Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins has weighed in on the federal government’s call on the G8 to commit to improving maternal health and decreasing child mortality. You can read the statement here, but here is the highlight:

When there are so many obvious practical steps that can be taken to promote maternal and child health throughout the world, it is sad to see Mr. Ignatieff introduce into the discussion this negative proposal [abortion], which in no way serves to improve the health of mothers or children, but which rather imperils the most vulnerable among us.

Brian Lilley writes about this and he is correct to note that what is most significant about Archbishop Collins’ statement is that he singled out a particular politician (Michael Ignatieff). Other than former Cardinal Ambrozic’s criticism of Paul Martin pushing same-sex ‘marriage’ down the throat of Parliament, I cannot recall a Canadian bishop singling out a politician over a moral issue.

Many Canadian Catholics are hungry for leadership on moral issues from their priests and bishops. Archbishop Collins is providing such leadership. The Liberal Party might not want to take their mostly ethnic (Portuguese, Italian and Filipino) Catholic vote for granted. Angus Reid polls after the 2006 and 2008 federal elections have shown that Catholic support for the Grits has been declining and that among regular church-goers, the federal Conservatives garner majority support. Ignatieff prioritizing abortion under the rubric of maternal health further alienates a large base of their support, especially within the Greater Toronto Area. What I am convinced was a crass political move — Ignatieff establishing his progressive bona fides with feminists — could backfire and expose the Liberal leader as politically tone deaf.

Aside from the politics of this all, congratulations to Archbishop Collins for speaking out on this issue and reiterating that authentic maternal health does not include killing unborn children.