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Canadian Bishop Questions Catholic Credentials of Canada’s Prime Minister

Editor   |   June 09, 2004

(Cincinnati, OH) (Toronto, ONT) June 9, 2004 – Society is currently engaged in a vigorous debate over the practice of giving communion to politicians who claim to be Catholic, but openly defy the Church on the doctrine of abortion.

Now, a new voice from Canada. Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary has issued a statement regarding such a political figure, none other than Canada’s Prime Minister, Paul Martin.

We publish his comments for your information.

Pastoral letter on Prime Minister Paul Martin’s “moral incoherence” sent June 6, 2004, by Calgary Bishop Fred Henry to all parishes in Diocese of Calgary

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

In much of the secular media Prime Minister Paul Martin is frequently described as a “devout Catholic.” However, his recently clarified position re abortion and same sex unions is a source of scandal in the Catholic community and reflects a fundamental moral incoherence.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith offered guidance relative to the role religious faith should play in the ‘public square’ or in the governing of modern democratic society in its “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life (November 24, 2002).

The Note is a reminder to Catholic politicians of their duty to be morally coherent: “There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand the so-called ‘spiritual life,’ with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called ‘secular’ life, that is, life in family, at work … in the responsibilities of public life and in culture.” (Note, 6)

In undertaking any public initiative, it is morally incoherent to leave out completely one’s own fundamental convictions, whether for noble or pragmatic reasons. The truth regarding the human person and our obligations to uphold this truth do not change when we leave the security of our homes and venture into the secular or political sphere. In all that he or she does, the Catholic politician must work to proclaim and put into action the truth about man and the world.

Rights are rooted in the dignity of the human person, a dignity bestowed upon the human person by God. From this perspective there is no right to have an abortion. No Catholic can responsibly take a ‘pro-choice’ stand when the ‘choice’ in question involves the taking of innocent life. Nor is there a right of couples in same sex unions to marry. One cannot invent a meaning of sexuality to suit one’s own wishes or tastes. Marriage is a union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

All Catholic politicians, including the Prime Minister, would do well to imitate the example of St. Thomas More, who by his life and death taught that man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality. In him, there was no sign of a split between faith and culture, between timeless principles and daily life, but rather a convergence of political commitment. While serving all, More knew well how to serve his king, that is the state, but above all wanted to serve God – “The king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Wishing you all the best, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
F. B. Henry
Bishop of Calgary


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