TORONTO, March 2, 2005 ( – Appearing on the CTS television Network’s Michael Coren Show yesterday, Calgary Bishop Fred Henry gave some very candid answers to questions about Catholic politicians and reception of Communion and excommunication.  Speaking of Catholic Prime Minister Paul Martin who supports abortion and same-sex marriage, Bishop Henry said he would give him a blessing rather than Communion. “Yes, I would refuse him Communion,” he said.  Bishop Henry explained, “I felt in conscience that I had to write a pastoral letter to my people in which I explained that his position was morally inconsistent and incoherent and that there was no way in which he could claim to be a good practicing Catholic and at the same time espouse this pushing of the same sex union ah, legislation and his position on abortion.”  Bishop Henry noted that “Life issues and marriage certainly are at the very heart and so you’re not free to pick and choose about these issues. You’re either with the Church or you’re not and if you’re not with the Church, it’s not the Church that’s giving you the hard time, YOU are separating yourself from the Body of Christ and that becomes a personal decision that you have to deal with.”  Bishop Henry described the Church’s hesitancy to excommunicate such politicians as an “Achilles heel” which “drives me nuts at times.”  He said, “Now, the Achilles heel of the Roman Catholic Church …and this drives a lot of people nuts, is we rarely excommunicate anyone. I mean, we are so darn tolerant; it drives me nuts at times, because we’re always preaching conversion, we’re always calling people to repent, to turn around. We’re always extending forgiveness, giving another chance and it’s only the last, ultimate resource that you kick somebody out.”  He continued, “So when we are dealing with a politician, it’s frustrating. You’d like to kind of give them the boot, but at the same time, what we’re always doing is calling to conversion. But as maybe a step towards waking them up, it might not hurt occasionally to say, ‘Please refrain from receiving Communion because you’re not totally in good standing with the Church.’”  Speaking on excommunication of the Prime Minister specifically, Bishop Henry said that was a question for the Prime Minister’s own Bishop Marcel Gervias or perhaps Montreal Cardinal Turcotte.

However, when asked if he was the one to decide, Bishop Henry responded, “I would have to consider it, yes. I’m not sure how we would come down in terms of making a decision, because I’m not there. But it would be sufficiently serious . . . anyone who pushes and promotes these kinds of unions is guilty of a grave offence against God.”

Bishop Henry suggested that by forcing his cabinet to support the same-sex marriage legislation the Prime Minister deepened his guilt. “If one is actually promoting and forcing your cabinet go along with this kind of thing, I think this is one of the things that’s extremely serious. And for someone to do so in such a public way and then try and be a member in good standing in the Church, something’s gotta give somewhere. You can’t have both ends of the spectrum.”  jhw


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