Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quebec's Cardinal Marc Ouellete has a totally different sacrificial altar in mind for pregnant raped women. Certainly not the one that he is blessing with his superior priestly power.

Abortion uproar astounds Marc Ouellet
Quebec cardinal underlines he was just repeating church's teaching
Western Catholic Reporter - 5/27/10 - Deborah Gyapong-Catholic News Service

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." (I wonder what the Cardinal really believes about forcible rape followed by the Church's demand for forced pregnancy. Would he follow this teaching himself? He never does state his personal opinion, only Church teaching. He's using the old "My mom says so" explanation.)

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." (This is the first time I have read a ranking bishop admit changing abortion law after forty years is a no win proposition. One wonders if an American bishop would ever be so honest.)

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 problem with the abortion teaching is it's not coherent at the rational level and is far from coherent in traditional church teaching. It's assumed coherency is based strictly on denying women any right to their own procreative process up to and including her own right to life.)

The cardinal was saddened that he has been accused of condemning women. "I have condemned nobody, not even the women that go to abortion." (This understanding depends on which definition of 'condemned' one is using. Condemning a woman to hell is one definition, condemning her to death in favor of her fetus is another.)

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.


Cardinal Ouellete's remarks certainly struck a chord up north of the border. The backlash has been strong, loud, and official. I suppose the timing was rather poor, given that the Canadian Church is dealing with more fall out from clerical sexual abuse. It probably wasn't a good idea to moralize on raped women going through with pregnancy as moral demand of Christ Himself, when the Canadian hierarchy has not done exemplary work in dealing with children raped by their own priests. The New Testament actually contains specific words from Jesus about harming living children, but says nothing at all about abortion.

What struck me about this article was not the quotes about abortion, but the more factual observations of the Cardinal. The first was his admission that the Church in Quebec has no power any more, and the second that it was not possible to change a law with a forty year history of acceptance. These are the words of a culture warrior who knows the legal battle is lost. It has been for quite some time. These are the words of a culture warrior who is finally admitting his primary weapon--his teaching authority--is a weapon loaded with blanks. Pope Benedict experienced the same lesson in Portugal when the governmental authority passed gay marriage as soon as he was out of the country.

There was one other statement in the above article which also has great significance. Cardinal Ouellete is quoted as saying one cannot reform the morals of a country by teaching morals first.
That's true. As any parent knows moral behavior is effectively taught when one acts consistently moral. There in lies the lesson of the abuse crisis for the Catholic Church. I would advise Cardinal Ouellete to start his re evangelization program with himself and then extend it to the full College of Cardinals including the Vatican.

In his personal re evangelization the first thing the Cardinal might want to reflect on is that Jesus offered healing, not condemnation, to everyone but the hypocritical religious authorities of His time. If the Cardinal and others of his religious caste--Olmstead comes to mind--would cease attempting to maintain their moral authority through regulating the bodies of women and girls, they might have time to actually discern what it was Jesus was actually teaching about living an authentic Christian life. Or about exercising authentic moral authority.


  1. What's also so clear is that the cardinal, along with others in the hierarchy, is so removed from normal life and its give and take, that he can hardly cope with criticism! He seems to have been struck nearly dumb by the backlash. He can see he's lost "authority" but he cannot fathom how to get it back. It's almost comical to watch as a man, who expects deference, discovers he's become nearly irrelevant within the society he "inhabits" and feels "chosen" to instruct. Ooops!

  2. Hmmm....

    There is so very much more to this story. I'd like to fill you in but I'm under time pressure right now.

    1. On the one hand Oulette is just doing his job. Nobody expects him to reject the teachings of the Church. He is, after all, a Cardinal.

    From the Montreal Gazette, by Paul Waters:

    2. The occasion of the original comment was a 15,000 person March of Life demonstration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

    From the Toronto Star, by Susan Delacourt: Huge anti-abortion rally hails Canada’s new foreign-aid stand

    Prime Minister Harper, a Conservative, would dearly love to call an election and get a majority government. He's a tactician more than a strategist and he's working the Parliamentary system like crazy here, trying to find a wedge issue for his base. Harper has said he will not introduce any government bill regarding abortion. However, his backbenchers may introduce private members bills which are almost never debated let alone passed by Parliament.

    3. Until recently there has not been much, if any influence of evangelical Protestants in our politics. (Hard to believe my American friends? !) Marci McDonald's book "The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada"

    Review in the Globe and Mail here:

    Incidentally the reviewer is way off in her assessment of Canada's religious scene, completely missing the importance of Catholicism in the history and current social-emotional psyche of the country.

    3. Prime Minister Harper is a Protestant. Here's a little controversy from last year when the PM was accused of pocketing the host at the funeral of a former Governor General. This is unusual because the country is predominantly liberal and Catholic and has been so for the last 100 years.

    Canadian Press:

    4. Oulette has been criticized before for, in my opinion, being quite reasonable about asking forgiveness for the Church.

    He sent a pastoral letter in 2007 apologizing for the Church's past errors.

    Among the errors he cited are attitudes, prior to 1960, which favoured "anti-Semitism, racism, indifference to First Nations and discrimination against women and homosexuals."

    Read more:


  3. I hope you noticed Oulette's reasoning on abortion, counseling and forgiveness.

    Regarding the comment of no longer having power. He grew up in a Quebec where the priests made many decisions that intruded on people's lives. If you read the linked articles you will see that priests in Quebec would harangue women for not having enough children. (pre 1960 my 23 year old know it all bow tie wearing friends) and they would name children too. You might bring your child for baptism with the intention of naming him "Justin" but the priest would say no, he will be "Pierre".

    This happened to me for my confirmation. I had chosen "Thomas" but I was given "Francis". I often wondered about that. In the end I think the example of Francis of Assisi is better for me than Thomas Aquinas. But I digress.

    Oulette does not mention the organized campaign against the Jehovah's Witnesses by the Church. Oh I could go on. The "Quiet Revolution" of the 1960's in Quebec was a rejection of the "Do as I say" Church. It was led by Jesuit trained Catholics who would be on the vanguard of modernizing Quebec.

    Has anyone been in a cathedral where the pulpit was elevated so high above the laity that a spiral staircase wrapped around a column was used by the preacher?

    No one is ever going back to those days however nostalgic some may be for the pre-Vatican 2 era.


    Word verification ghost: plebe

  4. I agree with the above statements regarding Quebec.

    Quebec is actually a sad testament to the ultra-montane attitude of the pre-Vatican II church.

    While the majority of the francophobe population would describe themselves as Catholic only about 6% go to weekly masses.

    In other words, Catholicism is really just a cultural memory.

    It's sad that this is the case but not surprising.

    Quebec, unfortunately, suffers from the effects of the overwhelming influence of the Catholic church in its fixation on separatism, mainly based, not on religion, ( God forbid), but on language, ( which is even more chimerical).

    There's a schizoid attitude in decrying the influence of the Catholic religion, ( which preserved the culture at the price of being subjugated to the Church),
    while striving to remove all influence of the church to the point of banning all religious symbols, ( except when they have cultural value).

    It's confusing but that's the situation in Quebec.

    The Cardinal just stirred up the pot to no good purpose.

    He has no idea what to do given that he has no "authority" in any sense.

  5. @anonymous

    The Church in Quebec was as authoritarian, domineering and parochial as you can get.

    Colleen and others here lament that the Church attempts to keep the average Catholic in a state of stunted moral development, expecting only one to pay, pray and obey. It was this exploitation that caused the almost complete rejection of the Church and clergy. The Vatican should study this as a case study and learn from their previous mistakes, as Oulette is attempting to do. JP2, Opus Dei, and Benedict would like the Church to return to a past that would end in the complete destruction of the Church as an institution.

    Regarding Canadian sexual behavior, teen birth rates, and abortion rates, a new study was released recently.

    Canada’s teen birth and abortion rate drops by 36.9 per cent

    Although this is only one indicator, the rates for abortion in Canada are less than half those of the USA on a per capita basis. Oulette is more aware of this than some of the USCCB who still blindly promote "abstinence only" which only produces higher rates of teen pregnancy and abortion.


  6. It's funny you mention recent Canadian statistics on abortion and teen pregnancy because one of my comments that I edited out brought up the comparison with rates in the oh so religiously conservative Southern states in the US. They are statistically significantly much higher than the so called liberal eastern and western sections of the US.

    If the pro life crusade was really about abortion and murdering fetuses it's proponents would look at these figures and advocate for birth control. But of course it's not really about the sacredness of fetal life at all. It's about the continued domination of feminine life.

    The comments about French Catholic Quebec remind me very strongly about the backlash against the Church during the French enlightenment. Maybe that's because I just finished watching the Da Vinci Code which I had never seen before. Not one of Tom Hanks better efforts. It did seem they rewrote a few things to make the Church look a little better than it does in the book.

    The major question is still pertinent though: What do you do when you know so much of what the Church teaches doesn't hold water and yet so many people have their faith wrapped up in the leaky boat? Is it possible to fix the leaks without sinking the boat?

  7. colleen said:

    "If the pro life crusade was really about abortion and murdering fetuses it's proponents would look at these figures and advocate for birth control. But of course it's not really about the sacredness of fetal life at all. It's about the continued domination of feminine life."

    1) The pro-life stance of the Church is rooted in the bible (Psalm 139). The Church's teaching on it is about consistency.

    2) The Catholic Church endorses Natural Family Planning, which is a form of birth control.

    3) Considering there are so many revered females in the Church, including Mary, Mary Magdalene, St. Therese the Little Flower, and Elizabeth Ann Seton, saying the Church wants to "dominate feminine life" is a ridiculous statement.

    4) The 2000 year history has provided a body of Truth in faith exploration that recognizes that abortion is the killing of another human being, which, as the Cardinal mentioned, is a serious moral wrong. The Church's stance is in line with science, which shows that an embryo is genetically different than the parents, so it's no longer congruent with the wholeness of the human body.

  8. Let me start with da Vinci Code. I thought the movie portrayed the church as having evil pockets of people. Much more in the book and in "Angels and Demons" the hierarchy looks like the villain until we come to find in the end that they are just sweetly stupid, little lambs on the storm tossed seas of life. That condescension did rankle me when I was reading the books.

    However, that's what I get from Oulette's statement. I watch my pastor, my bishop, this cardinal become utterly bewildered before the lack of resect they get. The attitude is one of "I gave up having a family and wife, I provide Jesus on earth in the sacraments, I pray for you all the time. How could you not love me? How could you not follow my leadership to the Lord?" From heavy handed naming of children (fascinating history lessons, by the way) to just wondering why people aren't in church, they demand a control of external signs to try and gain internal assent. I feel they are taught to portray holiness rather than live it, and then they wonder why people can see through the artifice. When a priest or bishop becomes self-actualized, it seems the rest get jealous of his freedom and chop him down, another victim of tall-tree-syndrome.

    The article in our daily paper this morning goes into Ratzinger's refusal to laicize a known pedophile in Illinois, citing John Paul's rules as the reason since the pedophile wouldn't agree to the discipline. Amazing how these man made rules are enshrined as unstoppable from the infallible pope. Amazing how JP the Great can be dispatched so easily to keep the present pope spotless and pure.

    Also, great stats on abortion. I'm always struck by the demand for perfection, how the church looks at each little moment while God looks at the arc of a lifetime. An NCR article some years ago spoke of alpha brain wave function. In shorthand, legal US death is a 72 hour absence of alpha brain wave function, allowing us to "pull the plug". How many lives could be saved, how much ethic of life could we teach if the church's legal position focused there. By US definitions, we could state that alpha brain waves are present at 8-10 weeks and meet the "death criterion" for life. As Catholics, abortion could remain anathema, and the dialogue would be the same. I think many non-believers and lukewarm believers and simple souls could hear that message. Instead we demand the "perfect" solution. I even heard one speaker claim (to the approval of the listeners!) that we would meet all the aborted souls in heaven -- this included all the conceived but not implanted due to the evil Pill -- and that we would have to answer to them. I think that's why Colleen's take on the motivation really being control of (evil) women has more merit than I've previously given it.

    One final thing: when this group starts to throw ideas around, it's like reading an exciting novel. It keeps leading me toward truth and faith and a will to serve, even when I disagree (not too often). And that's my answer to Colleen's question about fixing the leaks in the boat. When our efforts become simple and not controlling, when we serve freedom and truth and life, when we are selfless, I must believe in that magical Spirit guiding us. If we can find portents in deer and squirrels, then we can certainly believe in an ultimate good and try our best to be part of that team at all costs. Let's keep pointing out the cultic nonsense as well as the beautiful core that draws us all in.

  9. In response to doc, I read a book called Contraception written in 1968 by John Noonan, a Laetare Award winner. It's a dense legal tome that was worth the struggle for me. It taught me a lot. First of all, the abortion opposition by the church was indeed vehement from the very beginning. Noonan points out how brutal the general society was in Roman led times, and how the believers strongly counter argued to revere life. It's a wonderful piece of our history.

    However, the book also shows the erroneous nature of the "unchanging church" argument. The 2000 year scope allowed me to see the development of thought in response to belief and life. For example, male sexual enjoyment was a mortal sin in the early church, "as if laying with a whore". Female enjoyment? Evilness from prostitutes. Augustine argued successfully that enjoyment was a venial sin. The 12th century saw a rise in Romanticism, and enjoyment in love and lovemaking was argued unsuccessfully. In the last 100 - 150 years, the present doctrine of coequal natures of loving pleasure and procreation has risen and been officially promulgated. Why would you say that doctrine couldn't continue to grow and change, like so many others have? Look up the sin of usury, which changed from a mortal sin to the Vatican bank within 100 years. Look up slavery, which our pope said was acceptable in 1866 but not 1868. Look up Copernicus, a prayerful man whom the church abandoned for speaking up about what mathematics showed him. We just reburied him in the church this week, and I'm sure he's relieved.

    Mary Magdalene is a testament to the evils of the church, not the reverence of women as you suggest. This good believer's name was besmirched with the story of prostitution, a fabrication which does not hold up to scrutiny.

    Finally, my wife and I tried NFP. I don't argue with the system, but it didn't work for us. We called it off after three years of trying to find the goodness in it. It is not the only way we can revere life in procreation. Our marriage was stronger and more faithful for struggling with it, but also for stopping it and finding ways outside church approval to continue. Rest assured, we have aborted no babies, but the rules will continue to grow and change as we do.

  10. I agree mjc. For me too it's this comment section which fuels the reason I keep this blog going. Ideas have been raised, or nuances expressed, I have never encountered before and they really do help to draw a bigger picture.

    Even today on the abortion issue two ideas have been raised that I will probably think about for some time. The first is the idea of an embryo not geing genetically congruent with the wholeness of the human body. I'm assuming this notion is being used as another argument for the fetus being a separate identity from it's host mother. That's an interesting avenue of thought, this idea of congruency. I'm not sure where it ultimately lead though and hope the commenter comes back to further this line of thinking.

    The second is your idea about alpha wave presence in fetal development. That too seems based on developing some kind of congruence in the legal definitions of life and death. I find the alpha wave state idea fascinating for another reason, and that is that alpha wave state generation is critical to deeper states of meditative and shamanic states. Some feel they are the gateway to touching the greater truth about ourselves as individuals. We are way more than our biological expression and alpha states are how we connect with that greater expression. Our physical expression may cease to funtion, but that greater state of being is eternal.

    In this understanding, sexual abuse is a much greater crime against the 'soul' than abortion, because sexual abuse, especially clerical sexual abuse, causes real damage to that greater self. I could go on, but will leave it here for now with this addendum: There is more than one choice involved in abortion. Incarnation is not a one way street, which is so shown in Mary's being asked to give consent to carrying Jesus.

  11. What happened is when Cardinal Ouellette made his statement, the influential French Montreal newspaper LeDevoir reported the same day that the Canadian Head of “Opus Dei” Fr Frederick Dolan was wine and dining with Canadian conservative federal politicians.

    When are these OD clowns going to stop rearing their stupid heads, and keep messing up the Church? Of course, now it is all about OD being professional “martyrs”. How is the Church going to get rid of these idiots?

  12. @ Doc

    Where is the specific prohibition of abortion in the Bible? For example the social-sexual crime of adultery is specified. It could result in capital punishment by stoning.

    It would be better if the Church was more consistent and thoughtful about killing in all circumstances. Killing in self-defense can be morally and legally justified. The Church has a "just war" doctrine. And what about the issue of capital punishment? Does the USCCB now, or has it, preached vigorously against the war in Iraq? capital punishment in Texas? for example...

    mjc brings some very interesting points to the discussion. It does not appear that the Church has been as consistent as you think, citing John Noonan.

    Read the article and discussion of the issue of Church consistency regarding slavery:

    Please read the comments of "Spirit of Vatican II" who identifies as a black person in the discussion.

    It isn't as simple and straightforward as you seem to argue.


  13. @Doc
    Part 1
    I'm relatively new here at EC so I'm not quite sure about the etiquette expected regarding Off Topic comments, citing references, etc.

    To clarify my earlier comment to you. The Church has not been consistent on a variety of issues regarding life and the taking of life.

    I cited the discussion regarding slavery because it addresses the issue of personhood. Are all human beings equal? In the eyes of God? In the eyes of the secular law? Canon law? Do we accept that some humans are not fully persons? Are some humans essentially second class? Do some humans have the obligations and responsibilities but without benefits of being a "person" or a "citizen"?

    In an earlier blog post Colleen discussed the issue of the swift excommunication of a nun, Sr. McBride, who in her role on the ethics committee at a Catholic hospital had agreed with the committee's decision to allow an abortion that would save the mother's life. (See: When two deaths are better than one: )

    The 1866 instruction of Pius IX, (who created papal infallibility in 1870 at the first Vatican Council)on slavery:

    ""Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons. It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given. The purchaser should carefully examine whether the slave who is put up for sale has been justly or unjustly deprived of his liberty, and that the vendor should do nothing which might endanger the life, virtue, or Catholic faith of the slave."

    The French National Assembly had declared the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789, outlawing slavery. England abolished its slave trade in 1832 and Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

    ... continued below


  14. @Doc

    ...Part 2

    Consider very carefully that Piux IX was rejecting modernity, the influence of an increasing secular society that expanded the concept of personhood and citizenship. His Vatican was rejecting this passing notion of citizens and persons as being equal on the basis of of Biblical example. It is the same sort of thinking that is going on today in the Vatican regarding the personhood of women. A woman cannot, according to the Church, raise a hand to save her own life if it means killing another.

    Another what? Person? Sure if it is a man, but no if it is... ?

    No, although we are all agreed that from the time of fertilization there is the potential for personhood.

    But at what point should the fertilized egg, which becomes a blastocyst looking for a place to implant, which becomes an embryo, which becomes a fetus, which becomes a baby... at what point should that human life be recognized as a person, a citizen, with the rights and obligations and benefits others similar to that of the mother? This type of thinking is completely rejected by the Church.

    Or is it? Because the Church seems to be perfectly happy to distinguish between moral and legal matters in other issues. For example, it may be a serious crime to sexually abuse a child in the eyes of the law with serious punishment, like long jail sentences in certain jurisdictions. But the Church has it's Canon Laws and Biblical resources to ensure the clergy avoid legal processes and punishments. A priest can molest a child, arrange an abortion to cover up his crime and continue on in another parish. No instant ex-communication, no action to laicize the priest, no punishment!

    See: "Vatican confirms report of sexual abuse and rape of nuns by priests in 23 countries"

    "The Vatican reports cited countless cases of nuns forced to have sex with priests. Some were obliged to take the pill, others became pregnant and were encouraged to have abortions. In one case in which an African sister was forced to have an abortion, she died during the operation and her aggressor led the funeral mass. Another case involved 29 sisters from the same congregation who all became pregnant to priests in the diocese.

    Say three Hail Marys... and as far as the State of Massachusetts is concerned "Sin no more Law... You'll like Santa Susanna, Santa Maria Maggiore is beautiful this time of year. Oh yeah, some extra Eucharistic Adoration should solve the problem. That's what you get if you're rock solid in your opposition to abortion. Even if your negligence leads to someone else's abortion.


    Sorry, this has been bothering me.

  15. And another thing... !

    In my last comment I should have said I added emphasis to the quote.

    Here's another thing that bothers me about that story from 2001... as far as I can tell nothing ever happened. The Vatican did nothing.

    If you don't like source, (The Independent, UK) the story was covered by America Magazine too. They cite the same Vatican document.

    "Vatican Working to Correct Sexual Abuse of Nuns by Priests"

    The reports cited did not name alleged abusers or victims and only once named a country-specific incident: a bishop in Malawi who dismissed the leaders of a diocesan women’s congregation in 1988 after they complained that 29 sisters had been impregnated by diocesan priests."

    * emphasis added

    Oops. Something happened. I was wrong.

    The bishop dismissed Sr. Superior for complaining about his priests raping her nuns and the 29 resulting pregnancies.

    Let's review: Fear of AIDS causes priests to shun prostitutes in favor of nuns with all the above consequences and the Vatican says:

    "The Rev. Bernardo Cervellera, director of Fides, the Vatican’s missionary news service, said the problem was limited to sub-Saharan Africa and was related to negative cultural views there of women and the value of celibacy. These are not cases of “psychopathic” violence against women, but instead a “cultural way of living” that is common throughout the region, he said."

    It all sounds so familiar.


  16. "said the problem was limited to sub-Saharan Africa and was related to negative cultural views there of women and the value of celibacy."

    Isn't this eerily familiar since exactly one year later the clerical abuse crisis was an American problem according to the Vatican and reflected American cultural values?

    p2p I too am beside myself with the lack of Vatican action on this issue. One of the reasons I maintain this blog is not for my own sake. It's pretty obvious I have made my peace with my conscience on many issues of dispute, but for the sake of the voiceless elsewhere.

    There are currently readers of this blog from over one hundred countries. If the disputes in the US can help further dialogue and shine light on problems elsewhere this blog is worth maintaining.

  17. The Quebecois commentator Ms Gagnon said in the Globe and Mail:

    “…However, many people, notwithstanding their personal beliefs, would not approve of abortions performed at the stage when the foetus is viable outside the mother’s womb…”

    So I guess, even if viable, it is still up to an adult to decide if a child should live or die?

    What people in Quebec, including Madame Gagnon, don’t realize is that they are worshiping a new un-scientific self-serving belief. It’s a new superstition that a child in the womb of a mother is not a person, but, poof, like by magic, and becomes a person out of the womb. This is the new frontier of social justice. It is actually an issue of the left, more so than the right. Just because an infant in a mothers womb can not say “Oooh, aaah” to Ms Gagnon, does not mean that that individual should not have a right to live like Ms Gagon. Its simple scientific logic and plain justice. Even before 12 weeks, the human in the mother womb is alive (vs. inert), is human (vs. an other species) and a distinct person form the mother (has his/her own DNA, immune system, hands, feet, brain, heart). Ms Gagnon and people like her are holding on to outdated, non-scientific propaganda from the 1960’s, about infants in the womb being part of the “the female body.” Scientifically, this is just not true. They are inside, but not part of it. We just need to deal with this "inconvenient" truth, in justice to both mother and infant. But it is more convenient to abort because this allows these “enlightened” baby boomers to live there selfish lives, unencumbered.
    Recently the Economist had a cover story that over 100 million girls are missing in China, because many, if not most, were aborted at a time when they are viable. So, what Ms Gagon is saying, is that Canada should side with the Government of China, against the right of these girls, so their government can execute them, just because they are girls?

  18. @ anonymous 12:21pm

    Part One

    1. Ms. Gagnon has written a rather convoluted sentence and somewhat difficult to understand. Most Canadians are opposed to third trimester abortions, even those who agree with abortion.

    2. From "The National Post", Canada's right-wing national newspaper: Tasha Kheiriddin: Abortion law an unavoidable debate

    "A 2008 Angus Reid survey found that while 65% of Canadians polled supported the right to abortion, 30% of those respondents wanted some restrictions. Of the 34% of Canadians who declared themselves pro-life, 65% supported abortion in the case of rape, incest or where the mother’s life was in danger. Only 14% of pro-life respondents — 5% of respondents overall — wanted a complete ban on abortion in all circumstances.

    3. About 1.54 % of the abortions in Canada "took place when the unborn baby was more than 20 weeks gestation, able to feel pain and survive outside the womb." The most recent Canadian statistics by gestational stage are here:

    4. Here's an excellent summary on historical, legal and religious perspectives regarding when life begins found in "Developmental Biology", 8th ed.

    You might be surprised by the wisdom of ancients, especially Jewish precedent at the time of Christ, the perspective of the early Church and how this has changed over the years.

    5. I grow very weary of those who criticize the 60's without knowing anything about the era. You are just plain wrong about the scientific understanding of medicine and embryology in that era. Watson and Crick had documented the double helix of DNA in 1953 and had won the Nobel Prize for the discovery by 1962. I highly recommend you read: "John Rock's Error" by Malcolm Gladwell (a Canadian!)

    "John Rock's long battle on behalf of his birth-control pill forced the Church to take notice. In the spring of 1963, just after Rock's book was published, a meeting was held at the Vatican between high officials of the Catholic Church and Donald B. Straus, the chairman of Planned Parenthood. That summit was followed by another, on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. In the summer of 1964, on the eve of the feast of St. John the Baptist, Pope Paul VI announced that he would ask a committee of church officials to reëxamine the Vatican's position on contraception. The group met first at the Collegio San Jose, in Rome, and it was clear that a majority of the committee were in favor of approving the Pill. Committee reports leaked to the National Catholic Register confirmed that Rock's case appeared to be winning. Rock was elated. Newsweek put him on its cover, and ran a picture of the Pope inside. "Not since the Copernicans suggested in the sixteenth century that the sun was the center of the planetary system has the Roman Catholic Church found itself on such a perilous collision course with a new body of knowledge," the article concluded. Paul VI, however, was unmoved." be continued


  19. @ anonymous 12:21pm

    ... Part Two

    6. Agreed, sex-selection abortion has created enormous problems, and it will continue to do so. Yes I think of it as evil. Do you think it has anything to do with sexist, paternalism? (And I've sponsored two of those 100 million missing Chinese girls to become Canadian citizens. Someone had pity on them and rescued them from the ditches and parks where they had been abandoned to die shortly after birth. The orphanages in China are no picnic, but the government doesn't execute these girls, what are you referring to?

    7. If the Catholic Church, had any type of honesty about this at all, you would be working hard to promote contraception, especially the use of barrier methods that also reduce the risk of disease like AIDS. They would also support policies that reduce unwanted pregnancies and subsequently abortion. The policies that work are education, sex education, contraception, and the advancement of women and girls in society. Abortion should be rare.

    8. On baby boomers: "englightened" as in "But it is more convenient to abort because this allows these “enlightened” baby boomers to live there selfish lives, unencumbered. " These problems existed long before the baby boomers and they'll be around a long time after. If you were trying to insult our blog host then be more direct because I don't think Colleen is part of the problem. She's hosting a discussion.


  20. Anon, I'm not really sure where you are coming from because western law has pretty always conferred legal status at viability outside the womb. So has the vast majority of church tradition with regards to ensoulment.

    Sex selective abortion is just another in a long line of assaults on the feminine in preference for the masculine. In the West the Anglican Church exists in large part because Henry VIII wanted a son to succeed him. I've often thought it ironic that his daughter far surpassed him as a monarch.

    One wonders what the history of abortion in the West would have been like if the sex of the fetus was known earlier than birth. Given that the prevailing theology considered girls misbegotten males, I'm sure it would have been a very venial sin to abort girls in favor of boys.

    Until the Church proves ensoulment occurs at conception, which of course it can't, there will always be differing opinion on this topic.

    Any time a commenter resorts to blaming the 'selfishness of the sixties' it's very obvious to me they didn't live through them. The more accurate truth is the period which really propelled 'selfishness' was the Reagan eighties.

  21. Colleen,

    The Developmental Biology reference makes the point that in the West, and in the Church, females were considered to be imperfect or deformed males. Quickening or the fixing of the soul was believed to occur weeks earlier in the male fetus. (What if they found out what we know know about the X vs Y chromosome? It is almost exactly opposite. The male sexual organs form first in the likeness of the female. It sure screws up the idea of needing testes to testify.) This might be closer to the reason the Church has traditionally rejected women from all roles. They're imperfect, not in the image of Christ.


  22. The specific moral problem of Abortion is....that it is murder.

    It's really that simple.

    I realize that is stating this I open myself up to angry comments; so be it. I would be lying were I to say otherwise. But do not misinterpret this as support of the 'Vatican/Opus Dei party line'!!!

    Abortion is especially repugnant when it is used as virtual 'birth control'.

    But as I have said elsewhere, Abortion would be a non-issue IF:

    1)the use of & access to birth control was not restricted of viewed as a 'sin' (which it is not).

    2) if men took responsibility for the consequences of their sexual escapades: and they stood by & supported the women whom they have made pregnant (in or outside of wedlock). And if they acted in cognizance of the moral & legal consequences of sexual abuse of women.

    3) women in crisis pregnancy were NOT shamed, scorned, treated as social outcasts, called 'sinners' (and worse...) by Church officials & the 'oh-so-pious ones' of the laity.

    4) bishops would cease to intervene in civil politics, the administration of civil law, & what is supposed to be between doctor & patient.

    5) The Vatican & its Administrators would cease to making a very posh living off the Gospel.....and LIVE it.

    By using ALL $$ received to feed, clothe, house & care for the poor. Specifically, to give unlimited material support to women in crisis pregnancy - so that they can AFFORD to have & keep (if they freely desire to...) their child. Without shaming, preaching, forced conversion or the rest of their usual corruption.

    If all the $millions wasted on "Pro-Life" enterprises were expended to actually DO SOMETHING to materially help women in crisis pregnancy (rather then a few tiny 'window dressing' programs)....we would not be having this discussion!

    Their example should be Christ, when He fed the multitudes. He fed them ALL, regardless of whether they believed in Him or not - and even those who hated Him! He was showing that God is Love & Mercy itself.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  23. @ Mouse,

    While I may agree with much of your comment, the use of the word "murder" is wrong.

    Language is important. Murder is the "unlawful killing of a human being with intent", or more famously "malice aforethought".