Msgr. Patrick Powers, left, and Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher at last year’s CCCB plenary, held at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

CCCB to vote on new financing formula at upcoming plenary

  • September 11, 2015

OTTAWA - When Canada’s Catholic bishops gather for their annual plenary Sept. 14-17, a lengthy period of restructuring will come to an end with a change in how the conference is financed.

Instead of assessing each diocese on a per capita basis to fund the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the bishops will vote on a proposed formula based on diocesan revenue, said CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Patrick Powers.

Taking place in Cornwall, Ont., the plenary will be the final meeting presided over by CCCB President Archbishop Paul-André Durocher who finishes his two-year term this fall.

The plenary will also be the last for Powers who will finish his second three-year term in October, after shepherding the Ottawa-based secretariat through six difficult years of cost-cutting, personnel changes and streamlining.

“I was brought in to do that restructuring,” Powers said. The restructuring “kind of comes to an end” with the change in financing.
Powers said he looks back on his six years “feeling I did the best I could do” in what the bishops had asked of him: “to make sure our conference was truly at the service of the bishops of Canada.”

Powers said he had to make tough decisions to let personnel go and hire new people with new expertise needed to better serve the CCCB’s mission.

During his tenure, the CCCB made a major change in its web presence, improving not only communications with the media and ordinary Catholics, but also internally between the bishops and the secretariat itself, Powers said.

He also oversaw a new partnership between the CCCB and Salt + Light TV, which will continue to broadcast live the plenary’s daily liturgy and a live news conference each day summarizing the day’s events. The revamped web site and the partnership with Salt + Light have enabled the CCCB to carry video of the big celebrations in Rome, he said. These included “huge events” such as the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, and the conclave that chose Pope Francis, he said.

With 19 Canadian bishops planning to attend the World Meeting of Families Sept. 22-25 in Philadelphia, family will be one of the major themes of the plenary, Power said. The bishops who will be attending the Synod on the Family in Rome Oct. 4-25 will share with the plenary assembly what they intend to say at the Synod, he said.

“It is shaping up to be a fall that will be quite significant in the future of the Church,” he said.

Another area of accomplishment in the past six years is the renewed relationship of the CCCB with its overseas development arm, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. Powers arrived at the conference at the height of a controversy concerning Development and Peace and some of its non-Catholic overseas development partners, prompted by online articles and blog posts charging some partners with activity contrary to Church teaching on abortion and contraception.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see how it’s all worked out so powerfully,” Powers said.

Other highlights of the plenary include a panel on euthanasia and assisted suicide and a discussion of the summary report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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