As the delegation from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops was concluding its annual visit to the Holy See this week in Rome, Archbishop Smith took time to speak with Christopher Wells of Vatican Radio about the challenges facing the Church in Canada.

“The Church in Canada is a part of western society,” said Archbishop Smith, “and faces a lot of the same challenges that the church in other parts of western society would face — particularly the growing secularization, the lack of due respect for the dignity of the human person, the threats against human life and so on. And at that national level the Bishops are certainly preoccupied with those issues, and find ourselves in Canada ripe for the New Evangelisation.”

But, he said, there are reasons for hope: “At the same time, though, where people are participating in the life of the Church . . . they’re very engaged, and really open to learn more about the faith, to grow in their encounter with the Lord, to be re-evangelised, as it were — and that’s truly the essence of the New Evangelisation — so that together we can find ways to bring this Gospel, its beauty and its hope, to the context in which we find ourselves.”

During the course of their meetings the heads of the various Congregations and Offices of the Vatican, the delegation also had a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI. “What I took away, what we took away, and what I take away from any meeting with him,” said Archbishop Smith, “is his witness to joy . . . you see that in him, the beauty, and the joy, and the hope of the Gospel, of our communion with the Lord. It’s something to which he gives such a beautiful and effective personal witness.”

Visit Vatican Radio to hear the whole interview.

The Canadian delegation is composed of Archbishop Smith as President of the CCCB, Vice President Archbishop-elect Paul-André Durocher of Gatineau, and General Secretary Msgr. Patrick Powers.