OTTAWA, February 10, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The annual Canadian National March for Life, to be held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 14, has for the first time in 11 years received the full support of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).A proposal by St. Catharine’s Bishop James Wingle at the bishops’ annual plenary last September for a mass mobilization of the clergy to attend the March for Life received strong support from Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast. CCCB president Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg also observed that well over 50 bishops and hundreds of priests attend the National March for Life every January in Washington, DC.
Archbishop Weisgerber said “We want to support it because it is a good thing,” and indicated that he will encourage his brother bishops and the clergy to become involved, “especially people from the region so that the march becomes quite a lot larger.”
Jim Hughes, president of Campaign Life Coalition, which organizes the annual March for Life, was delighted with the news of the bishops’ support.
“That’s powerful,” Hughes said. “That’s probably the best news I’ve heard in 2009. It’s always wonderful to have the spiritual leadership and support of the bishops of Canada and we welcome this initiative on their part and we look forward to a long and growing relationship with them.”
Archbishop Weisgerber designated Archbishop Prendergast, who was the first Canadian bishop to attend the March for Life last year, as the coordinator for the bishops’ initiative.
The 2009 March for Life, given the sobriquet “Exodus 2009,” in recollection of the 40 years Israel spent wandering in the desert before reaching the Promised Land, will mark 40 years since the omnibus bill of Pierre Trudeau which decriminalized abortion in Canada and allowed the destruction of over 3 million lives since the bill came into effect in May 1969.
Mary Ellen Douglas, national coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition, said she was very pleased to hear of the initiative of the bishops.
“I’m delighted that the Bishops are taking a proactive stand to ensure that as many people as possible attend the 2009 March for Life on Parliament Hill,” Douglas told LifeSiteNews. “We hope and pray that this 40th year will mark the end of the killing. We’ve been in the desert of the culture of death for forty years and its time to come to the promised land of the culture of life.”
Neil McCarthy, communications director for the Toronto archdiocese, said his diocese will have a strong presence at the March.
“The March for Life provides an ideal opportunity for the Catholic community to come together in support of life,” McCarthy told the Catholic Register. “Archbishop (Thomas) Collins will be attending this year’s march and the Office of Catholic Youth will be organizing buses to Ottawa.”
Back in March 2008, The Rosarium sent a letter to all of the country’s bishops asking them to 1) issue a clear affirmation of Humanae Vitae 2) formally retract the Winnipeg Statement and 3) participate in the March for Life rallies in 2009. (In our meeting with Archbishop Prendergast in November 2007, we actually asked him to invite the country’s bishops to Ottawa for the March for Life in remembrance of the 40th year of legalized abortion in Canada.) It appears therefore that our prayers and efforts might have been blessed to receive 2.5 of the 3 requests we asked for. The above story addresses the third request while the first was answered a day short of the 40th anniversary of the Winnipeg Statement. Like the song says, “2 out of 3 ain’t bad”, but we’re not stopping there. We’re going to be gunning for #2 in the near future.Here is the relevant excerpt from the letter:
The next couple of years will see Canada approach 40 years of tragic milestones in our nation’s history concerning contraception and abortion. Therefore, we believe it is fitting that Canada’s bishops remember the great holocaust of abortion and its enabler, contraception, by leading our nation to repentance. We therefore propose to you and the bishops of Canada the following actions:
1. July 25, 2008– In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae, a full and unqualified endorsement of the encyclical by the Canadian bishops, and a clear and unambiguous condemnation of contraception, similar to the one released by the American Bishops.
2. September 27, 2008 – In repentance of the issuance of the Winnipeg Statement 40 years previously, a full, complete, and genuine retraction of the Winnipeg Statement, and a sincere apology to all Catholics and Canadians for the confusion caused.
3. May 14, 2009 – In response to the 40th year of legalized of abortion in Canada, a visible act of opposition by the Church in Canada by calling all Catholics to participate in March for Life rallies in every province in this country, preceded or followed by a Eucharistic procession and Solemn Mass presided over by all of the provinces’ bishops for the conversion of Canada to the Gospel of Life.