Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

Deborah Waters Gyapong has been a journalist and novelist for more than 20 years. She has worked in print, radio and television, including 12 years as a producer for CBC TV's news and current affairs programming. She currently covers religion and politics primarily for Catholic and Evangelical newspapers.

OTTAWA - Pro-family groups have welcomed a Nov. 23 British Columbia Supreme Court decision that upholds Canada’s anti-polygamy law.

“Anything that supports traditional, monogamous marriage is good and I think (the decision) sends a very clear message that our relationships are not exclusively personal and private,” said Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) assistant director Peter Murphy. “They have implications for those with whom we live and for society in general, so for that reason we’re very pleased with the decision.”

The province of B.C. had asked the court whether the anti-polygamy law was constitutional after charges against a fundamentalist Mormon sect in Bountiful, B.C., were dropped based on concerns they would not stand up to a Charter religious freedom test.

OTTAWA - Opponents of euthanasia have slammed a Royal Society of Canada expert panel report advocating decriminalization of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.

Margaret Somerville, founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, called the “End-of-Life Decision Making” report “a “pro-euthanasia manifesto” and “thinly veiled euthanasia and assisted suicide propaganda.”

The report, released Nov. 15, failed its mandate to provide a balanced review of arguments pro and con, Somerville said, adding five of the six authors are well-known euthanasia advocates.

OTTAWA - Catholic human rights advocates welcome federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson's support for a bill that would repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Nicholson announced his support for Conservative MP Brian Storseth’s private member’s Bill C-304 during question period Nov. 16, when Storseth asked what the government’s position would be.

“Canadians across the country are increasingly concerned that Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act infringes upon our most important human right, namely the freedom of expression,” Storseth told the House.

OTTAWA - An all-party Parliamentary committee has named effective palliative care, suicide prevention and elder abuse intervention as the three pillars of care for vulnerable Canadians.

The Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care report entitled “Not to be forgotten” stresses the need for pro-active measures to make end-of-life care available across Canada.

At a news conference releasing the report Nov. 17, committee co-chair and NDP MP Joe Comartin said only 16 to 30 per cent of Canadians have any access to palliative care. 

OTTAWA - Though Canada has traditionally had a healthy relationship between Church and state, Catholics need to remain alert to protect religious freedom, says Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller.

There is a secularist agenda that “basically wants to privatize religion and leave it restricted to the private sphere,” Miller said from Vancouver Nov. 10.

Pressures to compress religious freedom into private belief and private worship are not what is intended in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the universal human rights documents, he said.

OTTAWA - Canadian pro-life forces are prepared for battle as the latest attempt to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide makes it way through the courts.

On Nov. 14 in Vancouver, the B.C. Supreme Court began hearing arguments in Carter vs. Attorney General of Canada, that challenges Canada’s laws against assisted suicide and euthanasia. The Carter case, brought by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association on behalf of Lee Carter and four others, seeks to have assisted suicide treated as a medical instead of criminal issue.

Previous attempts to legalize euthanasia through Canada’s Parliament have failed.

OTTAWA - The head of Priests for Life Canada has weighed in on a heated political debate about whether Liberal MP Justin Trudeau is a good or bad Catholic.

“If someone wishes to be a Catholic they cannot pick and choose over the fundamental social justice teachings of the Church,” said Fr. Tom Lynch, who has headed the national pro-life organization of priests and lay members since 2008. “You cannot pretend that life issues and human sexuality teachings are not central to the social justice teachings of the Church.

“I cannot pretend to be a good Catholic and be a racist,” said Lynch. “You cannot pretend to be a good Catholic and be pro-abortion.”

OTTAWA - Changes in the no longer mandatory long-form census have prompted the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to examine new ways to fund their Ottawa-based secretariat.

“The bishops are becoming more and more aware that the CCCB has important financial challenges,” said CCCB general secretary Msgr. Pat Powers in an e-mail. “These include revenues and expenses, as well as how these have been reported in the past.”

Powers noted the CCCB “used to rely on Statistics Canada to provide data on the Catholic population of each diocese.” The census will no longer be asking for religious affiliation. The CCCB and the Catholic Civil Rights League were among many groups that opposed the changes last year.

GATINEAU, Que. - Hundreds packed the Gatineau cathedral on All Saints’ Day to bid farewell to Archbishop Roger Ébacher, who is retiring after having served the diocese for 23 years.

“Brothers and sisters, during these years of walking with you, I have received much from you,” Ébacher said in his homily, flanked by the bishops of Ottawa and Gatineau’s suffragan bishops from Amos, Mont Laurier and Rouyn-Noranda. “Every service in the Church is an exchange: we give and we receive.

“I received from you so many inspiring examples, encouraging support, generous solidarity, as well as challenges,” he said. “For this, I thank you with all my heart.”

OTTAWA - The fifth Ottawa 40 Days for Life prayer vigil ended Nov. 6 with signs the movement is stronger than ever.

Twenty-six parishes or groups participated in the vigil outside the Morgentaler abortion facility on Bank Street, a 20-per-cent increase over the last campaign. It also marked the first time the Bible was read out loud during the campaign.

Each day, for two hours straddling the busy noon hour, the Bible was read out loud with the help of a microphone and speaker set up at the site.