Ottawa – On June 3, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) announced the formation of a special committee to advise it on how best to promote respect for life.

“Human life, from the moment of conception through the moment of death, is a precious gift from God,” said Archbishop Austin Burke of Halifax, the committee’s chairman.  “We’re determined to promote that message and to promote it effectively.”


The committee’s mandate is to inform the bishops of initiatives in Canada and elsewhere regarding respect for life; to suggest to them concrete initiatives they might take; to assist them in evaluating legislative and other measures respecting life and to establish contact with various pro-life groups.

The bishops realize the need to convince not only the politicians but also the Canadian public at large of the correctness of their position, and this is the main reason for the formation of the committee.

It has nine members, chosen as individuals rather than as representatives of organizations:

Archbishop Austin Burke, Halifax
Bishop Bertrand Blanchet, Gaspé
Bishop Eugene LaRocque, Alexandria-Cornwall
Dr. Carolyn Barry, M.D., Fredericton
Huguette Bergeron-Fortin, Quebec, a former diocesan marriage and family coordinator, and with her husband a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family
Raymond Braun, Gloucester, Ontario, a retired civil servant
Jennifer Leddy, a lawyer and member of the CCCB staff
Jean Mahoney, Regina, a social worker
Barry J. McLoughlin, Ottawa, a communications consultant
Réjean Plamondon, Ottawa, Director of Family Action, an organization supported by the CCCB, who will act as secretary of the committee.

The CCCB, unlike its United States counterpart, has never had a separate committee for pro-life work.  In 1973 it closed its Family Life Bureau.

From 1968 onwards, the CCCB put all emphasis on social/economic issues under the title “Social Justice.”  Its Social Affairs Commission issued hundreds of declarations, but never considered abortion a social justice or human rights issue.