Vatican City – On June 21, Pope John Paul II released a letter to all the bishops of the world (over 4,000), asking them to toughen their stand against abortion. He told the bishops not to allow legislators to enact laws which permit the crime of abortion and to stand firm until existing laws permitting abortions are withdrawn.
Said the Pope:
When legislative bodies enact laws that authorize putting innocent people to death and states allow their resources and structures to be used for these crimes, individual consciences, often poorly formed, are all the more easily led into error.
In order to break this vicious circle, it seems more urgent than ever that we should forcefully reaffirm our common teaching….
Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) reports that it has received a note from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in response to documentation sent to Rome in April of this year. The documentation concerned Bill C-43 initiated by the Mulroney government in November 1989. The Bill proposed the re-legalization of abortion after the provisions of the original legalization in May 1969 had been dismissed by the Supreme Court in January 1988.
With Bill C-43 the Mulroney government put abortion back in the Criminal Code for the sole purpose of preventing provincial governments from legislating on the matter (the Criminal Code is a federal jurisdiction). Then, after declaring abortion to be a crime, Bill C-43 provided for the approval and legality of abortion on demand without restrictions whatever, either of time, place or motive. It also guaranteed abortionists the full protection of Canadian law. The Bill had nothing to say about the unborn or their right to life.
Appeal to Rome
CLC appealed to Rome on behalf of its many Catholic members who had opposed the passage of this Bill, which was defeated last February through a tie-vote in the Senate. They considered Bill C-43 a new approval of abortion in principle, this time without even the restriction of the earlier 1969 legislation.
Abortion’s designation as a crime was nothing but a fraudulent disguise to hide the fact that Bill C-43 would settle Canada with legalized abortion for decades to come.
On the other hand, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, under the leadership of Most Rev. Robert Lebel, Bishop of Valleyfield, Quebec, took the view that Bill C-43 was an honest, though incomplete attempt at legislating protection for the unborn. They backed Bill C-43 as better than no law at all.
In mid-June CLC received the following note from the Apostolic Nunciature in Ottawa:
His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, directs me to inform you about the three questions you have put to him on behalf of the “Campaign Life Coalition” that no change has occurred to the Doctrine and to the text of the Declaration on Procured Abortion of 1974. CLC’s three questions had asked whether Section 22 of the 1974 Vatican Declaration on Procured Abortion was still in full force. Section 22 reads: Whatever the civil law may decree in this matter, it must be taken as absolutely certain that a person may never obey an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law approving abortion in principle. He may not take part in any movement to sway public opinion in favor of such a law, nor may he vote for that law.
On his fourth visit to his native country, Pope John Paul II vigorously condemned legislation permitting abortions. On June 4th in Radom he compared abortion to Nazi extermination programs directed against Jews, Gypsies, and Poles, saying, “That cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn, of the defenseless whose faces even their mothers had not seen.
”What human institution, what parliament,” he asked “has the right to legalize the killing of an innocent and defenseless human being?
“What parliament has the right to say: ‘You are free to kill,’ or even, ‘Killing is an order,’ where the biggest efforts should be made to protect and help life in the first place.”