Meeting in Toronto of Bishops of the Church in America: The laity as agents of change in society

Thursday, February 16 2006

(Ottawa – CCCB)… Bishops from Canada, the United States and Latin America met in Toronto, 14-15 February, at the 34th Meeting of the Bishops of the Church in America, the seventh since Pope John Paul II in 1999 issued his Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in America.

The role, responsibility and formation of the laity was the topic for discussion among the Bishops across the American continent. Inspired by nos. 41 and 44 of Ecclesia in America, the exchanges related to the importance of the laity in the Church: “The renewal of the Church in America will not be possible without the active presence of the laity. There are two areas in which lay people live their vocation. The first, and the one best suited to their lay state, is the secular world, which they are called to shape according to God's will.… There is a second area in which many lay faithful are called to work, and this can be called ‘intra-ecclesial’” (no. 44).

As usual, each of the three participating groups had equal time for their presentations. Three main themes were discussed during the meeting. The representatives from Latin America and Caribbean gave the first presentation on the apostolic mission of the laity in the Church; the Bishops from the United States highlighted the importance of the role of agents of transformation in the world today; and, finally, the Canadian participants spoke of the formation and accompanying of the lay transformers of the world.

More than 20 delegates, including Bishops and members of the general secretariats of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Latin American and Caribbean countries (CELAM), took part.

These informal meetings, previously known as the Interamerican Meeting of Bishops, have been held once a year since 1967. At their 1999 meeting in Cuba, the Bishops decided to change the name to the Meeting of the Bishops of the Church in America to emphasize the unity of the Church in the Western hemisphere.

The first meeting using this new name was in Vancouver during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, which focused on the cancellation of the debt of the poorest countries. The Bishops have also discussed immigration (Clearwater, Florida, United States – 2001), globalization of the economy (San Salvador, Brazil – 2002), globalization of local cultures (Quebec City, Canada – 2003), the family (San Antonio, Texas, United States – 2004) and the media (Bogotá, Colombia – 2005).

List of participants at the 2006 meeting

Latin America delegation  (CELAM)

United States delegation  (USCCB)

Canadian delegation  (CCCB)



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