Summary of Report by Ad Hoc Committee on Life and Family

Monday, November 08 2010

The Bishops of Canada at their October 2010 Plenary Assembly received the report by the Ad HocCommittee on Life and Family. This Ad Hoc Committee was set up by the Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, following a resolution a year ago by the Plenary Assembly. In 2009, the Bishops had recommended that an ad hoc committee propose a possible intermediate and long-term strategy to assist Bishops in their leadership role of promoting a culture of life and family in Canada.

Following the presentation of the report, the 2010 Plenary Assembly voted in favour of extending the mandate and work of the Ad Hoc Committee for another year. During this time, the Committee will reflect on a specific structure and concrete plan for future action which it could propose to the 2011 Plenary. The proposed plan would also involve how to make best use of the resources, support and work of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF).

Throughout its work, the Ad Hoc Committee consulted with COLF, the Sisters of Life, and the former director of the Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of Montreal. Over the past year it also met with representatives of 13 groups from across the country involved in life and family issues.

Key points from report by the Ad Hoc Committee

In its report to the 2010 Plenary Assembly, the Ad Hoc Committee noted that any strategy for promoting life and family goes beyond any particular issue, such as abortion. Instead, the strategy needs to build a distinct culture which requires a spiritual revival, a change of minds and hearts. In other words, it is the work of a new evangelization. The role of the Bishop in this is to provide clear, consistent and vocal leadership in promoting this culture of life and family, while also offering guidance and inspiration.

The Ad Hoc Committee stressed that any strategy for the promotion of a culture of life and family in Canada needs long-term vision. This vision must be based on the family: “a vision of marriage and family life in which spouses are committed to be faithful to each other, life is valued, a living faith is passed on to children, the elderly and disabled are supported, witness is given to Gospel values.” Any pastoral plan needs to build on this vision, and also be based on the three pillars that Pope John Paul II had highlighted in Evangelium Vitae: Speak (Prophet), Celebrate (Priest) and Serve (King): “Together we all sense our duty to preach the Gospel of life, to celebrate it in the Liturgy and in our whole existence, and to serve it with the various programmes and structures which support and promote life” (Evangelium Vitae, 79).

Over the coming year, the Ad Hoc Committee will also examine several possible examples of initiatives that could be part of a strategy for promoting life and family.