.- As Canada’s Catholic bishops prepare to travel to Rome next month for their regular “ad limina” visit with Pope Benedict XVI, reports suggest that many are expecting something of a scolding due to low church attendance and a lack of family involvement in many Canadian parishes.
In an interview with the Toronto Star newspaper, Bishop Richard Smith who is leading the delegation of 25 bishops in September, said that this past spring, the Holy Father told a number of bishops from Canada’s eastern provinces that "Faced with the many social ills and moral ambiguities which follow in the wake of a secularist ideology, Canadians look to you to be men of hope, preaching and teaching with passion."
Bishop Smith, head of the Diocese of Pembroke and president of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that he expects similar words for the Catholic leaders of all of Canada’s provinces.
The report in the Star recalled that Pope Benedict recently gave a similar warning against secularism to bishops from his native Germany. To them he said, "People do not know God, they do not know Christ. There is a new form of paganism and it is not enough for us to strive to preserve the existing flock."
He added: "We should give serious thought as to how to achieve a true evangelization in this day and age."
In Canada, a country where only about 32 percent of citizens attend church regularly, Bishop Smith admitted that there is cause for concern.
"In the church” he said, “there are many people of faith who love the Church and are deeply committed. But it is a society as a whole that is tending toward a secularist outlook."