Ontario Bishop: Stephen Lewis talk for Catholic group ‘imprudent’
LONDON, Ontario, February 2, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Bishop Ronald Fabbro of London, Ontario has expressed concern about a Catholic foundation’s decision to host a talk by abortion activist Stephen Lewis.
Diocesan spokesman Mark Adkinson told the Catholic Register that after receiving a bevy of complaints from Catholics, Bishop Fabbro relayed the concerns in a meeting with the Monsignor Feeney Foundation for Catholic Schools. The organization, which is linked to the London Catholic District School Board, is hosting the fundraising event on February 16th at London’s Hilton Hotel.
“The bishop indicated that the choice was imprudent, but he verified that the foundation does not endorse Stephen Lewis’ views on Catholic teaching, which they have stated publicly, and that they are solidly committed to their Catholic identity,” said Adkinson. “Further, Stephen Lewis will not speak on any matter where he contradicts Church teaching.”
Mary Anne Foster, the foundation’s executive director, told LifeSiteNews January 20th that they were fully aware of Lewis’ public anti-Catholic positions. “Basically what we say is that even though he holds those views, the Foundation doesn’t agree with them,” she said.
In a statement posted to their website since LifeSiteNews’ previous coverage, the foundation maintains that Lewis is an expert on global health, poverty, children, and education. “Christians should be open to learning from him on that level,” it reads. “He is coming to speak specifically on Poverty, Children and Education here and abroad.”
Lewis, who is lauded in the event’s advertising as a “celebrated humanitarian,” is a long-time proponent of abortion and has become infamous for his public attacks on the Catholic Church’s efforts to promote a culture of life. At the Cairo conference on population and development in 1994, he slammed the Vatican for opposing abortion and contraception, calling their statements “torrents of thinly veiled misogyny.”
Also a major advocate of condoms, Lewis has said that Pope Benedict XVI, in opposing condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS, is “sending a message which ultimately kills people.”
“His words were, frankly, irresponsible and damaging and it was like inviting death,” he said.
On the same issue, he has said that the Pope is “living on the moon,” and presents “another example of complete indifference to the vulnerability of women, who are so hugely and disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.”
Herman Goodden, a London Catholic columnist, denounced the leaders of the foundation in a January 29th op-ed for the London Free Press. Though many aspects of Lewis’ work are “commendable,” Goodden notes, “much of what he promotes and stands for is directly at odds with Catholic social and moral teaching.”
Goodden also questioned Lewis’ motivations for accepting an invitation to a Catholic event. “Why would a speaker wish to address an organization whose leadership and teaching he so clearly disdains and has characterized as deluded, dangerous and misogynistic?” he asked.
In 2001, Bishop James Wingle, former Bishop of St. Catharines and then-Bishop of Yarmouth, objected to Lewis giving a keynote address for the Catholic Health Association of Canada. He said the organization “ought not to lend support to people who have positions contrary to Catholic teaching,” and that he would “counsel them to be more sensitive in their picks in the future.”
“It is an on-going concern for the whole Church that in all the things we do that we do not convey ambiguous or confusing messages,” the bishop added.
Adkinson had previously refused comment when contacted by LifeSiteNews.com.
Find contact information for London Catholic District School Board trustees here.
Most Rev. Ronald Peter Fabbro, C.S.B.
Bishop of London
1070 Waterloo Street
London, ON N6A 3Y2
Tel: (519) 433-0658 #224
Fax: (519) 266-4353
E-mail: [email protected]