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

Thanks to the indispensable financial support of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and of the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus, we were able to continue our work in service of life and family during the period between 30 June 2014 and 30 June 2015.  Developments in Canadian society – in the political, socio-cultural and ecclesiastical spheres – have afforded us with opportunities to promote and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church relative to ethics, and life and family issues.

 

PUBLICATIONS

 “Families, Christ calls us to sow hope and joy!”

In order to give love, one must have received love!  And it is in the family that everyone should first encounter the face of love.  It is there that we learn to relate to family members lovingly and to look beyond their limits to the dignity which is ours as children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus.  Today, more than ever, Christian families are called to share their love and to spread a contagion of joy and hope!  This Message to Families finds its inspiration in the writings and words of Pope Francis, who calls each of us to reject the “throwaway culture” and to have “a heart that sees and takes action” to relieve the most vulnerable.

A workshop guide available on our website complements this brochure and allows families, parishes and anyone interested to reflect more deeply on the content, using a series of tweets from the Holy Father.

Prayer card for the protection of human life

 Opportunities abound for parish families to pray for the respect and protection of life and human dignity.  This prayer card serves as an invitation  to join with all the disciples of Christ who believe in the power of prayer.

 

SEMINAR ON LIFE AND FAMILY

 From March 19th to 20th, more than a hundred participants attended the 2015 COLF Seminar, held this year in Gatineau, focusing on the theme “When life takes us by surprise . . .”   Ten experts addressed various aspects of the abortion issue:

  •    “The dignity and humanity of the embryo” (Archbishop Bertrand Blanchet, Canada)

  •    “Contraception and abortion:  an undeniable link” (Angela Franks, Ph.D, USA)

  •    “The psychological impact of assisted reproduction and abortion” (Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy, Canada)

  •    “Defense of life: a new approach” (Tugdual Derville, France)

  •    Post abortion testimony (Anne-Hélène Frustié, France)

  •    “The consequences of abortion: finding a path to healing” (Theresa Burke, Ph.D., USA)

  •    Post abortion testimony (Angelina Steenstra, Canada)

  •    “Preventing the human drama of abortion” (Anastasia Bowles and Isabelle O’Connor, Canada)

  •    “Hope in turmoil:  facing a difficult pre-natal diagnosis” (Jakki Jeffs, Canada)

  •    “Toward a human ecology” (Tugdual Derville, France)

With a view to reaching a wider public, we engaged the services of a videographer.  Videos of the talks given at our seminar have been posted on our website and may be useful to individuals and to parishes wanting to deepen their understanding of this life issue.

 

EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE FILE

“Life-Giving Love” Campaign – A National Campaign for Palliative and Home Care:  Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

In the wake of the adoption by the National Assembly of Québec, on 5 June 2014, of an Act Respecting End-of-life Care, and in response to the continued efforts of the pro-euthanasia lobby throughout Canada, we developed this national educational campaign, inviting citizens who respect life from conception to natural death to engage more seriously with vulnerable people and to enter more fully into the ongoing public debate on this subject.  A website specifically devoted to this campaign was created:  www.lifegivinglove.com.

With the support of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), COLF is responding to the urgent appeal of Pope Francis:  “Following the example of our Master, we Christians are called to look upon, to touch and to take upon ourselves the misery of our brothers and to work concretely toward its relief.”  The Holy Father has condemned the  ”abandonment of the elderly” which he has described as “a real but hidden euthanasia”.  Some dioceses have responded to the initiative, organizing meetings in parishes and with health workers.

Decision of the Supreme Court in the Carter Case

The Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision in the Carter Case on February 6th – earlier than anticipated.  Not only did the nine judges render a unanimous decision in this case, but at the same time they decriminalized assisted suicide and euthanasia, giving the government one year to legislate on the issue.

We responded to the Carter decision in a statement entitled “God Alone is the Lord of Life”, calling upon Catholics to defend the freedom of conscience of doctors and urging the government to enact a restrictive law  and to assign funding for the development of palliative care.

The Most Rev. Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton, and President of our Board of Directors, also published a reaction, in which he reflects on the Christian understanding of suffering -- according to which we are never alone -- and anticipating the harmful impact of the decision on the common good of Canadian society.

It is in this context that we wrote to all of the members of the CCCB with a view to reviving interest in our “Life-giving-love” Campaign, the relevance of which was now all the more obvious:  the baptized need formation on these bioethical issues.

 

WEBSITE

Mobile

COLF’s friends can now access our website from their smartphones or tablets – a welcomed development!

“Gifts”

A new “Gifts” section has been added to our website.  For those who — during this time of new evangelization — are looking for a unique gift, one or another of COLF’s publications could warm hearts, open new horizons and offer the friendship of Christ to our children, parents, friends, colleagues, students or  parishioners.   We propose several titles for each occasion listed under one or more of the following categories:  “Liturgical Year: Great Moments” . . . “Children of God: Sacraments and Vocations”‘ . . .”Family Life: So Many Occasions to Celebrate!”...“ In school: Science and Life”  . . . “Special Days”.

“What’s New?”

 A very brief newsletter designed to announce COLF’s news and to keep our friends informed regarding the latest social and cultural developments relative to life and family.

 

STATEMENTS

 The CPSO and Freedom of Conscience

On July 18, 2014, we took advantage of the invitation of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario — who were hosting a public consultation as part of a policy review process — to submit a brief entitled “First of all rights:  freedom of conscience and religion”.  Nearly seven months later, on February 4, 2015, confronted with the prospect that CPSO was about to change its operational principles by radically restricting the rights of conscience of Ontario physicians, we responded in a statement entitled “The supremacy of conscience is threatened”.   On March 6th, the CPSO’s new policies were finally adopted, compelling all physicians to refer their patients to a colleague should they find themselves unable, for reasons of conscience, to provide a requested service.

 National March for Life

Entitled “Let us march in the light of God and may life win!”, our message on the occasion of the National March for Life, May 14, 2015, recalled that all human life – from conception to natural death – is a gift from God.  When we are faced with the difficult choices which life sometimes presents, Christ enlightens us in order to enable us to make the right choices.  In union with Him, we become men and women given to others:  the weak and the vulnerable, the unborn, the sick, the marginalized and the dying.

 

COLLABORATION WITH THE HOLY SEE AND THE CCCB

 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family

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

Then, for  the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (4-25 October 2015), which will focus on “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world” (and in light of the widespread lack of understanding  relative to the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family), we submitted a response to open question No.1.  We focused on what we believe is the heart of the problem:  the failure of the Church to adequately evangelize the baptized and the need to engage all the forces at the Church’s disposal in the new evangelization.

National Week for Life and Family

On the occasion of the Third National Week for Life and Family (11-17 May 2015), organized by the CCCB, COLF published a message entitled, “Family, accompany the dying with love”. This theme was inspired by the decision of the Supreme Court in the Carter case.  It appears more urgent than ever that Catholics and all people of good will be aware that it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to take care of the most vulnerable among us.  We are called to reflect the unconditional love of God and, to the best of our abilities, to relieve the suffering of individuals approaching the end of life.

 Decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter Case

 Like other organizations consulted by the CCCB, we developed a suggested response to the  worrying decision of the Supreme Court, which gives Parliament one year to develop a new law which will regulate assisted suicide in Canada.

 

WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES

In order to promote the World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia from 21 to 27 September 2015, we opted for two strategies: (1) an invitation addressed to every visitor to our website; and (2)  a regular information update delivered through our Newsletter, “What’s New?”

 

PARTICIPATION IN CONFERENCES

During the year, staff members participated in several events and conferences, taking advantage of these opportunities to raise awareness of  COLF’s work and publications .

As participants:

2014

September 12-13:       CCCB Forum with Catholic movements and associations, Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré (Ms. Boulva)

September 15-16:        Plenary Assembly of the CCCB, Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré (Ms. Boulva)

October 4:                      Meeting of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Ottawa (Mr. Murphy)

2015

March 4:                   Conference of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (Mr. Murphy)

April 24-25:             New Evangelization Summit, Ottawa (Mr. Murphy)

May 14:                     March for Life and Rose Banquet (Ms. Boulva)

June 20:                    “Alpha” Conference (Ms. Boulva)

June 29:                    Meeting of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Ottawa (Mr. Murphy)

 

As guest speakers:

2014

October 16:                    Presentation on the “Life-giving Love” Campaign to the pastoral personnel of the Archdiocese of Ottawa (Ms. Boulva)

2015

February 15:                 Talk at Paroisse Ste-Marie  in Orléans:  “The Family as Recipient and Protagonist of the New Evangelization” (Ms. Boulva)

April 17:                          Talk on euthanasia and assisted suicide, as part of the Theology on Tap program, Cornwall (Ms. Boulva)

 

OTHER NEWS AND ACTIVITIES

Prions en Église

At the invitation of the editorial staff of the missal Prions en Église, we wrote and submitted two short texts.  One was published in October 2014 (“Synode sur la famille: le pape François nous invite à prier ») and the other in December (« Famille, rends contagieuses ta joie et ton espérance! »).

 Links with Dioceses, Movements and Associations

COLF continues to collaborate with representatives of dioceses, including members of the TPPF, and with pro-life groups, ecclesial movements and new communities, in promoting life and family.  Those registered in our database regularly receive COLF’s news via email and now via social media (tweets).

COLF in the media

 Life and family issues continue to occupy a prominent place in the news.  Not surprisingly, therefore, we are regularly invited to answer questions from journalists.

The launch of our National Campaign for palliative care and home care:  against euthanasia and assisted suicide ”Life-giving Love” ; our 2014 Message to Families and the appeal that we made to Canadian Catholics to actively defend the freedom of conscience of doctors, attracted significant attention from national and international Catholic media.  The Zenit news agency published a report about the launch of our Message to Families; the Swiss Catholic news portal, Radio Ville-Marie and the Montréal news agency Proximo covered our campaign against euthanasia.

 This report is respectfully submitted by the members of the Board of Directors and the staff of COLF:

 Board of Directors:

  • Cristina Alarcon, B. Pharm, M. Bioethics, Vancouver, BC — Community -based pharmacist.

  • Mr. Nat Gallo, Ancaster, ON — Knights of Columbus, Assistant to the Supreme Knight for Canadian Affairs.

  • Mr. Larry Kustra, Winnipeg, MB — Knights of Columbus Supreme Director.

  • Bishop Paul Lortie, Mont-Laurier, QC — Bishop of Mont-Laurier, QC.

  • Mr. Michel MacDonald, Ottawa, ON — Lecturer at St. Paul University.

  • Ms. Amélie Martineau-Lavallée, Québec, QC — Head of Diocesan Family Ministry, Archdiocese of Québec.

  • Archbishop Richard Smith, Edmonton, AB — Archbishop of Edmonton.

  • Mr. Peter Stockland, Montréal, QC — Professional journalist and Director of the Cardus Centre for Cultural Renewal.

  • Ms. Cecilia Zucchi, Montréal, QC — Professor of Philosophy, Grand Séminaire de Montréal

Staff

  •       Michèle Boulva (Director)

  •       Peter D. Murphy (Assistant Director)

  •       Christine Shepherd (Administrative Assistant)