Views on Life and Family in Canada and U.S.

Bishops Addressed Meeting Held in Dominican Republic

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, SEPT. 6, 2002 ( Bishops of the Americas who met here this week paid special attention to the worrying situation of life and the family in the United States and Canada.

During his address, Bishop William Skylstad, vice president of the U.S. episcopal conference, emphasized the great opportunities and challenges facing the family in his country.

He decried the 1.2 million abortions carried out annually, and said that many families, especially those of immigrants, suffer poverty.

Bishop Skylstad noted that advocates are pressing hard for same-sex “marriage” and for the legal right of homosexual couples to adopt children. He also mentioned the growth of single mothers and fathers, as well as the increase of families where both parents work outside the home.

And “close to 39 million Americans do not have health insurance, including 8.5 million children,” the bishop added.

Yet, there are signs of hope, including ecclesial services for the family and more numerous efforts for pro-life and pro-family legislation.

For his part, Bishop Jacques Berthelet, president of the Canadian episcopal conference, described the situation in his country.

“For the past six years,” he said, “the episcopal conference of Canada has responded … through the Catholic Organization for Life and Family [COLF], which it created together with the Knights of Columbus, for the purpose of promoting respect for human life and the dignity and role of the family.”

Canada has not legalized abortion, but there is no law to prohibit it. Since 1993, legislation is awaited on genetic and reproductive technology. COLF has tried to promote legislation befitting the dignity of the human being and the family, he said.

The meeting of representatives of the Americas’ episcopates was promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and the Latin American bishops’ council.

The bishops hope to persuade their governments and lawmakers to protect life and the family.

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