Thursday May 27, 2010

Cardinal Ouellet Clarifies: Church Still Asks States ‘To Penalize the Practice of Abortion’

By Patrick B. Craine

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OTTAWA, Ontario, May 27, 2010 ( – Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, has emphasized the Catholic Church’s teaching that abortion is not only morally evil but that it also must be prohibited by law.

According to Catholic teaching, abortion is “considered a crime, a moral crime and a legal crime, too, and the Church is asking the states to penalize the practice of abortion,” said the cardinal. Ouellet made the remarks to Deborah Gyapong of Canadian Catholic News on May 23rd.

The Cardinal’s clarification came a week after he sparked a flurry among Quebec media and politicians by reaffirming the Church’s teaching against abortion in all cases, including rape. “The child is not responsible for how he was conceived, it is the aggressor who is responsible. We can see him (the child) as another victim,” he told reporters May 16th at a pro-life conference hosted by the Quebec branch of Campaign Life Coalition.

The Archdiocese of Quebec had attempted to clarify these comments in the media, emphasizing the fact that the Cardinal did not specifically call for a law against abortion. “There is a spin, saying the cardinal would like to re-criminalize [abortion] and this is not what he said,” spokesman Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre told CBC. “He’s not calling for re-criminalization. He was talking [about] a moral thing, this is a moral issue. He was not bringing this to the judicial level.”

The archdiocese’s statement was taken out of context and resulted in confusion about the position of the Church and Cardinal Ouellet on the criminalization of abortion; but the Cardinal’s follow-up remarks to Gyapong affirm the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Quoting the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Donum Vitae, the Catechism states: “As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights” (CCC 2273).

Cardinal Ouellet again and very publicly challenged the Canadian legislative establishment yesterday when he hosted a press conference along with Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa. The pair declared: “The abortion debate is ON.”

The Cardinal explained that he held the press conference to emphasize the part of his message that got lost in the media flurry. “I want to emphasize that my comment in defence of the innocent child, even in cases of rape, was motivated by the desire to call to mind the dignity of women in all circumstances, and the respect due to all new human life,” he said.

He also used the occasion to again call for legislative action to protect the unborn from abortion, as he did at the March for Life two weeks ago, decrying the federal government’s and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s refusal to allow debate on abortion. “I deplore this attitude of many of our representatives who do not appear willing to face up to the injustice our country condones in offering no legal protection for a child in its mother’s womb,” he said.

In his interview with Gyapong, Cardinal Ouellet emphasized the need for the Church to join this debate on abortion and speak openly on the issue in the public square. “The Church has to teach truth of the Gospel and the understanding of the human being from the Gospel of Christ,” he said. “And the Church has to care for the formation of conscience.”

See related coverage:

Cardinal Ouellet and Ottawa Archbishop: “The Abortion Debate is on”

Cardinal Primate of Canada Slammed by Media, Receives Death Wish for Abortion/Rape Comments

Cardinal Ouellet to Canadian Gvmt: Take Stand For Life at Home Too


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