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Now or never: urgency needed in run-up to Synod 2015

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When in October 2013 the Vatican announced the first ever two-stage Synod of Bishops, many in the Catholic Church were hopeful about the possibilities of an in-depth discussion and consultation. After all, a year in between the two Synods is a lot of time, right?

Not necessarily. The Vatican didn’t publish the Lineamenta—a discussion guideline consisting of the final document of the October Synod and a series of questions looking at particular family issues—until over one month after the Synod, on December 9th, 2014. At that time, the Vatican also requested that responses from the Bishops’ conferences on behalf of the local churches be submitted to Rome no later than April 15th.

In Toronto, where Salt and Light is headquartered, Cardinal-Archbishop Thomas Collins invited “a concise response” to the Lineamenta from concerned Catholics with a submission deadline of February 16th. Time is needed, obviously, to organize the responses and send them to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) where the Conference will then need time to organize the responses from around the country.

Though the Archdiocese of Toronto is unique in terms of its size and complexity, we can assume that other dioceses find themselves in the same boat. Suffice it to say, the preparing of the Lineamenta, its wide dissemination and the three-tier organization of material from the local level up to the Vatican quickly turn “one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment,” into only a few weeks of actual discussion and consultation of Catholics in the local churches.

In a sense, no one can be blamed for this. The genuine desire of Pope Francis for real consultation involving the whole Church has been deflated by the reality of a complex bureaucratic system that is characteristic of any global institution. But perhaps a greater focus could be on the discussion and consultation rather than the organization of the material.

There are other challenges, including creating for people a “protected space so that the Holy Spirit may speak,” as the Pope likes to say about the Synods. In other words, conducting an effective and in-depth discussion/reflection even at the parish level is no walk in the park—many parishes have never done that. Considering these limitations, it would be easier to do nothing. But that cannot be the response of Catholics at an historic moment like this. In his landmark document on evangelization today, Pope Francis wrote:

“Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way.” I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 33)

There are two key points to be made here: first, the emphasis on thinking outside of the box. It’s clear; an attitude towards the Synod and this consultation of the People of God which reflects the status quo at the parish or diocesan level is not acceptable. Second, the link between this consultation and evangelization. The Pope is speaking about “pastoral ministry in a missionary key,” which we may not naturally attribute to a Synod consultation. But a process like this is as much about evangelizing ourselves—changing the way we think about being church—as it is about sharing our experiences of family life today.

All of this to speak a word of encouragement to Catholics participating in—or thinking of starting—a conversation around the Synod document at their parish, school or other community. The challenges are many and the timeline is short, but this is also a learning process for every community; “synod” literally means “journeying together.” “Even a bad shot is dignified when one accepts a duel,” as Chesterton wrote. Rest assured, if you consider the direction in which the Church is going, it won’t be the last consultation.  When the reality suggests we’re nowhere close to perfecting the process, practice is exactly what is needed.  Even if deadlines are missed.

The Pope has said clearly that there are only three authoritative documents to consider during this church-wide consultation: The Lineamenta, the Message to the People of God and the Pope’s final address to the Synod Fathers on October 18th. For those who wish to go a bit deeper, S+L provides you with a complete list of related documents on the Synod of Bishops on the Family:

Important texts for discussion/reflection on the Synod of Bishops on the Family

Authoritative

1) Lineamenta (Dec. 2014)

2) Message to the People of God (Oct. 2014)

3) Pope Francis’ final address to the Synod (Oct. 2014)

Other

4) Pope Francis’ homily during the concluding Mass of the Synod (Oct. 2014)

5) Midterm report (Oct. 2014)

6) Pope Francis’ opening address to the Synod (Oct. 2014)

7) Pope Francis’ homily during the opening Mass of the Synod (Oct. 2014)

8) Pope Francis’ homily during the prayer vigil for the Synod (Oct. 2014)

9) Instrumentum Laboris for the Extraordinary Synod (June 2014)

10) Cardinal Kasper addresses consistory (Feb. 2014)

11) Pope Francis’ letter to families (Feb. 2014)

Archbishop Paul-André Durocher’s Christmas Message

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Christmas Message 2014
The Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

December 4, 2014

As I write this Christmas message, barely a week has gone by since Remembrance Day, a day marked by the still fresh memory of the recent assassinations of two members of the Canadian Armed Forces. This year, Christmas in Canada will take on a different shading, muted and somber, because of these events which have saddened our hearts and our spirits. Many voices proclaimed that Canada “lost its innocence” in October 2014. I understand and sympathize with that feeling. However, we should remember that our country’s history has been scarred by many episodes of sporadic violence: the kidnapping of Chief Donnacona by Jacques Cartier, the assassination of Member of Parliament Thomas D’Arcy McGee, the violent death of demonstrators during the Winnipeg general strike, the assault on the Quebec National Assembly, the Montreal massacre at the École Polytechnique. These examples, among many, should dispel our illusions. And it’s not just our past. Our present also confronts us with gang crimes, sexual assaults, family violence and workplace harassment. All of this convinces me that, sadly, we are not as innocent as we like to believe.

The good news is that Christmas carries with it this marvellous, nearly unbelievable hope: that innocence can be recovered. In a world marked by violence, disfigured by the scars of wars, of murders, of exploitation and injustice, a Child is born to whom has been given the unexpected title of “Prince of Peace”. Newborn children make us dream of innocence. Faced with a defenceless child, our hearts are softened, our passions calmed, our fantasies made warm and loving. But the Child of Bethlehem is not only a source of dreams: he calls us to decision, to a foundational commitment in favour of truthful love. He himself would grow up to become the Prophet of a new world where justice, peace and joy would reign. On the Cross, he confronted human violence at its worst … and responded with mercy and forgiveness, thus uncovering for the world new ways to reconciliation and freedom. His Resurrection revealed to his friends the ultimate meaning of life, woven through with surprising grace and life-giving Spirit. This is the mystery we celebrate at Christmas.

For in Jesus, innocence can be recovered, healed and renewed. Each of us is invited to open our hearts to this Good News, to make it our own, to share it with family, with friends, with an entire country. We celebrate Christmas at the time of year when nights are longest. Is this not a sign that innocence can surge forth at the very moment we believed it lost? Let us therefore not be afraid to wish each other a joyful Christmas. Let us especially not be afraid to live it!

+ Paul-André Durocher
Archbishop of Gatineau
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

 

- Photo Credit: (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Archbishop Durocher, Cardinal Ouellet leave Mass of thanksgiving for canonization of two Canadian saints.

The Missionary Dynamic of the Parish Today

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(CCCB – Ottawa)… The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has released a new document entitled “The Missionary Dynamic of the Parish Today.” Written from the current Canadian context, the text emphasizes that “spreading faith in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of humanity, is the Church’s fundamental and primary mission” (no. 1). The reflection is primarily for pastors and those who serve in parishes, but also for all Catholics who wish to understand better the role of the parish in the Church’s mission. The Commission notes that “it is through the parish that most Canadians experience the Catholic Church.”

The Bishops of the Commission are aware of the diversity of parish realities across the country, as well as the common challenges they face. The response required to these varied challenges, however, is the same: being missionary parishes which evangelize. The text explains how Canadian parishes can live out their call to evangelization by means of missionary, catechetical, and pastoral activity.

The Bishops declare that “as a concrete sign of the Church’s presence in society, parishes should be places for a new dialogue to occur between contemporary culture and the Gospel of Christ; and for a profound encounter between Christ, the Living Word, and those who have yet to meet him” (no. 9). All of this will require a profound conversion on the part of people and communities, part of what Pope Francis has called “the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are.”

This text complements the Commission’s recent work, “The Essential Elements of Evangelization Today,” which was published in 2013.

Link to the full document. 

Original text found here

– Photo Credit: (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Perspectives Daily – The Bishops of Canada Look to the Middle East

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ weekly general audience, the Patriarchs of the eastern Churches travel to the United Nations, the Maronite Church celebrates Liturgy at the CCCB Plenary and the CNEWA Canada board meets in Beaupre at the Plenary Assembly.

Perspectives Daily – Cardinal Archbishop of Havana Addresses Canadian Bishops

Today on Perspectives, day two of the 2014 CCCB Plenary Assembly featuring the day’s activities, interviews with Cardinal Archbishop of Havana, the Papal Nuncio to Canada, and a look back at events from this past weekend here in Quebec.

Perspectives Daily – New Papal Nuncio Addresses Canadian Bishops

Today on Perspectives, day one of the 2014 Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Plenary Assembly, with messages from the president of the conference and the Papal Nuncio. We also take a look at the 350th anniversary celebrations of Notre-Dame de Quebec.

Ukrainian Patriarch encourages bishops to speak with courage


Photo: Archbishop Richard Smith, President of the CCCB (left) and Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, Vice-President of the CCCB (center) stand and applaud Beatitude Shevchuk at the conclusion of his address at the 2012 Plenary Assembly.

On Tuesday morning at the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Bishops, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, spoke about the solidarity between the Canadian and Ukrainian churches, the first Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Church that was held in Canada earlier this month, and the need to speak the truth of the Gospel in the public and political arena with courage and confidence.  The full address appears here:

Your Eminences,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Brother Bishops of Canada,

This is for me a particular privilege and honour to be among you, as Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest of the Eastern Churches in the Catholic communion. Only 20 years ago this was the so-called “Silent” Church of Martyrs, called to witness to Christ in the Soviet Union, both secretly in the catacombs as well as openly in defiance of the atheist communist regime. Our Church today is experiencing a period of resurrection. Fully embracing its identity of being “Orthodox in faith and Catholic in love” we are aware of our role in allowing the Catholic Church to breathe with both its lungs, East and West.
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Canada’s bishops converge on Sainte-Adèle

Salt + Light Television will be providing live daily coverage of the 2012 Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) Plenary Assembly in Sainte-Adèle, Quebec from September 24-28.

The Plenary Assembly brings together Catholic bishops from across Canada — some 80 in number — to review pastoral initiatives, receive annual reports as well as share their experiences and insights on the life of the Church and society.

Coverage of the annual Plenary Assembly will include daily liturgical celebrations as well as the daily press briefing. In addition, Salt + Light will broadcast the annual report of the CCCB President, Most Rev. Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton.

The full broadcast schedule is published below. Broadcast times are subject to change.

Monday, Sept. 24
9:00 am ET / 6:00 am PT:   LIVE Opening Mass from Sainte-Adèle
10:15 am ET / 7:15 am PT:  LIVE Welcome & Opening of CCCB Plenary
5:15 pm ET /  2:15 pm PT:   LIVE Day 1 Press Briefing
7:00 pm ET / 4:00 pm PT:  Perspectives

Tuesday, Sept. 25
7:30 am ET / 4:30 am PT:   LIVE Daily Mass from Sainte-Adèle
5:15 pm ET / 2:15 pm PT:    LIVE Day 2 Press Briefing
7:00 pm ET / 4:00 pm PT:  Perspectives

Wednesday, Sept. 26
7:30 am ET / 4:30 am PT:   LIVE Daily Mass from Sainte-Adèle
5:45 pm ET / 2:45 pm PT:   LIVE Day 3 Press Briefing
7:00 pm ET / 4:00 pm PT:  Perspectives

Thursday, Sept. 27
7:00 am ET / 4:00 am PT:  LIVE Celebration of the Divine Liturgy, marking the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Ukrainian Catholic Bishop appointed to Canada
4:45 pm ET / 1:45 pm PT:   LIVE Day 4 Press Briefing
7:00 pm ET / 4:00 pm PT:  Perspectives

Friday, Sept. 28
7:30 am ET / 4:50 am PT:  LIVE Daily Mass from Sainte-Adèle
9:00 am ET / 6:00 am PT:  LIVE Day 5 of Plenary Activities (Closing remarks from CCCB President Archbishop Richard Smith)
12:00 pm ET / 9:00 am PT: LIVE Day 5 Press Briefing

Canadian bishops encourage parliamentary debate on human life


The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issued a statement earlier today concerning Motion 312. The motion seeks to re-examine the question of when human life should be recognized under the law. The statement, signed by CCCB president Archbishop Richard Smith, is published below.

Later this month, on September 21, Members of Parliament will continue debate on Motion 312, proposed by Mr. Stephen Woodworth, MP. A few days later, on September 26, they are scheduled to vote on the motion. It calls for the House of Commons to form a special committee which would review a statement in the Criminal Code of Canada that “a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth.” Article 223 (1) of the Code reads: “A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother.” The official and complete text of Motion 312 is found on the website of the Parliament of Canada.
[Read more…]

Words Made Flesh – Biblical Reflections for Year B

Looking for an ideal gift to give? Perhaps you’re an avid reader! Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation has the perfect book for you and yours.

Many will know our CEO, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB to be a renowned, trusted scholar and teacher of the Bible. Fr. Rosica has just released a new book entitled, Words Made Flesh. This book comes following a successful and enlightening three-year term with ZENIT news service, where he published many scriptural reflections based on Sundays in the three-year liturgical cycle. The book was published in partnership with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

His reflections for each Sunday of the liturgical cycle were not only a popular read with ZENIT but with readers from across the globe. Many have embraced Fr. Rosica’s calling and his positive message about the faith and the universal Catholic Church.

This book is a great resource for bishops, priests and deacons who may need a resource while preparing for their homilies. Words Made Flesh is definitely a book for students and teachers as well. All in all, it will nourish the faith of every person who comes to Mass and for those who are homebound.

Words Made Flesh is a phenomenal resource for everyone, particularly those who bring Communion to the Sick. More than that, this book presents the meaning of the readings, often using insights from Pope Benedict and many saints in the Catholic Church.

Many accolades continue to pour in for Fr. Rosica’s newly released book. Many dignitaries, including Bishop John Corriveau and Sr. Anne Anderson have said,

“The scripture readings for the Sunday Liturgy are God’s privileged Word to the contemporary Church throughout the world. In Words Made Flesh, Father Thomas Rosica situates his expert commentary on the Word of God within the lived experience of Church reflected in Papal documents and Christian spirituality.”

+John Corriveau, OFMCap.
Bishop of Nelson

“Father Thomas Rosica CSB uses his Biblical expertise, knowledge and love of the land of the Bible to offer biblical reflections based on the weekly readings of the Liturgical Year. His work never fails to instruct, inspire and invite the reader into a deeper relationship with the Work of God.”

Anne Anderson, csj
President & Vice-Chancellor
University of St. Michael’s College
Toronto, ON

Words Made Flesh: Biblical Reflections for Year B is now on sale for $26.95. To purchase your very own copy, visit S+L’s online store. Stay tuned for more details on Volumes 1 and 3 of Words Made Flesh, which are slated to be published later this year. As always, we thank you for your continued support.