B.C. bishop opens pro-life office; Sask. Hospital under fire

The Archdiocese of Vancouver has launched a major new strategy to revitalize a dormant Catholic population on pro-life issues.

Vancouver Archbishop Adam Exner said the reason the area needs a new push is “because our past efforts have not, as we are painfully aware, been sufficient to halt the murder by abortion of vast numbers of children.”

The strategy involves prayer, crisis response, education, civic action, ecumenical relations and liaison with other pro-life groups.

“The most crucial aspect of our new approach is prayer,” Archbishop Exner said.  As well as prayer he urged Catholics to “use the grace and talents that God has given you to help in other ways mentioned in this strategy.”

There will be prayers offered at each Mass and a holy hour once a month in each parish.  There will be increased publicity for crisis counseling services.  Each parish and high school will have a pro-life committee, and these will be coordinated by an office in the diocese.

Another goal of the strategy is to achieve greater cooperation with churches of other denominations and to work closely with established pro-life groups.

Meanwhile, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, a Catholic hospital is fighting a battle with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.  If they lose, the rights of RC hospitals to set ethical guidelines could be undermined.  Observers believe that they might then be forced to perform such procedures as sterilizations and abortions.

Pat Weir filed a complaint after Holy Family Hospital in Prince Albert said that her request for a sterilization would be referred to an ethics committee.

The complaint was against the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception who run the hospital.  Weir charged that Catholic hospitals, which are publicly funded, discriminate against women through their ethical guidelines.

Michael Thibault, spokesman for the Catholic Health Care Association of Saskatchewan said even though the province funds Holy Family this doesn’t mean the hospital should have to give up its principles.

Weir has also charged the Saskatchewan Department of Health with discrimination because it supports the hospital and its policies.

This means a decision against the department of health and the hospital will have far-reaching effects across the province and could influence the practices in Saskatchewan’s 10 other Catholic hospitals.

The question of sterilizations is no longer an issue in Holy Family as the maternity and obstetrics ward has been moved to another hospital.

But Weir says she is pursuing the complaint so she can make an influence on hospital policy across the province.