OTTAWA (CCN) — In March, Canada’s Catholic bishops will start their ad limina (meaning “on the threshold” of the Apostles) visit to Rome to meet with Pope Francis and visit various dicasteries or departments of the Roman Curia.
The last such visits took place in 2006, said Bishop Douglas Crosby, president of the CCCB. While the bishops will meet with the Holy Father, there is still no word whether Pope Francis will visit Canada in the near future to answer a request from the TRC’s Calls to Action that the pope make an apology to indigenous peoples in Canada for Indian residential schools.
Crosby said Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi told the bishops during their annual plenary in Cornwall, Ontario Sept. 26 - 30, that the “invitation is in Rome” and they are considering it. “It’s going to be a decision of the Holy Father,” said Crosby. “He gets lots of invitations to countries now and he’s going on 80.”
The bishops will visit Rome in regional groups, starting with the Atlantic bishops in March. They will be followed by the Quebec bishops, then the Ontario bishops, and finally the western bishops, according to Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini.
The Atlantic bishops will focus on the “impact and consequences of sexual abuse, the scandal, the crisis of that on the life of the church in the Atlantic region,” said Mancini.
Quebec will deal with euthanasia in the “context of a highly secularized society”; Ontario will also deal with euthanasia and assisted suicide and on Catholic schools. The western bishops will discuss the priority of reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous peoples, he said.
The bishops agreed to not all share the same topics, so that by the time all the bishops have met with the Pope, he’ll have an overview,” Mancini said.
The bishops also reviewed the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, which marks its 50th anniversary next year. Crosby said he, as the CCCB president, would be issuing a statement “reflecting on the satisfaction of the bishops for the work accomplished over the last 50 years and the immense amount of good coming out of Development and Peace.”
The bishops will also review the mandate of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), which marked its 20th anniversary this year. COLF’s director Michele Boulva is retiring at the end of 2016, so while a search is underway for her replacement, the bishops will review the mandate of the organization, and whether it will continue as an autonomous organization co-sponsored by the CCCB and the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council.
Crosby said the bishops have a positive view of COLF. It has “done wonderful work,” and its many publications on life and family issues have been “helpful, pastorally timely and appropriate.”
The bishops will be sending in a questionnaire concerning COLF to guide the process, but one issue that came up in the plenary was how to get COLF’s excellent publications better known among the grassroots, Crosby said. One idea was the establishment of parish groups throughout the country similar to those for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, he said. “No decisions have been taken,” the bishop said.
The Canadian bishops dedicated Canada’s three latest saints to particular causes, as they are allowed to do by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said Crosby.
St. François Laval, Canada’s first bishop, has been declared by the conference as the patron for the bishops of Canada. St. Brother André of Montreal has been declared the patron for family caregivers, “those who care for the sick at home,” Crosby said.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, whom Pope Benedict called the “Protectress of Canada,” has been given the “liturgical title of the Protectress of Canada,” he said. “Canadians can pray for her intercession for our country.”