Canadian Bishops set to hold virtual Plenary Assembly

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Bishops of Canada are meeting virtually for their annual Plenary Assembly.

By Vatican News

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is holding their annual Plenary Assembly this week, September 21-25. More than 80 Bishops from dioceses and eparchies across Canada are expected to take part in the meeting, which due to the coronavirus pandemic will be held via video conference.

Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg is president of the CCCB, and will preside over the daily meetings. Speaking with Vatican News ahead of the Plenary, Archbishop Gagnon explained how the Covid-19 crisis is affecting this year’s gathering.

A new approach

“I think for us in Canada, as well as in many countries, the episcopal conferences, the national episcopal conferences, have had to switch their approach to their yearly meeting or biannual meetings; and that switch entails going video, going digital,” he said. “And so for the first time in Canada, in our history as a conference, we’ll be having our plenary via a video conference. So that’s a major, major change.”

The effects of Covid on the local churches

Archbishop Gagnon said the Plenary will give the Canadian Bishops their first opportunity as a body to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic and its implications since the crisis began. He elaborated some of the questions they will be looking at: What are the effects of Covid on our local churches? What are the means by which are we are coping with that? What are the hopes that may be present? What are some of the challenges? What are some suggestions that would assist the churches in the local level to move forward under very difficult situations?

The Bishops, he said, will have to address “the rebuilding of communities, financial stress, and the challenges of evangelization.” So, he continued, the Bishops “have allowed considerable time during the plenary to explore this thoroughly.”

An opportunity to connect

In addition, the Canadian Bishops will be discussing a number of other issues, including the indigenous peoples of Canada and the Church’s relationship with them; the abuse of minors and vulnerable persons; efforts to reform and re-organize the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace; and issues with the Canadian federal government, notably euthanasia and medical assistance in dying issues.

Archbishop Gagnon emphasized the importance of the Bishops being in contact with one another, even through digital means. “I’m hopeful that there will be a strengthening and a sense of focus on rebuilding our communities at the local level,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for the Bishops to really connect and hear what’s being done across the country.”


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