Bishops Issue Statement on Assisted Suicide; Call on Parishes and the Federal Government to Welcome Refugees; Appoint New General Secretary and Assistant General Secretary

Saturday, September 19 2015

(CCCB – Ottawa)… The Catholic Bishops of Canada have concluded their 2015 Plenary Assembly, which met since this past September 14 at the Nav Canada Centre, Cornwall, Ontario. On the last day of its annual meeting, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issued a statement on the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia and on the urgent need for better access to palliative care.

In their statement, the Bishops said that in the midst of a federal election campaign, “the candidates’ silence on the question of assisted suicide astonishes us. This question is fundamental for our society and its future. Have we relinquished the ability to debate the profound questions of life that touch us all? Are our politicians that terrified by the risk of awkwardly phrased responses, getting ‘off message’, or the ups and downs of public opinion polls? We urge all the citizens of our country to raise this question of life and death at meetings with candidates, to stimulate a true debate worthy of our great country.”

The statement concludes by explaining it is in the “spirit of collaboration in building a society more compassionate, more respectful of the dignity of all human life, more just and more generous that we make this heartfelt cry. Remembering the humble witness of Saint Brother André, we invite all Canadians to build a society that respects the dignity of every person. May our call be heard with respect, attention and openness.”

Resolutions of the Plenary Assembly

Before closing their meeting, the Bishops adopted three resolutions on several topics. They invited dioceses and parishes throughout Canada to welcome refugee families and also to support the joint campaign launched yesterday by three Canadian Catholic agencies to assist Syrian refugees seeking protection in the Middle East and Europe. The Bishops as well called on the Government of Canada to “expand, accelerate, and facilitate the private sponsorship of refugees during this time of urgent need.”

A second resolution requested the formation of a CCCB ad hoc committee to explore possible ways to assist the Northern dioceses of the country pastorally and financially.

New General Secretary and Assistant General Secretary

Earlier in the day, the Plenary Assembly elected a new CCCB General Secretary for an initial term of three years. Msgr. Frank Leo, C.S.S., a priest from the Archdiocese of Montréal who has taught at Montreal’s Grand Séminaire, will officially take office on November 1st, replacing Msgr. Patrick Powers, P.H., who has been General Secretary since March 2010. They also appointed a new Assistant General Secretary, Mr. Luc Picard. Originally from Timmins, Ontario, he worked previously with Catholic Relief Services, the agency of the Catholic Bishops of the United States which is responsible for international humanitarian and development assistance. He replaces Mr. Bede Hubbard, who has served in this position since 1992.

Synod of Bishops on the Family

The four CCCB delegates to the Synod on the Family briefly introduced the main points they plan to make during the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held this October in Rome on the theme “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World”. The delegates are the Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau; His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto; the Most Reverend Noël Simard, Bishop of Valleyfield; and the Most Reverend Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton. His Eminence Gérald Cyprien Cardinal Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec and Primate of the Church in Canada, was also recently appointed by Pope Francis as member of the Synod. Dr. Moira McQueen, Executive Director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, Toronto, has been appointed by the Holy Father as a Synod auditor. Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., CEO of Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation, has been named by the Holy See as press secretary for English-speaking media during the Synod.

Coverage of the Plenary by Salt + Light TV

For the fifth time in the history of the CCCB, the Canadian Catholic television network Salt + Light broadcast a number of the events of the Plenary Assembly, both on the Internet and by television. The texts published by the 2015 Plenary Assembly, including the President’s letter to the Holy Father as well as the daily news releases, are available on the Conference’s website.