OTTAWA (CCN) — By the end of March 2015, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops will choose four delegates and two alternates to attend the ordinary synod on the family in Rome October 2015.
The names of delegates, two from the English sector and two from the French sector, and one alternate from each, will not be revealed until after Pope Francis approves them, said CCCB president Gatineau Archbishop Paul-André Durocher.
The United States bishops’ conference chose their delegates at their recent plenary this fall, but the next CCCB plenary will take place next September. The secretary of the synod wanted the names by the end of March, so the choosing of delegates will go ahead by secret ballot because of the short time frame, Durocher said. Usually, delegates for synods or for the CCCB’s executive are chosen at the annual plenary assembly in the fall.
The voting will start out with each bishop being given list of names of the bishops in his language sector. He will choose one name and send it in by mail in a secret ballot, the CCCB president said.
From that preliminary vote a list of candidates emerges. Each candidate is asked whether he is willing to let his name stand. Durocher said it is rare anyone gets a majority in that first round. Once those candidates who have allowed their names to stand have been selected, the voting moves to a second round. If there is no majority, a name is dropped off the bottom of the list and the vote goes to a third round, and so on until a candidate wins a majority. Then the process begins again for the next candidate and then for the alternate, he said.
Once each sector has chosen its candidates, the “whole panel has to be approved by the whole membership,” Durocher said.
The pope may choose additional bishops from Canada to participate in the synod.
In addition, the Holy Father may also appoint one or more additional bishops from any country, including Canada. “The pope is free to name any delegates he wants to the synod,” the archbishop said.