Annual Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of Canada: Urgent Pastoral Issues to Be Discussed

Monday, September 19 2005

(CCCB – Cornwall) …The redefinition of marriage and the exploitation and ongoing “commodification” of humanity are among a number of urgent pastoral issues in which the Bishops of Canada will continue to be involved.

In his opening remarks at the annual meeting of the Bishops of Canada, Most Reverend Brendan M. O’Brien, Archbishop of St. John’s and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), indicated that the Conference must be vigilant about the consequences of legislation redefining marriage. “Our Plenary will have an opportunity to begin addressing the ramifications of the new legislation that obscures and weakens the committed relationship of a man and a woman in marriage, which has proven to be the most basic element in the construction of society and for the survival of civilization. Moreover, the Executive Committee is inviting the regional episcopal assemblies and the metropolitan archbishops to ensure their respective provincial and territorial laws for the solemnization of marriage, as well as in the areas of education and human rights, provide adequate protection for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.”

Archbishop O’Brien, whose term as CCCB President will end at the closing of the Plenary Assembly on Friday, indicated that the Conference will continue monitoring questions that directly affect human life. “… [T]he CCCB has been, and will be, involved this year in questions that include embryonic stem-cell research, human reproductive technologies, just trade, globalization, world poverty and access to water,” he said.

World Youth Day

In his report on the activities of the past year, the outgoing CCCB President pointed out three specific events that had an important impact on the life of the Church and society in general: the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of his successor, Benedict XVI; the involvement of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, an organization of international solidarity founded by the Bishops of Canada, in the reconstruction of South East Asia countries devastated by the tsunami; and the World Youth Day (WYD) in Cologne which was attended by 7,000 Canadians. Archbishop O’Brien noted that although WYD is not the only way to evangelize youth, it is still an important vehicle to reach them. “Because of the attraction that WYD holds for youth, it can be used to establish links with young Canadians who, even though they do not participate fully in the life and presence of the Church, thirst for truth and hope,” he said.

Address of the Apostolic Nuncio

As is the custom, Most Reverend Luigi Ventura, the papal representative to Canada, as Apostolic Nuncio, participated in the first day of the Plenary. In his address, he applauded the bishops for their courageous and clear defence of the definition of the family and marriage. He also addressed the difficult issue of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. “Justice, truth and charity require reparation, correction, understanding and prevention with the adoption of all the necessary measures,” he stated. “We look forward to the day when all of this will be resolved, not only to be free from a heavy weight, but in order to invest all our energies and resources in the announcement of the Gospel.”

The CCCB will meet until Friday at the Nav Canada Centre in Cornwall, Ontario, to discuss a number of pastoral and financial issues.

The CCCB is the assembly of the Bishops of Canada, assisting them in their many pastoral responsibilities. The Conference is involved in issues of national and international scope, and provides the bishops a forum where they can share their experience and insight on the life of the Church and the major events that shape society.

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