In his Sunday Sun Column of January 21, Douglas Fisher wrote: “Love him or not, Trudeau did it. A Roman Catholic! His agent was John Turner, the Minister of Justice, also a Roman Catholic. And almost half the Grit caucus then was R.C.” Mr. Fisher continues, “I use the tag R.C., without meanness, simply, most of us know that Church’s positions on abortion and contraception. Its opposition to these practices has been constant and strong.”
As a Catholic, I agree with every word of this. But, before proceeding, I want to make it clear that abortion is not a “Catholic issue.” A glance at history bears this out.
Abortion was first condemned – as far as we know – by the Sumerian Code about 2000 B.C. It was also, forbidden by the Code of Hammurabi, in 1800 B.C., by the Assyrian Code in 1500 B.C., and by the Hittite Code in 1300 B.C. All these codes administered penalties for procuring abortion. The law of Ancient Persia – 600 B.C. – warned a pregnant woman not to terminate her pregnancy. If she did, both she and the father of the child would be charged with murder. The famous Oath of Hippocrates (who lived about 400 years B.C.) has a doctor’s vow that he will never procure an abortion.
So, even if Christ had never come on earth or if He had never founded a Church, abortion would be both immoral and illegal. What is true is that the Catholic Church has been the strongest religious body in condemning abortion. She also condemns murder, lying, rape and bank robbery. But nobody would say that these are only “Catholic issues.”
Here are a few more facts from later history. In the year 1859, the American Medical Association defined abortion as, “The slaughter of countless children; the unwarranted destruction of human life.” In 1871, the AMA spoke of abortion as, “The work of destruction; the wholesale destruction of unborn infants.” In that same year the AMA rule, “It will be unlawful and unprofessional for any physicians to induce abortion.”
So, who has changed, society of the Catholic Church? And why not make murder, rape, stealing and lying both legal and moral? Needless to say, the Catholic Church would resist such changes and these crimes. Would they then become “Catholic issues?”
The failure of Catholic Politicians
But let’s get back to our Catholic politicians. For the past seventeen hundred years, whenever the occasion arose, the Catholic Church has condemned abortion in the strongest terms possible. Even long before we were as certain as we now are that the “foetus” is a human being, abortion was forbidden under pain of excommunication. When the Pope was in Canada, he made abundantly clear his position and that of the Church. Quoting Vatican II he said, “Abortion is an abominable crime.” In spite of all this, the very people who publicly bowed to him and kissed his ring are the ones who have been traitors to almost everything for which he stood – our Catholic politicians! Not just as a priest but as a Catholic, I am thoroughly ashamed of them.
I think the explanation of this extraordinary phenomenon lies in a completely false philosophy of life, which can be traced to the teaching of Secular Humanism. Secular Humanism could be briefly summed up in this way: “If God exists, He has noting to do with the living of human life in the public domain.” So, while one may go to church on Sunday, listen to the sermon and even pray, that has no bearing on what one does or says or how they vote on Monday. While they would not put it in so many words, many Christians live their lives according to that philosophy. But, while the ordinary citizen can usually follow this pagan code of behaviour unnoticed, the public man or woman must say “year” or “nay” when issues, which have a moral connotation looms into view. This is where our Catholic politicians have failed and miserably so!
A very common modern expression goes something like this, “In a pluralistic society one cannot impose one’s private morality on others.” There is no such thing as “private morality,” any more than there is such a thing as “private mathematics.” If two plus two makes four in your kitchen, they make the same in the bank or in the house of parliament. IF lying is wrong in private life it is also wrong in public life. If murder is wrong in the home, it is just as wrong in the hospital. Once you deny the concept of “objective morality” you introduce the “law of the jungle.”
A Double Standard
There appears to be an idea abroad that a person – especially one in public life – can manipulate or juggle two consciences. One is the “Sunday conscience.” You go to Mass, receive Holy Communion, exchange the kiss of peace and look pious. Then, Monday through Friday you sit in parliament and vote for whatever suits the politics of the party – even if that includes voting for the murder of unborn babies! This, of course, is the height of hypocrisy. “Would that you were not or cold. But because you are lukewarm, I will begin to vomit you out of my mouth.” So says the Book of Revelation.
The Romans of old had a multitude of gods – with a small “g.: Christians have only one God – with a capital “G.” We Catholics believe that on matters of faith and morals we are not free to “decide for ourselves.” We are taught by the “Magisterium” of the Church. That means the Pope and the bishops in union with him.
I shall not go into the basis of this belief. But it is the official teaching of the Church. If you do not accept that teaching you are not a Catholic. The most honest thing to do in that case is to leave the Church and join some other religion that will allow you to believe and do what you like. But don’t parade as a Catholic on Sundays and act and vote like a pagan on Mondays. That is the “Kiss of Judas.”
So, let’s get down to basics and brush aside the verbiage about a “pluralistic society” and “imposing your own moral views etc.,” What does the Catholic Church teach officially on the question of voting for or supporting abortion? The teaching is crystal clear. There are no “ifs” or “buts” about it. There are no “grey areas.”
While, it would be possible to go back a long way, to the early days of the Church, let’s begin with Vatican Council II (1962-65). Here is a pertinent quote from the document, “The Church in the Modern World.” Under the heading, “Married Love and respect for Human Life’ it says, “Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.” Nothing vague about that statement! In later documents, and chiefly because abortion has become such a burning issue in recent year, the Church has become much more specific in applying these principles to factual situations.
No Obedience to an Unjust Law
In 1974, the Vatican published an official document giving the teaching of the church and zeroing in on lawmakers. Here is the salient quote. “Whatever the civil law may decree in this matter, it must be taken as absolutely certain that a man may never obey an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law approving abortion in principle. He may not take part in applying such a law nor may he vote for such a law.
That teaching of the Church applies to all Catholics – including Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, Ian Scott, Marion Bryden and a host of others who claim to be Catholics. In my opinion, these people should not be allowed to receive the Sacraments unless they repent and change their ways.
Do I have the authority to make such a statement? Not in any official capacity. But here is something from someone who does have the authority. Speaking to the American Bishops in Los Angeles in September 1987, the Holy Father said that it is a “grave error” to think that an individual’s dissent from Church teachings “poses no obstacle to the reception of the Sacraments.” The Pontiff cited dissent on “sexual and conjugal morality, divorce and remarriage and abortion.” All the politicians whom I have mentioned have either framed laws allowing abortion or they have publicly supported them.
Of those on the present political scene, John Turner is obviously the one most responsible for the murders of over a million Canadian babies since 1960. When he returned to politics a few years ago, Mr. Turner appeared on The Journal. He was asked by Barbara Frum, “Would you as Prime Minister attempt to limit the abortion law? Here is Mr. Turner’s reply. “I was the one who put through the bill in 1969. I think there are cases when abortion is justified – in the case of the life or health of the mother. I think that therapeutic abortion is a fair compromise.”
Does Mr. Turner really think, that the 60,000 and more Canadian babies who are aborted each year as a result of “his bill” would come under the heading of “the mother’s life or health?” Surely he knows that his bill has been responsible for a modern holocaust which would make even Herod blush! If the Church continues to allow Mr. Turner and the others I have mentioned to pose as “Catholics in good standing” on Sundays and despise Her teachings on weekdays, She portrays herself as a “toothless bulldog” with a loud bark but no bite. Perhaps the time has come for another “Canossa.”
The following quote obviously applies to women as well as men in politics – and other walks of life. “God give us men! A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hand – men, whom the lust of office does not kill, men whom the spoils of office cannot buy, men with convictions and a will, men who have honour, men who can stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without blinking. Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog in private thinking and in public duty.