to the Canadian Bishops' Conference
27 May 1999
National Capital Region
765 Lalande Terrace
Orleans, Ontario K4A 2M3
(613) 837 3368
May 27, 1999
Monsignor P. Schonenbach
Dear Monsignor Schonenbach:
The Members of Corpus in the National Capital Region wish to express through you to the Bishops of Canad a profound dismay and sadness at the recent silencing of Bishop Remi De Roo, Bishop emeritus of Victoria, B.C.
The decision of the Holy See to prevent Bishop De Roo from addressing the forthcoming Congress of the International Federation of Married Catholic Priests in Atlanta, Georgia fills us with astonishment. Just at a time in the life of the Church when thousands of parishes are being closed and the faithful are being denied the Eucharist because of the lack of priestly vocations and just at a time when we are welcoming the married priesthood of former Anglicans, we are puzzled that the Canadian Bishops remain silent when one of their own members is being banned not only from addressing this Congress but from even attending the meeting.
We all know the esteem in which Bishop De Roo is held not only in Canada but throughout the world. As one of two remaining active Canadian Bishops who were present for the four sessions of the Second Vatican Council he has served with great distinction for some thirty-seven years in the Diocese of Victoria. He has brought great strength to the Church in Canada by his work for social justice, his defence of the poor and for the rights of our aboriginal peoples and in his leadership in the activities of the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops.
We are sad that not a single Canadian Bishop has spoken out in his defence. We know that every member of the CCCB believes strongly in the concept of collegiality as expressed in Lumen Gentium. Where then is the support and solidarity for a member of that College?
Following the Synod of the Americas the words of the present Holy Father ring out in our ears when he said recently in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "The Church in America". In section #19 he says: "Among the positive aspects of America today, we see in civil society a growing support throughout the continent for democratic political systems...The Church looks sympathetically upon this evolution insofar as it favors an ever more marked respect for the rights of each individual..." Surely a Bishop of the Catholic Church deserves the freedom of speech in the exercise of his pastoral ministry. Are his brother Bishops not offended that Bishop Remi de Roo is being denied this right?
Now that this matter has become known internationally the eyes of the faithful in all countries are on Canada and the attitude of the Bishops of this country. People like Bishop De Roo have graced the Church in Canada. From his timely interventions during the four sessions of Vatican II to his appeal for social justice for the workers in this country he has exercised the episcopal office with great dignity and courage.
Since the Holy See has chosen to make this matter a public issue in Canada by the statement from the office of the Nuncio, it would be well for the Canadian Bishops to respond in public to disssociate themselves from this unfair treatment. Otherwise the credibility of the Canadian Bishops will suffer greatly.
In these wonderful days of Pentecost, when we all rejoice in the gift of the Spirit of Jesus to the Church, we urge the Canadian Bishops to join with the first disciples and have the courage to speak out in favour of justice.
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