By Maribel Mayorga, CCCB Communications
The Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will be held Sept. 25-28 in King City, Ontario. The annual gathering brings together Catholic bishops to deliberate, discern, and discuss the life of the Church in Canada.
Topics this year will include:
- Palliative Care and the Expansion of the Eligibility Criteria for “Medical Assistance in Death (MAiD) –The Standing Committee for Family and Life, chaired by Archbishop Christian Lépine, has organized a panel discussion to help CCCB members engage with the urgency of promoting palliative care. Dr. Hazel Markwell (in person) and Father Thomas de Gabory, O.P. (online), will join Archbishop Lépine for this presentation.
- Development and Peace – Caritas Canada (DPCC) – The episcopal members serving on DPCC’s National Council will provide an update on DPCC activities since the last meeting of the Plenary Assembly. They will be joined by DPCC President Brenda Arakaza, and Executive Director Carl Hétu.
- Standing Committee for Responsible Ministry and the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons presentation on “safeguarding persons in vulnerable situations” – Over the past year, the Standing Committee for Responsible Ministry has been studying the issue of vulnerable persons: how to define the vulnerability, how to reduce risks, and what behaviors to encourage on the part of persons in ministry? Fr. Stephan Kappler, Ph.D., and Dr. Karlijn Demasure, Ph.D., will lead a bilingual presentation on vulnerable persons. Richard Frechette will deliver a presentation on the Code of Conduct of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface.
- XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops – The bishop delegates representing the episcopal conference in Canada, selected by the Plenary Assembly in 2022 and confirmed by Pope Francis are Bishop William McGrattan and Archbishop Michael Miller, CSB (English sector delegates) and Bishop Marc Pelchat and Bishop Raymond Poisson (French sector delegates). The “non-bishop” members of the Synod from Canada, who were chosen by Pope Francis, are: SamiAoun, nominee of the Maronite, Melkite and Syriac Catholic Churches in Canada; Catherine Clifford of the Archdiocese of Gatineau; Sr. Chantal Desmarais, SCSM, Diocese of Joliette; and Linda Staudt, Diocese of London. In order to help prepare the episcopal delegates, bishops present at the Plenary Assembly meeting will reflect on one of the three dimensions of synodality (communion, participation, and mission), guided by the questions in the Instrumentum Laboris and the results of the “national” and “continental” stages of the Synod process.
- Reports from numerous sub-committees engaged in areas of pastoral care and responsibility including liturgy, catechesis and evangelization.
The keynote address this year will be given (virtually) by Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, who will speak on the reform of the Roman Curia in the context of evangelization, according to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Constitution Predicate Evangelium.
As is customary, the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, will address the Bishops in his capacity as the Pope’s representative in Canada.
Background – What is the Meeting of the Plenary Assembly?
A meeting of the plenary gathers together all the members of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), who total 79 bishops of the Latin and Eastern Churches across Canada. Decisions taken by the Plenary Assembly are the highest instance of authority within the CCCB and represent the unity of action of all the bishops on a national level. Convoked at least once a year, the Plenary Assembly considers a broad range of topics related to the evangelizing mission of the episcopal conference, including reports and questions from the episcopal commissions and other advisory bodies of the CCCB. In addition, the agenda, which is set by the CCCB Permanent Council, may include discussions on special topics. Every two years, elections are held for positions within the CCCB.