On politics and Christianity
Recently, there has been some criticism of the Canadian Catholic bishops for their lack of support for the pro-life cause, particularly regarding the recent election. But, we must give credit where credit is due and I would like to express my appreciation for the uncompromising position taken by some of our episcopal leaders, so I shall devote this article to their public statements.
Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary wrote in a June 6 pastoral letter, "In much of the secular media, Prime Minister Paul Martin is frequently described as a 'devout Catholic.' However, his recently clarified position re: abortion and same-sex 'marriage' is a source of scandal in the Catholic community and reflects a fundamental moral incoherence ... No Catholic can responsibly take a 'pro-choice' stand when the choice in question involves the taking of innocent life. Nor is there a right for same-sex people to marry." In his concluding paragraph, Bishop Henry states, "All Catholic politicians, including the prime minister, would do well to imitate the example of St. Thomas More, who by his life and death, taught that man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality."
Archbishop Anthony Meagher of Kingston, Ont. has also recently spoken up. LifeSite Daily News reports: "The archbishop of Kingston has spoken out to Catholics in political life saying that, 'If they claim any right to be called Catholic, they must unequivocally and publicly state their opposition to abortion.' Writing in the current June/July issue of the diocesan paper, The Journey, the archbishop stated it is never appropriate for Catholic leaders to claim that acceptance of such denial of human dignity, for example, abortion on demand, "is a sign of Canada's tolerance and goodness. It is not; it is simply cowardice."
Peterborough Bishop De Angelis urged his priests during their annual retreats to inform the Catholics of his diocese of the importance of supporting candidates in the upcoming federal election who declare themselves to be pro-life and in favour of the traditional family. In an interview with LifeSite, the bishop confirmed that his use of the term "supporting candidates" means more than voting and involves many things such as "campaigning and so on." There are 100 active priests in the Peterborough diocese, which consists of 41 parishes and 30 mission churches. So the news must have got around.
In the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Archbishop Rousin, the successor to the great pro-life Archbishop Adam Exner, told Catholics they must vote pro-life, pro-family first.
Bishop James Wingle of St. Catharines sent fliers to all his priests, focusing on Mother Teresa's message on abortion, so that they could be inserted in all the parish bulletins and consequently spread through the entire diocese. This is one of the most effective ways of spreading the pro-life gospel. I am sure that many other bishops have taken some action in their dioceses. I have quoted only those about whom I have read on LifeSite, an invaluable source of daily pro-life, pro-family news available on the internet for free. I am sure that there are many other bishops and religious leaders who affirmed that the right to life is the most important voting consideration we must have. Let us pray that their message will be effective.
As I completed my article, I read the Toronto Star and discovered that Archbishop Marcel Gervais of Ottawa had a telephone conversation with the prime minister about the election. While what was said between the two was not printed, having heard the archbishop preach to a packed church on the occasion of the recent March for Life in Ottawa, I have no doubt that he was reminding the prime minister of his duty as "a devout Catholic."