OTTAWA, January 31, 2014 ( – A group of parents is demanding a Catholic school board respond to unanswered questions involving a controversial partnership with the secular charity Free the Children.

While the charity has claimed that it does not partner with groups that violate Church teaching, it has health facilities in the developing world that offer “family planning,” and its founders have praised Planned Parenthood for its work in “reproductive rights.”

Andy Pocrnic of Concerned Catholic Parents of Ottawa told the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) during a meeting Tuesday that they are “disappointed and confused” that the board will not fully answer its questions.


“Catholic ratepayers are unhappy with the board's [response],” Pocrnic told the board.

Concerned parents and ratepayers urged the OCSB in September to cut ties with the charity run by the Catholic Kielburger brothers due to its ties to groups that support contraception and abortion.

But the board decided to continue its partnership in October after co-founder Marc Kielburger partially responded to questions from the parents.

According to Kielburger, Free The Children “does not partner with development organizations or other international agencies which are in direct conflict with Catholic teaching.”

Kielburger also stated that his organization does not “endorse, advocate, counsel, fund or perform abortions in any way in any of our projected countries.”

While Pocrnic told the board at the meeting that parents were glad to see such a “clear and categorical” statement from the charity on abortion, he pointed out that his group’s questions about the charity’s position on contraception and condoms were left unanswered.

“[W]e are left wondering why Marc Kielburger did not make similarly clear and categorical statements in response to our questions related to artificial birth control and the use of condoms to prevent STDs,” he said.

The Catholic Church teaches that the use of contraception is intrinsically evil, that is, no situations exist in which its use is morally permissible. Since intercourse outside of marriage and contraception within marriage are held as intrinsically evil, there is no circumstance in which the use of condoms — even for a laudable reason such as preventing STDs — is morally permissible. Catholic ethics has it that good can never be achieved by an evil means.

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Pocrnic said that Free the Children has “stonewalled” the contraception question so many times that the parental group is left with the conclusion that the charity “does in fact endorse and advocate for the use of these practices that the Catholic Church, in its moral teaching, refers to as intrinsically evil.”

The parents are demanding that the board find answers to all of their original questions before continuing any partnership with the charity. These questions are:

  1. Does Free the Children teach methods of artificial birth control to any of the people they serve? Yes or No.
  2. Does Free the Children teach that condoms prevent STD and HIV transmission to any of the people they serve? Yes or No.
  3. Does Free the Children's definition of reproductive rights and/or health, as mentioned in numerous Free the Children documents and online media, include access to artificial birth control and/or abortion? Yes or No.

Parents say the board has a duty and responsibility to find answers. Last summer the board amended its “Partnership, Sponsorship, and Donations” policy at parents’ insistent request on account of numerous board-partner scandals that were happening in the schools.

Parents As First Educators President, Teresa Pierre, said that Catholic boards and schools should “suspend their partnerships” with Free the Children until the group provides “full assurance” that its clinics “respect Church teachings on contraception.”

“The Ottawa Board made a commitment to Catholic taxpayers to endorse groups that promote the aims of the church's social and moral teachings with its partnership policy last spring,” Pierre continued in a press release. “The board is expected to be accountable to the electors now.”

Parents say they will be satisfied when the board partners with organizations that do not conflict with Catholic teaching. Catholic children deserve to be given Catholic values, they say.

“We trust that you will acknowledge your responsibility as elected representatives and find the answer[s] to question[s] that profoundly affect the faith of our Catholic children,” Pocrnic told the board.

“As I am sure you also do, we need these answers because we are responsible for the moral and spiritual welfare of our children who may be brought into contact with Free the Children through the board's partnership.”

The board is expected to respond in two to three weeks. 


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