Synod of Bishops in Rome: Most Rev. Raymond Lahey First Canadian Bishop to Speak

Tuesday, October 02 2001

(CCCB – Rome) Bishop Raymond Lahey of St. George’s, Nfld., spoke about the ministry of the bishop in a new light when he addressed the Synod of Bishops today at the Vatican. He was the first member of the Canadian delegation to deliver his intervention at the Synod being attended by 250 participants from around the world who are examining the ministry of the bishop in the new millennium.

The Greek term episcopè (from which the word bishop is derived), Bishop Lahey said, is usually understood as “oversight” but should instead be seen in the sense of “visit”, especially in the biblical tradition of a visit of God. “To understand that the New Testament concept of episcopè first expresses this divine visitation of God in Jesus Christ, and secondarily the administrative usage of administrative Greek, and allows us to look anew at the ministry of bishop,” he said.

Speaking in the presence of the Holy Father, Bishop Lahey explained that the bishop should not be seen as an “overseer” but one who keeps alive the saving mysteries. The bishop’s role, he continued, is inherently sacramental because he is for the local church the sacrament of God’s visitation in Christ Jesus and above all else the sacrament of God’s mercy and love in the world.

As a sign that divine mercy is not an abstract concept, the bishop must stand as a beacon of God’s healing, reconciliation, forgiveness and welcome. By the way he preaches the Word, celebrates the sacraments and guides the local church, in communion with his priests, the bishop will ensure that the church excludes no one and is the image of Christ.

The Xth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops opened in Rome on Sunday, September 30, and will end on October 27. Five Canadian bishops are taking part in the Synod. Besides Bishop Lahey, the Canadian delegates elected by their peers include: Bishop Gilles Cazabon, OMI, St. Jerome; Bishop Pierre Morissette, Baie-Comeau; and Archbishop James Weisgerber, Winnipeg. Bishop Joseph Khoury, Eparch for the Maronites in Canada, was invited to participate in the Synod by Pope John Paul II.

The Synod is a regular meeting or religious assembly where the bishops, gathered in the presence of the Holy Father, can interact with one another as they search for pastoral approaches.

During the first two weeks of the Synodal assembly, each participant is invited to deliver an intervention not exceeding eight minutes in length. The choiceof the theme of the intervention is left to each participant to decide. After all the interventions are delivered, the delegates will gather in linguistic groups to discuss with one another and arrive at propositions that will be sent to a post-Synodal Council named by the Holy Father. This council will forward recommendations to the Pope to be included in an Apostolic Exhortation, a papal document that will follow from the Synod.

A summary of Bishop Lahey’s intervention may be viewed by clicking here.