Intervention of Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino; Reflections on Canadian ‘Peripheries’ in the Light of Evangelii Gaudium; and on the Importance of Ecumenical Dialogue

Tuesday, September 16 2014

(CCCB – Ottawa)… The second day of the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) was marked by the visit of His Eminence Jaime Lucas Cardinal Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, Cuba. The Cardinal addressed the Plenary Assembly on “The “social and ecclesial challenges to evangelization and pastoral conversion”. In the afternoon, the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace reflected on Canadian “peripheries” in the light of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium by Pope Francis. The session of pastoral animation was led by the Most Reverend Don Bolen, Bishop of Saskatoon and a member of the Commission. Other members of the Commission who participated in the panel were the Most Reverend Anthony Mancini, Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth and CCCB Co-Treasurer; the Most Reverend François Lapierre, P.M.E., Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe and Commission Chairman; and the Most Reverend Noël Simard, Bishop of Valleyfield.

Cardinal Ortega’s address was in the light of the Aparecida document and Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation. The Aparecida document was written by a team which included as one of its principal writers the then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergolio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is the concluding document to the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean which met in May 2007 in Aparecida, Brazil.

In his intervention, the Cardinal said “Very quickly, the new Pope showed the type of Church he wanted to present to the world: an open Church that goes out of itself to reach everyone, most particularly the poor, the sick, the weak, the most powerless in society.” He continued, “A Church that is conscious of its evangelizing mission ught to involve Bishops, priests, religious and lay people in this mission. This is the Church that the final document of Aparecida describes, the Church that Bergoglio, as a Cardinal who came to participate in the Conclave, championed to his fellow Cardinals as the ideal toward which the Church should strive in the immediate future.”

Cardinal Ortega’s visit to the Plenary Assembly was preceded by his participation as the Special Envoy of the Holy Father at the Pontifical Mass on September 14, which marked the 350th anniversary of the parish Notre-Dame de Québec, the first Catholic parish canonically erected in North America outside Spanish territories. Today, Notre-Dame is Québec City’s cathedral parish.

A Church in Dialogue: Catholic Ecumenical Commitment

As part of a series of initiatives by the CCCB to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s 1964 Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, the Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue, the Most Reverend Daniel Bohan, Archbishop of Regina, chaired a panel on the importance of ecumenical dialogue and the experience of being in dialogue with the Catholic Church. The guest speakers were: the Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches; the Rev. David Freeman, a Co-Chair of the Evangelical/Catholic Dialogue; Dr. Gail Allan, who serves on the United Church/Catholic Dialogue; Dr. Adriana Bara, a Romania Orthodox theologian and Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism; and the Right Rev. Dennis Paul Drainville, Anglican Bishop of Québec and the past Co-Chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada.

This past August 18, the CCCB, through its Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue, published a new popular resource, “A Church in Dialogue, Catholic Ecumenical Commitment“. This new CCCB resource is intended for parishes, colleges and high schools as well as discussion groups. It provides introductory information about the Catholic Church’s commitment to and involvement in ecumenism since the Second Vatican Council. The resource defines key terms and definitions which will assist those exploring ecumenism for the first time.

The second day of the Plenary Assembly was concluded by a discussion on the protection of minors and other vulnerable persons in pastoral settings.

The Bishops also received the reports of the National Commissions and an overview of the activities of Standing Committees, as well as approving the memberships of the Commissions and Committees for the next three years.