This report reviews the principal pastoral, cultural and educational initiatives advanced by COLF between June 30, 2010 and June 30, 2011 

Presented to the Plenary Assemblyof the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada and to the Supreme Council of the Knights ofColumbus

Always attentive to national current events and to the pastoral needs of Canadian families, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) continues its mission of bringing about a culture of life and a civilization of love in Canada.  This report reviews the principal pastoral, cultural and educational initiatives advanced by COLF between June 30, 2010 and June 30, 2011, with the invaluable financial support of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada (CCCB) and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus.

Publications

“Work + love = holiness!" 

While the world gradually emerged from a serious economic crisis, in its 2010 Message to Families, COLF offered an important reflection on the grandeur, the value and the dignity of human work.  Entitled "Work + love = holiness!", this publication recalls how the human being is called to become a co-creator and co-redeemer while carrying-out his daily work with love, both within and outside the family home, as an employee or volunteer.  As a complement to the publication, a series of questions encourages reflection and can serve to facilitate workshops on this essential theme. 

Permission to Reproduce

COLF gave permission to reproduce certain of its publications to the Ontario Ministry of Education and to  the Ontario Assembly of Catholic Bishops for its program, "Fully Alive ".

STATEMENTS

Brief to the Special Commission on the Question of Dying with Dignity (QC)

On July 16, 2011, COLF filed its brief – entitled "Euthanasia or Solidarity" – with the Special Commission on the Question of Dying with Dignity, which traveled throughout Quebec, beginning in the month of September, consulting people in eleven different cities. Among the innumerable aspects of the challenge which euthanasia and assisted suicide represent for Quebec society, we addressed only some of those which touch on our common humanity: dignity, autonomy, liberty and compassion.  We suggested that the conclusions drawn from the current debate on end-of-life issues will have a major impact – either constructive or devastating – on the future of Quebec. This crucial social debate forces us to ask ourselves: what kind of society do we want to bequeath to our children and grandchildren?  We offered that these fatal practices constitute a flagrant contradiction to the solidarity which characterizes the citizens of Quebec and we proposed as an alternative course of action palliative care, the humane and humanizing solution to the suffering of people at life’s end – people whose dignity can be denied by no one. Finally, we offered an overview of the Catholic perspective vis-à-vis these questions.

Brief to the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care (Ottawa)

On October 27, 2010, Dr. José Morais, Director of the Geriatric Division (McGill University) and a member of COLF’s Board of Directors, presented our brief, entitled "A Matter of Solidarity", to the Parliamentary Commitee on Palliative and Compassionate Care in Ottawa. The brief accents the importance of adopting the holistic approach of palliative care in order to accompany and to relieve seriously ill patients and individuals nearing the end of life; deeply anchored in faith and Christian spirituality, palliative care constitutes the only fully human response to the suffering of the body, spirit and soul.  Therefore, we encouraged the Canadian Government to give priority to a series of policies, including the following: elaboration of a unified national strategy for palliative care; creation of a Federal Secretariat in charge of coordinating this strategy; creation of an End-of-life Institute; creation of a mobile palliative infrastructure to enable patients to die at home; more generous fiscal policies to support family caregivers; increased research on pain control, etc.

Tribute to Blessed John Paul II

On the occasion of the beatification of Pope John Paul II, May 1, 2011, COLF repeated the tribute which it gave at the time of his death. Entitled "John Paul II, Prophet of Life and the Family", the text recalled that “from the beginning to the end of his papacy, the Polish pope was the herald of God’s plan for the family based on marriage: encouraging young couples to rediscover the joy of having children and of teaching their children to co-operate in the work of creation. His teachings have often reminded us that the intimate and complementary union between a man and a woman - their covenant based on an exclusive commitment, faithfulness, permanence and an openness to life - is the ideal setting of love and solidarity into which children can be born and raised… Does it need to be said again? Pope John Paul II had a tremendous impact on the lives of countless young people who were searching for the truth and for meaning in their lives. In him, they found a father who dared to propose a radical choice of faith and life, particularly during the World Youth Days that he initiated… Furthermore, as a model for all those who face suffering, aging and death, John Paul II remained faithful to these challenges to the very end. His example is a prophetic one in a society that is tempted by assisted suicide and euthanasia. He carried the cross of his illness with courage, demonstrating that old age can be a very fruitful time of life and that a person’s dignity is not based on quality of life, but on the fact that he or she is created in the image of God. He showed us that each person can choose to live his or her life and death as Christ did, for the sake of love.”

National March for Life

In preparation for the National March for life, which this year brought together some 15,000 people on Parliament Hill, COLF’s message encouraged Canadians confronted with the tragedy of abortion to recover “a sense of outrage and true compassion”. Borrowing Pope Benedict XVI words, we encouraged Canada to seek answers that better serve the good of women and, above all, that protect the right to life of the child who is conceived, since a majority of Canadians are favourable to legal restrictions to abortion.  

COLLABORATION WITH THE CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS 

Ad Hoc Committee for Life and Family

At the request of the Ad hoc Committee for Life and Family, COLF drafted two documents which will be submitted to the Plenary Assembly of the CCCB in October 2011. First, a pastoral plan for 2012, entitled “Building a Culture of Life and Family in Canada”; and second, a long term national pastoral plan entitled “A Fundamental Option for the Family". Pope Benedict XVI’s call to the new evangelization, and that of his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, serve as a background for these plans. 

Ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada on some sections of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act 

At the request of the CCCB, and in collaboration with the secretaries of the Episcopal Commission for Doctrine and of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, COLF drafted a reaction to the Ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada on the constitutionality of some sections of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.

Marriage preparation

After carefully examining the "Catholic Marriage Preparation Inc."  (CMP) program, which is based entirely on Blessed John Paul II’s "theology of the body", COLF decided to recommend it to all the members of the CCCB. Available online or as a parish-based program, CMP enables couples to understand the profound meaning of Catholic sacramental marriage and encourages them to dialogue.

Draft of a brochure on the freedoms of conscience and religion

At the request of the Episcopal Commission for Doctrine (CCCB), COLF drafted a brochure focused on the freedoms of conscience and religion.

The Supreme Court of Canada and the freedoms of conscience and education 

In two memoranda addressed (December 2010 and February 2011) to the General Secretariat of the CCCB, we summarized the development of the situation regarding freedoms of conscience and education, in preparation for the Supreme Court intervention of the Drummondville parents who were asking the court to recognize their right to an exemption from the course on ethics and religious culture imposed on all students (grade school and high school) by the Ministry of Education in Quebec.

Prayer vigil for nascent life

After careful research, we transmitted to the CCCB the appropriate information concerning the Vigil for Nascent Life proposed by Pope Benedict XVI for every parish in the world, to be celebrated on November 27, 2010. 

ADMINISTRATION 

After three series of interviews, the committee responsible for hiring a new Assistant Director for COLF finally recommended Mr. Peter D. Murphy.  Mr. Murphy is a trained historian and archivist. In 2004, he graduated from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington. He has an in-depth knowledge of the Catholic Church’s teaching on life and the family.

PARTICIPATION AT CONFERENCES

During the year, COLF personnel participated in a number of events and conferences, using these opportunities to make COLF’s work and publications better known:

2010

July 13
Meeting of the Legatus organization of Catholic business leaders (Toronto) – Talk by Michèle Boulva : “Disciples of Christ Today – Called to Freedom, Responsibility, Participation”

October 23 to 25
Plenary Assembly of the CCCB (Cornwall)

October 29
National Pro-Life Conference (Ottawa) 

November 12
Information session on the “Family Life” program (Archdiocese of Montreal)

2011

March 2
Talk by Michèle Boulva at the Institute of Catholic Formation of St. Peter’s Seminary (London, ON), in the Bishop Sherlock Culture and Life Lecture Series. Theme: “Disciples of Christ Today – Called to Freedom, Responsibility, Participation”

April 15-16
Annual meeting of the Table provinciale de pastorale familiale (Cap-de-la-Madeleine)

May 12
National March for Life (Ottawa)

June 3-4
Third International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (Vancouver)

OTHER NEWS AND ACTIVITIE

“Vivre dans la Dignité” (Living with Dignity) Network

In March, the “Vivre dans la Dignité” (VDD) network sent a semi-annual report to the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus, its main sponsor, who decided to renew its financial support to VDD for 2011. In less than one year, through an impressive amount of work, VDD has become an important reference on issues related to euthanasia and assisted suicide, and to palliative care, in Quebec. 

Collaboration with the “Prions en Église”  missa

At the invitation of the editors of “Prions en Église,” we submitted two articles. The first, focused on our 2010 Message to Families, and entitled "Étonnante équation : travail + amour = sainteté" ("A Surprising Equation : Work + Love = Holiness"), was published in August. The second was published at Christmas and was entitled "En famille, près de la crèche" ("As a Family, Near the Manger").

Le Messager de St-Antoine

Desirous of making COLF’s mission and publications better known to its readers, the Catholic magazine Le Messager de St-Antoine, offered us the opportunity of contributing four articles (to be published in May, June, September and October 2011).

Media interviews

A variety of topics related to life and family attracted the media’s attention, providing us with opportunities to give interviews:

2010

December
Canadian Catholic News (CCN) – interview regarding COLF’s brief to the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care

2011

February 7
LifeSite News – interview regarding Bill C-389, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression)

April 8
LifeSite News – article concerning COLF’s message on the occasion of the National March for Life, titled “‘Sense of outrage’ over abortion should lead Canadians to March for Life: Bishops’ group” 

May 12
Le NIC – interview on the occasion of the National March for Life

Links to dioceses and movements

COLF is pleased to be able to collaborate in promoting life and family with its diocesan contacts, with the members of the Table provinciale de pastorale familiale (TPPF), with representatives of ecclesial movements and new communities, and with other individuals and groups in our database. 

IN PROGRESS

2011 Message to Families

Titled “Families, did you know? Love is calling your children”, this new publication tackles the Christian family’s important responsibility to bring up children who will be aware of God’s love for them and attentive to His call. Thus, “for the disciple who acquires the habit of a daily and intimate contact with the Master of his life through prayer, who learns to trust his loving Father who wants his personal happiness, there comes a decisive moment when a more precise call is heard: "Come, follow me" (Mk 10, 21). If he responds, the call will direct his entire life – since it is a vocational call: to marriage, the priesthood, consecrated life or apostolic celibacy”, which will bloom in the heart of the Church. In this time of new evangelization, the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Parents and children are called – as are all the baptized – to be witnesses of hope and “to lead the members of our families, our friends and colleagues – one by one – to a powerful encounter, both personal and collective, with Jesus, so that He can touch them and heal them; so that they may discover that He is the only one capable of meeting the highest aspirations of their hearts, He who loves them so much and knows their needs better than anyone; And so that they choose to walk with Christ, light and strength for their life.” A series of questions, useful for facilitating further reflection on the vocational call, completes this brochure which will be launched at the end of August, on time for the new pastoral year.

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

  • Ms. Cristina Alarcon, B.Pharm, M. Bioethics, Community pharmacist in Vancouver, BC
  • Dr. José Morais, Montreal, QC - Assistant Professor of Medicine, McGill University, and Director of Geriatric Medicine, McGill University Montreal, QC.
  • Dr. Marie Peeters-Ney, Victoria, BC - Director of Medical Research for the International Foundation of Genetic Research ("The Michael Fund") Pittsburg, USA
  • Mr. Dennis Savoie - New Haven, Connecticut, Deputy Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus
  • Most Rev. Noël Simard, Auxiliary Bishop of Sault Ste-Marie, ON
  • Most Rev. Gerald Wiesner, O.M.I., Bishop of Prince George, BC
  • Ms. Cecilia Zucchi, Montreal, QC – Professor of philosophy, Grand Séminaire de Montréal

Staff 

  • Ms. Michèle Boulva (Director)
  • Mr. Peter D. Murphy (Assistant Director since May 2011)
  • Ms. Jocelyne Pagé (Administrative Assistant)

June 2011