Apostolate battles contraception
Many see the roots of the abortion problem, and other attacks on human life, as rooted in the phenomenon of contraception. To that end, a Mississauga, Ont.-based Catholic lay apostolate is drawing attention to this aspect of the culture of death, as well as to the importance of rank-and-file Catholics following their church’s teachings forbidding the use of contraception in any state of life.
“There is a failure in seeing contraception as a root cause and gateway to abortion,” says Brian Moccia, president of the Precious Blood and Life apostolate. “There is a problem in the Catholic church on the subject of contraception. We’ve come to the conclusion that the foundational nature of activism for our apostolate would be to highlight this.”
The building blocks for PBL were laid in the summer of 2001, when Moccia met with Theresa Bell, the former president of now-defunct Human Life International Canada. Bell had a strong devotion to the precious blood of Jesus, a Catholic practice that dates back to about the third century after Christ.
She had met with a pro-life Catholic priest from Australia, who developed the precious blood pro-life chaplet, a prayer similar to the Rosary but shorter in length and focusing on the seven mysterious sheddings of our Lord’s blood that are described in Scripture.
“Theresa shared this with me and I recognized its importance,” says Moccia. “We recognize that there is an affinity between the shedding of the innocent blood of our Lord and the spilling of innocent blood in our world today.”
Meanwhile, Father John Mole, an Ottawa-based priest well known in Canadian pro-life circles, expressed his desire to launch an initiative that would meld Canadian Catholic pro-life activity with the church’s devotional practices. PBL turned out to be just the vehicle for that and Mole served a key role in getting the new apostolate off the ground.
Moccia retired early from his job as a respiratory therapist at a Toronto hospital in order to devote himself fully to pro-life work. At first, he had no idea in what area he was going to get involved, until he met with Bell and his future course became clear.
“I’m doing this voluntarily,” he says. “I don’t take any salary. It’s purely from a desire to get engaged at this time and at this level.”
Other key figures in PBL include board members Mole and Dr. John Shea, as well as advisors Barbara McGuigan, Dr. Chris Clovis, Dr. Donald DeMarco, Rev. Fr. John Perricone, Joseph P. Harmon, Dr. Mary Egan Issigonis and Sadie Johnson.
Moccia says “a lot of confusion” has been sown over the Catholic church’s unequivocal teaching against contraception, as expressed in the landmark encyclical by Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, and followed up on by Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Evangelium Vitae. “Our main mission is chastity education in all states of life – single, married, or consecrated life – but especially with married couples. Whatever we get into, we always want to get back to that.”
PBL sent out its first newsletter to thousands of people across Canada in November 2001 with the theme, “Canada is in total crisis.” It alluded to the litany of attacks on life and offered the pro-life chaplet to supporters. “We had a tremendous response from English- and French-speaking people across Canada,” says Moccia.
Since then, it has issued bi-monthly educational newsletters on life issues, staged chastity-education events for married couples and young people, promoted natural family planning and begun a radio outreach through the Toronto-based Catholic Radio Program. When World Youth Day swung into Toronto last year, PBL was there with a pre-event chastity education day to prepare young people for the experience.
“We knew it would be foolish to ignore World Youth Day and not have an event tied in with it,” says Moccia. “So we held a chastity education day in Mississauga the day before the official opening of World Youth Day. Our donors assisted with it wonderfully, by helping pay airfares and registration fees for young people from Dominica, Poland, the U.K, the U.S. and Slovenia. It was quite an experience. Three hundred and fifty young people were there.”
PBL was also involved in a prayer vigil outside a Toronto abortuary by New York’s Monsignor Philip Reilly, which received much media coverage, and advised its supporters on the goings-on at what Moccia jokingly refers to as “the filthy forum” – a “women’s health” forum at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre every January that features pornographic “sex education” sessions for young girls.
PBL has also countered the workings of the pro-abortion rogue group Catholics for a Free Choice, supported Toronto’s St. Michael’s College students in their battle against the homosexual agenda on campus and has sponsored parish missions that focus on contraception in the context of the 10 Commandments. Moccia stresses that PBL will always try to respond to anyone who would like to stage such a mission in their parish.
In October, PBL brought to Toronto David Morrison, author of the book Beyond Gay and a former homosexual who has converted and is now a practising Catholic. Although it does not have politics as a focus, PBL also sent a package containing a Catholic Health Association document on homosexuality and prayer cards to some members of Parliament as they were considering their votes on recent homosexual-related legislation before the House of Commons.
In the future, Moccia foresees PBL continuing to emphasize parish missions. He also wants to shine a spotlight on the questionable workings of UNICEF and keep an eye on the situation on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, where Planned Parenthood is reported to be focusing some of its pernicious efforts.
“We’ll be keeping our ear to the ground and responding as needed,” says Moccia.
More information on PBL can be found at its website, www.preciousbloodandlife.org, or call (905) 820-2456.