This report offers an overview of COLF’s work – projects and publications – between June 30, 2008, and June 30, 2009.

REPORT PRESENTED TO THE PLENARY ASSEMBLY OF THE CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND TO THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS.

The national news continue to confirm the importance of the work of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), which, like many other groups and individuals, is involved in building a culture of life in Canada.

PUBLICATIONS

“Towards a true sexual liberation”

Following its first National Symposium on the Theology of the Body (Edmonton, June 2007), COLF decided to dedicate its 2008 Message to Families to the theme of God’s plan for human love. This basic introduction to the theology of the body, developed by Pope John Paul II, is an invitation to question the widespread hyper-sexualization that surrounds us and to reflect on the meaning of life by discovering the true meaning of the body, human sexuality and love. This publication is of particular interest to teachers, parents of teens, and engaged couples.

“High-tech babies… Exploring new challenges to human dignity”

In less than 30 years, a new multi-billion dollar industry has developed around the world and now regularly makes the headlines: assisted procreation. Its promise is irresistible: the infertile couple could bring home a baby ! In this 12 page brochure, written in question-and-answer format, COLF takes a good look at this issue: what causes infertility? How effective is in vitro fertilization? What about genetic screening? Are all assisted procreation technologies ethically acceptable? Etc.

 CD: “Vers une nouvelle révolution sexuelle”

A COLF first! Available in French only, this CD (in MP3 format) contains the four talks given by Yves Semen, a specialist in the theology of the body, at the second National Symposium on the Theology of the Body. The CD also includes Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s homily from the symposium, “Corps du Christ, notre salut” (“Body of Christ, Our Salvation”).

SECOND NATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON THE THEOLOGY OF THE BODY 

On November 8-9, 2008, this event brought together in Quebec City over 320 people, more than half of whom were young adults. The main speaker, Yves Semen, director of the Institut Philanthropos and author of La sexualité selon Jean-Paul II (Sexuality according to John Paul II), presented the theology of the body very effectively. Participants also appreciated the talks given by the three other speakers (TeenSTAR, la Famille Marie-Jeunesse and the Centre Leunis). The Eucharist was concelebrated by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, six other bishops and 12 priests. The Catholic media gave extensive coverage to the symposium, whose theme was “Towards a New Sexual Revolution.” Salt + Light Television provided brief coverage as well as an episode of Focus Catholique with Yves Semen. ECDQ.tv, the Catholic television channel of the Diocese of Quebec, produced an excellent 12-minute video on the event. The magazine Le NIC published a 6-page report, including an interview with Yves Semen.  

SEMINAR ON THE FAMILY 

For the first time, COLF’s Seminar on the Family became a semi-public event, including not only experts but also researchers, university professors, and representatives from organizations, associations and dioceses. The overall theme of the event, which took place in Ottawa on March 27, 2009, was “Family, Society and the State: Mutual Responsibilities and Rights.” Speakers approached this theme from a range of perspectives: “Promoting a New Feminism”… “The Importance of Fathers”… “The Childcare Debate”… “The Family and Rights: Associational or Individual?”… “The Relationship Between the Family and Society – Changes, Values and Ethics”… “The Audacity of the State”.  

WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES 

Three members of the COLF Board of Directors travelled to Mexico for the VIth World Meeting of Families, held on January 13-18, 2009: Bishop Jean Gagnon, Bishop Gerald Wiesner, OMI, and a member of the Knights of Columbus, Mr. Mickey Casavant, who was accompanied by his wife, Astrid. The theme of the gathering, “The Family: Teacher in Human and Christian Values,” and many of the talks given by experts on the family, largely inspired COLF’s 2009 Message to Families. 

PUBLIC STATEMENTS 

Message on the occasion of the National March for Life:
“40 years of abortion: Urgent time for a public debate”

The year 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the Omnibus Bill that decriminalized abortion. It has also been more than 20 years since the Supreme Court decision that created a legal vacuum in Canada, allowing abortion up until the very end of pregnancy. In its message on the occasion of the National March for Life, COLF encouraged Canadians who respect the sacredness of human life to come to Ottawa on May 14 to demonstrate their hope that their elected representatives will protect the unborn. According to COLF, a public debate must take place, as surveys show that a majority of citizens want limits placed on abortion. This March for Life attracted more participants than ever before: approximately 12,000, including 14 bishops and many young people. The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Mr. Carl Anderson, as well as the primate of the Canadian Church, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, spoke on Parliament Hill.

New ethics policies of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

On September 10, 2008, we wrote to the President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) to protest the draft CPSO ethics policy, which threatened the freedom of conscience and religion of doctors by requiringthem to refer patients to colleagues for medical services that they themselves cannot, in good conscience, perform – such as abortion.

Awarding of the Order of Canada to Dr. Henry Morgentaler

COLF also protested the awarding of the Order of Canada to Dr. Henry Morgentaler, issuing a press release and writing to the Governor General of Canada, as well as Prime Minister Harper, asking them that this decision be revoked.

New pornography television channel

On September 16, 2008, COLF wrote a letter to the Canadian Heritage Minister and to the President of the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to protest the CRTC’s approval of a national pornography television channel. Research demonstrates the deep psychological and social harm that results from the use of pornography.

COLLABORATION WITH THE CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS 

Freedom of conscience and expression

On September 30, 2008, at the request of the Executive Committee of the CCCB, we prepared a memorandum regarding a decision by Advertising Standards Canada that an advertisement by LifeCanada was “misleading.” This ad stated: “9 months. The length of time an abortion is allowed in Canada. Abortion. Have we gone too far?”

New ethics policies of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons

COLF wrote a memorandum to the CCCB concerning this file (see “Public Statements,” above).

Supreme Court of Canada – Contesting the law on assisted procreation

In March 2009, the CCCB and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) received permission from the Supreme Court of Canada to intervene in a Quebec challenge to the federal government’s power to regulate human reproductive technologies and related genetic research. In their joint memorandum, in which COLF was invited to participate, the CCCB and EFC argued that, in the common interest, the federal government must protect and promote human life and dignity, as well as the dignity of human reproduction.

Bill C-384 (Law changing the Criminal Code: Dying with dignity)

For the third time, on May 13, 2009, Bloc Québécois MP Francine Lalonde introduced a bill aimed at legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. COLF worked with the CCCB to develop an action plan to oppose Bill C-384. COLF also worked with the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada (CHAC) and the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute (CCBI) to prepare an analysis of this bill for CCCB members. A parish kit was also created to make Catholics aware of the challenges posed by Bill C-384 and to suggest initiatives they could take to counter these challenges.

COLLABORATION WITH THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR THE FAMILY 

At the request of the Apostolic Nunciature, COLF prepared and sent an 80-page report to the Pontifical Council for the Family, which is building a worldwide database on the status of life and the family. This report examines the following questions: legal situation, policies and customs in Canada on life and the family. It also includes initiatives and documents from various Canadian dioceses regarding these issues.

PARTICIPATION IN CONFERENCES 

Members of the Board of Directors and staff took part in a number of conferences throughout the year, and had the opportunity themselves to give talks on issues related to life and the family. Among other events:

  • The assistant director of COLF, Ms. Lea Singh, was invited by the Archdiocese of Edmonton to witness to her faith through a talk, as part of a new evangelization initiative called “Nothing More Beautiful.”
  • The director of COLF, Ms. Michèle Boulva, represented the Holy See at the 83rd Ordinary Meeting of the Directing Council of the Inter-American Children’s Institute, held on October 15-16, and submitted a report.
  • She took part in the first annual conference of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies, a group that formed as a result of the increasingly frequent attacks on doctors freedom of conscience (May 8-10).
  • She also travelled to Virginia for the Second International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (May 29-31). 

OTHER NEWS AND ACTIVITIES

Launching of the COLF Newsletter

In February 2009, we launched the first issue of our newsletter. Titled “Towards a Cultural Renewal,” it will be published three times a year (electronic format). Its aim is to help us keep in touch with friends of COLF, providing them with information on our most recent activities, projects and publications.

Collaboration with the “Prions en Église” missal

At the invitation of the editor of the missal “Prions en Église”, we submitted five texts throughout the past year. They were published on the occasion of the launch of our Message to Families on the theology of the body (August 2008), Christmas (“Every new life is a sign of hope”), Valentine’s Day (“Renewable energy sources for spouses!”), Mother’s Day and Father’s Day (“The greatest job in the world”).

Publication of “Toi et moi – Florilège pour la vie à deux”

Two texts submitted by the Director of COLF were accepted for publication in this new book published by Médiaspaul (2009), with the co-operation of the Table provinciale de pastorale familiale (TPPF):  « Dieu au quotidien » (”God in every day life”, regarding the transmission of the faith in the family) and « Le langage du corps » (“The language of the body”, regarding the theology of the body).

Interviews and letters — Different dossiers touching on questions of life and family attracted media attention. COLF staff members had the opportunity to give a number of interviews.

Links with dioceses — COLF is pleased to continue to collaborate in promoting life and family with diocesan resource people, the national executive of the Catholic Women’s League, the State Deputies of the Knights of Columbus, the members of the Table provinciale de pastorale familiale (TPPF), and other individuals and groups registered in our database.

IN PROGRESS 

To mark the beginning of the new pastoral year, COLF will issue its 2009 Message to Families at the beginning of September. Titled “Families, Let’s Build a Better World Together!”, it is a call to families to take a more active role in building a culture of life. It explores the questions of the rights of the family and its responsibility to get involved in public debates that will undoubtedly affect the family’s future. The theme of this year’s message is timely, since families are called to take a stand in the debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide, which will come to the forefront once again in September, when Parliament resumes. A number of ideas put forward during the World Meeting of Families in Mexico (January 2009) were integrated in this message.

We are also doing research in order to publish a new brochure on palliative care. 

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

Board of Directors

 

  • Mr. Mickey Casavant, St. Albert, AB – retired social worker and Knight of Columbus
  • Most Rev. Jean Gagnon, Bishop of Gaspé, QC
  • Ms. Sharron McKeever, Oshawa, ON – retired religious and family life education consultant
  • Dr. José Morais, Montreal, QC - Assistant Professor of Medicine, McGill University, and Director of Geriatric Medecine, McGill University
  • Dr. Marie Peeters-Ney, Victoria, BC - Director of Medical Research for the International Foundation of Genetic Research ("The Michael Fund") Pittsburg, USA, and Scientific Advisor, Down Syndrome Research Foundation, London, Ontario
  • Mr. Dennis Savoie – New Haven, Connecticut - Deputy Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus
  • 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)
  • Ms. Lea Z. Singh (Assistant Director)
  • Ms. Jocelyne Pagé (Administrative Assistant)

September 2009