ANNUAL REPORT OF THE CATHOLIC ORGANIZATION
FOR LIFE AND FAMILY
The following is a summary of the publications and activities of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), from 30 June 2001 to 30 June 2002.
1. Savour Your Faith! Light up the World! – Message on the Occasion of World Youth Day
On the occasion of World Youth Day 2002, COLF was very happy to offer this message of faith, hope, joy and love. It was done with youth and for youth. In deepening the theme of salt of the earth, light of the world, we wanted to underline how precious youth are in the eyes of God and how their presence is indispensable to the life of the Church and the world.
2. In Love for Life! – Reflection on the Conjugal, Social and Religious Significance of Marriage
This booklet of 44 pages tackles the conjugal, social and religious meaning of marriage in five chapters:
1) A Portrait of Marriage;
2) The Social Dimension of Marriage;
3) The Personal and Conjugal Dimensions of Marriage;
4) Marriage from a Christian Anthropological Perspective; and
5) The Sacramental Dimension of Marriage.
This booklet provides compelling responses about the significance of marriage, while also inviting reflection and discussion. It is a useful resource and reference tool for all concerned about the future of marriage.
3. One Million Leaflets!
Since April 1997, COLF has produced 10 leaflets addressed to the Catholic community on various subjects concerning life and family. Almost one million copies have been distributed in dioceses across Canada and in some American dioceses.
1. COLF’s Response to the Report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health on the Draft Legislation on Assisted Human Reproduction
On 10 April 2002, COLF sent to the Minister of Health and to members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, a response to the Committee’s Report on the Draft Legislation on Assisted Human Reproduction. The response expressed appreciation for the consultative process and set out COLF’s position on a number of sections of the report.
2. COLF’s Response to the Report of the Law Commission of Canada: Beyond Conjugality: Recognizing and Supporting Close Personal Adult Relationships
The booklet, In Love for Life – Reflection on the Conjugal, Social and Religious Significance of Marriage was sent to every member of the House of Commons and the Senate (almost 400 copies). The covering letter by the Chairperson of COLF, affirmed our view of marriage, expressed our disagreement with the Report of the Law Commission that would remove the distinction between marriage and other close personal relationships and recalled that the State has a fundamental interest in protecting and supporting marriage. We have received some interesting responses.
3. Statement on the Occasion of the National March for Life in Ottawa
COLF released a message on the occasion of the National March for Life that took place in Ottawa, 10 May 2002. The message called participants in the March to reaffirm their commitment to give even the tiniest and earliest life the chance it needs and deserves.
Collaboration with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
1. Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health on the Draft Legislation on Assisted Human Reproduction
COLF Board members and staff collaborated in the development of a CCCB presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health on the Draft Legislation on Assisted Human Reproduction. On 26 November 2001, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., the Chairperson of COLF, presented the CCCB brief to the Committee along with Rev. Ron Mercier, S.J., Dean of Regis College, Toronto.
2. Comment by the CCCB on the Report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health on the Draft Legislation on Assisted Human Reproduction
The CCCB issued a comment on the report of the House of Commons Committee the day that it came out, 12 December 2001. COLF assisted with the development of this comment.
3. Letter by the CCCB President on the Final Report by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on Stem Cell Research
On 7 March 2002, CCCB President Bishop Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V., sent to the Minister of Health, the Honourable Anne McLellan, a letter expressing profound disappointment that the final report by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on Stem Cell Research allows public funding of research on embryos who remain after fertility treatments. The letter underlined that the report circumvented the issue of the moral status of the human embryo and pre-empted the legislative process. COLF was involved in the development of this letter.
4. Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health on Bill C-56, The Assisted Human Reproduction Act
The CCCB was invited a second time to appear before the House of Commons Committee on 13 June 2002, to compare the provisions of the Bill and the Committee’s recommendations with respect to the draft legislation which preceded it. COLF was involved in the preparation of the written text which was presented by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., the Chairperson of COLF, and Dr. Noël Simard, a professor and director of the Centre of Ethics, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, who is also a member of the COLF Board.
Collaboration with Resource Persons
1. Presentation to the 2001 CCCB Plenary Assembly
At last year’s Plenary Assembly, COLF was invited to arrange for a one-hour presentation by specialists on the scientific and ethical aspects of the genetic technologies. The panel was moderated by COLF Chairperson Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., and consisted of: Archbishop Bertrand Blanchet in his scientific capacity; Dr. Bridget Campion, moral theologian, St. Augustine’s Seminary, Toronto; and Dr. François Pothier, a biologist and professor in the department of animal sciences, Laval University, Quebec.
2. Fourth Annual Seminar on Genetic and Reproductive Technologies
On 22 March 2002, COLF hosted its fourth annual seminar on genetic and reproductive technologies. Participants included 12 resource persons in biology, neuroscience, ethics, moral theology, philosophy and anthropology; several CCCB members and staff, as well as representatives of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, the Catholic Health Association of Canada and the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute.
The topic for this year’s seminar was the status of the human embryo. In the first half of the seminar, presentations were made on the biological, theological and moral status of the embryo. In the second half, there was discussion of concrete questions such as therapeutic cloning, embryonic stem cell research and the fate of embryos that remain after fertility treatments.
COLF Website http://colf.cccb.ca
All of COLF’s publications and public statements are placed on its website. A new section was created this year called Reading Corner for unpublished reflective papers by COLF or its individual Board members or staff. Papers that are presently on the site are:
1. Le statut théologique de l’embryon humain, March 2002 (French site only)
Dr. Noël Simard at COLF’s Fourth Annual Seminar on the Genetic and Reproductive Technologies, presented this paper. He is a member of the COLF Board, and a professor and director of the Centre of Ethics, Saint Paul University, Ottawa.
2. Stem Cell Research and the Human Embryo, February 2002 (English Site only)
Dr. Bridget Campion presented this paper to a symposium at York University. Dr. Campion is a moral theologian at St. Augustine’s Seminary, Toronto, and a member of the COLF Board.
3. A Wonder Am I, and all Your Works are Wonders: Reflections on Some Developments in the Genetic Technologies, June 2002 (English and French sites)
The rapid progress in the field of genetics invites us to a renewed awareness of the sacred character of the natural order and a deeper sense of gratitude to God, who loves and sustains all creatures.
In collaboration with the Catholic Health Association of Canada, COLF has produced a reflection paper on three areas in the genetic technologies: the human genome project, genetic testing, and genetics in medicine. The paper includes scientific data as well as ethical reflection.
1. Throughout the year, members of the Board and staff are invited to participate in public forums, give media interviews and make presentations on a variety of topics.
2. Regular mailings of documents on life and family were made to the 60 diocesan contact persons.
3. COLF was represented in a number of conferences during the year:
- The sixth Quebec symposium on research on the family at the University of Trois‑Rivières, organized by the Quebec Council for Development of Research on the Family
- The Annual General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the theme of The Nature and Dignity of the Human Person
- The 36th International Days of Marriage Preparation – The Marriage Pastoral Message in an Evangelization Context, on the campus of the University of Moncton, organized by the Fédération internationale des Centres de préparation au marriage
Members of the COLF Board of Directors respectfully submit this report:
· Dr. Bridget Campion, Coburg, ON - Moral theologian, specialist in health care ethics
· Mr. Grant Ertel, Waterloo, ON - Businessman, Past State Deputy, Knights of Columbus
· Ms. Hélène Leboeuf, Gatineau, QC - Adult educator, teacher and specialist in natural family planning
· Most Rev. Pierre Morissette, Bishop of Baie-Comeau, QC
· Mr. André Normand, Gatineau, QC - Retired director of a financial institution, Past State Deputy, Knights of Columbus
· Most Rev. Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Archbishop of Halifax, NS
· Dr. Noël Simard, D.Th., Ottawa, ON - Moral theologian, specialist in bioethics
· Dr. Marlene Smadu, Regina, SK - Registered nurse and adult educator