CALGARY, Alberta, May 21, 2014 ( – Calgary Bishop Fred Henry has become the fourth Canadian prelate to publicly criticize Liberal leader Justin Trudeau after the self-professed Catholic politician announced his party would not accept new candidates who support the right to life.

In a column posted to the diocesan website, Henry begins by arguing that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and New Democrat Leader of the Opposition Thomas Mulcair are comparable to “tweedledum and tweedledee,” meaning there is little difference between them in their refusal to acknowledge or engage the abortion debate.

The bishop then labels Trudeau “tweedledum-dumb” for his pronouncement that all future Liberal candidates must be “pro-choice” after initially pledging open nomination races.


“I discovered that these terms were actually invented by John Byrom, who in 1725 made fun of two quarrelling composers, Handel and Bononcini, and said there was little difference between their music, since one went 'tweedledum' and the other 'tweedledee.' The term gained further currency when Lewis Carroll used it for two fat little men in Through the Looking-Glass (1872),” Bishop Henry explained.

“Reflecting on our federal political leadership, I thought that the terms applied rather well to Prime Minister Harper and leader of the opposition, Thomas Mulcair,” the bishop wrote.

“The former has repeatedly said that he doesn't support re-opening the abortion debate. The latter says that his MPs flatly oppose reopening the abortion debate and proceeds to clarify by adding, 'No NDP MP will ever vote against a woman's right to choose'.”

“Now we have a new player, I call ‘tweedledum-dumb’, our want-a-be Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau with his own brand of bilingualism. He pledges open nomination races and at the same time: 'I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills'.” 

“Apparently, logic isn't his strong suit,” stated the bishop.

Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton said he was outraged at Trudeau’s decision, calling it “dictatorial.” 

“Here we have a man who would like to be Prime Minister some day, dictating to party members that they must vote against fundamental human rights,” Smith said. “In effect, what they’re saying is, ‘There’s no choice but pro-choice.’ That’s a contradiction in itself.” 

Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast issued a statement reminding Trudeau, who flaunts his self-described Catholicism in the mainstream media, that if one dissents from the Church’s teaching on life, he cannot “be considered a Catholic in good standing.”

“The position of the Catholic Church in favour of life at all stages is clear and unchanging,” wrote the archbishop. “A person who takes a position in contradiction to the teaching of the Catholic Church on the value and dignity of human life from the moment of conception to the moment of a natural death, and persists in this belief, is not in communion with the Church’s values and teaching, which we believe faithfully transmit for today the teachings of Christ.”

Cardinal Thomas Collins, archbishop of Toronto, wrote Trudeau a personal letter saying that the policy of banning pro-life candidates would exclude Pope Francis himself from running for office in the party.

“I am deeply concerned about your decision that citizens who, in conscience, seek to assure the protection of the most vulnerable among us are not acceptable as candidates in your party,” the cardinal wrote.

“It is worth noting that if Pope Francis, as a young man, instead of seeking to serve in the priesthood in Argentina, had moved to Canada and sought to serve in the noble vocation of politics, he would have been ineligible to be a candidate for your party, if your policy were in effect. I urge you to reconsider your position,” Collins wrote.

However, Trudeau has defended his position by reiterating that his Catholicism – as well as his dissent from Catholic moral teaching on abortion, homosexuality, divorce, and other issues – are a cherished legacy from his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

“I had an extraordinary example in a father who had deeply, deeply held personal views that were informed by the fact that he went to church every Sunday, read the Bible regularly to us, and raised us very, very religious, very Catholic,” Trudeau wrote to supporters. “At the same time he had no problem legalizing divorce, decriminalizing homosexuality, and moving in ways that recognized the basic rights of the people.”

“Regrettably,” Bishop Henry said in his letter, “our Members of Parliament are content to play a political game with life refusing to even discuss the question. Furthermore, their cowardice and silence is inconsistent with scientific facts and places them in compliance with the destruction of thousands of human lives.”

The full text of Bishop Henry's letter is available here.

To contact Bishop Henry:

Catholic Pastoral Centre
120 17 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta, T2S 2T2
Phone: (403) 218-5500
Fax: (403) 232-6349
Email: via website


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