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Almost 4,000 Canadian youth going to Krakow for World Youth Day 2016


*This post was originally published on the CCCB.

(CCCB – Ottawa)… Young pilgrims from all over the world are expected in Krakow, Poland, July 25-31, 2016, to participate in the31st World Youth Day (WYD). Krakow is the city of Karol Wojtyla – Saint John Paul II – who in his early years as priest, university chaplain, Bishop and then Cardinal Archbishop sowed the seeds of what would become in the first years of his pontificate “World Youth Days”.

Close to 3,750 young Canadian pilgrims are registered to attend this international gathering that has as its theme Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (Mt 5.7). Following the examples of the 2011 WYD in Madrid and the 2013 WYD in Rio de Janeiro, the Canadian pilgrims will again gather for a national celebration that will be held this year at 1:00 p.m., on July 26, 2016, the Feast of Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The event will take place in Krakow’s Tauron Arena, which will also be the major English-language site hosted by the Knights of Columbus throughout the WYD celebrations. His Eminence Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec and Primate of Canada will preside at the prayer service which will involve Bishops, priests, consecrated persons, youth ministers, musicians, artists and several thousand young Canadian pilgrims.

In addition to the 3,700 young people, the Canadian delegation will include nine Bishops from Canada. The Pontifical Council for the Laity has invited three of the Canadian Bishops to serve as catechists for the youth pilgrims: Cardinal Lacroix; the Most Reverend Albert LeGatt, Archbishop of Saint-Boniface; and the Most Reverend Bryan Bayda, C.Ss.R., Ukrainian Catholic Eparchial Bishop of Saskatoon. Young Canadians will have key roles during the various ceremonies, liturgies and events of the Krakow World Youth Day. From July 20 to 25, many Canadian pilgrims will also have the opportunity to participate in various activities for the Days in the Dioceses of Poland.

During his apostolic voyage to the country, Pope Francis will preside at a number of celebrations. These will include the Eucharistic celebration for the 1050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland which will take place at the national shrine of the Jasna Góra Monastery at which the country’s political and religious leaders will also be present; the WYD welcoming ceremony (July 28); the Way of the Cross on Friday evening (July 29) at Blonia Park; the Eucharist with Polish priests, consecrated persons and seminarians at the Sanctuary of Saint John Paul II (July 30); and the WYD Prayer Vigil on Saturday evening and the final Eucharistic celebration on Sunday (July 31) at Campus Misericordiae. The Holy Father will likewise visit the Auschwitz concentration camp where he will pray in the cell of the martyr Saint Maximilian Kolbe on the 75th anniversary of his death, as well as offer a prayer in silence at the International Monument for the victims of the Birkenau extermination camp which was part of the Auschwitz complex. Among the estimated 1.1 million prisoners who died at Auschwitz were Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and her sister, Rosa, also a Carmelite Sister.

The Holy Father’s schedule for the week will also include a celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation with young people participating in WYD; a visit to the Children’s University Hospital; a meeting with the Bishops of Poland; prayer in the chapel of the tomb of Saint Faustina; and the blessing of two Caritasbuildings for the poor and the elderly, as well as a meeting with WYD volunteers in the Tauron Arena.

Program schedule for Salt and Light Television
Salt and Light, Canada’s national Catholic television network, available on satellite and cable television throughout the country as well as around the world on the Internet at www.saltandlighttv.org/  orwww.seletlumieretv.org, will be in Poland throughout the week with the network’s CEO, Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B. Salt and Light will provide live coverage of World Youth Day’s most important moments, including the catechesis sessions as well as numerous interviews. Salt and Light coverage will be featured in Australia, with Catholic Television of Boston, the Hong Kong Diocese Audio Visual Center, and with the United States Military Ordinariate. Having previously served as National Director and CEO of Canada’s World Youth Day in 2002, Father Rosica is the national coordinator of the Canadian delegation to World Youth Day 2016 in Poland. The special website www.wydcentral.org will also carry WYD highlights.

Photo: Bill Wittman

Statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto on passing of Bill C-14 – legalization of euthanasia/assisted suicide


CNS photo/Art Babych

Euthanasia comes to Canada 

“There are two ways, the way to life and the way to death, and there is a great difference between them.” These wise words from an ancient Christian writer come to mind as we mark Parliament’s enactment of the law implementing the Supreme Court’s decision on euthanasia and assisted suicide, which is a fundamentally misguided decision.

Though I do not question the good intentions of either judges or legislators, their decisions have set our country down a path that leads not simply, and obviously, towards physical death for an increasing number of our fellow citizens, but towards a grim experience for everyone in our society of the coldness of spiritual death. That death is found in a loss of respect for the dignity of the human person, in a deadening pressure upon the vulnerable to be gone, and in an assault upon the sanctuary of conscience to be suffered by good individuals and institutions who seek only to heal.

To those who are grievously suffering in body or spirit and who desperately seek relief: we need to be sure that you receive it, through whatever medical means are available, and through the loving care that you deserve. The question is not whether you need relief; it is how to find it. Suicide is not the answer to the very real question you face.

Some may be consoled by the fact that the law could be worse: there are some “safeguards” protecting the vulnerable, and there is some conscience protection. Any thankfulness for these positive elements must, however, be set against the fact that in other places where euthanasia has been introduced, it has always been cloaked with “safeguards” that lull the citizens into complacency. Over the years those “safeguards” gradually weaken and finally drop away, and then the full hard cold force of euthanasia is felt. Here is a chilling fact: despite the confidence of the Supreme Court justices that Canada is different from those jurisdictions, in only slightly more than a year since their decision, the “safeguards” are already under vigorous attack.

The deepest roots of this malign development in the history of our country are spiritual, and so in the weeks to come I will be suggesting ways to address them through prayer and penance.

Our broader society also needs to engage in the necessary but lengthy process of reflection upon the dire implications for every aspect of our life together when we lose the fundamental ability to distinguish between dying and being killed. We all need to recognize the profound moral significance of that distinction.

We also need to recognize the destructive consequences of reducing the dignity of the human person to a matter of autonomy, when actually it is our loving inter-dependence, not our independence, which sustains our dignity. In addition, we must not reduce worthiness to live to a matter of the ability to function according to some personally acceptable standard of performance. We must address these and the other shaky foundations for the judicial and legislative actions which are taking us down a path to nowhere. That will take time, and a persistent effort to raise and resolve these deeper issues, with clarity and charity. Life, however, is a marathon, not a sprint; our enterprise is begun and, founded upon both reason and faith, it will succeed, in due time.

Meanwhile, we need to take immediate steps.

First, we need to make available for all Canadians (not just 30% of us) real medical assistance in dying: palliative care, where people who are dying are surrounded with love, and where any pain they experience is countered with the most advanced medical care available.

Second, we need to speak forthrightly. When people feel compelled to use language in a way that does not reveal what is actually happening, but instead conceals it, it is a sign that something is radically wrong (and they know it). The now officially accepted terminology, such as “Medical Assistance in Dying” does not describe medical assistance in dying; it describes killing. Let us say what we mean, and mean what we say.

Finally, we need to assure that those individuals who have dedicated their lives to healing will not be pressured into either directly causing the death of their patients, or into arranging for this to happen. Similarly, we must assure that those health care institutions which are havens of hope, in a tradition whose noble roots long predate Confederation, will in no way be forced to violate their conscience (known as their “mission”).

“Lord, teach us the shortness of life, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” – Psalm 90:12

Coast to Coast: May 29 to June 4



Here is a sampling of what we’ve been reading across the country this week.

Much attention has been focused on Parliament’s attempts to pass Bill C-14 into law before the June 6th deadline set out by the supreme court.

Once Parliament sent Bill C-14 to Senate, the media turned their attention to Canada’s senators. Alberta senator Betty Unger shared her position with Maclean’s.

The NDP Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay shared his concerns about Bill C-14 in this guest-column.

Of course, there are other issues getting attention in our country and beyond. As war continued to rage in Syria, many families are still trying to find their way to Safety. In Edmonton, one Melkite priest shares his story of getting his family to safety in Canada.

You could say that spring is “ordination season.” Dioceses across Canada (and beyond) have just had or are looking towards the ordination of new priests and deacons. Here is an honest chat with one Vancouver priest whose path to the priesthood took him through married life, fatherhood, and the film industry first.

CNS photo/Art Babych

Coast to Coast: May 1 to May 7



Here’s what has been happening across our country this week:

In Alberta, the fires in Fort McMurray have wiped out homes and business and caused residents to evacuate en masse. The fires have also impacted churches and parishes in the region. At least one Catholic church is believed to been lost to the fires and a diaconal ordination had to be moved. Here are some updates:

Western Catholic Reporter

Catholic Register 

Bishop Paul Terrio of St. Paul, Alberta posted this letter on the diocesan website

And Pope Francis himself sent a letter to our Nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Buonazzi upon hearing of the widfires.

Neighbouring dioceses are already stepping up to provide those who left their homes behind with some of the basic things they need right now.



Pope Francis’ call to help the victims of the war in Ukraine reaches Canadian Catholics


By Carl Hétu, Canadian National Director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

With ongoing hostilities in the Middle East, the war in eastern Ukraine that started over two years ago is being overlooked by Western media. Many Canadians that I have spoken with recently have shared their assumptions that things are back to normal and that the violence has stopped, but this is not the case. There are still over one million internally displaced people that cannot return to their homes because their territories fell under control of pro-Kremlin militants. The bomb shelling and killing of soldiers and civilians takes place on weekly basis. In addition, the country is suffering from a severe economic crisis; the war has been a huge burden to an economy that was very weak even before the militarized confrontations began in spring 2014.

This is why Pope Francis recently announced a special collection for the people of Ukraine. It took place in all parishes across Europe on April 24. In making this announcement, the Pope stated: “My thoughts go to all the populations that hunger and thirst for peace, and in particular, of the drama of those suffering the consequences of the violence in Ukraine, of how many remain affected by hostilities that have already taken thousands of lives, and of how many have been driven to leave by the grave situation that still continues.”

The Catholic Near East Welfare Association, of which I am the Canadian National Director, is a special papal charity that has been involved in Ukraine since 1993. From the beginning of the current crisis, we took the lead in providing assistance to the internally displaced and in bringing awareness among Canadians of the real needs and the situation on the ground.


When I visited Ukraine in November 2015, I had met many displaced families that were forced to leave their homes in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. They are presently helped by our local Catholic-faith based partners, in particular by Caritas Ukraine. These people told me that besides the need of material support they want to know that people around the world care about them, know their story and do whatever they can to bring peace to their homeland.

You might be pleasantly surprised that in Ukraine there are no refugee or displaced persons camps like I have seen in many countries in the Middle East. Instead, most people have been welcomed into homes, schools and churches, scattered all over Ukraine. It really shows you the great generosity of the Ukrainian people.

In Canada, two Ukrainian Catholic eparchies – the Archeparchy of Winnipeg and the Eparchy of New Westminster in Vancouver — will be holding special collections in their parishes. I am sure many other Canadian Catholics will be joining their example and will express their solidarity with people of Ukraine as Pope Francis did himself when he said, “This gesture of charity, in addition to relieving material suffering, is intended to express my personal closeness and solidarity, and that of the entire Church, for Ukraine.”


I encourage Canadians to remember people of Ukraine in their prayers and to continue supporting the peace-building and humanitarian relief works of Catholic charities in that Eastern European country.

To find out how you can help the victims of war in Ukraine, please visit www.cnewa.ca.

Photo Credits
1: Destruction in the Donetsk region. (Photo courtesy of Andriy Zelinkyy)

2: An artist collected these arms items and prayed to the Virgin Mary for peace. (Photo courtesy of CNEWA)

3: Displaced elderly people from Donetsk living in Kiev that just received their food packages. (Photo courtesy of CNEWA)

Human Life is Sacred and Inviolable: Reflections to Guide Us as We March and Work for Life


Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

On April 11, 2014, Pope Francis addressed the Italian Pro-Life movement with these provocative words:

“We know that human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil right rests on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that of life, which is not subordinate to any condition, be it quantitative, economic or, least of all, ideological. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills…. Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a ‘throw away’ culture which is now spreading” (Evangelii Gaudium #53). And in this way life, too, ends up being thrown away. One of the gravest risks our epoch faces, amid the opportunities offered by a market equipped with every technological innovation, is the divorce between economics and morality, the basic ethical norms of human nature are increasingly neglected. It is therefore necessary to express the strongest possible opposition to every direct attack on life, especially against the innocent and defenseless, and the unborn in a mother’s womb is the example of innocence par excellence. Let us remember the words of the Second Vatican Council: “Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes” (Gaudium et Spe #51).”

Today we are living in the midst of a culture that denies solidarity and takes the form of a veritable “culture of death”. This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents that encourage an idea of society exclusively concerned with efficiency. It is a war of the powerful against the weak. There is no room in the world for anyone who, like the unborn or the dying, is a weak element in the social structure or anyone who appears completely at the mercy of others and radically dependent on them and can only communicate through the silent language of profound sharing of affection. Abortion is the most serious wound inflicted not only on individuals and their families who should provide the sanctuary for life, but inflicted as well on society and its culture, by the very people who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders. How can we forget Pope Benedict XVI’s words at the opening ceremony of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia, on July 17, 2008:

“And so we are led to reflect on what place the poor and the elderly, immigrants and the voiceless, have in our societies. How can it be that domestic violence torments so many mothers and children? How can it be that the most wondrous and sacred human space – the womb – has become a place of unutterable violence?”

Nor can we forget what Pope Francis wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (#214):

“It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?”

The Catholic Church’s Consistent Ethic of Life

The Roman Catholic Church holds a consistent ethic of life. The Church offers a teaching on the inviolability, the sacredness and dignity of the human person. However, opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the dignity of the human person such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself, whatever insults human dignity such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, disgraceful working conditions where people are treated as instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons – all of these things and more poison human society.

In economically developed countries, legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other states as if it were a form of cultural progress.

“Openness to life is at the centre of true development,” wrote Pope Benedict in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate. When a society moves toward the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity toward the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.” The Holy Father sums up the current global economic crisis in a remarkable way with these words: “Human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs.”

The burning issues of the promotion of human life, from conception to natural death, must be high on the agenda of every human being on every side of the political spectrum. They are not only the concern of the far right of the political spectrum. Many people, blinded by their own zeal and goodness, have ended up defeating the very cause for which we must all defend with every ounce of energy in our flesh and bones.

The market push towards euthanasia

If we look carefully at the great dramas of the last century, we see that as free markets toppled Communism, exaggerated consumerism and materialism infiltrated our societies and cultures. Aging populations, especially in the west, and resulting smaller workforces are now creating a market push towards euthanasia. As St. John Paul II wrote: “a right to die will inevitably give way to the duty to die.”

Most people who think that euthanasia and assisted suicide should be legal are not thinking the whole issue through. They are thinking about personal autonomy and choice. They think about what it would be like to suddenly become incapacitated and consider such a life as undignified or worthless. Perhaps they consider severely disabled people as having no quality of life. Our dignity and quality of life don’t come from what we can or cannot do. Dignity and quality of life are not matters of efficiency, proficiency and productivity. They come from a deeper place – from who we are and how we relate to each other. True compassion leads to sharing another’s pain, not killing the person whose suffering we cannot bear.

In his most recent Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis writes (#48):

“The elderly who are vulnerable and dependent are at times unfairly exploited simply for economic advantage. Many families show us that it is possible to approach the last stages of life by emphasizing the importance of a person’s sense of fulfilment and participation in the Lord’s paschal mystery. A great number of elderly people are cared for in Church institutions, where, materially and spiritually, they can live in a peaceful, family atmosphere. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are serious threats to families worldwide; in many countries, they have been legalized. The Church, while firmly opposing these practices, feels the need to assist families who take care of their elderly and infirm members”.

What is wrong with abortion, euthanasia, embryo selection, and embryonic research is not the motives of those who carry them out. So often, those motives are, on the surface, compassionate: to protect a child from being unwanted, to end pain and suffering, to help a child with a life-threatening disease. But in all these cases, the terrible truth is that it is the strong who decide the fate of the weak; human beings therefore become instruments in the hands of other human beings.

Being pro-life is one of the deepest expressions of our baptism: we stand up as sons and daughters of the light, clothed in humility and charity, filled with conviction, speaking the truth to power with firmness, conviction and determination, and never losing joy and hope. Being Pro-Life is not an activity for a political party or a particular side of the spectrum. It is an obligation for everyone: left, right and centre! If we are Pro-Life, we must engage the culture around us, and not curse it. We must see others as Jesus does, and we must love them to life, even those who are opposed to us. To March for Life in Ottawa, Washington and in many other cities of the world means that we stand up for all human life, and we do not have a myopic view of the cause of life. Let us strive for a consistent ethic of human life, from womb to tomb. Being pro-life in this day and age is truly prophetic, and it will bring about authentic development and enduring peace in our world.

Read more: Taking the Gospel of Life to the Streets in Ottawa and Many Other Cities 

CCCB brief on Bill C-14 (“medical assistance in dying”) to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


As clearly stated in its previous statements on this issue, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops absolutely and categorically disagrees with any attempt at justifying or supporting a “right” to assisted suicide or euthanasia. This is based on the unchanging teaching of our Church, derived from the teaching of Christ himself, that these practices are always inherently wrong (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2276-79; St. John Paul II,Evangelium Vitae n. 66). For this reason, Bill C-14, which legalizes the killing of certain categories of persons, is a fundamentally unjust law. From the Catholic perspective, no amendments could legitimate the inherent evil in the premises behind the proposed legislation.

While the legislation is itself intrinsically and gravely immoral for the reasons stated above, there are particular characteristics of the current draft of Bill C-14 which make it even more damaging and dangerous to Canadian society. For example, it contains no protections for health care workers who refuse to cooperate in so-called “medical assistance in dying” or to give an effective referral, nor to institutions that refuse to provide the service for religious or conscientious reasons. Leaving such protections to provincial legislators or professional organizations (such as provincial colleges of physicians, pharmacists, or nurses) would result in a chaotic situation with conflicting rules between provinces and would effectively prompt the resignation or removal of many health care professionals. It could also potentially force the closure of hospitals operated under religious auspices, most of which are Catholic. These institutions employ thousands of physicians and tens of thousands of staff. At a time when our health care system requires more resources, not less, the federal government should not allow lower jurisdictions to drive conscientious health care practitioners from their professions.

It is also regrettable that Bill C-14 fails in what appears to be an attempt to limit the potential harm caused by legalizing assisted suicide, as in the criterion enunciated in section 241.2(d) (that a person’s “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable”). Every person who has reflected on their own mortal existence knows that their own natural death is not only reasonably foreseeable, but indeed inevitable. This “safeguard” will protect no one.

The teaching of the Catholic Church and the stance of the Catholic Bishops of Canada affirm the sacredness and dignity of human life. Suicide and euthanasia are contrary to the most profound natural inclination of each human being to live and preserve life. Furthermore, they contradict the fundamental responsibility that human beings have to protect one another and to enhance the quality of health and social care which every human life deserves, from conception to natural death.

Bill C-14, no matter how it may be amended, is an affront to human dignity, an erosion of human solidarity, and a danger to all vulnerable persons – particularly the aged, disabled, infirm and sick who so often find themselves isolated and marginalized. Moreover, it is a violation of the sacrosanct duty of healthcare providers to heal, and the responsibility of legislators and citizens to assure and provide protection for all, especially those persons most at risk. The passage of Bill C-14, occasioned by the seriously flawed Carter decision, will have devastating effects on the social fabric of our country that cannot be predicted today.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is the national assembly of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic Bishops. As its principal pastors who officially speak on behalf of the Church in Canada, the Bishops are the spiritual leaders and teachers of more than thirteen million Canadian Catholics. Forty-six per cent of Canadians are baptized Catholics.

Photo: Diocese of Hamilton

Deacon-structing end of life issues: Life, liberty and security


As we explore the issues of end of life and medically assisted dying, we can’t ignore the question of freedom and human rights since one of the basic arguments for euthanasia and assisted suicide is that of autonomy: “it’s my body; my choice.”

In Canada we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If you haven’t read it, you should. This is the law in Canada. I am not an expert, nor have a really studied the Charter, but sometimes I think that this is not the best thing to have since it’s vague and open to many interpretations.

As an example, the Supreme Court of British Columbia determined in 1993 that the request made by Sue Rodriguez for assisted death violated Sections 7 (the right to “life, liberty, and security of the person), 12 (protection against “cruel and unusual punishment”), and 15(1) (equality) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Two decades later, using the same Charter, this ruling in Rodriguez was overturned in the 2015 decision in Carter v Canada, by the Supreme Court of Canada.

How is it that 22 years ago Supreme Court judges can look at the Charter and determine that legalized assisted dying is unconstitutional and today, the Supreme Court of Canada can look at the same Charter and determine that to deny assisted dying in fact, violates the Charter? I think that if it was clear, no matter the individual values of the judges making the ruling, the decisions would always be the same.

Section 7 of the Charter says that, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice” but nowhere does it define what those terms, life, liberty and security, mean. Would someone define “life” as a state wherein the person is useful and competent? If your life does not have liberty or security, can it be considered a life? Is a “life” defined by merely as someone who is alive? Who decides? Are these decisions based on the whim of the fleeting societal values of any particular time?

We also get into trouble because sometimes the secular world and Christians use the same words, but we have completely different meanings.

Take the word “Liberty”. What does it mean? Does it mean “freedom”? Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, during the Every Life Matters series made a very clear distinction between the words, “freedom” and “license”.

Archbishop Smith said, “License is refusal of all limit and constraint in order to do what I want. Freedom is liberty within limit to do what I must. This “ought” flows from my pledge of fidelity to the love of God. The limit within which we exercise freedom is truth: the truth of our creaturely dependence upon God, the truth of our relationship of interdependence with others, and the truth that I am not my own.”

And so, what most people refer to when they speak of freedom or liberty is not freedom at all; it’s license. “I should be able to do whatever I want” is not freedom; it’s chaos. (For more on freedom read Pope Francis’ homily from this morning’s Jubilee for young people.)

But more importantly, if all Canadians are endowed with the inherent rights of life, liberty and security – and those rights are equal – what happens when one of those rights comes up against the other? What happens when your right to liberty or security goes up against your right to life? What happens when my right to life goes up against your right to liberty?

This is where a bit of logic can be of assistance. These three inherent rights are equal, but they are hierarchical in fundament. That means that one is more fundamental than the other two.

Take a house, for example. In order to be a house, a house needs a foundation, it needs walls and it needs a roof. All are equally important. Without a foundation, without a roof, or without walls, the building ceases to be a house. They are equal. But, can you have walls without a foundation? Can you have a roof without walls? Therefore even though all three are equally important, the foundation is more fundamental than the walls and the roof. The walls are also more fundamental than the roof. The roof is the least fundamental of the three because it needs the other two in order to exist.

It’s the same with life, liberty and security: You can’t have security without life and liberty and you can’t have liberty without life. Therefore life is the more fundamental of these three inherent rights. Liberty is more fundamental than security. This means that when security or liberties go up against life, life should always win. If my right to security goes up against my right to liberty, my right to liberty should always win, because it is more fundamental.

Our laws may say this thing or that thing, but that doesn’t make it necessarily right. We have to be clear as to what we believe and have to be able to explain it to others.

Now there may be lawyers among you reading this and there may be some among you who have indeed studied the Charter. I welcome your comments on my little musing for today.

Again, I invite you to watch the Every Life Matters series, presented by Archbishop Richard Smith of the Archdiocese of Edmonton. You can watch all the webcasts at www.caedm.ca. The TV broadcasts began last night, April 23 on Salt + Light TV. Here’s the broadcast schedule if you prefer to watch them on TV.
And again, I invite you to watch my award-winning documentary, Turning the Tide, which deals with Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Canada and with its study guide, is perfect for classroom or a parish study.


Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: pedro@saltandlighttv.org

Coast to Coast: April 17 to April 23


Here’s a look at what we’ve been reading across the country this week:

One of Canada’s two member of the Pontifical Academy for Life has suggestions on how Canadians should handle the newly proposed bill on euthanasia.

In Winnipeg, Catholic health care providers weighed in on the new proposed bill and offered their own suggestions.

In Edmonton, the archdiocese hosted an in-depth exploration and discussion of the issues that surround euthanasia.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, the church is trying to unpack the messages in the pope’s post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”


Every Life Matters


Canada is facing the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia and for many people, Catholics especially, this raises very serious concerns: About our respect for the principle of the sanctity of human life; what will this mean for the protection of our vulnerable people? How will this affect our healthcare professionals who may be forced to participate in these practices against their conscience? We need to discuss all of this and that is why Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton has invited all of us to join him for the series that he’s titled Every Life Matters.

The series included a series of five conversations with Archbishop Smith and several other legal and medical professionals, as well as parents and people suffering from disabilities. These took place all over the Archdiocese of Edmonton and were streamed live on the Internet.

Every Life Matters will begin airing on S+L TV Saturdays and Wednesdays, starting this Saturday, at 9pm ET / 7pm MT.

1. What’s it all About? Airs Saturday, April 23 – 9pm ET / 7pm MT (Repeats: Sunday, April 24  – 1 am ET / Saturday, April 23 – 11 pm MT)

With special guests Kate Faught, a lawyer specializing in estate litigation, and Dr. Anna Voeuk, a physician specializing in palliative care.

2. What’s Wrong with Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia? Airs Wednesday, April 27 – 9pm ET / 7pm MT (Repeats: Thursday, April 28 – 1 am PT / Wednesday, April 27 – 11 pm MT)

With special guests Lisa Daniels, a young mother who tells her own personal story of finding meaning, purpose and happiness in life despite suffering debilitating pain; and Dr. Anna Voeuk, a palliative care physician who speaks about the need for improved access to palliative care for all Canadians. Archbishop Smith explains and illustrates Church teaching around suicide and euthanasia.

3. It’s My Body, My Choice – Airs Saturday, April 30 – 9pm ET / 7pm MT (Repeats: Sunday, May 1 – 1 am PT / Saturday, April 30 – 11 pm MT)

With special guests Father Eamonn McNerney, a hospital chaplain who shares his personal experience with a family whose loved one requested euthanasia, and Dr. Robert Hauptman, a specialist in pain management who maintains that with modern medical care, no patient should have to suffer intolerable pain. Archbishop Smith explains and illustrates Church teaching around freedom, choice, and personal autonomy — concepts that are often used to justify assisted suicide and euthanasia.

4. I Don’t Want to Suffer – Airs Wednesday, May 4 – 9pm ET / 7pm MT (Repeats: Thursday, May 5 – 1 am PT / Wednesday, May 4 – 11 pm MT)

With special guests Jeri and Chuck Marple, who tell us how their disabled daughter Mary has been a blessing in their lives, and Dr. Anna Voeuk, a palliative care physician speaks on caring for the caregivers and families of those with severe illness or disability, or nearing end of life. Archbishop Smith teaches on the Christian understanding of the mystery of suffering.

5. What Must We Do? Airs Saturday, May 7 – 9pm ET / 7pm MT (Repeats: Sunday, May 8 – 11 pm ET / Saturday, May 7 – 11 pm MT)

With special guests Mark Pickup, who tells of a very dark time when he came close to losing the will to live, and Dr. Anna Voeuk, who asks us all to defend doctors, nurses and pharmacists who refuse to participate in assisted suicide or euthanasia. Archbishop Smith offers four concrete ways we as Catholics can defend human life against such attacks.

And once again, let me invite you to watch our award-winning documentary, Turning the Tide, which deals with all these issues and questions related to the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide. With its study guide, this 28-minute film is perfect for classroom or a parish or home study.