OTTAWA, June 7, 2013 ( – After Canada’s most notorious abortionist died last week, pro-life and church leaders across the country urged prayers for a man who had passed away without publicly repenting for a life dedicated to such grave evil, or expressing remorse over his continuing blood-drenched legacy.

Yet at the same time, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a puzzling statement that managed to avoid mentioning the heinous act that defined Henry Morgentaler’s life. In fact, if one didn’t know who Morgentaler was, it wouldn’t have even been clear from the statement why the bishops were commenting at all, and one might have been led to think he was some noteworthy pro-life activist. (See the full statement below.)

Signed by Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith, the CCCB’s president, the statement opens by expressing condolences to Morgentaler’s family. “Every human life is sacred and deserves our care and protection,” they then point out.


“As Catholics, we mourn the loss of each life, in particular of those who die in the womb, and pray to God to be merciful to all who die,” the statement concludes. “May Our Lord help us all to find the best ways to aid those who are suffering and in need.”

We asked the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops for an interview in hopes of getting a clearer statement, but communications director René Laprise said they had nothing to add.

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The reaction brings to mind the words of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the former Archbishop of Quebec City, who was called up to Rome in 2010 immediately after a series of strong pro-life interventions in Quebec.

Before taking over as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, Ouellet told Canadian Catholic News’ Deborah Gyapong that bishops must “dare to speak to the deep heart” and avoid “political calculation.”

Bishops “need spiritual discernment and not just political calculation of the risk of the possibility of the message being received,” he said. In his role of selecting the world’s bishops, he said he would seek bold “men of faith” who have “the guts to help people live it out.”

The full statement from the CCCB follows:  

Statement by the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Death of Dr Henry Morgenta…


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