Canadian Bishops Reflect on Jewish – Catholic Relations

Wednesday, September 24 2008

Sister Eileen Schuller, O.S.U., with Bishop Paul-André Durocher of Alexandria-Cornwall.

(CCCB-Ottawa)… Greetings and reflections by Rabbi Leigh Lerner, Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, Montreal, introduced a major section of the third day of the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) which focused on Jewish and Catholic relations.

The CCCB is a founding member of the Canadian Christian Jewish Consultation (CCJC), which it founded in 1977 together with the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Canadian Council of Churches. The CCJC also involves representatives from the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the United Church of Canada. One of the purposes of today’s Plenary reflection was to explore whether it might in addition be useful to begin a national Jewish and Catholic dialogue.

To assist in getting the reflection underway, the Plenary Assembly also welcomed Sister Eileen Schuller, O.S.U., who is the current chairperson of the CCJC and professor in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University, Hamilton. While no decision is expected soon on the question of a new national dialogue, the Catholic Bishops indicated their determination to learn and share more with Canadian Jews in spirituality, theology and friendship. As Rabbi Lerner noted, Catholics make up 43 per cent of the Canadian population, and Jews one per cent.

Rabbi Leigh Lerner (left) with Ukrainian Catholic Eparchial Bishop Ken Nowakowski of New Westminster.

The Bishops of the English Sector held their annual meeting during the morning. Much of the agenda involved discussions and reports on English-language liturgical translations and projects in catechesis or faith education. There was also discussion on Church communications and the interactions of the Church with Canadian culture. The Bishops of the French Sector will meet tomorrow morning and discuss similar questions.

The Plenary Assembly also received reports from four CCCB national Commissions: Canon Law / Inter-rite; Christian Unity / Religious Relations with the Jews / Interfaith Dialogue; Evangelization of Peoples; and Relations with Associations of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Laity. The four regional episcopal assemblies (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and the West) shared information on their activities over the past year as well. Outlines of activities were also presented by the Bishops of the North as well as the Eparchial Bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Canada.

On Thursday afternoon, the meeting of the Plenary Assembly will reconvene, and then adjourn on Friday at noon.