This week Montreal's Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Ottawa's Archbishop Terrence Prendergast spoke out calling for a new abortion debate
Yesterday Charles Lewis said:
"Two senior Catholic Church officials did something remarkable this week, though it barely got noticed and chances are it will easily be forgotten or written off as some weird “Catholic thing” irrelevant to the rest of society. They proposed a way to re-frame the discussion about abortion and it would be to the benefit of many to pay attention to what they had to say before dismissing them because they wear clerical garb...Cardinal Ouellet first acknowledged on Wednesday that we now live in the midst of a “political and legal impasse” when it comes to the abortion debate...
"I am launching an appeal with my Ottawa colleague [Archbishop Prendergast] for an awareness campaign and [for] more programs providing assistance for women in distress in Canada,” Cardinal Ouellet said. “There is a great scarcity of information, support and financial assistance to enable pregnant women to make an informed choice.”
“We know for now the law is not going to change in the short-term,” said Archbishop Prendergast said in a phone interview Thursday. “So what can we do to help women in difficulty now? If you pushed people on the pro-choice side they too would want to see fewer abortions. So we need to ask them to participate. Of course, we would like to restrict abortions and do away with them if we could, but in the short-term we should work together to reduce the number of abortions.”
This is a very positive development in the abortion debate we aren't allowed to have.
The Bishops are not advocating for a complete ban on abortion. They are calling for support for women and incremental changes. This is realistic, hopeful and inclusive of everyone including pro-choice people. The Bishops are showing leadership that our four political leaders refuse to show on abortion.
Even yesterday Gilles Duceppe was back in his own non-leadership role with "the we can't talk about abortion" bandwagon in the House:
"Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government says it does not wish to reopen the abortion debate. Cardinal Ouellet candidly admitted yesterday that he was raising the abortion issue now because the Conservative government had revived the debate by excluding abortion from its maternal health policy for developing countries. Does the Prime Minister realize that because of him and his refusal to include abortion in his maternal health policy for foreign nations the abortion debate is again raging in Canada and Quebec?"
Then Mr. Duceppe says (and I'm going to digress here but I can't help myself...):
"Mr. Speaker...the Prime Minister... must also know that Kara Johnson, who was president of the National Council of the Conservative Party, is a member of Opus Dei, and that Nicole Charbonneau Barron, who will again be a candidate for his party in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, is also a member of Opus Dei, and that a conservative member invited his colleagues to dine with Opus Dei leaders."
What relevance does being a member of Opus Dei have on this conversation or any conversation? It's like saying "Did you know that Gilles Duceppe dined with Francophones from Quebec?"
To which the correct answer would be in either case...so what?
Our political leaders (with the exception of some MPs who do and will speak out on abortion) show no leadership on abortion because they are politically motivated and not morally motivated.
But with a critical mass of grass roots support from the country, including leaders such as the Bishops, maybe we can change the hearts and minds of the country. And maybe our political leaders will follow.
Baby steps. But positive baby steps.