Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 12, 2000
Henry seeks end to march fracas
'Let's stop beating up on each other,' bishop tells CWL
By GORDON LEGGE
Special to the WCR
Calgary's Bishop Frederick Henry is imploring Catholics on both sides of the March 2000 controversy to quit arguing.
"Let's stop beating up on each other," Henry told about 165 women attending the provincial convention of the Catholic Women's League Alberta-Mackenzie Council June 2.
"It's vitally important that all pro-life people stop beating up on each other. May I make a final plea for charity and tolerance. Let's stop clubbing each other to death."
March 2000 or the World March for Women is a global campaign which began March 8 and ends Oct. 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
It comprises a series of events (not just marches) aimed at eliminating poverty and violence against women. It involves 4,190 groups from 153 countries.
Among its supporters are the CWL, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Canadian Organization for Development and Peace.
The controversy erupted earlier this spring when Canadian organizers for the World March for Women included in their list of 59 demands an item about access to abortion for women. The international march contains no such reference.
The Canadian Catholic organizations have condemned and dissociated themselves from the abortion demand of the Canadian organizers but continue to support the international objectives of eliminating poverty and violence against women espoused by the international organizers.
Toronto Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic has scaled down funding for Development and Peace to protest its continued involvement in the march.
Henry, who outlined his position to CWL delegates as well as in an article in the May 22 WCR, supports continued involvement. He is the anglophone bishops' representative on the CCODP board.
Involvement best reflects the Vatican's stance at various United Nations' conference where abortion has been on the agenda, he said.
Furthermore, he encouraged CWL members to protest letters from Canadian march organizers denouncing the Catholic position on abortion.
"I think they should be responded to," he said. "Get back in there and push the sisters aside."
Accused recently by a Calgary news commentator of taking a left-of-centre stand on abortion because of his support for continued involvement in the march, Henry defended himself in an interview following his address.
"I'm a little disconcerted," he said. "I have absolutely no ambiguity on the pro-life question. There never has been. There never will be."
The commentator also suggested that the city's annual Bishop's Appeal to raise funds for Catholic charities has suffered as a consequence.
"I don't think that's the case," said Henry. "We're probably further ahead in garnering our money than ever before."
Later, the CWL reiterated its position taken at the diocesan level across the province, encouraging members not to march under a banner that is not in accordance with Catholic faith and belief.
Instead, they put their emphasis on reducing poverty and violence by announcing programs to mentor young and single mothers living in poverty.
"We can't have anything to do with the abortion agenda," said CWL provincial president Lucille Partington. "Never has it become more important for us in the CWL to continue and enhance our efforts to reduce poverty and violence."