Letter from CCCB President Bishop Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V., to World Youth Day 2002 National Director Rev. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., Concerning the Billboard Campaign by Catholics for a Free Choice

Thursday, March 14 2002

Rev. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B
National Director
World Youth Day 2002
415 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON
M5B 2E7

Dear Father Rosica:

I understand that you have received a number of comments from the public about the campaign being directed by Catholics for a Free Choice to cause embarrassment to World Youth Day 2002. This is most unfortunate since the organization is usurping the Church’s name; indeed, it is in no way recognized as Catholic. The roots and funding of Catholics for a Free Choice are found in the United States, and as already stated by the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Because of its opposition to the human rights of some of the most defenceless members of the human race, and because its purposes and activities deliberately contradict essential teachings of the Catholic faith, we state once again that Catholics for a Free Choice merits no recognition or support as a Catholic organization.

The notion that the Church is in any way thwarting efforts to bring solutions to the AIDS crisis is ludicrous. So many of the frontline workers who are ministering to AIDS victims are Catholics. What of course is the ultimate solution to this epidemic is a change of heart, one that puts human dignity front and centre and does not insult the resolve of people to live their sexuality according to God’s will.

Some Catholic leaders and pastors see this particular situation as a teaching moment that World Youth Day may seize upon. What better way of dealing with this matter than young spokespersons affirming the Church’s teaching regarding sexual relations?

As the Holy Father has urged us to do, we must courageously move into the deep water. Such waters are not necessarily safe havens but places where mature witnessing occurs. The Church’s long history has seen many challenges, and we cannot assume that our time will be any different. World Youth Day proclaims a way of life that is open and courageous, one that seeks the high road where the experiences of both Calvary and Easter are cherished and lived.

My prayers are with you as you move through this further challenge.

Sincerely in the Lord,

+ Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V.
Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops