Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Canada's March for Life is a Week Away; Pastoral Letter on Catholic Education

On Thursday, May 14 many thousands will stand up for the cause of life at Canada's March for Life. For 12 consecutive years, people have assembled in Ottawa to pray, discuss and demonstrate in the cause of life and the family. This year has a special significance as it will occur on the 40th anniversary of the Omnibus Bill that decriminalized abortion, a judicial step that led inexorably to abortion on demand and the death of millions of lives in the womb; easier divorce, which ultimately weakened family life and led to same-sex marriage. The March coordinated from the beginning by Campaign Life Coalition, this year has the title Exodus 2009, expressing the hope of all participants for a "Future without Abortion".

At the request of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, I have been asked to encourage greater participation in the Ottawa March (there are similar gatherings planned in most provincial capitals on May 7 or May 14) and already we have positive signs in the presence of a good number of bishops, enthusiasm from the Knights of Columbus whose Supreme Knight Carl Anderson will be present and word that students from schools across Ontario will once again be present.

The Catholic Office for Life and the Family (COLF), a collaborative effort of the CCCB and the KofC, strongly affirmed by the Catholic Women's League of Canada issued a clarion call yesterday for Catholic participation in the March.

Abortion has failed in reasoned debate, and the arguments used to defend it have been disproved by scientific evidence. Unlimited abortion has not gathered the support of a majority of Canadians, but it hangs on because of public indifference and silence, as well as a widespread lack of information about the full extent of Canada's juridical void on abortion, due in no small part to a silence on this topic by most media.

This is why now more than ever, we need to reopen the public debate in Parliament, in the media, and in our communities. There has never been a better time to question whether Canadian society has gone too far: in numerous surveys, citizens tell us that it has. The possibility for change is very real, and it will come about if we accept our social responsibility and speak up for the unborn. Every voice is needed, not later but now.

Speaking up means not only engaging in verbal and written debate and contacting Members of Parliament, but becoming a visible and united front. This is why the Catholic Organization for Life and Family would like to strongly encourage all Canadians who believe in ending the juridical void in Canada over abortion to join in the National March for Life in Ottawa on May 14, 2009. Gathering in ever greater numbers on Parliament Hill would clearly show our MPs and national media that we are serious about protecting unborn human life. For those who cannot join us in Ottawa, we invite you to participate in one of the numerous Marches for Life that are being held in other cities across the country.

If you are in or near Ottawa, next Thurday, please feel free to join in the prayers in the morning at various Ottawa churches (10 bishops will concelebrate at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica at 10am; there will also be a Mass at St. Patrick's Basilica at the same time, because last year there was a large overflow at the cathedral). Activities begin shortly after noon below the Peace Tower and the March processes from Parliament Hill through the streets of downtown Ottawa and back to the Hill.

Come, stand up for life!


Considering this is Catholic Education Week, I will present in the next several days an excerpt from my PASTORAL LETTER ON CATHOLIC EDUCATION
This is Part 1

This letter is a statement of my deep personal appreciation for the contribution that Catholic education makes to the lives of so many of our young people. For over 150 years, there has been a great tradition of quality Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Ottawa. It is my firm hope and conviction that we enjoy and celebrate another 150 years.

Importance of Religious Education and Family Life Education

Catholic education provides a special way of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the lives of more than 65,000 students currently in our French and English Catholic schools. There are so many unique opportunities for our young people to grow in their humanity. I will outline only a few.

From the day that the child enters kindergarten until graduation in grade 12, every student is provided with instruction in faith as a required part of a Catholic education.

Faith seeks understanding.

Every day, our students are challenged to explore, question and appreciate the richness of our Catholic faith tradition expressed through the religious education programmes of the Canadian Bishops. Educational guidance in human life, love and sexuality is provided through the Fully Alive programme of the Ontario Bishops.

Faith is a response to a loving God given in freedom, from the deepest parts of our humanity. An education in faith provides young people with a religious and spiritual framework that will be available to them for the rest of their lives.


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