In the days following the death of Pierre Trudeau, a memorial Mass for the former prime minister was held at the Roman Catholic cathedral in a major Canadian city. A young woman, known to us here at The Interim, attended the Mass to pray for Trudeau, and to try to come to terms with his legacy from the perspective of her faith.

A devout Catholic, she expected to hear about the mystery of God’s mercy on all of us sinners. As an ardent pro-lifer, she expected also to hear about our nation’s need to repent of its many sins against the sanctity of human life and the family – sins which multiplied exponentially as a direct result of Trudeau’s initiatives.

What she heard, however, was a eulogy – a warm and generous tribute to Trudeau, whom the pastor referred to as “a faithful son of the Church.” There was mention of some of the things many Canadians admired about Trudeau, things which are important and perhaps praiseworthy, but certainly debatable and best left to the judgment of historians. There was no mention, however, of what some Canadians consider to be his most significant “contributions” to this country.

Pierre Trudeau was personally responsible for the liberalization of Canada’s divorce laws, and the legalization of contraception, sodomy, and – most appallingly – abortion. He was also personally responsible for institutionalizing the culture of death through his Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the government of unelected judges, brought about by the Charter, which has replaced Parliamentary democracy in this country.

Many people in the congregation at the memorial Mass were in tears. Some wore roses and specially-made buttons as a tribute to Trudeau. The young pro-life woman was also reduced to tears; but this was not because of her feelings for Trudeau: she was shocked and hurt and scandalized that her own community could respond in such a way.

Whatever Trudeau’s talents, charisma, or liberal idealism, he has played a crucial role in the deaths (so far) of almost two-and-a-half million preborn Canadian children. The young woman could not escape that staggering, terrifying fact. She also held in her heart the untold numbers of women, some of whom she has known personally, whose lives have been forever scarred by abortion.

She did not want to hear a condemnation of Trudeau. She believes that we are all sinners, that only God can judge a man’s culpability, and that God’s mercy makes all things possible for those who will accept their need of it.

But neither could she accept the tribute paid to Trudeau. For if we are to respond to his death by listing his alleged accomplishments, she reasoned, does justice not demand that we also acknowledge his manifest failures and wickedness?

We believe that it does.