Meeting of the Bishops of America: Media and Evangelization

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(Ottawa – CCCB)   Bishops from Canada, the United States and Latin America met in Bogota, Colombia, 15-16 February, 2004, at the 33rd Meeting of the Bishops of the Church in America, the sixth since the 1999 Pope John Paul II Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in America.

This year, media and evangelization were at the centre of the discussions. According to Ecclesia in America, “For the new evangelization to be effective, it is essential to have a deep understanding of the culture of our time in which the social communications media are most influential. Therefore, knowledge and use of the media, whether the more traditional forms or those which technology has produced in recent times, is indispensable. Contemporary reality demands a capacity to learn the language, nature and characteristics of mass media. Using the media correctly and competently can lead to a genuine inculturation of the Gospel.” (No. 72)

Three main topics were discussed during the meeting. Latin American bishops gave a presentation on the freedom of the press, and media concerns for the dignity of the human person. Bishops from the United States focussed on Catholic media, while the Canadian delegation addressed the formation of those working in the media.

The bishops attending the Bogota meeting included the Executive Committees of the Episcopal Conferences of Canada and the United States, and the Episcopal Council of Latin America (CELAM), as well as their General Secretaries. The five-member Canadian delegation included CCCB President Archbishop Brendan M. O’Brien, Saint John’s; Vice President Archbishop André Gaumond, Sherbrooke; Co-Treasurer Archbishop James Weisgerber, Winnipeg; Co-Treasurer Bishop Pierre Morissette, Baie-Comeau; Co-Treasurer; and General Secretary Msgr. Mario Paquette, P.H.

These informal meetings of the bishops have been held annually since 1967. At their 1999 meeting in Cuba, the bishops decided to change the name from Interamerican Meeting of Bishops to the Meeting of the Bishops of the Church in America to emphasize the unity of the Church in the Western hemisphere.

The first meeting using this new name was in Vancouver during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, which focussed on the cancellation of the debt of the poorest countries. The bishops have also discussed immigration (United States, 2001), globalization of the economy (Brazil, 2002), the globalization of our local cultures (Quebec City, 2003) and the family (United States, 2004).

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