolen explained that the 2009 book outlines points of convergence and consensus from the past four decades of ecumenical dialogue, as well as the remaining ecumenical challenges. According to Bishop Bolen, Catholics should gladly acknowledge and esteem the common Christian values that can be found in the heritage that is common among various Christian denominations. “Nor should we forget that anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can be a help to our own edification,” he said. “Whatever is truly Christian is never contrary to what genuinely belongs to the faith. Indeed, it can always bring a deeper realization of the mystery of Christ and the Christian Church.”  He explained that ecumenism should advance the communion that already partially exists among Christians, in order to arrive at full communion, in truth and charity, which finds its complete expression in Eucharistic communion. 

Following their buzz sessions on the presentation, the Bishops indicated their desire to pursue and extend ecumenical dialogue. Bishop Pierre Morissette, President of the CCCB, emphasized that ecumenism is not an option, but a mission intrinsic to Catholic identity. A number of the Bishops present shared the results of ecumenical dialogues in their own dioceses. 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the dialogue between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Catholic Church in Canada. A liturgy of thanksgiving will be held on 13 November at 4:00 pm in Saint Joseph Oratory, Montreal. The celebration will be presided by the Most Reverend Barry B. Clarke, Anglican Bishop of Montreal, and the Most Reverend Thomas Dowd, Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal. Bishop Dowd will be representing Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal. Approximately 15 other Canadian Catholic bishops will also participate.  

About 75 Bishops from across the country are participating in the Plenary Assembly, which is reviewing pastoral activities of the past year and also provides a forum for them to share their experiences and insights on the life of the Church and on the major events that shape society.

 
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According to Statistics Canada the number of Catholics is close to 13 Million or 44 per cent of the country’s total population.