In an open letter to Justin Trudeau, Cardinal Collins rged the Liberal leader to rescind his party's unprecedented ban on pro-life supporters. Photo by Evan Boudreau.

Cardinal to Trudeau: 'reconsider your position'

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  • May 13, 2014

TORONTO - In an open letter to Justin Trudeau that upholds the important role of faith and conscience in politics, Cardinal Thomas Collins has urged the Liberal leader to rescind his party's unprecedented ban on pro-life supporters.

The cardinal was responding to a May 7 decree by Trudeau that every future candidate of the Liberal Party will be required to "vote pro-choice on any bills." Candidates will be screened on their abortion views and only those who are "resolutely pro-choice" will be permitted to stand as Liberal candidates in elections, Trudeau said.

In his letter, Collins said it was wrong that anyone "be excluded by any party for being faithful to their conscience."

"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," he wrote.

"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 pointed out that, under Trudeau's new guidelines, even someone with the integrity of Pope Francis would be deemed ineligible to seek office as a Liberal.

"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."

The cardinal's letter said that Toronto-area Catholics are currently members of all political parties and that they are encouraged to be engaged citizens and to participate in political life as candidates, regardless of their party affiliation.

"It is not right that they be excluded by any party for being faithful to their conscience," he said.

His letter also reminded Trudeau of St. Thomas More, the patron saint of politics who was executed because he refused, as a matter of conscience, to support the divorce of Henry VIII.

"The king claimed control of his conscience, but Thomas was 'the king's good servant, but God's first.' Political leaders in our day should not exclude such people of integrity, no matter how challenging they find their views," he wrote.

"I urge you to reconsider your position."

Below is the complete text of the letter.


Mr. Justin Trudeau, MP
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
House of Commons, Ottawa

May 14, 2014

Dear Mr. Trudeau,

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.

Just last week Pope Francis sent a message of support for thousands of your fellow citizens who gathered on Parliament Hill to peacefully affirm the right to life, and the need to protect the vulnerable. He assured them of his spiritual closeness “as they give witness to the God-given dignity, beauty and value of human life.” 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.

Among the two million Catholics of my archdiocese, there are members of all political parties, including your own. I encourage all of them, of whatever party, to serve the community not only by voting but by active engagement in political life as candidates. 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.

The patron saint of politicians is St. Thomas More. He came into conflict with the political authority of his day on a matter of conscience. The king claimed control over his conscience, but Thomas was “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” 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.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto

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  • Ana Milan

    Liberalism used to stand for freedom in matters of personal belief and upheld the civil & human liberties of the individual. When did this change occur? Abandoning principles to get elected is not a good format for government. Honesty is!

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  • L Walker

    Anna, it started with his father. He was the liberal PM of Canada.

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  • jenny

    God bless all of us !

    Like 0 Short URL:

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