Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

Do you encourage your congregation to be blood donors?

The donation of ones own blood has been, for many years now, a great step forward in sciences service to humanity. Many people owe their lives to having been given someone elses blood. The Roman Catholic Church views the question of blood donation as being in complete conformity with the moral law, if the physical danger and risk to the donor are proportionate to the good that is sought for the recipient.

During numerous audiences, the late pope John Paul II frequently suggested that one way of promoting life is through giving blood. This offers a chance of health and even of life itself to the injured, the sick or those who sometimes have no other hope. In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), he even suggested that donating either ones own blood or organs for transplant is the ultimate witness to life.

Pope Benedict XVI has continued the tradition of encouraging us to donate blood. During one of his audiences, he expressed the hope that the peoples commitment to such a human and evangelical way of helping our neighbour in need will be more and more generous.

Last year, he addressed blood donors from around the world who had gathered in St. Peters Square for the celebration of the Angelus, just days before the World Day of Blood Donors. In part, he said Dear brothers and sisters, I know that you have taken part in the Holy Mass presided over by Cardinal Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. May Christ, who redeemed us with his Blood, always be the model of your volunteer service. (Angelus, June 12, 2005).

The Church continues to encourage us to give this precious gift of life as often as we can.