CCCB-USCCB Continental Writing Team Elaborates Final Document for “Synod on Sodality” at Orlando Retreat

Tuesday, February 21 2023

Ottawa – Last week, in Orlando, Florida, as part of the Synodal journey in North America, a joint writing team comprised of individuals who were appointed by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) worked together on the Continental Phase’s Final Document for North America.

In all, there are eighteen members of this North American Writing Team. The seven individuals appointed by the CCCB to represent the Church in Canada are:

The Most Rev. Raymond Poisson, Bishop of Saint-Jérôme-Mont-Laurier and CCCB President,
The Most Rev. Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg and CCCB Past President
Rev. Jean Vézina, CCCB General Secretary
Dr. Patrick Fletcher, Ph.D., CCCB Senior Advisor for Theology and Social Doctrine
Rev. Dr. Gilles Routhier, Ph.D. (University of Laval)
Sister Chantal Desmarais, SCSM
Mrs. Barbara Dowding, Archdiocese of Vancouver (former Chancellor)

In August 2022, each Episcopal Conference in the world submitted a National Synthesis to the Synod Secretariat in Rome. Subsequently, a team selected by the Synod Secretariat reviewed these syntheses and drafted a “Document for the Continental Stage” (DCS), which was released on 27 October 2022, officially embarking the universal Church on the Continental Stage of the Synod.

For the Continental Stage in North America, the Synod Secretariat asked the USCCB and the CCCB to work together. Their task was to compare the DCS with the experiences that mark the Church in North America, and to seek out resonances, tensions, and themes.

For logistical reasons, the North American meetings of the Continental Stage unfolded online in twelve assemblies from December 2022 to January 2023; two in French, three in Spanish, and seven in English. Each Bishop in Canada and the United States was invited to attend, as well as to nominate up to five delegates from his diocese/eparchy.

In each Assembly, participants were divided into “listening circles” in order to practice the method of Spiritual Conversation as they each reflected on key questions. Each group then shared the fruits of their discussions in plenary session. On 1 February 2023, a 2.5-hour debrief session was held with the North American Writing Team along with representatives from the twelve online assemblies. His Eminence Mario Cardinal Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops was also in attendance.

Following last week’s retreat in Orlando, Florida, the North American Writing Team will continue refining the Final Document in view of submitting it to the Synod Secretariat on 31 March 2023. The final documents from all of the continents will then be used to draft the Instrumentum Laboris for the Synod of Bishops in two sessions: the first from 4 to 29 October 2023, the second in October 2024.

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The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is the national assembly of the Catholic Bishops of Canada. To learn more, visit