OTTAWA (CCN) — The Holy See released on June 16 the names of the Canadian delegates to the upcoming synod on the family taking place in Rome Oct. 4-25.
The delegates are: Archbishop Paul André Durocher, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops; Valleyfield (Quebec) Bishop Noël Simard; Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins; and Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith. Alternates, should one of the delegates not be able to attend, are Saint-Jean–Longueuil (Quebec) Bishop Lionel Gendron, who is also CCCB vice-president, and Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller.
Durocher is the only Canadian delegate who also attended last October’s extraordinary synod on the family. An ordinary synod is convened over regular intervals and an extraordinary synod is specially convened to deal with matters on a more timely basis and is smaller. Last October, the extraordinary synod included only heads of episcopal conferences, Curial cardinals who head dicasteries in Rome, and those specially invited by the Holy Father. Pope Francis had decided on a two-stage process or synodal journey to examine the pastoral challenges to the family in light of the new evangelization.
“I look forward to being part of the discussions relating to the synod on the family this fall,” said Collins. “It is an important moment of dialogue for the church as we reflect on how we can support and strengthen families and journey together in faith.”
The delegates are selected by both the French and the English-language sectors of the CCCB. They were chosen over a lengthy voting process that began earlier in the year. Bishops in each sector put forward names; those named most frequently became the slate of candidates for each sector, and voting continued until two delegates and one substitute for each sector were chosen. Following this, all the bishops of Canada were asked to vote on each of the six names, and then these were submitted to the Holy See for confirmation by the pope.
The list had to be approved by the pope and names released from the Holy See.
“It’s a very strong delegation,” said Catholic Organization for Life and Family director Michele Boulva. She described them as “having a very deep knowledge of the challenges faced by families as well as their strengths.”
“They are also very conscious of the necessity to make families aware of their great responsibly for the new evangelization in a society that has become, at least in Canada, post-Christian,” she said. “A lot of work needs to be done to make families conscious of their role as protagonists of the new evangelization.”
“At this time in the history of the church, the laity has a primary role to play in announcing God’s love and Christ’s Gospel to a society that resembles very much the Roman world in which the first Christians lived,” she said. “We are the first Christians of the third millennium and our responsibility is great.”
The synod takes place Oct. 4-25, and will come on the heels of the World Meeting of Families Congress in Philadelphia Sept. 22-25 and Pope Francis’ visit to the United States Sept. 26-27 that will include a visit to the U.S. Congress and the United Nations.
The CCCB will hold its annual plenary Sept. 14-18. Durocher’s two-year term ends after the plenary and a new president will be elected before the October synod.