Sunday, July 01, 2007

McGuinty flouts the Pope

Catholic Insight
By Rory Leishman
In an exchange with reporters on May 15, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty repudiated the admonition of Pope Benedict XVI that Catholic politicians are no less obligated than all other people to uphold the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. "I have a different constituency than does the Pope,” said McGuinty. “I am responsible for representing all kinds of people from all kinds of different backgrounds, different faiths, different cultures, different traditions."
McGuinty added: “There’s one particular aspect of myself that is in common with the Pope … I happen to be Catholic.” Is that right? How can anyone claim to be Catholic while defying the most solemn pronouncements of the Church on fundamental principles of morality?
McGuinty, of course, is not alone in taking this self-serving stance. Numerous other Catholic politicians have done the same. In a press conference on May 9, Pope Benedict singled out the Catholic politicians in Mexico who recently voted to legalize abortion during the first 12 weeks of life. Benedict noted that in approving this law, these legislators had excommunicated themselves, because “the killing of an innocent human child is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ.”
In response to this statement, McGuinty has, in effect, accused the Pope of violating the separation of church and state. The charge is groundless. The Pope has never issued any instructions to the legislatures of Mexico, Canada, Ontario or any other jurisdiction. He has simply reminded Catholic politicians of their Christian duty to oppose abortion and uphold the sanctity of human life.
McGuinty presumes to disagree. Notwithstanding the Pope’s instruction, he contends that he has an overriding duty as a politician to pander to the people even when their wishes violate the teaching of the Catholic Church on the most profoundly important moral issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Just how far, though, would McGuinty take this argument? Peter Singer, the notorious professor of ethics at Princeton University, argues that the law should permit a medical doctor to kill a severely handicapped newborn infant at the request of the child’s parents. According to McGuinty’s logic, if the majority of the people of Ontario were to embrace this perverse notion, he would be morally obligated as a political leader also to favour infanticide.
That’s plainly absurd. Surely, there must be some vitally important moral principles that McGuinty would not violate for the purpose of gaining and retaining political power.
On one point, McGuinty is right: He and the Pope have different responsibilities. While the Pope has a duty to expound the fundamental principles of the natural moral law, it’s up to legislators like McGuinty to translate those principles into state laws and public policy.
Instead, McGuinty has become a law unto himself. He flouts the fundamental moral teachings of the Catholic Church.
Pope John Paul II clearly spelled out the position of the Church on abortion in his definitive encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). In remarks directed specifically to legislators, John Paul stated: “When it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality.”
In Canada, only Parliament can outlaw abortion through an amendment to the federal criminal code. However, the provincial legislatures could at least limit the number of abortions by such measures as defunding the death-dealing procedure, introducing parental notification laws and requiring a mother to see an ultrasound recording of her baby in the womb before consenting to an abortion.
What, though, has McGuinty done to curb abortion on demand in Ontario? Absolutely nothing. He has not even made clear his absolute personal opposition to abortion both as a private individual and a public legislator.
That’s shameful. McGuinty might still be a Catholic, but according to no less an authority than Pope Benedict XVI, he and other likewise errant Catholic politicians are not entitled to approach the Eucharist until they sincerely repent for their complicity in the evil of abortion.

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