OTTAWA - Bishops who attend Synods should spend more time in group discussions and less time listening to each other’s speeches, Gatineau Archbishop Paul-André Durocher proposed to Pope Francis.

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OTTAWA - By the end of March 2015, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will choose four delegates and two alternates to attend the ordinary Synod on the family in Rome scheduled for next October.

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With another, bigger Synod coming next October to discuss Christian family life, Canadian bishops are beginning to ask themselves: “What next?”

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OTTAWA - Canada's Catholic bishops examine the church's connection with other Christian churches in a document marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's decree on ecumenism.

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OTTAWA - The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has been appointed to the commission preparing the final pastoral message of the Synod on the family.

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OTTAWA - An Ottawa Catholic husband and father whose wife suffers a rare, early onset form of dementia is calling on Canada’s bishops to help advance a national dementia strategy. 

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The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops may have to re-fight a battle with the federal government over the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

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BEAUPRÉ, QUE. - The mission of the Church in North American is to go “con-cretely to places on the periphery,” Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega told Canada’s bishops on Sept. 16.

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OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has raised concerns about “serious challenges” at home and abroad in an open letter to Prime Minister Harper dated April 17.

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OTTAWA - The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops thanked Pope Benedict XVI for his “extraordinary leadership” on the day the world found the pontiff would be stepping down from the papacy.

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OTTAWA - Canada’s Catholic bishops have denounced recent statements made in Canada by the Society of St. Pius X superior that “the Jews” are the “enemies of the Church.”

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OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops wants something substantial to come out of the Jan. 11 meeting between the government and indigenous leaders.

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OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president has sent a condolence letter concerning the Dec. 14 school shootings to his American counterpart.

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A “culture of silence” and deference to “political conservatism” has infected the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), charges the head of the Jesuit-founded Centre Justice et Foi (Justice and Faith) in Montreal.

In an open letter to CCCB president Archbishop Richard Smith, Elisabeth Garant said the elimination of the CCCB’s post of senior advisor for social justice, delaying and blunting the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace’s fall education campaign, inviting Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney to a private meeting and not criticizing refugee policy reforms amount to a “serious step back away from the rich Church tradition of social justice.”

Garant’s letter will be on the agenda of the next CCCB executive committee meeting Nov. 27-28. Until then, the conference has chosen to make no comment.

Garant served five years as a member of the CCCB’s Commission on Justice and Peace. She accuses the bishops of cozying up to the Conservative government because, she said, the CCCB has not engaged the Canadian government on an issue of social justice since December 2010. At that time, Kenney dismissed a letter from the bishops’ justice and peace commission as another in “a long tradition of ideological bureaucrats who work for the bishops’ conference producing political letters signed by pastors who may not have specialized knowledge in certain areas of policy.”

“From that moment we observe a silence,” said Garant. “Why are we silent on things that are not our personal issues but that we think for the common good we need to talk about?”

She also questions the CCCB for laying off social justice advisor Francois Poitras in order to help get its finances in order.

CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Patrick Powers has said layoffs were necessary. “We have had to rethink the way we do things, to do more and to cost less,” he told Canadian Catholic News.

“When Msgr. Powers said that this responsibility (for social justice) will be spread among other lay people at the conference, I don’t know any of them who have the experience or the competence to deal with social justice,” she said.

Garant also disputes the CCCB’s explanation behind the delay of the Development and Peace fall campaign. In a joint letter, the CCCB and Development and Peace explained that the campaign was delayed and modified because “concern was expressed that elements of the original materials could be a source of division among bishops, priests, parishioners and donors.”

“They are saying they do that for the sake of some faithful who will be hurt,” said Garant. “There’s no real proof of what they are talking about.”

Garant has yet to receive acknowledgment of her letter from the CCCB or Smith. Smith was in Rome in early November.

Though the Centre Justice et Foi has autonomy, it remains a Jesuit apostolate with the full confidence of Canada’s French-speaking Jesuit fathers, said Garant.

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OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will outsource its in-house publishing division and cut the position of senior advisor on social justice.

“No area of the conference is not affected by the effort to cut down expenses and maximize productivity,” said CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Patrick Powers. “We have had to rethink the way we do things, to do more and to cost less.

“For many y e a r s the bishops have been grappling with finances,” he said. “The dioceses cannot afford to pay the amount of money required to keep the conference running.”

The per capita rate charged each diocese based on Census data of baptized Catholics has remained unchanged this year, but some poorer dioceses are having trouble meeting their assessment, he said.

Powers said he has met with CCCB employees to explain the fact the conference does not have unrestricted funds and must rein in spending “or the bank will close our doors.”

“It’s always so difficult to see people lose their jobs,” he said. “The bishops don’t take that lightly.”

Details of the outsourcing will be revealed later next month after the arrangements are finalized, he said, noting eight to 10 jobs could be affected.

The bishops have been studying the issue of CCCB Publications for 15 years, Powers said. The key, however, was finding a reputable North American company with a reputation for treating its employees well, he said.

“It is a communications firm we have dealt with in the past,” he said.

The position occupied by Francois Poitras, the senior advisor for social justice, has also been eliminated, said Powers. Among his duties, Poitras occupied the position of secretary to the Justice and Peace Commission.

Powers said many aspects of the CCCB secretariat’s operation have needed updating, especially its technological infrastructure.

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