2006 CCCB Plenary Assembly: Report of the Catholic Organization for Life and FamilyWednesday, October 18 2006
This report is a summary of the work achieved by the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) — projects and publications — between 30 June 2005 and 30 June 2006.
“World Peace: A Family Recipe!”
As in years past, the COLF Message to Families received an enthusiastic response. It is interesting to note that in 2005, a reprint of the French version quickly became necessary as the whole French stock was distributed within two months. The English version was also very popular. The aim of the Message was to reach out to families, where peace – the gift of the Risen Lord – is initially built. It offers an optimistic look at the mission entrusted to families: to train sowers of peace and joy! It is an overview of the qualities that serve to advance peace, and an invitation to families to open themselves to Christ, the Prince of Peace.
“Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Urgent Questions!”
In response to a new threat of the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, COLF published its first brochure on “Life Matters”. It aims to help Catholics to participate effectively in the public debate surrounding these questions, and to propose truly Christian and human solutions. It presents a series of 14 questions and the answers linked to these sensitive issues. Love, compassion, dignity… the brochure presents the full meaning of these words.
“Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide” Parish Kit
In view of the debate surrounding Bill C-407 (An Act to Amend the Criminal Code – right to die with dignity), a kit was prepared to help families and defenders of life to reflect and to advance their point of view in the public square. This kit, available only in electronic format on the COLF website, consists of a parish bulletin insert, suggestions for letters to MPs, and “the Church Speaks Out”, a series of quotes on these topics that is intended to help in the preparation homilies.
Because COLF does not sell its publications, the Board of Directors decided to insist more strongly on obtaining donations from the individuals and groups who order the documents. Hopefully, this will lead to an increase in revenues that will allow COLF to produce more publications on various topics.
The theme of the COLF 2006 Message to Families is the media. The Message will be launched at the start of the new pastoral year, toward the end of August 2006. It is entitled “The Media: A Fascinating Challenge for the Family”. Its aim: to make families aware of the immense impact of the media on their members, and to encourage them to get involved in the media on a regular basis. A section entitled “Media Workshop 101” proposes concrete steps for using the media.
Reaction to the granting of royal assent to Bill C-38
Following the adoption of Bill C-38, which redefined marriage in Canada, COLF spoke out against the government decision to ignore natural law and the nature and value of marriage. COLF encouraged individuals and families to continue to promote the traditional view of marriage and to “multiply their educational efforts in order to dispel confusion”, in the expectation that it will soon be necessary to defend our freedoms of conscience, religion and expression.
Call for an end to embryonic stem cell research
In response to news reports published in several Canadian newspapers about the practice by certain scientists of using “fresh” embryos for research, COLF published a press release, dated 16 September 2005, to call for (1) an end to embryonic stem cell research, and (2) more support for research using adult stem cells, which are obtained in “morally acceptable ways”.
Letter to MPs and Senators concerning Bill C-407
In view of the expected study upon second reading of Bill C-407 (An Act to Amend the Criminal Code – right to die with dignity), tabled by MP Francine Lalonde of the Bloc Québécois, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of COLF, Bishop Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B., addressed a letter to all MPs and Senators. He wrote: “This new attempt to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide clearly contradicts fundamental Canadian values, and constitutes a real threat to the most vulnerable members of our society. Such a law would also threaten the foundation of our society and of medicine, which strives to heal the patient and which supposes a relationship of trust between the doctor and the patient.” COLF asked elected officials to reject Bill C-407 and to ensure that more resources will be devoted to home care, palliative care, and research on pain control: “It is necessary to eliminate the suffering and not the patient, the pain and not the dying person.”
Letter to the Assisted Human Reproduction Implementation Office regarding donors of in vitro embryos
In response to an invitation by the Canadian government to all citizens, COLF submitted its input regarding the creation of regulations for articles 3 (definition of the donor of an in vitro embryo) and 8 (consent) of the Law on Assisted Human Reproduction. In a letter dated 9 November 2005, Board Chairman Bishop Fabbro recalled that “the Act does not protect the human embryo as a person entitled to the same fundamental rights as all other human beings. As such, the Act fails to uphold its own declared principles. The Act does not protect and promote the health, safety, dignity and rights of the human embryo.”
Letter to Health Canada regarding pre-implantation genetic diagnosis
On 26 January 2006, Board Chairman Bishop Fabbro addressed a letter to the Assisted Human Reproduction Implementation Office to express the opposition of COLF to pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. COLF called for a total prohibition of PIGD, while pointing out the inherent and inalienable dignity and value of the human embryo, as well as the risks posed by PIGD to the health and life of the embryo.
Open Letter to Canadians on the occasion of the federal elections
Some weeks before the federal elections of 23 January 2006, COLF addressed an open letter to Canadians, inviting them to a discernment of the common good as founded on gospel values. COLF identified the loss of respect for life and human dignity as a basic problem in Canadian society, suggesting that citizens inform themselves at the outset of the candidates’ positions on respect for life. Other aspects of the letter include: (1) that it is urgent “to announce to the next generations God’s plan for human love and marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of the family,” and (2) regarding the erroneous understanding of the separation of Church and State that prevails in our society, that “there should be no separation – but instead coherence – between our faith and our daily choices, made evident in our personal, family, professional, political and cultural decisions.”
Commentary on the decision rendered in the case of Marielle Houle
On the occasion of the judgment rendered in the case of Marielle Houle, accused of assisting in the suicide of her son Charles Fariala, COLF took the opportunity to call for a law against euthanasia and assisted suicide. “Faced with the pain, vulnerability and despair of another, true love and compassion demand that we accompany that person in a spirit of solidarity by helping him or her to recognize the continual worth and dignity of their struggle and their life,” stated COLF.
Message on the occasion of the National March for Life
Entitled “Canada’s Greatest Treasure – Its People”, this COLF message took inspiration from the theme of the 2006 March – “Abortion is killing Canada’s future”. COLF suggested that the difficult situations in which so many pregnant women find themselves are a series of invitations for us: an invitation to support them; an invitation to teach the young about the plan of God for human love; an invitation to rediscover the greatness of motherhood and fatherhood; an invitation to promote the parental role.
Message on the occasion of the International Day of Families
COLF took the opportunity of the International Day of Families, proclaimed by the United Nations, to launch a message in support of placing greater emphasis on the needs of children while promoting the family. COLF stresses the importance of the maternal and paternal presence, the importance of biological parents, and the “radical transformation of many social and corporate attitudes” that will be necessary to ensure that women have the “opportunity to develop professionally without sacrificing their role as mothers”.
COOPERATION WITH THE CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS
Comment of the CCCB on the adoption of Bill C-38 – The Civil Marriage Act
COLF collaborated in the preparation of the comment of the CCCB following the adoption of the law redefining marriage in Canada.
Declaration of the CCCB on Bill C-407 – An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (right to die with dignity)
During the Plenary Assembly of the CCCB, COLF helped to draft (1) the motion adopted by the members of the CCCB on Bill C-407, and (2) the CCCB statement, marking its “firm opposition” to this bill.
Letter of support for a Korean Archbishop
COLF drafted a letter of support for a Korean Archbishop who created, and who is financially supporting, a program for adult stem cell research.
Pastoral reflection in light of the federal elections
Upon request by the CCCB, COLF, together with the Office of Justice, Peace and Missions, prepared the draft of a pastoral letter for the Bishops of Canada.
Research on Operation Christmas Child
Upon request by the CCCB General Secretary, COLF carried out research on the charitable and religious activities of Operation Christmas Child (“Operation Shoe Box”), which delivers Christmas presents to children in over 100 developing countries.
Fifth World Meeting of Families
The CCCB decided that, in collaboration with COLF, it would delegate one couple to the Vth World Meeting of Families (Valencia, 1-9 July 2006). COLF is also assuming the costs of sending another couple. Two members of the COLF Board of Directors, Ms. Andrée Leboeuf and Ms. Sharron McKeever, together with their spouses, accepted the invitation to attend the World Meeting.
SEMINAR ON BIOETHICS
After a year’s interlude, the VIIth COLF Seminar on Bioethics took place, 23 and 24 March 2006. The theme was “Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Ethical Challenges” and it brought together some 35 participants in Ottawa. Workshop discussions followed excellent presentations that made it possible to collect a wealth of information. Among the well-known experts who participated in the seminar were Dr. Margaret Somerville, professor of both law and medicine at McGill University, and Dr. Joseph Ayoub, director of education at the Centre hospitalier of the University of Montreal (CHUM), and professor in the Department of Medicine and Hemo-Oncology at CHUM – Hôpital Notre-Dame. The topics addressed at the Seminar included: “Demanding a Charter-based ‘right to die’?”; “Palliative care – Source of hope in face of physical pain, existential angst, and wounded human dignity”; “Advance directives: Are they desirable and effective?”; “Technological promises confronted with economic pressures”; “The role of faith at the end of life”. At their meeting in March, the members of the Board of Directors of COLF decided that from now on each year will alternate between a seminar on bioethics and a seminar on family. Thus, the 2007 seminar will be on a theme related to the family.
OTHER NEWS AND ACTIVITIES
New Assistant Director for COLF – COLF can now count on the talent and enthusiasm of a new Assistant Director, Ms. Lea Singh (née Sevcik). Having joined COLF on 23 July 2005, the young Czech-Canadian lawyer arrived from New York, where she initially worked in a law office after graduating from Harvard Law School, and where she also worked for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a nonprofit organization at the United Nations.
Website – COLF will soon have a new website! Web surfers will discover all COLF publications and declarations, as well as new files and increasingly more electronic publications that they will be able to download and print. A new resource for parishes, movements and associations!
Collaboration with “Prions en Église” – At the invitation of the chief editor, Ms. Boulva wrote three articles: (1) on the Bioethics Seminar (March); (2) on the International Day of Families (May); and (3) on the family and holidays (August).
Participation in conferences – Members of the Board of Directors and staff participated in several conferences over the course of the year, including the Pro-Life Conference in Montreal (November 2005), at which Ms. Boulva was invited to speak on “The Family and the Media”. She also went to the Diocese of Pembroke (March 2006) to talk about euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Interviews and letters – Several members of the Board of Directors and staff also gave interviews on questions related to life and family. Staff also wrote letters to the media.
Links with dioceses – The COLF diocesan contact people regularly received news of COLF activities and publications, as did the Catholic Women’s League, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus, the members of the Table provinciale de pastorale familiale, and other individuals and groups who are registered in our database.
This report is respectfully submitted by the members of the Board of Directors and the staff of COLF:
Board of Directors
- Mr. Mickey Casavant, St. Albert, AB – Retired social worker and a Knight of Columbus
- Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B. – Bishop of London, ON
- Most. Rev. Jean Gagnon – Bishop of Gaspé, QC
- Ms. Andrée Leboeuf, St. Augustin-de-Desmaures, QC – Graduate nurse
- Ms. Sharron McKeever, Oshawa, ON – Retired religious and family life consultant
- Dr. Marie Peeters-Ney, Victoria, BC – Director of medical research for the International Foundation of Genetic Research “The Michael Fund” in Pittsburg, USA, and scientific advisor, the Down Syndrome Research Foundation in London
- Mr. Dennis A. Savoie, New Haven, CT – Supreme Treasurer of the Knights of Columbus and President of the Canadian Association of the Knights of Columbus
- Father Noël Simard, D. Th., Ottawa, ON – Moral theologian, specialist in bioethics
- Ms. Michèle Boulva (Director), Ms. Lea Z. Singh (Assistant Director) and Ms. Jocelyne Pagé (Administrative Assistant)
For more information contact:
Director, Communications Service
Tel: (613) 241-9461
Fax: (613) 241-9048