Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 31, 2010
Abortion uproar astounds Marc Ouellet
Quebec cardinal underlines he was just repeating church's teaching
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Cardinal Marc Ouellet says he is surprised at the magnitude of the overreaction to his recent interventions against abortion.
"I have no power," the archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada said in an interview. "The Church in Quebec has no power anymore."
"Why such a big reaction? Because I am just reminding people of the teaching the Church," he said.
Ouellet faced a wave of negative media attacks, including a popular La Presse columnist calling him an ayatollah and extremist and wishing the cardinal would die of a slow, painful illness for saying abortion was a moral crime, even in cases of rape.
Provincial and federal politicians denounced his remarks, culminating in a unanimous resolution May 19 in the Quebec National Assembly, affirming a woman's right to free and accessible abortion. The resolution also demanded the federal government end its ambiguity on the issue and stop de-funding women's organizations.
The resolution surprised Ouellet.
"At least it was not oriented against me directly," he said. "I know they were not happy about my comments. They want the federal government to clarify its position about abortion. That's their political play."
The cardinal said he is reflecting and consulting on a response. "I will not leave things the way they are," he said.
"There is a legitimate debate about promoting human life, about respect for the unborn," he said. "Our country is very weak on that."
The cardinal defended the legitimacy of his speaking out in the public square even if he is a member of the clergy.
"The Church has to teach the truth of the Gospel and the understanding of the human being from the Gospel of Christ," he said. "And the Church has to care for the formation of conscience."
"What I see in the country is the fact that we have for 40 years legalized abortion without any restriction, it has a great effect on conscience," he said, referring to the role the law plays as teacher. There are about 30,000 abortions a year in Quebec, more than 100,000 in Canada as a whole.
Ouellet said as a bishop he had a duty to teach Catholics the moral law. The Church also has to call for justice in society, he said. "For the unborn, there is not justice. He is the weakest human being; nobody is protecting him.
"After these four decades the moral state of our culture, it has become unthinkable to revise the law, it is also symptomatic of the effect of the law on the culture," he said. "In the future we should be more prudent on what kind of laws we pass in Parliament."
The cardinal recognized, however, merely passing a law would not solve the problem. "I am aware that in Canada, in Quebec in particular, you will not reform society at the moral level by teaching morals first," he said.
"It will be through a new evangelization. If you do not meet Jesus Christ, it is very difficult to accept the teaching, the moral teaching of the Church. I am aware of that, even if what we teach is coherent at the rational level."
The cardinal was saddened that he has been accused of condemning women. "I have condemned nobody, not even the women that go to abortion."
Ouellet said the consequences of abortion are difficult for women, even if they are not commonly recognized. "Women go to abortion not because it is funny," he said.
"It is not funny at all; they are distressed. It is a very difficult decision to take."
"We should be more sensitive to all the factors that are bringing them to this decision," he said. He urged there be support and dialogue, not to pressure women, but to help them "to see what is at stake in such a decision."
"What they need afterwards is support, understanding, compassion, all kinds of dialogue," he said.
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