TORONTO, May 14, 2014 ( – Liberal leader Justin Trudeau may call himself a devout Catholic, but his policy banning pro-life candidates would exclude Pope Francis himself from running for office in the party, said Cardinal Collins in a new letter penned to Trudeau. 

Trudeau announced his decision to ban pro-life candidates from the Liberals last week, right before over 20,000 Canadians gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the Canadian March for Life.  

“I am deeply concerned about your decision that citizens who, in conscience, seek to assure the protection of the most vulnerable among us are not acceptable as candidates in your party,” the cardinal wrote in his new letter.


He noted Pope Francis’ message of support to the March for Life, in which the pontiff assured participants of his “spiritual closeness.”

“It is worth noting that if Pope Francis, as a young man, instead of seeking to serve in the priesthood in Argentina, had moved to Canada and sought to serve in the noble vocation of politics, he would have been ineligible to be a candidate for your party, if your policy were in effect,” Collins wrote.

Trudeau has touted a new “open nomination” process in the lead-up to the 2015 election, pledging to allow party members in each riding to choose their candidate with little interference from party brass. However, he has required potential candidates to go through a “green light” process, and he revealed May 7 that that process includes a litmus test on abortion and same-sex “marriage.”

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“I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills,” he said. “The existing MPs … will be respected to a certain extent in their choices, but our position as a party is we do not reopen that debate.”

Asked if the party would whip votes on abortion, he said, “It is a tough one. … We are steadfast in our belief … it is not for any government to legislate what a woman chooses to do with her body. And that is the bottom line.”

In his letter, Collins said that he actively encourages Catholics to serve their community in political life, and adds that “it is not right that they be excluded by any party for being faithful to their conscience.”

“Political leaders surely have the right to insist on party unity and discipline in political matters which are within the legitimate scope of their authority. But that political authority is not limitless: it does not extend to matters of conscience and religious faith. It does not govern all aspects of life,” Collins wrote.

The cardinal concluded by observing that St. Thomas More, the patron of politicians, was martyred when his conscience conflicted with the government of his time.

“The king claimed control over his conscience, but Thomas was ‘the king’s good servant, but God’s first,’” Collins said. “Political leaders in our day should not exclude such people of integrity, no matter how challenging they find their views. I urge you to reconsider your position.”

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews, “It's encouraging that Cardinal Collins is taking this first step and I applaud and thank him for articulating a Catholic response to this.”

Cardinal Collins' full letter is available here.

To contact Cardinal Collins:

Catholic Pastoral Centre
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario, M4T 1W2
Telephone: (416) 934-0606, ext. 609
Fax: (416) 934-3452
Email: [email protected]