2007 CCCB Plenary Assembly: Canada Should Promote Peace Process for Afghanistan

Monday, October 15 2007

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) opened its annual general meeting 15 October in Cornwall.  More than 80 Bishops are taking part in the Plenary Assembly at which they will review the pastoral year and also discuss major projects for their national Episcopal Conference.

In his opening address, CCCB President Archbishop André Gaumond looked back on the events over the past months.  He confirmed that the Bishops have been reflecting on the situation in Afghanistan for some time.  His point was unequivocal: “Canada is at war and its presence in Afghanistan cannot leave us indifferent.  The Permanent Council and the Social Affairs Commission have been involved in in-depth discussions on Canada’s role in Afghanistan.  One thing is becoming clearer: there will not be peace in Afghanistan without a true peace process which involves all the parties.  That is what Canada especially needs to promote.”

He also indicated the Plenary Assembly would discuss other questions including the new evangelization.  He said it is necessary to review pastoral approaches in the light of changes in thinking and the large number of immigrants. “The late Pope John Paul II in his solicitude invited the Church in America to a new evangelization. More than ever, this is a challenge to and a mission for, all our particular Churches – but also for our Episcopal Conference. Given the size of the task, it is fortunate we can unite our forces, our experiences and our efforts under the CCCB banner.”  The Bishops will spend two half-days focusing on how this question affects their pastoral ministry.

Reach families to involve people

As part of their reflections on the new evangelization, the Bishops of Canada invited Professor Reginald Bibby (University of Lethbridge) to speak on his sociological research on religious trends in Canada.  The renowned Canadian sociologist said his scientific research contradicts the secularist argument that organized religion is a thing of the past.

He pointed out that secularization in fact stimulates a revival of religion.

This renewal of religion can be seen in our culture and in Canadian churches, he said. “God is at work in our culture,” he stated.  He went on to present statistics confirming that Canadians remain open to spirituality and are not hurrying to change their religious allegiance.

One interesting statistic showed that among practicing Catholics, 62 per cent of adults and 40 per cent of young people are open to participating in church activities, provided these touch their lives and respond to their human and spiritual needs.  “These people,” he insisted, “are not looking for churches, but for a pastoral response.  And nothing is more important for them than their families.  If you want to involve these people, you must reach their families.”

Eucharistic Congress

Addressing his brother Bishops for the last time before the International Eucharistic Congress to be held in June 2008, Cardinal Marc Ouellet outlined the preparations for this event which is expected to involve close to 15,000 participants.

In his traditional address at the opening of the Plenary Assembly, the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, also referred to the Eucharistic Congress.  “I would like here to thank the organizing committee for the great work already accomplished in this important project, and I express also my best wishes for the success of this extraordinary event that will take place on Canadian soil,” he said.  “The celebrations that surround the 400th anniversary of Quebec City, and consequently the arrival of the Catholic faith to this part of the world, enrich themselves through openness to the spiritual dimension.  The faithful will thus have another opportunity to rediscover the central place of the Eucharist in Christian life and the fundamental role that it has played and can play again in the building of a better society.”

The CCCB was established almost 65 years ago by the Bishops of Canada to assist in their pastoral collaboration and in dealing with major social challenges facing the nation. Meeting until this Friday, the 2007 Plenary Assembly brings together the Bishops of Canada as well as a number of observers who have been invited, including clergy and members of other Catholic organizations and Christian churches.