By John-Henry Westen

Cardinal Marc OuelletTORONTO, June 2, 2008 ( – Responding to a criticism from mainstream media representatives that Catholic Bishops in Canada fail to speak out strongly on moral issues, the leading Catholic bishop in Canada, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, conceded that bishops should speak out more clearly following the example of Pope Benedict. reported last week that mainstream media representatives from CTV, CBC and the National Post chaired a panel at the International Catholic Media Convention in Toronto.  With the CTV and National Post panelists nodding in agreement, CBC Radio producer Peter Kavanaugh accused the Canadian Catholic hierarchy of being “quintessentially Canadian” on moral issues. 

Catholic Bishops in England, said Kavanaugh were willing “to actually engage in public, in the fiercest of terms an issue that they saw as being vital to the future of the nation and the future of humanity.”  But, he said, “the difficulty is in Canada churches are almost unwilling to do that, are unwilling to engage in those types of issues, in those types of discussions.”  (see coverage: interviewed the Primate of Canada on the charge posed by the media representatives.  Quebec City Archbishop, Cardinal Marc Ouellet acknowledged a failure on the part of church leadership in the nation to engage the issues forcefully in the public square. 

“For the church it is a big challenge to adapt to the media culture,” he said.  “I think if we want to be present we have to be involved in public debate and to speak clearly. This is what Pope Benedict is doing, what Pope John Paul was doing, but sometimes at other levels of the church we don’t do that so clearly,” Cardinal Ouellet told

“We will have to adapt more to affirm the Word of God where the forum is open,” he added. “Without attacking anybody, or without violating consciences, but just witnessing to what we have received to give to the world.”

The Cardinal who has been one of Canada’s more outspoken bishops on moral issues added that he hoped the International Eucharistic Congress would receive coverage by the media. “That is a big challenge in a secular society to organize and draw the attention of the Catholic and secular media so that people will realize that the church is very much involved at the heart of the world bringing hope, love and strength to people committed to peace,” he said.  “That’s my hope just before this great event and I hope the media will be there to dialogue with us and bring some space for good news in the world.”

See related coverage:

  Canadian Mainstream Media Reps Blast Bishops for Failing to Speak Out Strongly on Moral Issues