Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 23, 2006
Canada's bishops discuss wayward politicians
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Confrontations with politicians might "scare away anyone who might want to be a Catholic politician."
The Church, he said, has a threefold role with politicians: to "teach fearlessly," to "dialogue honestly" and to "act lovingly."
Honest dialogue is meant to keep the door open, he said, pointing out the need to work with public officials rather than alienate them.
"We are not just another constituent or community leader, we are their pastors and teachers," said McCarrick. "Our concern is not politics, nor just particular policies, but their faith and even their salvation."
The cardinal said dialogue has often helped Catholic politicians move to more centrist positions. For example, some who were initially in favour of partial birth abortion changed their minds.
Canadian bishops raised concerns about party platforms and party discipline that enforce an anti-Catholic agenda.
Bishop Paul Marchand of Timmins, Ont., pointed out that some Canadian parties will "kick out" politicians that do not support same-sex marriage.
Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary asked about how bishops should deal with Catholic politicians who openly show contempt for Church teaching.
McCarrick said that if, after dialogue, he had reached an impasse with a Catholic politician who continues to publicly defy Church teaching, then that politician should not receive Communion.
"Sometimes you have to do it," he said, but first one must clearly, courageously and with love lay out the teaching.
Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Alexandria-Cornwall, Ont., pointed out that not only are Catholic politicians dissenting from Church teaching, but so is the Catholic electorate.
McCarrick said the Church has lost control of the teaching instruments of society: Fewer children go to Catholic schools than used to; preachers such as the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen are gone.
Catholics must develop ways to reach people through the media, he said.
Archbishop Thomas Collins of Edmonton said confrontations with politicians "going astray" over moral teaching might "scare away anyone who might want to be a Catholic politician."
He asked if there were ways of "celebrating the mission of the vocation of politician." They lead difficult lives, working very hard, spending lots of time away from home, he said. "They have massive pastoral needs."
McCarrick suggested regular meetings with politicians, Catholic Bible studies for legislators, prayer groups and similar activities to show politicians that "we are with them" and to let them know "we think it is an important way of life."
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