Communique #13 – Education and Health
National Chairperson of Education and Health Faith Anderson, December 7, 2020
“What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.
It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal,
and that every path may lead to peace.” (Agnes M. Pharo)
Advent blessings to provincial chairpersons of education and health. Even in a pandemic, time moves on, and Catholics are now preparing for the birth of Christ. Alleluia! There is much to be thankful for as you remember Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem so many years ago. It was because of their resourcefulness, strength, endurance and faith that Jesus Christ was born. You are called to live your faith with the same qualities that Mary and Joseph displayed on their way to Bethlehem. Advent 2020 will be like no other, but your faith will sustain you as you are called to do the work that Jesus asks of you.
Some of the following information is time-sensitive, and you are asked to communicate with your diocesan counterparts so they can encourage chairpersons at the parish level to take action. This can only happen when the communication channels are actively being used. Thank you for your cooperation.
A letter was sent to the prime minister, federal minister of health, provincial premiers and provincial health ministers by the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute (CCBI), which partnered with many Catholic and other groups to request provisions of ethical vaccines. The letter had 19 signatories, including National President Anne-Marie Gorman and Most Rev. Richard Gagnon, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, urging the government “to fund, purchase and distribute vaccines that do not create an ethical dilemma for many Canadians.” It was noted that approving vaccine use and regulating vaccine quality and safety standards fall under federal jurisdiction under Canada’s Food and Drug Act.
In a November 27th communique, CCBI stated, “A major ethical question for many Catholics and others is whether COVID vaccines coming our way… are ethically sourced. This question is asked because vaccines for other diseases have been produced over recent years using cell line or tissue from aborted fetuses, and sometimes from cell lines taken from IVF [in vitro fertilization] embryos which are either unused or unwanted by the mother, and with her permission are then used for experimentation and research. All of these procedures are declared morally wrong in Catholic teaching.” In the communique, CCBI indicated that two of the front runners, Pfizer and Moderna, are ethically sourced vaccines.
It is clear that a vaccine is essential in stopping the virus and protecting Canadians. What is asked is that members write letters to the prime minister, federal minister of health, provincial premiers and provincial health ministers requesting provisions of ethical vaccines. Their voices may not make a difference in which vaccine is chosen; however, they will have had the opportunity to voice their concerns according to their Catholic faith. Please ask your diocesan counterparts to urge members to write letters expressing their concerns on ethically sourced vaccines for COVID-19.
Encourage chairpersons at the diocesan level to advise members and councils to sign up for information from CCBI by completing the contact information at ccbi-utoronto.ca/ and request to be placed on its mailing list. Current information on COVID-19 and other ethical issues are available.
It is important with Christmas gift-giving to remember Mother Earth and be environmentally conscious. There are various ways members can do their part to reduce garbage at Christmas time, including not using glossy wrapping paper, Christmas cards and ribbons, and reusing gift bags and tissue paper (they are not recyclable). One metre of Christmas fabric cut into strips will wrap many gifts. Each Canadian tosses approximately 50 kilograms of garbage throughout the holidays, 25% more than the rest of the year. This is due to the purchase and use of 3,000 tonnes of foil, 2.6 billion Christmas cards and six million rolls of tape as estimated by Zero Waste Canada. Please share this information with your diocesan counterparts.
Canadian Blood Services is always in need of blood donations during the holiday season. Members have the privilege to donate blood and encourage others to donate. Ask your diocesan counterpart to encourage members to give the gift of life this Christmas season and register with Canadian Blood Services, ‘Partners for Life’ program using the League’s unique Partner ID (CATH011269) to record donations. Donations can be directed to more than one group.
Through the League’s communication process, members at the grassroots can be informed and urged to do their part to live and practice their faith and help the environment. May this Advent season bring blessings, awareness and action on issues as you live your Catholic faith and values.
National Chairperson of Education and Health