The archbishop has asked that all priests of the diocese make his letter available to their congregations this Sunday in an effort to clarify the issue for Catholics.
There are many many Catholics who vote Liberal. And many of them vote that way because their parents voted Liberal, their grandparents before them. Immigrants in particular have been supporters of the Liberal party since this was the party that helped new immigrants in their entry into Canadian culture and society. But that has changed over the years. And those who vote Liberal, because it is in their history, need to assess their position.
“The position of the Catholic Church in favour of life at all stages is clear and unchanging,” writes the archbishop. “A person who takes a position in contradiction to the teaching of the Catholic Church on the value and dignity of human life from the moment of conception to the moment of a natural death, and persists in this belief, is not in communion with the Church’s values and teaching, which we believe faithfully transmit for today the teachings of Christ.”This is pretty clear, sufficiently so that Justin Trudeau should be able to understand it. However, his response is that his father was authentically Catholic and raised his children as Catholics, and Justin therefore infers that his father's actions were in keeping with the Catholic faith. He even cites his father's support for divorce. But he omits his father's part in legalizing abortion.
What Justin doesn't seem to know is that his father was not authentically Catholic. Well known as a womanizer and a man who had numerous affairs, he divorced his wife, had another affair later in life with a love-child from that union, there is rumour of a private letter to Morgentaler concerning someone's abortion (his child?).
Pierre Trudeau was not Catholic; and his son Justin comes from the same tree. He claims that his cultural Catholic identity and his espousing some of the Catholic beliefs makes him truly Catholic.
Unfortunately, he is not alone. So many people in the church think the same way. And that is why so many of them have voted for Pierre Trudeau and will vote for his son Justin.
Unless the Church specifically calls out Trudeau and tells him directly that he is not a Catholic in good standing, the rest of the Catholic Church will not take heed of this latest letter. Unfortunately, the Catholic hierarchy has been too close to the Liberal Party in the past to sever the ties cleanly now. There would be some muck-raking for sure. Perhaps some clergy would be exposed; there is almost an air of collusion between the bishops and Catholic Liberal politicians.
I commend Archbishop Prendergast for his letter, but I doubt that it will have much effect. There needs to be a letter from the Canadian Conference of Bishops, and someone in charge needs to have a face-to-face talk with Trudeau to spell out exactly where he is wrong in his thinking. And then they need to follow through and excommunicate him from the church if he persists in this way.
Words are not sufficient; actions are necessary; without them, Catholics won't listen to what a couple of bishops have said, they won't even hear that they have said anything.
One thing has become very clear however: the debate is on, Prime Minister Harper.