Presented to the Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada and to the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus

The past year witnessed numerous attacks against human life, giving the Catholic Organization for Life and Family many opportunities to showcase the treasures of the Church’s teaching, thus contributing to the up-building of a culture of life and family in Canadian society. This report reviews the principal educational, pastoral and cultural initiatives advanced by COLF between 30 June 2011 and 30 June 2012, with the invaluable financial support of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus.

PUBLICATIONS

“Families, did you know? Love is calling your children"

At a time when all the baptized are called to actively engage in the New Evangelization, COLF offered an enthusiastic look at Christian vocations in its 2011 Message to families, recalling that every child is unique and irreplaceable, and called by God to a single mission. While it is in their family that they first learn to know and trust God, boys and girls come one day to discern his call to love as Jesus did in giving themselves away in marriage, the priesthood, the consecrated life or apostolic celibacy. A workshop guide accompanies this publication.

“The unborn child: a gift, a treasure and a promise—A reflection on abortion”

Faced with the juridical vacuum which permits the elimination of 100 000 future Canadians each year, this publication adopts an approach that is at once clear, honest, pastoral and faithful to the teaching of the Catholic Church on this extremely difficult question. The brochure is free of condemnation, presenting instead a lucid and compassionate look at the plight of the woman confronted with an unplanned pregnancy or already the victim of abortion. This is an invitation to work together to build a more humane society founded on a real culture of life. An accompanying workshop guide is available.

Workshops Guides

The last pages of several of COLF’s publications contain a series of questions designed to help individuals and groups, in parishes or with family and friends, to deepen their reflection on the theme treated. Workshop Guides now exist for several publications and are available on our website (www.colf.ca)

SEMINAR ON THE FAMILY

Our 3rd Seminar on the Family took place in Ottawa on March 22-23. The theme this year – Man and Woman. Spouses and Parents: Forming Christian Citizens — attracted some 150 participants, including nine bishops and several diocesan delegations, as well as members of movements and associations. The interventions of Msgr. Tony Anatrella, P. H., a world renowned specialist on the gender ideology, were particularly appreciated. The objective of the Seminar was to consider not only the theology of the body and marriage preparation, but also the affective needs of children and adolescents and the specific roles of the father and the mother in responding to these needs. Short filmed interviews with some of our speakers and participants will soon be posted on our new website.

STATEMENTS

Responses to Two Reports on End of Life Issues

On 21 November 2011, COLF issued a statement entitled “End of Life: Two Reports, two contradictory Perspectives” in response to two reports offering diametrically opposed views on palliative and compassionate care and end of life issues. In a comprehensive report entitled “With dignity and compassion – Care for vulnerable Canadians,” the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care offered a profound and refreshing pro-life perspective. In contrast, a committee of six experts appointed by the Royal Society of Canada presented a report entitled “Decision making at End of Life” that glorified “individual autonomy” and “self-determination” to the detriment of the common good, arguing that “the possibility of undesirable social consequences is not sufficient to deny the right to choose suicide or voluntary euthanasia.” COLF encouraged Canadians to contact their MPs to ask them to resist the temptation to allow the deliberate killing of our most vulnerable citizens.

Reaction to the Report of the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity (Quebec)

In a statement entitled “COLF Invites Voters to Express Their Discontent and Their Option for Life”“, we vigorously denounced many of the recommendations advanced by the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity (Quebec) in its report of 22 March 2012. By opening the door to “euthanasia as physician assisted dying”, the Committee chose to ignore the inherent dignity of the human person and the inestimable value of human life. We encouraged voters to clearly demonstrate to the Charest government their opposition to the decriminalization of euthanasia and their desire to improve palliative care for all citizens in need.

National March for Life

Like every year, COLF seized the opportunity occasioned by the National March for Life – this year on May 10th — to engage Canadians. In a message entitled “An Urgent Need to Build a Culture of Life”, we recalled that the unborn child is our neighbor and must be truly respected as a person from conception. It is an acknowledged scientific fact that every unborn child is, from the very beginning of its development, a unique and absolutely irreplaceable human being. It is, therefore, for us to work tirelessly to reform our laws to reflect the humanity and the fundamental right to life of the smallest of our neighbors. We owe them nothing less! As free and responsible citizens, we all carry this responsibility.

Letters to Elected Officials

  • Letter to the Honourable Christian Paradis – On 28 July 2011, we expressed our disappointment to the Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture) at the decision of Statistics Canada to end the collection of information about marriage and divorce in Canada.
  • Letter to the Right Honourable Stephen Harper – On 4 October 2011, we wrote to the Canadian Prime Minister to share with him our dismay at the decision of his government to fund the “educational activities” of the International Planned Parenthood Federation — the largest global supplier and promoter of abortion.
  • Letters to the Honourable Brad Trost and Senator Gerry St. Germain – In late November, we wrote letters thanking them for their respective initiatives in favour of life.

COLLABORATION WITH THE CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS

National Pastoral Initiative for Life and the Family

The pastoral plan for life and the family, drafted by COLF at the request of the Ad Hoc Committee for Life and the Family of the CCCB, was adopted by the members of the CCCB gathered at their Plenary Assembly during the month of October. The first document is entitled Elements of a National Pastoral Initiative for Life and the Family – A Fundamental Option for Life and the Family. The second document lays out plans for a preparatory year prior to the official launch of the Initiative and is titled Building a Culture of Life and Family in Canada.

CCCB-COLF Relationship Agreement Protocol

Based on a document proposed by the General Secretariat of the CCCB, COLF developed a Relationship Agreement Protocol which will guide the future working relationship between the two organizations. COLF’s mandate was slightly modified to reflect its collaboration with the CCCB in the implementation of the National Pastoral Initiative for Life and the Family.

World Meeting of Families

Three members of the Board of Directors, together with COLF’s Director, participated in the World Meeting of Families as official delegates of the CCCB. Bishop Noël Simard, Ms. Cecilia Zucchi (accompanied by her husband John Zucchi), Ms. Amélie Martineau- Lavallée and Ms. Michèle Boulva spent from May 29th to June 4th in Milan, in order to participate in the Theological and Pastoral Congress and meetings with the Holy Father Benedict XVI

Pro-life Movement

Preparation of a document outlining all pro-life organizations in Canada.

Rasouli Affair

Drafting of two memoranda regarding the Rasouli case in Ontario.

Canadian Coalition for Children’s Rights

Drafting of a short memorandum on the Alternative Report of the Canadian Coalition for Children’s Rights, entitled “Right in Principle, Right in Practice”.

PARTICIPATION IN CONFERENCES

During the course of the year, staff participated in several events and conferences, taking advantage of these opportunities to make COLF’s work and publications better known.

2011

  • 17-18 October Plenary Assembly of the CCCB (Cornwall)
  • 25-27 November CCCB Forum with Movements and Associations (Toronto)

2012

  • 9-10 March Canadian Catholic Youth Ministry Network Conference (where we hosted an information booth) (Ottawa)
  • 19-20 April Annual meeting of the Table provinciale de pastorale familiale (Cap-de-la-Madeleine)
  • 10 May National March for Life and Rose Banquet (Ottawa)

OTHER NEWS AND ACTIVITIES

Website

COLF’s website is currently being redesigned. The new site will be easier to navigate and offer visitors a new “video” option.

Collaboration with the Missal “Prions en Église”

At the invitation of production officials at the missal Prions en Église, we wrote a short article on the World Meeting of Families for the June edition.

Le Messager de St-Antoine

At the invitation of officials at the monthly magazine Le Messager de St-Antoine, we wrote a short series of articles on COLF and its publications. These were published in the March, June, September and October editions.

Links with Dioceses, Movements and Associations

COLF continues to work to promote life and family with representatives of dioceses, including members of the TPPF, as well as representatives of pro-life groups, ecclesial movements and new communities. Persons registered in our database receive regular updates from COLF.

Interviews and Articles

During the course of the year, COLF’s statements and activities attracted media attention. Staff members also provided interviews on various “hot” topics.

2011

October
  • Canadian Catholic News (CCN), LifeSite and Zenit – articles regarding COLF’s letter to Prime Minister Harper regarding government funding given to the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
  • Legatus Magazine – interview regarding the support provided by COLF to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) for its application to intervene in the case Carter vs. the Attorney General of Canada.
November
  • Catholic Register (CCN article) – article regarding COLF’s support of the EPC in the Carter Case.
  • Radio Ville-Marie (Web site) – publication of COLF’s Press Release entitled “End of Life: two reports, two contradictory perspectives”.
  • B.C. Catholic (CCN article) – article on the Royal Society of Canada’s report favoring euthanasia.
  • Catholic Register (CCN article) – interview regarding the antipolygamy decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

2012

January
  • Catholic Register (CCN article) – article on the initiative of M.P. Stephen Woodworth (Motion 312) concerning the humanity of the fetus.
  • Catholic Register (CCN article) – interview regarding sex-selective abortions.
February
  • B.C. Catholic (CCN article) – interview regarding a national bill for the prevention of suicide (C-300).
March
  • CCN – interview regarding the filing of the report of the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity.
May
  • Radio Vatican – interview regarding the National March for Life and the situation of abortion in Canada.
  • This report is respectfully submitted by the Board of Directors and staff of COLF:

Board of Directors

  • Ms. Cristina Alarcon, B. Pharm, M. Bioethics, Vancouver, BC – Community pharmacist
  • Mr. Michel MacDonald, Ottawa, ON – Lecturer at Dominican University College
  • Ms. Amélie Martineau-Lavallée, Québec, QC – Head, Archdiocesan Family Ministry, Archdiocese of Québec.
  • Mr. Dennis Savoie - New Haven, Connecticut – Deputy Supreme Knight, Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus
  • Most Rev. Noël Simard, Valleyfield, QC – Bishop of Valleyfield
  • Mr. Peter Stockland, Montréal, QC – Journalist and Director of the Cardus Centre for Cultural Renewal
  • Most Rev. Gerald Wiesner, O.M.I., Prince George, BC. – Bishop of Prince George
  • Ms. Cecilia Zucchi, Montréal, QC – Professor of Philosophy, Grand Séminaire de Montréal

Personnel

  • Ms. Michèle Boulva (Director)
  • Mr. Peter D. Murphy (Assistant Director)
  • Ms. Jocelyne Pagé (Administrative Assistant)