Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CCCB pro-life promises: taking stock after 2 months

As I reported in an earlier post, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) made some commitments at the end of the Plenary Assembly, on October 23rd, to be more active in promoting a respect for life.  That's great news.  This is badly needed.

It has now been two months since that commitment.  So far, we haven't seen any action.  But there was some movement.  Kinda.  On December 9th, the Permanent Council of the CCCB appointed three bishops to an ad hoc Committee on Life and Family.  The three bishops are CCCB Vice President Archbishop Richard Smith (Edmonton), Bishop Ronald P. Fabbro (London) and Auxiliary Bishop GĂ©rald C. Lacroix (Quebec City).  The CCCB had this to say about the Committee in a press release:

Its mandate is to develop an intermediate and long-term strategy for the promotion of a culture of life and family in Canada and to submit a proposal to the Permanent Council before the 2010 Plenary.

This is somewhat underwhelming. There are a few disturbing issues about this approach:
  • Sadly, the solution requires another committee.  More bureaucracy, I'm afraid.  I can't say that I'm surprised, however. 
  • The Committee will submit a proposal before the 2010 Plenary.  They're not implementing the strategy by the 2010 Plenary.  Just formulating a proposal.  The 2010 Plenary is likely to be held in the fall of 2010.  The bishops will likely discuss the proposal at that time, maybe make some amendments and, if we're lucky, give the go-ahead to the actual launch of the strategy, which may not be visible to ordinary Canadians until 2011.  If we're not lucky, the 2010 Plenary will decide that further study is required and will form a new committee.  Too pessimistic?  Not at all.  Remember that this is what happened with the Development and Peace scandal: a committee reported to the 2009 Plenary, which then decided to form a new committee to report back at the 2010 Plenary.  All the while, the money keeps flowing to pr-abort activists.  
  • One of the members of the committee, Bishop Fabbro, is embroiled in a controversy surrounding "early inductions" at St. Joseph's hospital.  If not done properly and under the right circumstances, these early inductions are tantamount to euthanasia. Read about it here and here.  The matter is currently being investigated by the Vatican.  Regardless of your opinion on early inductions, it is strategically unwise to pick a bishop who is in the middle of a controversy on a pro-life issue, especially given the near unanimous criticism of early inductions by pro-life groups across the country.  This lack of strategic flair bodes ill for the effectiveness of the pro-life strategy that the Committee will be designing.
I understand that an effective strategy can take time to design and implement.  I'm not stupid.  But a whole year?  Surely there must be examples from other countries that can be quickly adapted to the Canadian context.  Besides, nothing is stopping the CCCB from taking immediate actions in parishes, such as:
  • Obliging all parishes to hold a pro-life Sunday once a year (we already have that in Ottawa)
  • Demanding that all parishes actively promote 40 Days For Life and the March For Life.  
  • Making available pro-life material and "propaganda" in churches.  There exist many great educational charities like Action Life that can provide tons of pro-life resources free of charge, including posters, brochures, DVDs, etc.  They also have speakers available to give talks.  
  • Reforming marriage prep courses to banish the teaching of artificial contraception and mandate the teaching of the Theology of the Body (there are some great DVDs by Christopher West that we could play to the engaged couples).  Speaking of marriage prep, I've just learned of a parish in Ottawa where engaged couples are taught that they can use contraception if their conscience doesn't disapprove.  Sound familiar?  I'll be blogging on this shortly.  I'm sure this is not an isolated case.

See, it took a dope like me just 5 minutes to come up with a few ideas that can be implemented lickety-split. We need the bishops to get moving in a manner at a speed that is commensurate with the stakes involved in the protection of life. 

Dear bishops, I'm BEGGING YOU to please do something quickly to demonstrate that you understand the urgency of the situation.  I know that various bishops and the CCCB visit my blog regularly.  PLEASE DO SOMETHING.  When a child is drowning in a pool, that's no time to form a committee to evaluate options.  You just jump in.  Please don't leave the unborn children to perish any longer!