Synod of Bishops: The Bishop as Witness of Hope in Today’s World

Friday, October 05 2001

(Rome — CCCB)  Bishop Pierre Morissette of Baie Comeau addressed the Synod of Bishops in Rome today, describing the ministry of bishop as a sign of hope in the new millennium.

Bishop Morissette, the third Canadian bishop to speak before the Holy Father and the 250 other participants in the Synod, said the profile of a modern-day bishop as a witness of hope includes the bishop being a man of faith, vision, communion and compassion who also promotes human dignity.

However, he said, a pre-Synodal consultation undertaken in Canada indicated many people viewed the bishop “as an administrator, or someone distant and inaccessible, or as someone who simply hands on ideas that originated elsewhere.”

“We need to ask why people in the local and universal Church have such perceptions,” he continued.   “Is it not worth questioning our structures, our modes of functioning, our ways of being that we inherited from the past?  Do these contribute in some way to a misperception of the bishop as an administrator or an institutional guardian of truth rather than as a witness of hope in the contemporary world?”

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 among 250 participants attending the Synod. Besides Bishop Morissette, the Canadian delegates elected by their peers include: Bishop Raymond Lahey, St. George’s; Bishop Gilles Cazabon, OMI, Saint Jerome; 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 choice of the theme of the intervention is left to each participant to decide. After all the interventions are delivered, the delegates 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 Morissette’s intervention may be viewed by clicking here.