SUDBURY, Ontario, Dec. 18, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Ontario bishop is urging a local Catholic high school to go ahead with a talk by one of Canada’s most high-profile pro-abortion politicians, saying he is “not estranged from the Church in any way” and the talk will be an “important” event to inspire students.
Local Catholics and pro-life groups had panned the talk in Sudbury by Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau over the Catholic politician’s open opposition to the Church’s basic moral teachings.
But Sault Ste. Marie Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe said Monday that the St. Charles College event will be an “inspiration” to the students.
“Mr. Trudeau is a practicing Catholic, married in the Church with two children. He is not estranged from the Church in any way,” Plouffe said in a statement to the school board, obtained by LifeSiteNews. “In many ways he can be a source of inspiration to the youth.”
“It is important that our Catholic schools offer this opportunity to students to value community involvement here and abroad,” he added.
LifeSiteNews.com contacted the diocese for further explanation but did not hear back by press time.
Despite the bishop’s support, pro-life groups insist it is a scandal for a Catholic school to give Trudeau a platform.
“Mr. Trudeau has stated publicly that he is pro-abortion and pro-same-sex ‘marriage’,” says Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition. “He also ridiculed the Holy Father and the bishops when he stated that ‘we are the new generation, we don’t have to listen to old men and their old fashioned ideas’ prior to the papal visit to Toronto.”
“If this is a good practicing Catholic and a role model, then God help us all,” Hughes added.
A 2004 policy by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was endorsed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became pope, spells out that Catholic institutions should not “honor” Catholic politicians who “act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.” “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions,” it reads.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, said in 2009 that Catholic institutions granting a platform to abortion advocates are “not worthy of the name Catholic.”
“Catholic institutions cannot offer any platform to, let alone honor, those who teach and act publicly against the moral law,” he said. “In a culture which embraces an agenda of death, Catholics and Catholic institutions are necessarily counter-cultural. If we as individuals or our Catholic institutions are not willing to accept the burdens and the suffering necessarily involved in calling our culture to reform, then we are not worthy of the name Catholic.”
LifeSiteNews has been unable to get comment on the Trudeau event from the Sudbury Catholic District School Board after numerous attempts. Gina Tullio, the school board’s communications officer, told LifeSiteNews on Thursday that no one would be available for comment until Monday. Then on Monday she said to call back Tuesday. LifeSiteNews left a message Tuesday morning, but has yet to hear back.
Contacted Tuesday morning, school board chair Barry MacDonald said he was “not interested” in speaking to LifeSiteNews.
Catherine McCullough, the board’s director of education, defended the talk Tuesday in an interview with Sudbury Northern Life. “Lots of students have been very inspired by him,” she said. “He’s very charismatic. He speaks about the power of youth.”
She said Trudeau will speak to around 200 Grade 12 students coming from three high schools.
Trudeau threw his hat into the federal Liberal leadership race in October and immediately assumed the role of presumed frontrunner. Five other candidates have officially registered so far. The leader will be picked April 14th.
The 40-year-old son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau has focused much of his campaign rhetoric on the need to engage youth. For years he has built up a coalition of youth as a frequent speaker at schools, including Catholic schools across Ontario.
One of those students he has apparently inspired is the Sudbury Catholic board’s student trustee David DiBrina.
DiBrina told Sudbury Northern Life last week he supports Trudeau’s campaign because the MP is “very charismatic” and that he hopes the event at St. Charles College will prompt students to take a look at the Liberal Party. “Maybe they’re going to say ‘Wow, this guy is really great. Maybe I’m going to research the Liberal party a little bit more and go do my research on the prime minister now.’”
The Montreal MP complained to media in 2011 after Tory MP Dean Del Mastro questioned why he was so frequently invited to Catholic schools even though he openly opposes the Church’s teachings.
Trudeau said he was “surprisingly upset” that someone would accuse him of being a “bad Catholic.” “My own personal faith is an extremely important part of who I am and the values that I try to lead with,” he told the Canadian Press at the time.
However, he admitted in 2009 that while he is a Catholic, he holds “political positions on gay marriage and on abortion that don’t at all resemble those of the Catholic Church.”
Earlier this year, Trudeau said he would support Quebec’s separation from Canada if Parliament moved to restrict abortion or same-sex “marriage.”
“I always say, if at a certain point, I believe that Canada was really the Canada of Stephen Harper – that we were going against abortion, and we were going against gay marriage, and we were going backwards in 10,000 different ways – maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a country,” he told Radio-Canada in February.
In June, he called the Catholic Church’s opposition to gay-straight alliances “repulsive” in a talk to high school students.
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
Palazzo della Congregazioni,
Piazza Pio XII, 10
Phone: (011) 39-06-6988-4217
Fax: (011) 39-06-6988-5303
Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada
724 Manor Avenue
Ottawa, ON KIM OE3
Phone: (613) 746-4914
Fax: (613) 746-4786