The annual Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) began Monday and will continue until Friday. The Bishops received the annual report of the CCCB President, reflected on the pastoral care of contemporary families in their current situations, and listened to an address by the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada.
The Most Reverend Pedro López Quintana addressed the Bishops for his last time as Apostolic Nuncio to Canada. He will leave at the end of September, in order to receive a new assignment from the Holy Father. Following his address, the Bishops held a reception and dinner in his honour, and gave him an Inuit soapstone carving.
The first day of the 2013 Plenary Assembly began with the report by the President, the Most Reverend Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton. It was his last report as CCCB President, since new officers will be elected during the week. In his report, Archbishop Smith outlined the major activities of the Conference and the major events in the universal Church over the past year. “Our Plenary Assembly this year will be largely shaped by this call of Pope Francis,” the President said, “to be embraced by the energy of divine love and to allow its dynamism to send us forth anew on mission.”
In the light of this call, Archbishop Smith continued, “We shall consider the Canadian ‘periphery’ from a variety of perspectives, and discern together how we are being called in our day and circumstances to be present with the good news of Christ’s fidelity and love.” The CCCB President went on to refer to four major points of CCCB work: solidarity with the peoples of the First Nations; protecting life and family; the ministry of caritas,and upholding religious freedom.
Pastoral Care of Contemporary Families
In the afternoon, the Bishops were invited to reflect on the pastoral care of contemporary families in their current situations. They heard four presentations on the actual situations of families by diocesan staff working in the area of family life in the Diocese of London and the Archdioceses of Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City. Their theme continued the thrust of the CCCB National Pastoral Initiative that was launched in 2012.
The diocesan delegates noted the importance of marriage preparation and the need to assist couples who are struggling with various forms of domestic violence. All four speakers indicated the importance of involving the families themselves in family ministry. They also focused on the importance of helping couples discover marriage as a vocation and a sacrament.
Following the President’s report, the Plenary Assembly welcomed His GraceBishop Mina, Bishop of the recently established Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Mississauga and Vancouver. In his message of ecumenical greetings, Bishop Mina also spoke about the difficult situation of Christians in Egypt. The morning ended with the annual report by the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council. This was presented by the Most Reverend Claude Champagne, O.M.I., Bishop of Edmundston, and the Most Reverend Murray Chatlain, Archbishop of Keewatin – Le Pas and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith. The Chair of the Aboriginal Council, Mrs. Melody McLeod of Yellowknife, is among the observers who have been invited to the 2013 Plenary Assembly.
For the third year, the Canadian Catholic television channel Salt + Light TV broadcast live a number of key Plenary events, both on internet and television.