Plenary Assembly of Bishops Comes to a Close

Friday, October 23 2009

(CCCB – Cornwall)… On the fifth day of their Plenary Assembly which met in Cornwall 19-23 October, the Bishops of Canada approved a statement on the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP). While noting important questions had surfaced over the past months that have “shaken the trust of some of the faithful who support the organization through their donations,” the Bishops reaffirmed their belief in Development and Peace.

The Catholic Bishops of Canada at their Plenary Assembly elected Most Reverend Pierre Morisette (right), Bishop of Saint-Jérôme, as their President. He succeeds Most Reverend V. James Weisgerber (left), Archbishop of Winnipeg, whose two year term in office has ended.

The Bishops said the recent Encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, provides light for helping review the mandate and operations of Development and Peace. In their statement, the Bishops also said they “have decided to establish an ad hoc committee which will collaborate with Development and Peace in this work of revision and in implementing the recommendations this past June of the CCCB Committee of Inquiry.” The inquiry had been established earlier in March following allegations that CCODP was funding projects involving “pro-abortion” groups which supported “the legalization of abortion on demand throughout Mexico.”

The new ad hoc committee will be asked to clarify the role of the Bishops in the governance structures of CCODP, as well as give special attention both to the oversight by Development and Peace of its partners and projects, and how it is strengthening links with Bishops in those countries where it is present. The committee is to report to the 2010 CCCB Plenary Assembly on CCODP progress on these issues, which will allow the Bishops of Canada “to decide on future actions.”

On the closing day of the 2009 Plenary, the Bishops also proposed the establishment of another ad hoccommittee to develop an intermediate and long-term strategy for the promotion of a culture of life and family in Canada. It would submit a proposal to the Permanent Council before the 2010 Plenary Assembly.

The Bishops also recommended raising the profile and expanding the membership of the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council (CACC) to provide a stronger voice and presence of the Church in First Nations, Metis and Inuit matters at the national level. Related to this proposal, the Bishops received an update on a Canada-wide campaign that results from the Settlement Agreement on the former Indian Residential Schools.

In addition, the Bishops of Canada reflected on the pastoral approach to the present economic crisis which is affecting more and more Canadians. A number of possible courses of action were suggested to help respond to the current situation.

At the end of the meeting, Most Reverend Pierre Morissette, Bishop of Saint-Jérôme, gave his inaugural address to the Plenary Assembly, succeeding Most Reverend V. James Weisgerber, Archbishop of Winnipeg, as the new President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) for a two-year term.

To assist him, the new President be supported eventually by a new General Secretary, Msgr. Patrick Powers, P.H., a priest from the Archdiocese of Ottawa who will succeed Msgr. Mario Paquette, P.H., who in four months completes his second and final three-year term. In addition, the Plenary Assembly extended the term of Mr. Bede Hubbard as Associate General Secretary for another three years.