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

For the second year in a row, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family dedicated a lot of time and energy to the issue of euthanasia.  However, as this report demonstrates, a variety of other issues required our attention and intervention between 30 June 2013 and 30 June 2014.  Needless to say, this work for the cause of life and family would not have been possible without the invaluable financial support of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus.  Faithful to its mission, COLF continues to seize every opportunity to promote and defend the liberating teachings of the Catholic Church on so many issues relating to life and family both within the Church in Canada and in the public square.

PUBLICATIONS

"Bullying: A plague to combat together"
Faced with the social phenomenon of bullying, which affects so many young people, adults and families, this reflection serves as a guide to parents confronted with  the demanding job of forming the characters and the consciences of their children.  It addresses several aspects of bullying, providing definitions and looking at the consequences, the aggressors and the victims and the impact on the family, etc.  It also asks the big question:  “What would Jesus do in my place?” Ideas proven effective by experience are proposed for use in schools. A workshop guide completes this reflection inviting parents and educators to ask themselves: “What can I do to prevent bullying?”

"As a Family, Choose Life: Choose Jesus Christ – A Christian Reflection on the New Age"
Largely inspired by the excellent document published in 2003 by the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Interreligious Dialogue – entitled "Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life – A Christian Reflection on the New Age"– this brochure presents the many faces of the New Age movement.  This broad current of thought influences both music and film, retreats and therapies, as well as politics, education and law.  Now integrated into popular culture, it represents an ongoing challenge for Christian parents.

"What really is new about the New Age movement is that it is a conscious search for an alternative to Western culture and its Judeo-Christian religious roots,” says the Holy See’s document, which goes on to warn: “because the New Age denies the revealed truths of the Christian faith and offers a return to pagan religions, influenced by Eastern religions and ancient heresies ( . . . ) it  cannot be regarded as positive or innocuous” and “ it is not possible to isolate some elements of New Age religiosity as acceptable to Christians, while rejecting others.” 

“Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Urgent Questions!” – Workshop Guide

In order to help the members of dioceses, parishes and families to better understand the issues surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide, and with a view to motivating their participation in the public debate, COLF created a new workshop to accompany the publication of the same name.

SEMINAR ON LIFE AND FAMILY

This year’s Seminar on Life and Family was held in Québec in order to mark the 350th anniversary of the Cathedral Basilica of Notre-Dame.  From March 20th to 21st, participants (including many diocesan representatives and members of Québec’s Table provinciale de pastorale familiale) had the occasion to hear a group of excellent speakers who addressed various aspects of the theme "The Christian Family: Witnessing to Hope in Today’s World”.
Dr. Christine Jones, President of Redeemer Pacific College, presented an anthropological reflection; Mrs. Gillian Roussy, of the International Federation for Family Development, spoke about the education of children;  Mr. Antoine Renard,  President of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations of Europe presented the family as the "school of the good life”, giving a second reflection on the civic responsibility of families; finally Mr. Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Québec, examined the role of the media.
Thanks to the generous and highly effective input of ECDQ.TV – the media portal of the Catholic Church in the Québec City area — we were able to make these lectures available, in their entirety, on our website (www.colf.ca).

EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE FILE

COLF has been very active -–albeit discreetly— in the ongoing debate in Québec regarding end of life issues.  The Living with Dignity Network (VDD) and the Physicians’ Alliance agains Euthanasia (the "Collective") stepped up their efforts to oppose Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, which was finally adopted after the Québec elections. VDD and the Collective have made known their intention to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation.

In August, we made available a concise document summarizing the situation, clarifying the terms of the debate and encouraging the civic participation of Catholics: “NO to Bill 52: Euthanasia is at our Doors!”
During the summer of 2013, Bishop Noël Simard, COLF’s President and adviser on ethical issues for the Assembly of Québec Catholic Bishops, proposed to the Assembly’s executive, the wide distribution of a file of documents relating to end-of-life issues, prepared by COLF specifically for use in Québec parishes. These documents were designed to challenge the baptized to take a public stand in opposition to the government, which seemed more determined than ever to achieve the legalization of "medical aid in dying” (a euphemism for euthanasia).
In December, one week before the resumption of parliament in Québec, COLF sent an email to every individual and group registered in its contact database, encouraging them to contact their MNAs, to write to the media and to pray and fast in order to block Bill 52.

WEBSITE

Since the month of November, COLF has had a new website. The new site, with its colourful appearance and dynamic feel, has proven very popular with web users. Easily navigable, the site features a highly efficient search engine which makes it easy to discover all of COLF’s activities at a glance, the most recent initiatives being displayed on the home page. Special resources are created and posted as need arises (e.g. on euthanasia, the World Meeting of Families, the CCCB’s Week of Life and Family). 

PUBLIC STATEMENTS

“Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide – We are at a Crossroads:  Choose life!”

On October 28, COLF reacted to two recent decisions by Canadian courts: one regarding the Carter case (in British Columbia) and the other the Rasouli Case (in Ontario), once again challenging more Catholics to react to the threat presented by Québec’s Bill 52, An Act concerning end-of-life care.

National March for Life

In a message entitled “Abortion: The Big Lie”, published on the occasion of the March for Life, which took place on May 8,  COLF denounced the killing of unborn children and the destructive impact of  abortion on women:  “When will enough be enough ? How many women need to die, to be maimed, or to find themselves haunted by the ill-informed decisions of their youth -- how many unborn children must die – before the abortion lie is revealed for what it is?  To that end we must unite our voices and our actions in proclaiming the inherent dignity and value of every human life from the first moment of conception to natural death. RU4 Life?”

“A Pan-Canadian Palliative and End-of-life Care Strategy?  Yes.  As soon as possible!”

A statement issued by COLF in support of NDP MP Charlie Angus’s Motion 456, for the development of a national strategy for palliative and end-of-life care (which was subsequently adopted in May).

“Euthanasia is at Our Doors!”

On May 26, aware that the members of Québec’s National Assembly might at any time be called upon to vote on Bill 52, COLF sent another email to all its contacts urging them to lobby their MNAs to vote against the deadly Bill.

C-FAM Petition in Support of the Holy See

With attacks against the positions of the Holy See at the UN constantly multiplying, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) decided to launch a petition in support of the Holy See.  COLF signed the petition in April.

Letters to Elected Officials

  • Letter to Mr. Charlie Angus, NDP MP, expressing COLF’s support of his Motion (456) to establish a national strategy for palliative and end-of-life care.

COLLABORATION WITH THE HOLY SEE AND THE CCCB

Extraordinary Synod on the Family

As part of preparations for the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization” (October 2014), COLF responded to the preparatory questionnaire distributed by the Holy See to dioceses and  groups interested in participating.

National Week for Life and the Family

On the occasion of the second Week for Life and Family organized by the CCCB, COLF published a message entitled “Families, Let Us Share the Joy of Knowing Christ!”  Well aware that no family is perfect, COLF nonetheless observes: Pope Francis insists, speaking of the family, that “it is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite pour differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith (The Gospel of Joy, 66).  Today more than ever, mothers and fathers need to be encouraged and sustained as they strive to embrace their God-given roles.  Let us recall with renewed hope that our families, however imperfect they may be, are the leaven that is destined to transform this world of ours – a world so desperately in need of the love of Jesus Christ.”

Declaration Against Euthanasia

COLF worked with the CCCB in fine-tuning the Declaration on Euthanasia initiated by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.  Many groups and individuals have signed the petition.

PARTICIPATION IN CONFERENCES

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

As participants and/or exhibitors:

2013

23-24 September: Plenary Assembly of the CCCB (Mont-Gabriel, QC) and Meeting of Catholic Movements and Associations.

3-5 October: Catholic Trustees Association, Ottawa.

24-26 October:Annual Congress of the Canadian Pro-life Movement, Charlottetown.

8-9 November: Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Conference, Toronto.

7 December: Conference of l’Association des parents catholiques du Québec, Montreal.

2014

23-26 January: Series of lectures on TOB by Christopher West

8 May: National March for Life and Rose Banquet (Ottawa)

As Speaker:

2013

3 November: "Euthanasia is at our doors!", Good Shepherd Parish, Orleans (M. Boulva)

6 November: A training day for the pastoral workers of the Diocese of Valleyfield (accompanied by Bishop Simard), focusing on the theme: "Evangelization, a family affair! – The family as the recipient and protagonist of the New Evangelization”

2014

14 January: "Euthanasia is at our doors!", Cornwall (M. Boulva)

21 January: "L’euthanasie est à nos portes!", Cornwall (M. Boulva)

26 February: "The family as the recipient and protagonist of the New Evangelization”, a training day for the Anglophone pastoral staff of the Archdiocese of Ottawa (M. Boulva)

27 February: "La famille, destinaire et protagoniste de la Nouvelle Évangelisation", a training day for the Francophone pastoral staff of the Archdiocese of Ottawa (M. Boulva)

21 May "Let us Rejoice with the Family:  Jesus is Alive! A Reflection on the New Age” – part of the Archdiocese of Gatineau’s observance of the National Week for Life and the Family (M. Boulva).

OTHER NEWS AND ACTIVITIES

 Prions en Église 
At the invitation of officials at Prions en Église, we wrote a short reflection on our Message to Families, “Bullying: A plague to combat together” for inclusion in the September issue of the missalette.

Links with Dioceses, Movements and Associations
COLF continues to collaborate with diocesan representatives, including members of the TPPF, as well as representatives of pro-life groups, ecclesial movements and new communities, in promoting life and family.  Those registered in our database receive regular updates from COLF.

Media interviews
Issues relating to life and family always occupy a prime place in the news.  Consequently, we are regularly invited to respond to the questions of journalists.

2013

August Prairie Messenger, The B.C. Catholic"Canadian doctors vote against changing anti-euthanasia policy   catholic register BCC   Prairie".

The B.C. Catholic, Prairie Messenger–  "CMA president's desire for euthanasia debate concerns groups".

September The B.C. Catholic, Prairie Messenger   "COLF warns of pitfalls in New Age movement" .

The B.C. Catholic, LifeSite News "COLF urges character education to combat bullying".

October The Catholic Register, The B.C. Catholic, "COLF, EPC send out urgent calls to oppose Quebec euthanasia bill".

LifeSite News  –  "Vote on Quebec bill to allow euthanasia expected Tuesday" .    

The B.C. Catholic, LifeSite News  "Pro-life groups happy about Harper's position".

The B.C. Catholic, LifeSite News  "Premier appears to be pro-euthanasia".

November Réseau Sel et Lumière Coverage of our declaration entitled  "L’euthanasie et le suicide assisté – nous sommes à la croisée des chemins : choisissons la vie !".

The Catholic Register, The B.C. Catholic "NDP MPs seek national palliative care initiative".

2014

January The B.C. Catholic  "National March for Life to concentrate on abortion drug".  

March The B.C. Catholic "Federal Liberals adopt arguments of Quebec euthanasia bill".   

The Prairie Messenger "Internet porn is the new “crack cocaine”, say experts".  

The B.C. Catholic "COLF keeps focus despite “wishful thinking” elsewhere".

ECDQ-TV   "Reportage et couverture complète du Séminaire sur la vie et la famille".

April Western Catholic Reporter, The B.C. Catholic  "Campus rape culture' related to online porn, say".

LifeSiteNews, The B.C. Catholic "COLF challenges “big lie” abortion is “good for women” ".

May The Catholic Register "House of Commons adopts Angus motion on palliative care".

Radio-Vatican "Joy in family life underlined during National Week for Life and Family in Canada".

Radio-Vatican "Canadian March for Life “encouraging”".   

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, C.-B. – Community pharmacist
  • Mr. Nat Gallo, Ancaster, ON – Knights of Columbus, Assistant to the Supreme Knight for Canadian Affairs
  • Mr. Michel MacDonald, Ottawa, ON – Lecturer,  St. Paul University
  • Ms. Amélie Martineau-Lavallée, Québec, QC – Head, Archdiocesan Family Ministry, Archidiocèse de Québec. 
  • Mr. Dennis Savoie, New Haven, Connecticut – Knights of Columbus
  • The Most Rev. Noël Simard,  Valleyfield, QC –   Bishop of Valleyfield
  • Mr. Peter Stockland, Montréal, QC – Journalist and Director, Cardus Centre for Cultural Renewal. 
  • The Most Rev. Richard Smith, Edmonton, AB – Archbishop of Edmonton
  • Ms. Cecilia Zucchi, Montréal, QC –  Professor of Philosophy, Grand Séminaire de Montréal

Personnel

  • Ms. Michèle Boulva (Director)
  • Mr. Peter D. Murphy (Assistant Director)
  • Ms. Christine Shepherd (Administrative Assistant)