Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
February 19, 2001
Peace over abortion shameful objective
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
"It makes my blood boil," Archbishop Marcel Gervais told the Ottawa Citizen, referring to federal Health Minister Allan Rock, a Catholic, putting the arm on his provincial counterparts to fund abortions at private clinics, while simultaneously demanding that they refuse funding for private clinics that perform other procedures like MRIs.
The archbishop further noted that not one major political party in Canada clearly opposes abortion, although almost half of Canadians profess to be Catholics. All the political parties want on the abortion issue "is peace, even if it is a fetid peace," he said.
And peace is the last thing Christians - or anyone else who recognizes that even in the most extenuating of circumstances, abortion is homicide - should allow to prevail in society over this issue.
There is a tragic notion, that regrettably has substantial purchase even in Christian circles, that "peace" is an unassailable virtue. However much that may appeal to unthinking sentiment, it is egregious foolishness. Peace is certainly an ideal, but not an unqualified one, and peace at any cost is emphatically not a Christian concept.
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth," Jesus declared. "I did not come to bring peace but a sword."
The Anglican Book of Common Prayer's Order for Confirmation includes an invocation that confirmands "may be strengthened by the Holy Spirit, manfully to fight under the banner of Christ crucified, against sin, the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ's faithful soldiers and servants until their life's end."
Abortion is an issue where no compromise with integrity is possible. Last October, Pope John Paul urged Catholics to vote pro-life. He asked that all "people of good will who believe in these (pro-life) values remain united and strong. . . in political selection." Trouble is, in Canada, that leaves you a mighty thin selection.
Allan Rock isn't the only Canadian Catholic politician in direct opposition to the Church on abortion. Jean Chretien purports to be a faithful Roman Catholic, but openly backs the pro-choice camp. Joe Clark professes to be a Catholic, but enthusiastically advocates "a woman's right to choose."
On the other side of the House, Stockwell Day, who is not Catholic, and his lieutenant and campaign manager Jason Kenney, who is, both say they are personally opposed to abortion. But the Canadian Alliance Party took a cowardly and mealy-mouthed approach to the abortion issue during the recent federal election campaign.
And despite good Catholic leaders like Archbishop Gervais, North American Catholicism has substantially accommodated itself to the liberal, modern spirit that emphasizes human freedom over duty to God, its standard of virtue being an ethic of "choice" and indiscriminate tolerance of nearly everything - save for traditional Christianity's claim to moral and doctrinal authority.
A Church without magisterial authority is a Church that will be obliged to adulterate its teachings to suit fashions of the moment, and a religion based on popular opinion amounts to a democratic social club - not living out revelation from an omnipotent and omniscient God who exists and operates whether we agree with him or not.
Many nominal Catholics today have adopted the individualist spirit to a degree that they can no longer be legitimately considered to be truly Catholic in any strict application of the term. A 1995 TIME/CNN Yankelovich poll of U.S. Catholics found that 78 per cent said individual Catholics can safely ignore Church teachings and make up their own minds on moral issues like abortion. Another survey found that 47 per cent of professing Catholics are "pro-choice."
What these people don't grasp is that the Catholic Church is not a democracy, and if it ever became a democracy, it would cease to be Catholic. As Christianity Today editor Timothy Morgan noted, when rock star and pornographer Madonna declares that her baby is "gonna be a good Catholic, just like me," most North American Catholics figure she has just as much right to define "her" Christianity as anyone else.
Not so. Individuals are not free to believe and advocate moral ideas that contradict the doctrine and moral teaching of the Church and still call themselves "good Catholics." If they cannot accept the Church's teaching on doctrinal and moral issues, they should take the honorable course and leave the Church.
The Vatican has exercised great restraint - some would say to a fault - in allowing liberal-leaning North American bishops, priests, nuns and laity more latitude in such matters than their ideological notions merit.
I appreciate Gervais' outspoken criticism of apostate politicians, but the Church needs to crack down on a lot broader constituency than perfidious politicos in terms of staunching apostacy and defiance of its m
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