ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland — The new president of the Canadian bishops' conference, Archbishop Brendan O'Brien, says he wants to follow up on World Youth Day 2002 and the congress on vocations.

The archbishop of St. John's, who was elected leader of the conference on Oct. 28, shared with Zenit what he sees as the Canadian bishops' key concerns.

What unique perspective will you bring to the position of president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops?

I don't know if it is unique, but since my ordination as a bishop in 1987 I have served in three of the four pastoral regions of the country: Ontario, Quebec and now Atlantic Canada. The only regional episcopal assembly of which I have not been a member is the Western Catholic Conference.

Perhaps during my term of office I will have opportunities to become more knowledgeable about the northern and western part of our Church and our country.

What are the chief concerns of the CCCB?

The major concerns at the present are to assure a follow-up to two major events that took place in our country — World Youth Day 2002 and the Continental Congress on Vocations.

We need to make sure that the momentum that these events provided is carried forward. While much of this will be done at the diocesan and regional levels, there is a role also for the CCCB.

Another project that is of high priority is the establishment of a task force to review the document, “From Pain to Hope,” which deals with our pastoral response to child sexual abuse. The original report was published in 1992. We are looking at what we might learn from the experience of the last decade that could improve our response to this troubling social problem.

The CCCB is also actively involved in a number of issues that are being debated in our Parliament. Among these are the legalization of same-sex unions and Bill C-13, concerning reproductive technologies.