D&P, life and family issues on tap at CCCB plenary

  • October 22, 2010
CCCB and D&POTTAWA - Life and family issues and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace are among the hot issues Canada’s bishops will tackle at their annual plenary Oct. 25-29.

The secretary general of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) expects a positive result and a “new climate of confidence” once the bishops respond to the recommendations of two special ad hoc committees.

“Both committees have worked extremely well and they have excellent results to report,” said Msgr. Pat Powers.

The committees were established last year as a response to a series of negative stories about Development and Peace at LifeSiteNews.com and various blogs that accused the agency of funding projects with “pro-abortion” partners in the developing world.

One ad hoc committee worked directly with the bishops’ development agency, the other reached out to pro-life and family organizations. Concerns had been raised last year that maybe Catholics were being drawn to online sources because the bishops’ leadership role on life and family issues had not been prominent enough.

“The two committees were very faithful to the mandates they were given,” said Powers.

The life and family committee, chaired by London Bishop Ronald Fabbro, discovered “a tremendous thirst” within the nearly 20 life and family organizations it consulted “to be hearing more from their bishops and to be having more communication with them,” said Powers.

The groups were invited to the CCCB secretariat in Ottawa to meet with the committee last June and their representatives indicated they hoped this kind of meeting would continue, Powers said.

The committee headed by Toronto Auxiliary Bishop John Boissonneau worked closely with Development and Peace.

Powers said the bishops and Development and Peace reached a general opinion that “over the years the two organizations had not talked as much as they should have,” adding the lack of communication was “not out of any bad will.”

“I would say the results of the reports of these two ad hoc committees will go a very long way to establishing a climate of confidence,” he said, describing the recommendations as “substantive” and “positive.”

Powers does not assume, however, that all the controversy will melt away following the plenary and what he anticipates is a positive response from the bishops.

“There will always be questions that arise, not only at (Development and Peace) but at any Catholic organization,” Powers said.

“They have to be looked at and they usually turn out to be not quite what they appear to be.”

During the plenary’s packed agenda, the bishops will hear a talk from Italian Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who will help the bishops reflect on how to bring God’s Word to a culture where people question fundamental moral teaching and decide they no longer want to be an active part of the Church, Powers said.

They will address the ongoing sexual abuse crisis and hear about progress in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement, as well as reports from agencies like the Catholic Organization for Life and Family.

Powers said the conference expects to end its financial year “on a positive basis.”

“While restructuring is over, we’re not yet where we are hoping the balance sheet will be,” he said.

He is keeping an eye out to make sure the various sectors are not losing money. He is also looking for alternative sources of income so cash-strapped dioceses don’t need to be tapped for higher per capita assessments in tough financial times.

“We see indications if we don’t keep this uppermost in our minds, it could become a problem down the road,” he said.

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