Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino

Cardinal Ortega to address evangelization challenges

  • September 12, 2014

OTTAWA - A high-profile Cuban cardinal with a French Canadian connection will lend a latin touch to the Canadian bishops annual conference this year. 

Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, the cardinal-archbishop of Havana, has been invited to give Canada’s bishops a Latin American perspective on the challenges of the new evangelization when the bishops convene Sept. 15-19 in Quebec City. Ortega was archbishop of Havana in 2007 when the Aparecida document, which called for the Church to be “in a permanent state of mission” and evangelization, was published. The future Pope Francis, then- Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, headed the drafting committee for the historic document. 

On the eve of the Canadian bishops’ plenary, Ortega will celebrate a Pontifical Mass in Quebec City, and then address Canada’s bishops on the challenges of the new evangelization. Notre Dame de Québec was North America’s first parish outside of the Spanish colonies, making it a gateway to evangelization of the continent. The Quebec diocese was once the world’s largest, extending as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Pope chose Ortega to represent him as papal legate at the Mass because he had studied in Quebec City with the Quebec Foreign Missionary Society, best known by their French abbreviation, P.M.E., said Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) general secretary Msgr. Patrick Powers. 

“There’s a very personal link there,” he said. 

But the Cuban Cardinal also brings a “personal understanding of the notion of pastoral conversion,” said Powers. As a bishop from the Spanish-speaking world, he has “unique insight” into the 2007 Aparecida document. 

Produced by the Council of Latin American Bishops (CELAM), the Aparecida document focused on evangelization in light of the challenges faced by the Catholic Church in communicating the Gospel. 

Ortega, who has served as second vice president of CELAM and as president of the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1988 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2006, will also speak on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. The focus of his talks at the annual plenary will be on “social and ecclesial challenges to evangelization and pastoral conversion,” according to the CCCB. 

“It’s a truly unique occasion for us to have someone who knows first-hand,” said Powers. He said the cardinal is pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the Canadian bishops about “something that’s very dear to his heart.” 

The annual gathering, where the whole college of Canadian bishops come together, face-to-face “is itself a major event” in the life of the Canadian Church, Powers said. The 80 to 90 bishops and eparchs will meet just outside Quebec City at Hotel Château Mont-Sainte-Anne, Beaupré. 

The Bishops will for the first time at their plenary welcome the new apostolic nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, whom Pope Francis appointed to Canada last December. Bonazzi was formerly Nuncio to Cuba, so he knows Ortega well, Powers said. The nuncio will address the plenary assembly on Sept. 15. Afterwards, the CCCB will host a reception and dinner in his honour. 

Another keynote speaker is Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Secretary Archbishop Arthur Roche, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s first promulgated document. 

Roche will give two talks. The first will reflect on Christological phrases that appear in some of St. Paul’s writings, specifically those that refer to the Son of God and how we are all sons of God, he said. The second presentation will examine where the Church is in terms of liturgy 50 years after Sacrosanctum Concilium, Powers said. 

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