Saturday, September 30, 2023

Canadian bishops reject euthanasia, discuss Indigenous fund, synod at end of meeting

Canadian Bishops: Pope Francis' Upcoming Meeting With Indigenous Delegation  Is a Step Toward Healing| National Catholic Register

As the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (CCCB) annual meeting came to a close this week, the bishops firmly rejected the country’s expansion of euthanasia and discussed the upcoming Synod on Synodality in Rome as well as funding efforts for Indigenous reconciliation.

During a Thursday news conference, incoming CCCB President Bishop William McGrattan said the Church remains focused on “helping [people] in their suffering,” helping families, and respecting human dignity as Canada expands eligibility for euthanasia.

More than 30,000 Canadians died from euthanasia between 2016 and 2021, which has seen steady growth since the practice was legalized. In March 2024, Canada will expand its legal euthanasia program, known as Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), to include those suffering from mental illnesses, which will open up the process to significantly more people.

McGrattan said Church-affiliated organizations will focus on palliative care and will not support euthanasia.

“Catholic-sponsored health associations and organizations do not permit MAiD,” the bishop said.

Indigenous reconciliation 

The bishops intend to reach $14 million in the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund by the end of the year with an ultimate goal of reaching $30 million. The fund provides money for more than 60 programs or initiatives to assist Indigenous communities.

McGrattan said the funds are collected in various ways and the bishops submitted a schedule of commitment “on behalf of all of the bishops in Canada.” He said the goal should be reached because “my brother bishops have made that commitment.”

Synod in Rome

The bishops continued a discussion they began on Monday about the upcoming Synod on Synodality. McGrattan, who is one of four Canadian bishops who will take part in the synod, said it will be a prolonged opportunity “where we encounter Christ.” He said synod attendees, like himself, will focus on listening “to the Holy Spirit as to where the [it is guiding] the Church.”

The synod, which begins Oct. 4, will address questions such as how the Church can be an instrument of union between God and humanity; how to share gifts and tasks in the service of the Gospel; and on the processes, structures, and institutions in a missionary synodal Church.

Bishops from around the world will take part in the synod, which will have two assemblies: the one that begins next week and a second one in October 2024.

“I hope to be impacted in a way to influence my ministry [as] a bishop going forward,” McGrattan said. 

Incoming CCCB Vice President Bishop Pierre Goudreault will not attend the synod but expects it will have an impact on Canadian dioceses in helping them make decisions and be more synodal.

“I think we still remain a learning Church about synodality,” the bishop said.

Goudreault added that participants “will be really able to hear each other” and with the contribution of Pope Francis “discern about the needs of the mission today.”

Protection of minors and vulnerable persons, work in Honduras

Earlier in the week, the bishops took time to address the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. One of the focuses was to ensure that dioceses do not neglect protections for vulnerable adults within their codes of conduct. These protections are meant to prevent individuals in positions of authority from imposing themselves on someone under their care.

On the first day of their meeting, in addition to preparing for the upcoming synod, the bishops discussed humanitarian efforts in Honduras, specifically efforts to protect a river in Guapinol, which has been severely polluted, negatively impacting the village’s 45,000 inhabitants.

The 2023 Plenary Assembly of the CCCB began Monday, Sept. 25, and ended Thursday, Sept. 28. 

It took place in King City, Ontario, which is just outside of Toronto. 

The Canadian bishops gather every year to discuss issues facing the Church in Canada.