Bishops launch national plan on life and family issues

Archbishop Richard Smith

Archbishop Richard Smith

October 31, 2011

CORNWALL, ONT. - Canada's Catholic bishops approved a national pastoral plan on life and family at their annual assembly here Oct. 17-21.

Bishops have a particular responsibility to stand up for the dignity of human life from beginning to natural death, said Archbishop Richard Smith in an interview Oct. 21. "We want to find ever new ways to take the lead on this."

The bishops have approved a plan developed through a committee they set up with the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF).

The plan will begin in 2012 with a year of preparation within dioceses, said Smith, the new president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The national plan will gradually put various elements in place to educate people about the need to stand up for human life at all stages and to celebrate the family, he said.

Those elements would include catechesis, with the cornerstone being the "mystery and beauty of the family, because that's where life begins, where life is nurtured and where growth in Christian living takes place," Smith said.

The plan picks up on the key link between justice and life that the former CCCB President Pierre Morissette noted in his address to the plenary Oct. 17.

Justice and life need to be reconnected in efforts to promote a culture of life, Morissette said.

"The most outrageous injustice today is the attacks against the child in the womb," said Smith. "If there is any example of injustice, it is that."

"The heart of justice is recognizing the inherent dignity of every human person," he said. "We begin to appreciate that in the family."


"It is in the family and the daily give and take in relationships in families, learning to share with one another and honour one another, " that each member learns he or she is "loved and valued and needed just for who they are," Smith said.

The plan also addresses marriage preparation and efforts to help couples understand how marriage is a sign of the Lord's "unconditional and unbreakable love for the Church," he said. It includes teaching on welcoming children as a gift and honouring them.

In addition to catechesis, Smith said the bishops "want to celebrate the family and lift it up." They are considering setting aside a week every year to celebrate family and life.