OTTAWA – The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' (CCCB) annual plenary will reflect on topics as diverse as the Second Vatican Council and the global economic crisis.
The Sept. 24-28 gathering which is expected to draw 80 bishops from across Canada, comes on the eve several significant events that will also be addressed: the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council Oct. 11, the Synod of Bishops on New Evangelization Oct. 7-28 in Rome and the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks, on Oct. 21.
The CCCB will meet for the first time in Sainte-Adele, Quebec, in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal instead of in Cornwall, Ont., where it has met in recent years.
Among the highlights of this year's agenda is the visit of Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, of Kiev-Halych (Ukraine) who will offer a reflection Sept. 25 after having presided at the worldwide Ukrainian Catholic Church Synod of Bishops in Winnipeg from Sept. 9-16.
As well, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will hold an off-the-record discussion with the bishops. Powers said it will be a "give and take" session on a range of concerns, from recent legislation that impacts refugees, to the parish refugee sponsorship programs.
Many dioceses have a significant number of foreign priests, said CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Pat Powers, "so (Kenney) is well-placed to help the bishops understand the various things that are happening."
The canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha gets prominent billing. Saint-Jean-Longueil Bishop Lionel Gendron, who heads a secretariat to coordinate events in Canada and in Rome surrounding the canonization, will make a presentation on the canonization.
Powers said the bishops will see a rough cut of Salt and Light TV's documentary on Blessed Kateri who lived in both New York and Quebec.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, Laval University theologian Gilles Routhier, who is an expert on the Canadian contribution to Vatican II, will deliver a talk.
The bishops will also see "an absolutely extraordinary presentation of the council" by Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt and Light TV, on Pope John XXIII and how the council "came to be," said Powers.
The Canadian bishops elected last year as delegates at the Synod on New Evangelization will inform the plenary of the content of their synod interventions, Powers said. Their names have not been released by the Synod Secretariat so they have not been publicly announced by the CCCB.
The plenary will feature a panel discussion on the global economic crisis featuring economist and consultant Pierre Piché, an expert in international investment and emerging markets. Joining him will be Jesuit Father Bill Ryan, acting director of the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto.
The panel will examine the implications of the economic crisis in light of Pope Benedict's encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Powers said.
The bishops will hold a discussion on the upcoming Year of Faith. The agenda has also dedicated "a very important chunk of time" to the "ongoing topic of sexual abuse."
For the second year, Salt and Light TV will provide live coverage of liturgical celebrations, daily news briefings and events such as CCCB President Archbishop Richard Smith's annual address.