EDMONTON, AB, March 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “The Alberta Bishops have decided not to participate in the 2011 Alberta March for Life,” announced Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith in a March 9, 2011 blog post. 

The reason given for the bishops’ withdrawal is that the organizers of the Alberta March are unable to guarantee that participants will not bring graphic abortion images.

“From many discussions over this issue in the last several months, it is clear that the March for Life organizers are unable to pledge that the event will proceed without the graphic displays,” said the archbishop, speaking for Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, Archbishop Gérard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan, and Bishop Luc Bouchard of St. Paul. “It is not that they will not do so; they simply cannot because it is beyond their control. Therefore, the Alberta Bishops have chosen not to join in the march this year.”

The Edmonton archbishop explains that the bishops made the decision in order not to give the impression to the public that they are associated with or approve of the images. 

“The visible leadership that we have given to the march, together with the practice of preparatory consultation between the March for Life Association and my office, would lead many naturally to the conclusion that the Bishops support the display of graphic images,” he said. “We want to make it clear that the Bishops are not affiliated in any way with such expressions and do not approve of them. “

Smith said the Alberta bishops are opposed to “the public display of large, graphic images of aborted babies” since they deem it “offends the dignity of the human beings pictured and so is at odds with our mission to promote and protect that dignity.”

Moreover, Archbishop Smith said, “Such displays can also be extremely upsetting to mothers who have suffered through abortion and to children – both of whom we want to encourage and support through our pro-life activities.”

The bishops did not, however, cancel their participation in the vigil on the eve of the March for Life and Mass the morning of the March at St. Joseph’s Basilica in Edmonton.  While the bishops have encouraged both priests and laity to attend those religious services, regarding participation in the march specifically they stated: “The Bishops will not interfere in anyone else’s decision to participate in the march.”

LifeSiteNews.com called a spokesperson for the diocese for comment, but there was no response by press time. The main organizer for the Alberta March for Life also declined to comment.

The full blog post by the Archbishop can be read here.

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Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith
archdiocese@caedm.ca

Calgary Bishop Fred Henry
bishop.henry@calgarydiocese.ca

Grouard-McLennan Archbishop Gérard Pettipas
gpettipas@serbernet.com

St. Paul Bishop Luc Bouchard
diospaul@mcsnet.ca