In a letter to the government dated November 17, 1989, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada declared Bill C-43 to be unacceptable. While they commend the government for re-affirming abortion as a criminal act, they declare that the Bill “in practice, provides for abortion on demand.”
Says the letter: “We do not believe this legislation will reduce the number of abortions performed in Canada. In fact, it may appear to give legitimacy to the procedure to the extent that abortions could increase significantly.”
The letter suggests a number of basic amendments allowing abortions “only in cases of serious and substantial danger to the life of the mother.”
Billy Graham meets Pope
Evangelist Billy Graham met with Pope John Paul II and Vatican officials January 10-13 for a series of discussions on Eastern Europe and relations between Catholics and Evangelicals around the world, including Latin America.
Following the Vatican meetings, the 71-year-old Southern Baptist preacher went to West Berlin, where he met with Evangelical leaders from the two Germanys to make plans for a visit in March.
Mr. Graham’s meeting with Pope John Paul was their second encounter. The first – which was also the Evangelist’s first meeting with any Pope – took place at the Vatican January 12, 1981, when they discussed issues ranging from the situation in Poland to the emergence of Evangelical Christianity in the modern world.
The Rev. John Akers, special assistant to Mr. Graham, said that the recent Vatican meetings featured conversations with Archbishop Edward Cassidy, the new head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and William Cardinal Baum, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education.
The Graham aide stressed that Mr. Graham “said very directly that there still are significant differences that divide Protestants and Catholics, and we must be realistic about them and face them.” (Wanderer, January 25, 1990)
On December 2, 1989, the Catholic Register of Toronto published a special guest editorial by the Archbishop of Toronto, G. Emmett Cardinal Carter, entitled “Abortion bill mixed at best.”
According to the Cardinal, when the new law-to-be is considered “in its original state,” that is, in itself and unrelated to other matters, some good may be said to be contained therein. First it is a law. Secondly it declares killing a “fetus” a criminal act which the Cardinal thinks must imply that the law recognizes the “fetus” as human. Finally, the bill demands that there be a reason for killing the “fetus”.
Having thus considered the law in the abstract so to speak, divorced from the real world, the Cardinal then examines this real world. He acknowledges that the bill will permit abortions anywhere, by any licensed medical person, for any reason (including “being depressed by the idea of having a baby”)
He briefly envisions how wonderful it would be having nothing but medical professionals of high principles, then reiterates his own opposition to abortion and raises the question: “Will this law save even one baby?” He answers: “It could.”
This is followed by another paragraph of wishing things were different (if the medical profession takes its new responsibility seriously; if the attorney generals… if our law officers…) and by a further statement of Catholic resolve. Then the reader is led to the (astonishing) conclusion: “We are pleased that we will have a law even one so imperfect; let us hope that that law may be sufficient to protect even those who cannot speak for themselves.”
In a subsequent issue the Register did not print a single letter to the editor critical of the editorial. It did announce in its December 23, 1989 issue that its letters’ policy does not permit “letters critical of specific persons.”
What is to be said? Very little, other than to note that what is seen by the Cardinal as redeeming features of the Bill, is seen by a number of pro-life workers who are in the habit of looking at legislation not in the abstract or “in its original state” but in relation to 20 years of actual behavior by health personnel, politicians, attorneys-general and law officers, as adding to this Bill’s specific perversity. After all, what is more perverse than to claim concern for the unborn, yet allow them to be killed for any reason at all; to designate abortion as a criminal act, then see to it that nobody can possibly be prosecuted for this same act.
Western Catholic Reporter
Three weeks before the Cardinal’s Register editorial, on November 13, 1989, the Western Catholic Reporter of Edmonton – which like the Register is without an editor (she resigned last year, the second editor to do so in three years) – published a guest editorial by one of its own columnists. Father Ron Releaser.
In an earlier column, Fr. Releaser acknowledged that the abortion issue had held no interest for him until some time recently that is twenty years after the controversy exploded upon the Canadian scene. Today, he too takes the position that it is better to have this bad law rather than no law. His rationales are that because Bill C-43 places abortion under the Criminal Code and that because of that people, therefore, will recognize abortion as a moral failure.
A third person to share this idea is Bishop Robert Label of Valley field, Quebec, who also happens to be the current President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). Just before Christmas Bishop Label declared: “The worst would be to have no law at all.”
The Bishop earnestly assured interviewer Chris Guly that “we [the bishops], don’t compromise on morals,” but that “Members of Parliament may compromise (emphasis added), and find a midway point to make a law possible” (Catholic Register, December 23, 1989, p.26).
This statement, too, I’ll leave for the reader to contemplate. As far as I can see, for the Bishop “the midway point” apparently means “any law at all” on the grounds that anything at all is better than nothing, even if it means that parliamentarians will formally re-legalize abortion in Canada with next to no restrictions.
Catholic New Times
Finally, Toronto’s Catholic New Times (CNT) joined the chorus, calling for cooperation with what the paper itself recognized as “one of the most cynical pieces of legislation that has ever been placed before Parliament.” In a January 21, 1990 editorial entitled “Imperfect law, imperfect society, imperfect church,” the editors state that “We see this, as a very imperfect law…but should we support it?”
The CNT then (mistakenly) quotes a July 1987 letter from Cardinal Gagnon as proof that Catholics should go along with Bill C-43.
But the context of this letter shows otherwise. The Cardinal, writing to an American citizen, affirmed that American Catholics may push for proposed legislation, imperfect as it may be, to undo the existing state of legalized abortion on demand enacted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. The CNT interprets the Cardinal’s observation that “politics is the art of the possible” to mean that Catholics anywhere may and should support any legislation at all.
The editors then make another somersault and state, out of the blue: “This imperfect law is still vastly superior (emphasis added) to the rumored gestational approach.” How they arrived at this view they do not clarify. Bill C-43, as it stands now, allows killing right up to moments before birth and, therefore, should be seen as vastly worse than any gestational proposals which would have set time limits of some kind.
The editors proceed to indicate that, with regrets, they do not share pro-life’s hope in a “more perfect law” later on. On this note (of despair?) they call for support of C-43.
The remainder of the editorial is a lamentation about the wickedness of the world and the powerlessness of Christians both politically and spiritually.
General Synod approves Bill C-43
According to a news report in The Anglican (Toronto) of January 1990, the Anglican General Synod “gave cautious support to Bill C-43,” but not without expressing “dismay that criminal sanctions against women were included in the Bill.”
Synod, the report says, recommends changes to include a second medical opinion and a mandatory waiting period. Synod also suggests “sweeping (economic) reforms including a guaranteed annual income to ensure that ‘true choice’ is available.”
The news article notes that the April 1989 Report of the Church’s Task Force “delicately embraces and honours most points of view.” One may observe that it clearly does not represent the only worthwhile point of view, that of pro-life.
The same monthly paper carries the first of what it hopes will be a series of articles on abortion. This one is by Phyllis Creighton, entitled “Abortion: Always an issue for conscience.” The author has been a member of every Canadian Anglican task force on abortion since the mid-sixties and is a major influence in its pro-abortion stance.
Creighton begins by claiming that the raging debate ignores the basic truths: Life is a precious gift from God and Christians must uphold the dignity of both women and the unborn. Pro-abortionists (pro-choice for Creighton) claim to side with the women, she says, while right-to-life (anti-abortion to her) sides with the unborn child and “accepts no need of women.”
Having thus dismissed pro-life, Creighton observes that “no method of conception control is one hundred per cent effective. If woman can never…say ‘no’ to her pregnancy, then she has no moral freedom…God is made a tyrant for her.”
“Women have a claim to self-defence. Abortion can be a sad but moral choice.”
The remainder of the short article blames society for being hostile to life and pleads for more birth control information and counseling to foster responsible attitudes.
At the end of January, the former Anglican Archbishop of Toronto, Lewis Garnsworthy, died of cancer at the age of 67.
In Ontario at large, the Archbishop received a certain fame or notoriety, depending on the point of view, when in 1984 he attacked the decision of Tory Premier William Davis to extend public financing to Catholic high schools. The province had resisted such a move for over one hundred years.
In 1985 the Archbishop called the decision undemocratic and compared it to a “decree by Hitler.” He denied that he was rekindling the fires of anti-Catholic prejudice and claimed to be only interested about the lack of public debate on the issue and the welfare of the public school system.
The Archbishop’s real reasons for opposing full funding were revealed when he lashed out at Catholic schools for promoting “medieval ideas on abortion and sexuality.” This was made clear again in his brief, co-authored with past United Church Moderator Clarke MacDonald, to the Social Department Committee of the Ontario Legislature. It held hearings on the school decision in 1985.
MacDonald objected to the use of public funds “to promote the values of one clear dogmatic position to the exclusion of others.” As an example of such ‘dogmatic’ teaching MacDonald gave the statement in Nairobi by Pope John Paul II that Roman Catholics who practice birth control are not being faithful to the teaching of the Church. MacDonald said he assumed that by implication the Pope meant not being “faithful to the Christian faith.” “Speaking as a member of a Church that advocates responsible contraception control as a viable choice and as a Christian duty,” he wrote, he “found such teaching in schools supported by public money offensive.”
In 1931, the Anglicans were the first Christian faith community to break the hitherto unanimous Christian opposition to contraception. The United Church of Canada followed suit in 1937.
Ordination of women
New Zealand Anglican priestess Penelope Jamieson has been elected bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand. She is the first woman to become an Anglican diocesan bishop. The only other female bishop is Barbara Harris of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts, USA, but she is not the head of a diocese.
According to the Anglican Journal (January 1990), Anglican opponents of women’s ordination may refuse to recognize her status and may restrict normal sharing of ministry.
Of the 29 national churches making up the Anglican Communion, so far only five have accepted women’s ordination. One of the five is the Episcopal Church of the United States, which started the movement in earnest with the illegal ordination of five women in 1974, but even there six out of about 100 dioceses refuse to ordain women. The four other churches which accept women priests are Canada, Hong Kong, Brazil and New Zealand.
The move towards ordaining women has led to schisms and increased disunity among and within each of the 29 national faith communities.
Divorce in England
The Church of England (Anglican) has returned unamended to the House of Commons a proposal to ordain men who have remarried after divorce or who have married divorcees. In July of 1989 General Synod had approved this measure by a vote of 316 to 136. However, the House of Commons, which still has a final say in the Established Church, rejected it.
Archbishop Robert Runcie declared that the idea that this legislation changed the church’s belief in the lifelong nature of marriage was a “misconception.” It would deal only with certain exceptions, he said. (Anglican Journal, January 1990). The Commons apparently did not agree.
The Church of England has accepted divorce and remarriage for many years. Archbishop Runcie’s own son was remarried in Canterbury Cathedral. In Canada such persons have also been ordained to the Anglican ministry.
Anglicans and homosexuality
The February issue of The Interim reported the deliberate “ordination” of an active homosexual by U.S. Episcopal Bishop John Spong. After six weeks the new minister, 34-year-old Robert Williams was fired from his ministry to the homosexuals for stating at a Detroit symposium on gay “marriages”: “Monogamy is as unnatural as celibacy. It’s crazy to hold up this ideal,” and for remarks that Mother Teresa of Calcutta would be better off is she had had sex. (Time, Feb. 12)
Meanwhile the Episcopal Synod of America, a group within the Church, is ready to bring ecclesiastical charges against Spong himself, unless he resigns first.
In England, too, the pressure to make sodomy respectable continues. A leaked report prepared for a panel of Anglican bishops urges recognition of homosexual “marriages.” This contrasts with the 1987 General Synod which condemned homosexual activity as sinful. (Toronto Star, Feb. 10).
On January 20, a lesbian couple and a homosexual were “ordained” in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco in defiance of existing rules which require celibacy. Jeff Johnson, the homosexual, had his certification for ministry withdrawn earlier when he refused to pledge celibacy. This led some 40 pastors to sign a “covenant of support” on his behalf and in support” on his behalf and in support of his church ministry. Obviously, they were victorious.
The current moderator of the Presbyterian Church USA, female minister Dr. Joan Salmon Campbell, says women should have the right to have an abortion. “Life is not simple,” she said as she discussed the basically pro-abortion stand of her faith community. She noted that the denomination’s official position favours the legal right to abortion, but does not condone it “as contraception or a way to validate promiscuity.”
There are pro-life and pro-abortion factions (which she called anti-abortion and pro-choice), she said, and there is concern that this volatile issue could split the Church. (Halifax Mail Star, January 22, 1990)
The federal government has introduced an amendment to the Divorce Act (1985) to help Jews overcome religious obstacles to remarriage before a rabbi. The amendment allows courts to dismiss or halt proceedings for divorce when Jewish parties have not first settled the possibility of either one being able to seek a religious remarriage.
Jewish wives must wait for a “get,” a religious document ending the marriage, before they can remarry before a rabbi. Sometimes divorcing husbands use the “get” to wring additional concessions from their wives over and beyond what civil divorce proceedings have determined should be done.
Jews for Jesus
B’nai B’rith, League for Human Rights, has failed in its attempt to get the Toronto Globe and Mail to acknowledge impropriety in carrying an advertisement for Jews for Jesus on December 20, 1989. The placement advertised a cassette tape, “The Jewish case for Jesus.”
Karen Mock, national director of B’nai B’rith and David Satok of the Canadian Jewish Congress sent the Globe “sharply worded protests” on the grounds that the ad was nothing more than “self-promotion,” offensive to both Jews and Christians. (Phil Tine, Canadian Jewish News, January 18, 1990)
Jews for Jesus encourage Jews to recognize Jesus as the Messiah promised in the bible.
On December 25, 1989, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah cannot be considered Jews under Israel’s Law of Return and, therefore, cannot be given citizenship automatically. The irony is that Jews who are atheists or agnostic have no difficulty qualifying under the Law of Return.
In January 1990 the Globe and Mail ran a series of ten extracts from a New Age book by Guy Nurchie on the Op-ed page. Installment nine (January 29) was entitled “Universal Divinity” and carried the following gibberish in its opening sentence:
“The consciousness of mankind is now rapidly unfurling a new dimension as Earth becomes aware of herself for the first time. Our home planet, in other words is becoming self-conscious. Or to put it another way, the organism man is evolving into the super-organism mankind.”
The article also mentions how Princeton physicist, Freeman Dyson, a former chairman of the Federation of American Scientists, believes that “An advanced planetary race like man must, in time, redesign and rearrange his entire solar system”
In Vancouver, Laurier Lapierre, 60, has become an explorer of the New Age. Lapierre, “a lapsed Catholic with a Ph.D.”, as he describes himself, and a homosexual who like Vancouver MP Svend Robinson has come out of the closet, has a new CBC-TV weekly talk show “Beyond the Line.”
Lapierre had himself hypnotized for one of his shows and discovered that he had been on earth as a different person at least three times before his present incarnation (February 4, 1990)
On the weekend of February 4-5, 1990, 65 delegates of the Ontario Green Party held a “spirituality” session. “Spirituality” is one of the seven guiding principles of the party, though this is not emphasized at election time. “The highest principle is loving your planet and loving your fellow man,” said Michael Tegtmeyer, conference organizer.
For the Green Party’s approval of abortion, see The Interim stories “Green enemies of life” (Sabina McLuhan, November 1989) and “Green for danger” (Winifride Prestwich, December 1989).
Father Matthew Fox, Catholic pioneer of “Creation Spirituality” which has made considerable inroads in Christian circles, will return to Canada on March 1 (Ottawa) and March 3 (Toronto). His day-long seminar (advertised in the Catholic New Times) is sponsored by the Applewood Centre of Toronto, an institution Fox helped establish.
The lectures are entitled “Out of the silence,” referring to the year-long silence requested of him by the Vatican in 1989. While Fox ceased speaking in person during this time, his tapes and videos continued his work for him. In February 1989, for example, Vision TV ran a series of videos in which Fox ridiculed the Vatican on points of Christian doctrine and morals, including its rejection of sodomy.