#41

ABORTION AS A DEFINING POLITICAL ISSUE

The Clinton administration is the most fanatically pro-abortion government the United States has ever known. Doubters can see proof of this in the president`s two vetoes of a ban on the brutal medical procedure of partial-birth abortion, that involves partially delivering a live baby before emptying its skull and killing it.

We Canadian Knights, are certainly in no position to blame Americans for voting in a government so fiercely antagonistic to helpless little babies in the womb. Currently, of Canada`s four political parties represented in Parliament, only the Reform Party - the official opposition - has a formal non compromising pro-life stand, which could be equated to the one in the Republican Party`s political platform. By contrast, the ruling Liberals, the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats are adamantly pro-choice and sympathetic of upcoming pro-euthanasia legislation.

Beginning with Jesuit-educated Pierre Trudeau, the Liberals have insulted the collective conscience of the Catholic community. All we have to do is recall their legalization of contraceptives, easing of divorce laws and legalization of what soon became abortion on demand. The Liberal party continues to carry the country further along this path of immorality. In the last Parliament, a law enlarged the protection of sodomy in Canada, which virtually makes it a criminal offense to preach the Catholic doctrine on homosexuality. The government repealed Newfoundland`s Catholic religious education guaranteed by the Canadian constitution (and is soon to do the same in Quebec) - paving the way for a secular religion. Government officials are now poised to introduce a bill making euthanasia as easily available as abortion. Finally, in a gesture of contempt for the institution of marriage, it has brought in legislation meant to extend benefits to same-sex couples on the same basis as married couples. 

Following in the trace of his Catholic predecessors, our current Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, the 17th child in a family of 18, has declared himself officially "pro-choice." He ranks among the worst Prime Ministers in our country`s history. In statesmanship, he is handicapped by two substantial deficiencies: lack of character and lack of philosophical vision. Social morality has deteriorated greatly under his watch in Ottawa. He has shown himself a man for whom issues of right and wrong are of little concern, as was disgracefully demonstrate by his toasting of totalitarian China and Indonesia with virtually no regards for the human rights abuse in those countries.

Jean Chrétien and the last four Catholic Prime Ministers, have all been part of the government that has destroyed our Christian heritage and principles in Canadian law. Over the past quarter century the federal governments they headed have replaced law based on Christian principle with laws contrary to the will of God. Following Canada` day of infamy - May 14, 1969 - which abolished strict restrictions on abortion, these Prime Ministers, by refusing to enact laws to protect the unborn, stand responsible for abandoning unborn babies to abortion and protecting those who want to destroy them. For these reasons and others, pro-life Canadian Knights should be asking themselves whether a vote for the Liberals (or Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats) is a vote against Christ, and if supporting them today is incompatible with being a Catholic. 

The American Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a document that will make the lives of many Catholic candidates in the U.S. a lot more uncomfortable come the next election cycle. The country's 287 active bishops adopted a forceful policy statement at their 1998 annual meeting that tells pro-abortion Catholic politicians that their actions "jeopardize their own salvation, erode the community of faith, and give scandal to the faithful. Catholic public officials who disregard Church teaching on the dignity of the human person indirectly collude in the taking of innocent life." The 28-page document holds out the threat of unspecified penalties to leaders who persist in their views. "As chief teachers in the Church, we must . . . explain, persuade, correct, and admonish and do whatever else may be pastorally required in regard to elected leaders who contradict the Gospel of life through their actions and policies," says the document, titled "Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics."

There are defining moral issues in society, issues so important one is disqualified just for supporting them. Abortion is one of them. It is the central, connecting, most important issue of our time, just as slavery and civil rights once were. If people - like those we Knights presume to speak for - believe that the killing of innocent human beings is gravely wrong, their conscience will not permit them to vote for someone who is pro-abortion - no matter what. We can argue that other social problems are equally important; but how many of those problems involve the deliberate killing of more than 100,000 Canadians and 1.3 million Americans every year? Wouldn`t voting pro-life be the very least we can do under the circumstances? 

Canadian Knights are, in addition, directly involved in this slaughter of the innocent, because the killing is taking place at our expense. Our taxes are being used to pay for the killing. In fact there is a partnership between the governments (federal and provincial) and the abortionists and thus - whether we like it or not and whether it is against our religion or not - we are forced to pay for this wholesale destruction of the unborn.

Many of our Catholic politicians say they respect life by being personally opposed to abortion, but they nevertheless refuse to use their influence to protect the smallest and weakest of human life. How can we, the rest of us, expect to receive any better consideration from them when we also become the unwanted ones - the sick and inconvenient elderly?

We cannot be neutral on issues such as abortion, for as Elie Wiesel said in accepting the Nobel Prize: "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim." If we stand back and do nothing we are aiding the killers. Some 31 years ago a pro-life member of the Canadian Parliament, the late Walter Dinsdale, made a last-ditch effort to stop the Abortion Bill proudly fathered by Pierre Trudeau. He finished his speech by quoting Dante: "The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintained their neutrality." It may be uncharitable for me to say so, but it seems likely the hot spot is going to be very crowded after hearing over and over "I`m personally against abortion, but..."

I pray God to have mercy on our two countries.

Thaddée Renault

Fredericton, New Brunswick


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