Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 21, 2004
Oppose abortion, says archbishop
Kingston's Meagher chides politicians on abortion stance
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
If leaders claim any right to be called "Catholic" they must "unequivocally and publicly state their opposition to abortion," says Archbishop Anthony Meagher of Kingston, Ont.
While not being specific about which leaders he is referring to, Meagher said, "If the shoe fits, wear it." In the current general election campaign, Prime Minister Paul Martin, who has been referred to in press reports as "a devout Catholic," has repeatedly defended a woman's right to have an abortion.
The archbishop, whose comments were made in the most recent issue of the diocesan newspaper, the Journey, and reprinted on the diocesan website at www.romancatholic.kingston.on.ca, also said that those wishing to call themselves Catholic leaders must be "willing to do what can be done to protect the dignity of all human life."
As well, "they must also ask themselves honestly if it is reasonable to equate the value to society of a same-sex union with the union of a man and a woman who will give life to and nourish a family," said Meagher.
The Kingston archbishop's message also 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."
At least two other Catholic bishops in Canada have publicly expressed concerns about Martin's support of abortion and same-sex marriage. On June 11, Archbishop Marcel Gervais spoke "briefly" with Martin by telephone about the prime minister's stand on social issues including abortion and same-sex marriage, said Gilles Ouellette, diocesan spokesperson.
Ouellette said the archbishop "will make no public comment about the conversation or the letter, at this point."
Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, in a pastoral letter June 6, criticized Martin for his "moral incoherence" on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage and said "No Catholic can responsibly take a 'pro-choice' stand when the 'choice' in question involves the taking of innocent life."
Henry's comments drew the ire of Joanna Manning, a Catholic feminist, teacher and writer in Toronto. "This is not the first time that he has used a bully pulpit to make personal attacks on Catholic politicians, and it's always women and sex that set off these tirades," Manning wrote in an article published in the Toronto Star June 13.
"What about war?" Manning asked. "Where was Bishop Henry's condemnation of conservative Catholic politicians who supported the Americans in what the pope himself condemned as an unjust invasion of Iraq?"
Henry addressed the situation in Iraq, including stating his opposition to a military invasion, in two articles in the WCR in early 2003.