December 26, 2011

OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will proceed with a pastoral plan for life and family that will launch nationally in 2013 after a preparatory year in the dioceses.

In a letter to his brother bishops dated Dec. 8, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith, president of the CCCB, said the conference's permanent council has given the proposed plan a green light.

The permanent council reviewed the practical aspects of the decisions made at the bishops' annual plenary meeting in October, Smith said.

"The proposed elements of the pastoral plan, and possible suggestions for the preparatory year are, of course, subject to your own decisions as bishops in your respective dioceses," he wrote.

"It will be for you to decide how to adapt the elements of the plan to your own evolving pastoral needs, diocesan resources, and local priorities."

The letter refers to previous CCCB president Bishop Pierre Morissette's address to the recent plenary in which he "reminded us that the family is closely linked to the new evangelization, since it is the 'most basic "school" for us to teach the values of justice, peace and reconciliation.'"

Smith also noted the pope had also linked the new evangelization and the family in an address made in early December. In that talk, he described the family as "an individual microcosm of the Church, a community which is saved and saved, which is evangelized and evangelizes."

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family will help the CCCB in developing any resources needed for the pastoral plan and its implementation.

Though Smith's letter did not include any details of the plan, in an interview with CCN on Oct. 21, following the October plenary, the archbishop gave some general outlines of what it may include:

  • New ways for Canada's bishops to take a lead on life and family issues;
  • Catechesis, with the cornerstone being the "mystery and beauty of the family, because that's where life begins, where life is nurtured and where growth in Christian living takes place";
  • Marriage preparation and efforts to help couples "understand the majesty of the Church's teachings on the mystery of family," and how marriage is a sign of the Lord's "unconditional and unbreakable love for the Church";
  • Teaching on welcoming children as a gift and honouring them.
  • Greater integration of Pope John Paul II's theology of the body in both marriage preparation and catechesis about human dignity and the family
  • Celebrating family and life and lifting it up, perhaps through setting aside a week every year dedicated to celebrating family and life.