Please find attached a letter that was sent yesterday to the Archbishop of Winnipeg, Most Rev. V. James Weisgerber, the current president of the CCCB. It relates to the upcoming annual bishops’ conference, and the expected release of a new statement on family and marriage.
We bring to your attention, once again, the disastrous effects that the Winnipeg Statement has had over the past 40 years in Canada, and we call on the bishops of Canada to reflect honestly on its errors and submit to the solemn teaching magisterium of the Church.
In his Encyclical letter, Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II condemned both the proportionalistic philosophy and the “pastoral” solution proposed by the Winnipeg Statement. In paragraph 56, the Holy Father stated clearly:
On this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called “pastoral” solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium, and to justify a “creative” hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a particular negative precept.
It is our understanding that the final day of the Bishops’ conference falls on September 27, which is the 40th anniversary the Winnipeg Statement was issued (September 27, 1968). Faithful Catholics are expecting the bishops of Canada to repent of this document and issue a full, unqualified, and clear re-affirmation of Humanae Vitae.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
John Pacheco & Tony Liuzzo
This post was included with the letter below.
September 13, 2008
The Most Reverend V. James Weisgerber
President Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
In the August 29, 2008 issue of The Catholic Register, you were quoted as saying, “the bishops have asked the conference’s Theological Commission to draft a statement [on marriage and the family].” And you continued, “The Catholic bishops of Canada have always been faithful to the teaching of the church but there continue to be people who doubt that.”
First, we wish to say that we are grateful to the Holy Spirit and Our Blessed Mother for prompting the Canadian Episcopacy to publish a document on marriage and the family not only because they are continually being assaulted but also we desperately yearn for a document that shall be faithful to the teaching of the church.
To address another part of your statement, “….people who doubt that.”, yes indeed we doubt that. However, our doubts are not unfounded or frivolous. We refer to the Canadian Bishops’ Statement on the encyclical “Humanae Vitae” dated September 27, 1968. It has come to be known infamously as, “The Winnipeg Statement”. Although four paragraphs contained therein are the most objectionable, we shall deal today with the most egregious- Paragraph 26. We shall quote it here,
“26. Counsellors may meet others who, accepting the teaching of the Holy Father, find that because of particular circumstances they are involved in what seems to them a clear conflict of duties, e.g., the reconciling of conjugal love and responsible parenthood with the education of children already born or with the health of the mother. In accord with the accepted principles of moral theology, if these persons have tried sincerely but without success to pursue a line of conduct in keeping with the given directives, they may be safely assured that, whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience.”
Paragraph 14. of Humanae Vitae lists four illicit ways of regulating birth:
1. direct interruption of the generative process already begun;
2 directly willed and procured abortion;
3 direct sterilization;
4. every action to render procreation impossible. Quoting a phrase from paragraph 26 of “The Winnipeg Statement”, “ ….that course…” must refer to any or all of the aforementioned illicit ways of regulating birth. For quite some time now, the science and medical experts have known that IUD’s, many types of birth control pills and the like are abortifacient. The crafters of “The Winnipeg Statement” have given their “blessing” to these activities by stating in the same paragraph, “… which seems right to him does so in good conscience.” We can only conclude that the bishops gave their assent to abortion and their permission to those who wish to pursue that course. It seems clear to us that the procurers of these and all abortions directly willed are subject to the sanctions and penalties as stated in Canon Law, canon 1398 as follows
“A Person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication”
We understand that to actually incurr the excommunication one must know that it is an excommunicable offense at the time of the abortion. Where does this leave the “people of God” and where does this leave the bishops?
We quote from the “Statement on the Formation of Conscience”, Canadian Catholic Conference, December 1, 1973:
“2. Man, then, has God’s clear teaching to guide him, found in Scripture and tradition, protected and authenticated by the teaching Church.” Further, Your Grace, we quote from your address to the 32nd Meeting of the Bishops of the Church in America February 16-19, 2004,
“ …We must be clear that the father and the mother are co-responsible for the children’s upbringing.” The common theme is the Church’s duty to annunciate and teach the people of God clearly and with no ambiguity, as is their right.
The “Winnipeg Statement” has and continues to obscure and deny the Truth, casts doubt within the hearts of the faithful and causes division among us. We are not alone in looking at the Winnipeg Statement with jaundiced and suspicious eyes. None other than our late Holy Father John Paul II made reference to that statement in his encyclical, “Veritatis Splendor” August 6, 1993 [in proximity to the 25th anniversary of Humanae Vitae]. We feel that it is important to quote paragraphs 55 and 56 from that document.
“55. According to the opinion of some theologians, the function of conscience had been reduced, at least at a certain period in the past, to a simple application of general moral norms to individual cases in the life of the person. But those norms, they continue, cannot be expected to foresee and to respect all the individual concrete acts of the person in all their uniqueness and particularity. While such norms might somehow be useful for a correct assessment of the situation, they cannot replace the individual personal decision on how to act in particular cases. The critique already mentioned of the traditional understanding of human nature and of its importance for the moral life has even led certain authors to state that these norms are not so much a binding objective criterion for judgments of conscience, but a general perspective which helps man tentatively to put order into his personal and social life. These authors also stress the complexity typical of the phenomenon of conscience, a complexity profoundly related to the whole sphere of psychology and the emotions, and to the numerous influences exerted by the individual’s social and cultural environment. On the other hand, they give maximum attention to the value of conscience, which the Council itself defined as “the sanctuary of man, where he is alone with God whose voice echoes within him”. This voice, it is said, leads man not so much to a meticulous observance of universal norms as to a creative and responsible acceptance of the personal tasks entrusted to him by God. In their desire to emphasize the “creative” character of conscience, certain authors no longer call its actions “judgments” but “decisions” : only by making these decisions “autonomously” would man be able to attain moral maturity. Some even hold that this process of maturing is inhibited by the excessively categorical position adopted by the Church’s Magisterium in many moral questions; for them, the Church’s interventions are the cause of unnecessary conflicts of conscience.
56. In order to justify these positions, some authors have proposed a kind of double status of moral truth. Beyond the doctrinal and abstract level, one would have to acknowledge the priority of a certain more concrete existential consideration. The latter, by taking account of circumstances and the situation, could legitimately be the basis of certain exceptions to the general rule and thus permit one to do in practice and in good conscience what is qualified as intrinsically evil by the moral law. A separation, or even an opposition, is thus established in some cases between the teaching of the precept, which is valid in general, and the norm of the individual conscience, which would in fact make the final decision about what is good and what is evil. On this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called “pastoral” solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium, and to justify a “creative” hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a particular negative precept. No one can fail to realize that these approaches pose a challenge to the very identity of the moral conscience in relation to human freedom and God’s law. Only the clarification made earlier with regard to the relationship, based on truth, between freedom and law makes possible a discernment concerning this “creative” understanding of conscience. “
One would have to be totally unaware to think that he is not referring to the “Winnipeg Statement” and others of its ilk.In 1996, the Canadian bishops with the Knights of Columbus jointly founded The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF). The goal was to help deal with challenges facing the family by building a civilization of love in Canada. Its three objectives are
- first, to promote the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning respect for life, and the inherent value and dignity of the human person;
- second to support and reinforce the fundamental role of the family in society;
- and third, to spread the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the natural regulation of fertility.
These are formidable and vital objectives. However, our efforts in the last twelve years have been stunted and indeed nullified in many cases because of the lurking specter of the “Winnipeg Statement” which has as its objectives exactly the antithesis including disobedience. We cannot continue being duped and to use false reasoning in saying such as this, “this is the work of another slate of bishops of another era.” We need to be totally receptive to the grace which Our Lord and Saviour wishes to bestow upon us and to bask in the glory of the objectives. It is imperative to retract the “Winnipeg Statement” now!
In closing, we refer to a pertinent scripture passage and the words of penitential rite in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:
Matthew 12:25 – But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand.”
Your Grace and your fellow bishops can be assured of our constant prayers while you are about the work of publishing this invaluable pastoral statement.
May we pray together the words from the penitential rite:
“Confiteor Deo omnipotenti et vobis, fratres, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, opera et omissione: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, omnes Angelos et Sanctos, et vos, fratres, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.”
In the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we remain,
John Pacheco and Tony Liuzzo
The Rosarium of the Blessed Virgin Mary
c.c. The Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, Archbishop of