OTTAWA, September 25, 2013 ( – A group of parents urged the Ottawa Catholic School Board last night to cut ties with the charity Free The Children due to its support for contraception and abortion.

“While there is no doubt that Free the Children does do some good things in developing countries, there is also no doubt that they advocate for practices that are the opposite of what we hold, profess, and live as Catholics,” Andy Pocrnic, representative of Parents As First Educators (PAFE), told the board.

(Read Pocrnic's complete remarks to the board here.)

The charity, founded by the Keilburger brothers, who are Catholic, aims at activating young people to fight poverty and injustice in developing nations. The Keilburger’s annual “We Day” rallies thousands of Catholic teens to make a difference in the world, but a difference critics say is ultimately out of line with Catholic social teaching.

“Unfortunately the brothers are also outspoken in their wish to make ‘reproductive health services,’ which among activists invariably means contraception and abortion, more commonly available to women in the developing world,” wrote Teresa Pierre, PAFE’s President, in a press release.

The Keilburgers made clear on what side of the culture war they fight in an opinion piece written on Mother's Day, 2011, titled “A Mother's Day Manifesto”. The piece, which ran in the Toronto Star, criticized recent government cuts to the world’s largest abortion provider – Planned Parenthood.

Click “like” if you are PRO-LIFE!

“And as women in developing countries fight for reproductive rights, our now Conservative majority government is poised to cut funding to International Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides reproductive health services abroad. It's a paternalistic refusal to offer women in Africa the same rights offered to women in Canada,” the brothers wrote at that time.

As reported in 2011, in the lead up to the 2010 G8 and G20 meetings, the organization produced a fact sheet for youth on “maternal health,” denouncing Canada’s Conservative government for refusing to fund abortions in its G8 maternal health initiative.  Another fact sheet on “child health” says putting in place such a condition against abortion funding showed “disregard for recipient countries’ concerns.”

Pocrnic would like to see Catholic school children benefiting from legitimate Catholic partners.

“Based on the evidence we have provided here tonight, we ask the Ottawa Catholic School Board to stop engaging in its partnership with this charity,” he told the board.

Pocrnic’s efforts come after the board amended its “Partnership, Sponsorship, and Donations” policy in June at parents’ insistent request on account of numerous board-partner scandals that were happening in the schools.

The amended policy now states: “The Board's philosophy, vision statement, as well as Catholic Social and Moral Teaching, will also direct partnerships and sponsorships”.

Pocrnic told the board that parents take the statement to mean that “our children's education [will] remain faithful to the Catholic Church, and so to Jesus Christ.”

Pocrnic mentioned possible replacement partners who “refuse to participate in any immoral activities” and who “oppose the culture of death and live and breathe the culture of life.” He mentioned Mater Care International, Canadian Food for Children.

After the presentation, one trustee asked Pocrnic if he had “listened [to] or heard the Pope’s latest statement and clarification”, according to a recording of the presentation obtained by

Last week in an interview with La Civilta Catholica in partnership with America magazine, the pope had said that it is “not necessary” to talk about the issues of “abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods” “all the time”, emphasizing at the same time that Church teaching on these matters is “clear” and that he is a “son of the Church”.

While the secular press has interpreted this as a call for the Church to downplay, or even abandon its teachings on controversial moral issues, Catholic commentators have argued that the pope only said that those issues should be placed in their proper “context.”

Concerned parent James Doak told LifeSiteNews that Pope Francis' statements do not give Catholic schools a pass to partner with pro-abortion groups, especially in light of Francis’ most recent condemnation of abortion one day after the release of his La Civilta Catholica interview.

“It's as if the trustee was saying: ‘You caught us working with pro-aborts, but we want to misinterpret Pope Francis’ talk last week to give us wiggle room because we love Free the Children so much’,” he said.

In his strongest pro-life comments to date, Francis told Catholic gynaecologists on Friday: “Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world.”

PAFE is asking concerned parents to write the Ottawa Catholic School Board and the Archdiocese of Ottawa and ask them to “stop supporting” Free the Children.

Ottawa Catholic Trustee contact info found here.

Julian Hanlon
Director of Education and Secretary Treasurer                    
Phone: 613-224-4455 ext 2272
Email: [email protected]