Pro-life and pro-family supporters are surprised with the Catholic bishops’ conference contribution of $2,000 to the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC)to assist a National Women’s March for the Eradication of Poverty.

In a May, 1996 letter to outgoing NAC president Sunera Thobani, Catholic bishops conference general secretary Father Douglas Crosby, said the bishops’ conference supports NAC’s aim of eradicating poverty, especially among Canadian women and children.

Crosby asked that the bishops’ contribution of $2,OOO be used exclusively “to provide financial support for regional organizing and mobilization, ensuring the participation of marginalized women’s groups including Aboriginal women, women living in poverty, women with disabilities, women of color and women from northern and rural communities.”

The march began May 14 in Vancouver and culminated with a mass rally in Ottawa June 15. It was designed to raise community awareness of poverty and the lack of opportunity among Canadian women

In expressing support of the march against poverty, the bishops conference said it cannot endorse some of the positions taken NAC. Crosby urged members to acknowledge that coalition building requires respect for differences of opinion.

Nonetheless some pro-life supporters are disappointed that the Catholic bishops conference would lend any financial support favoring unlimited access to abortion and other policies opposed to church teaching.

Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL WOMEN OF Canada, said efforts to call attention to poverty among women should be encouraged. She added however that the bishops’ contribution allows NAC to free up funds for uses the church would likely oppose.

“If the bishops’ conference wants to support women and family in Canada, it shouldn’t endorse NAC projects,” Landolt said. “Despite what NAC claims, it represents only a small portion of like-minded women. The bishops would do better supporting a pro-family organization such as REAL Women.”