Canadian Bishop Delegates Named to Synod for America

Wednesday, March 26 1997

Ottawa (CCCB) — His Holiness Pope John Paul II has ratified the delegates from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops who will be attending the Special Synod of Bishops for America to be held in Rome from November 16 until December 12.

The CCCB will be represented by Most Rev. André Gaumond, Archbishop of Sherbrooke; Most Rev. Anthony Tonnos, Bishop of Hamilton; Most Rev. Henri Goudreault, O.M.I., Archbishop of Grouard-McLennan; Most Rev. Marcel Gervais, Archbishop of Ottawa; Most Rev. Maurice Couture, S.V., Archbishop of Québec; Most Rev. Gerald Weisner, O.M.I., Bishop of Prince George; Most Rev. Roger Ébacher, Archbishop of Gatineau-Hull; Most Rev. Raymond Lahey, Bishop of St. George’s; Most Rev. James Wingle, Bishop of Yarmouth; and Most Rev. Francis Spence, Archbishop of Kingston. Two substitute Bishops have also been named: Most Rev. Gilles Cazabon, O.M.I., Bishop of Timmins; and Most Rev. James Weisgerber, Bishop of katoon. His Eminence Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, Archbishop of Montréal, and Most Rev. Michael Bzdel, Archeparch of the Ukrainian Archdiocese of Winnipeg and Metropolitan for the Ukrainian Catholics of Canada, have also been approved ex officio by the pope due to their particular office.

These delegates were all selected by secret ballot at the 1996 Annual Plenary held in Halifax last fall. According to synodal regulations, their names are made public once approved by the Pope. Preparations for the Synod are being coordinated by Rev. Emilius Goulet, p.s.s., CCCB General Secretary (Francophone), a scripture scholar with experience in Latin America. Resource persons selected to assist the bishops are: Rev. Pierre Gaudette, professor of moral theology at Laval University in Québec City; Rev. Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I., Provincial Superior of St. Mary’s Province of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and former theology professor at Newman College in Edmonton; and Dr. Sylvia Santin, a family life and education advisor and former General Secretary of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The theme of the Synod, which will end on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, is “Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ: Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity.” The “Lineamenta” or reflection with a questionnaire for the Synod was sent to all bishops’ conferences in America last fall. Responses are to be returned to the Vatican by April 1. Consultations were carried out in many Canadian dioceses and results forwarded to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops for tabulation and synthesis before being sent to Rome. These responses will form the basis for a working document for the synodal delegates to consider which serves as the agenda for the Synod.

A national forum of Catholic organizations, hosted by the CCCB’s Episcopal Commission for Relations with Associations of Priests, Laity and Religious Orders, was held in Ottawa in early February. This provided an opportunity for representatives of many Catholic groups to share insights and concerns with the bishops in preparation for the Synod.

Some of the groups attending the forum included the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the National Association of Councils of Priests, the Canadian Religious Conference and some secular institutes. CCCB English-speaking General Secretary Father Douglas Crosby acted as facilitator for the meeting.

“The forum participants were invited to reflect on their encounters with Jesus Christ and to examine the ways the churches have fostered this,” said Father Crosby. “The responses came from the heart and reflected the day-to-day experiences of those people serving in the various organizations.”

Colleen Campbell of Development and Peace said “it is in the action of serving other people that I find Jesus and not only in a church.” She continued that while going to church gives her “sustenance and nurturing, more often than not the encounter with Jesus comes in following him.”

Msgr. André Drouin of Ottawa, who ministers to people with AIDS, noted Christ is more often experienced “when the human side of Jesus is presented.” He said “the problem is that too often we have great difficulty in presenting the human side.”

Sr. Lorena Morris of the Canadian Religious Conference said social issues must be number one on the list for the bishops going to the synod. “We can never say it strongly enough or loud enough that we have a commitment to society,” she said.

Michael Burke of the St. Vincent de Paul Society added that Catholics “have to be reminded that they are called to live their faith seven days a week.” He continued that there are people “who are Catholics on Sundays but the rest of the week they are more concerned with the bottom line and politics.”

André Normand of the Knights of Columbus said the bishops going to the Synod “have to ask themselves what Jesus would do if he were here today.” He continued that “we need a Church that is close to the people in the present day context and not the context of 2,000 years ago.”

Mrs. Ginette Faubert, president of the Canadian Conference of Secular Institutes and Associations of Consecrated Secular Life, said one issue that needs to be addressed is how we deal with conflict in the Church. “We have to allow for an understanding of the other person’s viewpoint,” she said. “Maybe there are other ways of living Church than we are presently experiencing.”

Some of the thirteen suggestions of possible topics to be considered for the Synod included: Catholic schools as a place of formation, the relationship with aboriginal peoples, basic Christian communities, the importance of reaching out to those who are not going to Church, forgiveness and reconciliation in light of the Jubilee especially in regards to the inequality of women and the forgiveness of the third world debt, and solidarity with the poor.

The participants were equally concerned that the final report of the Synod be available to all so it could be more readily acted upon.