To give you a sense of what's in store for the bishops as they meet October 25-29, we look to the official CCCB media release:
Relations with Muslims are at the heart of this first session. Ms. Alia Hogben, Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, will share interfaith greetings and reflections with the Bishops of Canada. The Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue, in collaboration with the National Muslim Christian Liaison Committee will also conduct pastoral animation and facilitate discussions on this theme.
In addition to reviewing the work carried out over the past year by CCCB councils, commission and committees, the Bishops will discuss a number of pastoral issues. Topics to be discussed during the working sessions include the CCCB restructuring process; the role of Bishops in life issues, and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP). The working sessions of the Plenary will also include presentations, reflections and workshops on the theme: “Principles of evangelization in contemporary culture”.
This year’s keynote speaker, the Most Reverend Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will deliver two presentations.
The Canadian bishops are fortunate in that they will be among the first to hear Archbishop Ravasi or should we say Cardinal-designate Ravasi since his big day. The Cardinal-designate was among the 24 new cardinals named to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict October 20.
There are many, in church circles, who have even suggested that Cardinal-designate Ravasi could be considered papabile (strong candidate for Pope). Here's what John Allen said just last week of the keynote speaker for Canada's bishops:
"Handicappers tend to scrutinize a consistory with one key question in mind: Is there a new papabile in the bunch, i.e., a strong candidate to become the next pope?
The consensus answer this time around is “yes,” and it’s Italian Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture....The sound-bite version is this: Ravasi is a prelate with the mind of Ratzinger and the heart of Roncalli. At his best, he blends the intellectual acumen of Benedict XVI and the pastoral heart of John XXIII."
Pretty lofty words! We'll have to ask our bishops for the full review after his talks in Cornwall.
Oh and speaking of papal predictions, while we all know that the successor to St. Peter is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the October 20 consistory didn't stop the wild fury of speculation about potential papal successors to begin. A well known online establishment in Ireland even posted odds, factoring in the recent additions to the College of Cardinals. In case you were wondering, Africa's Cardinal Arinze is the favourite at 2-1, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada - 40 - 1 and Bono, frontman for Irish rock bank U2 coming in at 1,000 - 1.
Yes, we can smile at these lighter moments but on a serious note, let's pray for good health and long life for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. We also pray for the Canadian bishops as they dialogue about the church in our country, tackle the challenges that face them and most importantly, serve as shepherds for our family of faith!
May the turbulence this week in Cornwall be light and nothing but blue skies ahead!
Photos: CNN, Archbishop Terry Prendergast