Synod of Bishops: Today’s Challenges Demand New Forms of Collaboration

Tuesday, October 09 2001

(CCCB – Rome) Archbishop V. James Weisgerber of Winnipeg told the Synod of Bishops in Rome today that “the Church is confronted with a new age and we must respond with a new evangelization.”

The last of five Canadian bishops to speak before the Holy Father and 250 other participants at the Synod that is examining the role of the bishop in the new millennium, Archbishop Weisgerber recalled the invitation of the Pope to the Church in America for a new evangelization, new in its ardour, methods and expression. He said this demands collaboration that responds to today’s challenges.

On the question of primacy and collegiality, the Winnipeg Archbishop suggested there is an imbalance in the manner it is exercised. “This imbalance undermines the Church’s mission of evangelization, and can cause difficulties inside and outside of the Roman Catholic Church.”

In order to re-establish balance, he suggested that diocesan bishops be respected for their authority and consulted for their perspective by the central offices of the Church. In addition, he said, episcopal conferences that contribute greatly to the work of evangelization should have sufficient leeway to carry out more fully their pastoral role.

“This, clearly, must involve a courageous and careful examination of the structures and instruments of collegiality and a willingness to make the necessary adjustments required for the new evangelization. The exercise of primacy and collegiality should encourage new evangelization, not hold it back.”

The Xth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops opened in Rome on Sunday, September 30, and will end on October 27. Besides Archbishop Weisgerber, the Canadian delegates elected by their peers include: Bishop Gilles Cazabon, O.M.I., Saint Jerome; Bishop Raymond Lahey, St. George’s; and Bishop Pierre Morissette, Baie-Comeau. 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 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 Archbishop Weisgerber’s intervention may be viewed by clicking here.