Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 24, 2010
Quebec columnist curses cardinal
Ouellet's abortion stand sparks backlash across pro-choice province
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
QUEBEC - A popular Quebec columnist said he hopes Cardinal Marc Ouellet will die after a long, painful illness because he called abortion a moral crime even in cases of rape.
"Why should we push a woman who has been the victim of a crime to commit one of her own?" Ouellet asked a pro-life conference in Quebec City May 15, prompting a province-wide backlash.
Afterwards he told journalists: "I understand very well that a woman who's been raped is dealing with trauma and that she needs to be helped."
"But she needs to do so with respect for the being that is in her womb," he said. "It is not responsible for what happened. It's the rapist who is responsible. But there's already a victim. Do we need to have another one?"
Those remarks prompted La Presse columnist Patrick Lagacé not only to wish death on the cardinal, but also to call him an extremist and compare him to the Iranian imam who recently blamed natural disasters on women who dressed indecently.
Campaign Life Coalition national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas called Lagacé's remarks disgusting and hateful. "This is the primate of Canada," she said. "I think every Catholic should be outraged."
Ouellet was merely doing his job as a bishop, teaching the views of the Catholic Church, said Michele Boulva, director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family.
"It's very clear he is not condemning any woman who has had an abortion," she said. "He is simply trying to protect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death."
Lagacé crested a wave of vitriol that swept the Quebec media and political establishment after Ouellet's remarks and spread to Ottawa. Federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Josée Verner distanced the Harper government from the cardinal and called his remarks "unacceptable."
The Assembly of Quebec Bishops issued a May 17 statement that called abortion one of the most difficult and painful questions society confronts. A climate of serenity and respect for rational public dialogue is needed, it said.
Quebec archdiocese communications director Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre said the cardinal's 40-minute talk was cheerful in tone and touched on marriage, family, euthanasia and human dignity. "It was really a pastoral approach, full of compassion," he said.
The talk can be viewed at ecdq.tv.
Lemieux-Lefebvre said Ouellet had been on a live TVA call-in program the previous day, May 14, when a woman phoned in to say she had had an abortion after a rape. "The first thing he told her is 'I do not condemn you,'" he said.
Lemieux-Lefebvre said the cardinal knew his remarks would provoke debate.
Campagne Quebec-Vie president Georges Buscemi, who organized the May 15 conference, said the abortion issue always triggers an irrational response in Quebec.
"There's a kind of visceral or allergic reaction," he said. "It is pre-rational and it is almost always vicious and it aims at destroying dissenting opinion."
"The more prominent the figure, the more vicious the attack," he said.
Ouellet, former rector of Edmonton's St. Joseph Seminary, will be the featured speaker at the May 27 Nothing More Beautiful session at St. Joseph's Basilica at 7 p.m.
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