Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 14, 2004
Martin causes scandal, says Henry
By GLEN ARGAN
Bishop Fred Henry is telling the Catholics of the Calgary Diocese that Prime Minister Paul Martin's positions on abortion and same-sex marriage are "a source of scandal."
Henry said in a June 6 pastoral letter that while Martin is frequently described as "a devout Catholic," his views reflect "a fundamental moral incoherence."
Henry told the WCR his June 6 pastoral letter was directed to Catholics in his diocese. "I don't want to interfere in the (election) process," he said. "I have never done that in my life and I have no intention of doing so."
The prime minister has recently taken a stronger stand in favour of "a woman's right to choose" and in favour of same-sex marriage, the bishop said. "I thought the prime minister was kind of taunting some of the other politicians.
"I didn't sense that this was the anguished position of a devout Catholic."
By writing his letter, he said he wants to help Catholics in his diocese understand that Martin's positions do not represent Church teaching.
Henry recalled the 2000 federal election campaign when he took party leaders Jean Chretien and Joe Clark, both Catholics, to task for their support of abortion.
"This is more of the same."
In the letter, the bishop said all Catholic politicians should imitate St. Thomas More "who by his life and death taught that man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality.
"In him there was no sign of a split between faith and culture, between timeless principles and daily life, but rather a convergence of political commitment."
Henry also quoted a 2002 "doctrinal note" from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on faith and democracy. The public stands of politicians cannot be something parallel and independent of the spiritual life, the Vatican congregation said.
"The note is a reminder to Catholic politicians of their duty to be morally coherent," Henry said in his letter.
In the interview, the bishop said he expects to get widely varied reaction to his pastoral letter. "In one sense, I don't care. My responsibility is to teach."
(Text of Bishop Henry's letter)