Report of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family to the 2005Sunday, September 18 2005
Plenary Assembly of the CCCB and to the Knights of Columbus
This report is a summary of the work achieved by the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) — projects and publications — between June 30, 2004 and June 30, 2005.
“World Peace: A Family Recipe!”
COLF’s annual Message to Families will now be launched at the beginning of September, which is the start of the pastoral year in dioceses. The message for 2005 was formulated and printed over the last few months. It lies within the scope of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World proclaimed in 2001 by the United Nations. This time, families are invited to become aware of their paramount role in the construction of world peace, the gift of Christ resurrected. While inculcating their children with qualities that enable the generation of peace, parents can also initiate them into the inventions of the love of God, the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. Within the framework of the Year of Eucharist, families will thus rediscover the supernatural assistance which is offered to them in learning how to love like Christ. This message is an invitation to mobilize for the globalization of solidarity, the new name for peace.
“Does Marriage Have to be Redefined in Canada?”
In the context of the social debate on the redefinition of marriage, which has deeply divided Canadians, COLF published an electronic document in response to the principal arguments put forward by Bill C-38 and its promoters. Entitled “Does Marriage Have to be Redefined in Canada?” this text received a very favorable reception in the Catholic media, in several dioceses, and by lay associations. Presented in the form of short “memos,” it offers brief replies based on the natural law and common sense. It also encourages citizens to inform their families and friends and to contact their representatives.
A Great Success!
The Marriage Matters brochure, published at the beginning of 2004, continued to be an unexpected success in Canada as well as abroad. It sets out a reflection in 12 questions and answers on the possible redefinition of marriage. Some 208,569 copies have been distributed, bringing to 1,382,265 the total number of COLF booklets and brochures ordered by dioceses, parishes, associations, school boards and individuals.
Letter to Members of Parliament and the Senate Concerning Bill C-38
The President of COLF, Bishop Pierre Morissette, wrote a letter to the members of Parliament and Senate on February 23, 2005, regarding the Federal government’s plan to redefine marriage in favour of same-sex partners. In his letter, he asked for the preservation of the natural and universal definition of marriage. The letter advanced the following points: (1) the dignity and equality of people do not depend on their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or marital status, but are based on the simple fact that they are human; (2) neither states nor religions invented marriage, but they recognized that this natural institution made up of a man and a woman serves the needs of society by giving it new citizens and by educating them, ensuring society’s future; (3) the natural capacity to procreate is one of the essential components of marriage along with the good of the spouses; (4) the State must meet the needs of its most vulnerable citizens —children— and defend their rights to know their biological parents and to be raised by them; (5) Parliament must privilege, protect and promote marriage between a man and a woman as the social norm.
Letter to the Minister for Social Development regarding the National System of Early Learning and Child Care
In a letter dated March 1, 2005, Bishop Morissette recognized the importance of the National System of Early Learning and Child Care set up by the Minister for Social Development, the Honourable Ken Dryden, but he also expressed the concerns of COLF on this subject. The letter asked Mr. Dryden to ensure financial support to Canadian parents so that they have real freedom of choice regarding child care, in order that those who want one parent to remain home with their children will have the possibility to do so. The Chair of COLF insisted on the need for greater appreciation of the parents’ work of education and their “profession” of being a parent.
COLF Homage to John Paul II, “Prophet of Life and the Family”
On the occasion of the death of Pope John Paul II, COLF made a point of paying homage to him as a “prophet of life and the family.” In a declaration made public on April 2, 2005, the organization recognized in him a spiritual father who missed no opportunity to tell the men and women at the beginning of this third millennium about God’s unimaginable love for each and every one of them. COLF expressed the hope that the baptized will discover the anthropological vision promoted by John Paul II, based on the natural order established at Creation and his “theology of the body.” COLF further hoped that the baptized would rediscover the joy of being parents and learn the meaning of life and death as proclaimed by the Holy Father until the end of his earthly pilgrimage.
Message on the Occasion of the National March for Life
On the occasion of the 8th National March for Life on May 3, 2005, COLF published a message inspired by the theme of this event. Entitled “Free Choice or Freedom of Choice?”, this year’s message stressed the trauma experienced by women whose life has been marked by the destructive impact of abortion and who are the victims of post-abortion syndrome. COLF proposed that the personal and social costs of abortion should convince us of women’s rights 1) to know the possible consequences of abortion on their health; 2) to be briefed on fetal development before an abortion; 3) and to have other alternatives offered to them. This is a question of justice for these women, separate from the question of the unborn child and his or her right to be born. This is also a matter of social policy, since Canada is confronted with a growing demographic deficit. COLF’s message suggested that it is time for Canadian citizens to go beyond taboos and to dare to engage in a new social debate on abortion.
Declaration following the Adoption of Bill C-38
On June 30, 2005, two days after the adoption by the House of Commons of Bill C-38 redefining marriage, COLF expressed its disappointment and its concerns, calling on the Senate to have a second look at this project to distort marriage. The letter stressed the common good, the needs of children, and the freedoms of conscience, religion and expression, all of which are threatened by this Bill.
COLLABORATION WITH THE CANADIAN
CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS
Intervention in the Supreme Court of Canada in the Reference on Marriage
On October 7 and 8, 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada heard various interveners in the Reference on Marriage, and rendered its opinion on December 9. COLF commented on the draft brief (factum) of the CCCB and collaborated on the declaration of the CCCB in the wake of the opinion of the Supreme Court.
Comments of the CCCB following the Adoption of Bill C-38
COLF commented on the draft comment of the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the adoption of Bill C-38 by the House of Commons on June 28, 2005.
SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON BILL C-38
At the request of the CCCB, COLF personnel prepared the brief submitted to the special Legislative Committee on Bill C-38 on May 19, 2005, and recommended that Ms. Hélène Aubé, a lawyer from Gatineau and a mother, accompany Archbishop Marcel Gervais to the hearing.
Senate Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs
COLF collaborated in the drafting of the CCCB brief for the July 13, 2005, hearing granted to the CCCB by the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, which studied Bill C-38. This time, Ms. Hélène Aubé accompanied Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who represented the Conference.
Meeting of the Bishops of the Church in America
COLF personnel submitted some elements for reflection to the CCCB General Secretary of the CCCB in preparation for the Meeting of the Bishops of the Church in America, which was themed “Secularization of society, evangelization and the media.”
- Within the context of the debate surrounding Bill C-38, COLF was invited to work as part of the national group which was created to ensure the circulation of information on actions carried out across the country.
- A significant March for Marriage and Freedom, organized by Defend Marriage Coalition, took place in Ottawa on April 9, 2005. Several members of the COLF Board of Directors took part in this march.
- Many occasions were offered to the members of the Board of Directors and to COLF personnel to grant interviews (newspapers, radio, television), to give conferences on questions related to life and the family, and to take part in colloquiums and conferences.
- COLF regularly mailed or emailed documents on life and the family to 60 diocesan contact persons, to the national executive of the Catholic Women’s League, to the State Deputies of the Knights of Colombus, to the members of the Table provinciale de pastorale familiale and to other groups and people registered in its database.
- The members of the Board of Directors made a change to the Statutes and By-Laws of COLF. From now on, the members of the Board will be able to serve three terms of two years rather than only two terms.
- Three members of the Board of Directors completed their terms with the June 18, 2005, meeting. It is with regret that we witness the departure of Bishop Pierre Morissette and Mrs. Marlene Smadu after four years of devoted service on behalf of life and the family. Dr. Noël Simard accepted a third term of two years, a decision received with great pleasure by the other members.
- Upon deep reflection, Ms. Jennifer Leddy decided not to accept the offer by Bishop Morissette to work full-time as Co-Director of COLF. She thus left on January 31, 2005, after many years of exceptional work and dedication in favor of life and family. The Board of Directors then decided to bring changes to the organizational structure of COLF. Only one person now assumes the task of Director (Ms. Michèle Boulva), assisted by an Assistant Director (Ms. Lea Sevcik). Maria Reilander, a Canadian student who is obtaining her master’s degree at the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, was employed by COLF as an intern during the summer.
- The major changes to COLF following the departure of Ms. Jennifer Leddy caused a postponement of the annual seminar on biotechnology until the spring of 2006. The seminar will relate to “euthanasia and assisted suicide,” a topical subject given the filing of a Bill for this purpose (C-407) on June 15, 2005, by Francine Lalonde of the Bloc Québécois in the House of Commons. The Justice Minister of Canada, the Honourable Irwin Cotler, also wants to reopen this debate.
This report is respectfully submitted by the members of the Board of Directors and the personnel of COLF:
Board of directors
- Mr. Mickey Casavant, St. Albert, AB — retired social worker, State Deputy for the Knights of Colombus of Alberta
- Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B., Bishop of London, ON
- Ms. Andrée Leboeuf, St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, QC — graduate nurse
- Ms. Sharron McKeever, Oshawa, ON — retired religious and family life consultant
- Most Rev. Pierre Morissette, Bishop of Baie-Comeau, QC
- Mr. Dennis Savoie, New Haven, Connecticut — Assistant Supreme Treasurer and President of the Canadian Association of the Knights of Colombus
- Dr. Noël Simard, Ottawa, ON — theologian, specialist in moral theology and bioethics
- Dr. Marlene Smadu, Regina, SK — registered nurse and adult educator
Ms. Michèle Boulva (director), Ms. Lea Sevcik (assistant director) and Ms. Jocelyne Pagé (secretary)
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