Monday, Sept. 23, marked the opening day of the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). CCCB President Bishop Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., presided at the opening Eucharistic celebration and welcomed approximately 90 bishops, observers and special guests for the gathering in Cornwall, Ontario.
With a full agenda planned for the week, the Bishops began the assembly with a message to the Holy Father and the President's report. In his report, Bishop Gendron stated that "The moral fabric of our country is well in the process of being reshaped," citing the legalization of cannabis and the Ontario Court of Appeals' unanimous decision requiring all doctors, regardless of any conscientious objections they may have, to make "effective referrals" for patients requesting euthanasia or abortion. He likewise commented on the Conference's priority concerning the prevention of sexual abuse referencing three key words: act, accompany and atone.
Other general sessions included the annual report from the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, the progress report from the ad hoc Committee on Palliative Care, and the final report of the ad hoc Committee on the Transition of the Northern Dioceses.
The Bishops were also pleased to receive greetings from guests Father Louis Cinq-Mars, O.F.M.Cap, President of the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) and the Reverend Stephen Kendall, President of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), who was presented with an official letter of congratulations from the CCCB in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the CCC. Most notably, the Most Reverend Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, delivered greetings to all Bishops on behalf of the Holy Father.
The keynote address for this year's assembly was delivered by Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies. The Archbishop spoke about the upcoming Extraordinary Missionary Month (October 2019) and its chosen theme "Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on a Mission in the World". He outlined that the month is an opportunity for each diocese/eparchy in the world, to recognize, once again, that the evangelization of peoples is at the heart of what it means to be the Church. The participation of each diocese/eparchy in the Church's missionary activity is a sign of its health and vitality.
The Plenary Assembly continues through to Friday 27 September, 2019.