Cape Breton Catholic parish under fire for Facebook post condemning in vitro fertilization
St. Joseph's Catholic Parish in North Sydney, NS is at the centre of a controversy after posting a weekly bulletin to Facebook that included a message saying artificial insemination and fertilization are "immoral."
"I am a mom to three boys, all born as the result of IVF (in vitro fertilization)," said Carolynn Cote-Dube, executive director of Fertility Matters Canada.
Cote-Dube lives in works in Moncton, N.B., but grew up in North Sydney and attended St. Joseph's Parish.
"I was in the choir, I was an altar girl, I was a eucharistic minister," Cote-Dube said. "I got married there. And my eldest son was baptized there."
Cote-Dube says for others who face fertility difficulties, and as a mom whose children are old enough to understand the words posted in the church bulletin, the message is problematic.
"If that's something that they read, that it was immoral for them to come into this world or that is was evil, I take that very personally," she said.
Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Amanda McDougall had several miscarriages before giving birth to her son Emmett nearly a year ago. She said she's speaking as a mother, not as mayor, in condemning the parish's message.
"It hurts. It's really, really hurtful," McDougall said. "To see those types of words after you've worked so hard, and your heart has been broken so many times, it's devastating."
In an emailed statement to CTV News, Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick of the Diocese of Antigonish said "all children, regardless of the circumstances of their conception and birth, should be loved, cherished and cared for. A child conceived in vitro is welcomed by God and the church.The reason that the Church opposes in-vitro fertilization is that it can treat the child and couple as if they were part of a manufacturing process. There are concerns about the loss of embryos and the use of reproductive technology for selection rather than creation. The church's teaching is out of concern for children and families."
David Deane, associate professor at the Atlantic School of Theology, said while the message in the online church bulletin is consistent with Catholic teachings, something that pointed shouldn't have been posted online.
"I would have doubts about the pastoral sensitivity of this particular approach," Deane said. "I think going forward, the pastor needs to have a sensitive, loving, caring and compassionate talk with the people that he's hurt by this."
Meanwhile, some parents -- and their children conceived through IVF – say they're planning to attend mass at St. Joseph's on Sunday.