The seats of the governing party in the House of Commons of Canada. Wikimedia Commons

The Register Archive: Fr. Andy Hogan is Parliament's first priest-MP

  • July 10, 2018

Fr. Andrew Hogan made history on July 8, 1974, becoming the first Roman Catholic priest to be elected to the House of Commons. Better known as Father Andy, he would serve two terms before losing in the 1980 election. He died in 2002. There have been two other priests who were MPs at the same time — Fr. Bob Ogle (NDP, 1979-84) and Fr. Raymond Gravel (Bloc Quebecois, 2006-08). In 1980, the Vatican banned priests from seeking political office, though bishops could grant special permission. The Register’s Dan Mothersill wrote about Hogan’s historic victory in the July 20, 1974 issue:

GLACE BAY, N.S. – Fr. Andy Hogan, the 50-year-old crusading son of a Nova Scotia coal miner, pledged last week to battle in the House of Commons for the working poor.

As the country’s first priest MP and the first New Democratic Party candidate to win a federal seat east of Quebec in more than a decade, Hogan said his aim was to carry on the corporal works of mercy in the House.

In a Register interview, he decried the fact that Catholics traditionally have placed their priests on pedestals, wished to keep them out of controversies and argued the political process was beneath their dignity.

“But Christ was an extremely political figure who upset the vested interests and the establishment of His time,” Hogan said. “He was certainly the most controversial figure the world has ever seen.”

While maintaining it was “ridiculous” for the average parish priest to become involved in partisan politics, Hogan felt clergy with specialized secular training and experience should enter this field.

“In Pauline times there was a large variety of ministries in the Church but since the Council of Trent the role of the cultic priest was frozen. Gradually there has developed an acceptance of priests as teachers, social workers and even labourers as witnessed in the Worker Priest movement.”

Fr Andy Hogan MPHogan, an economist and sociologist who has lectured for the majority of his 25 years in the ministry, has been a strong and vocal advocate of wide-scale reform in the Atlantic provinces.

With an unemployment rate of 13.5 per cent in his Cape Breton-East Richmond riding, a $5,500 average income and a 20 per cent cost of living increase during the last year, Hogan said he will fight for the rejuvenation of Crown corporations in the province.

“Right now we need the establishment of two coal mines in the area and the 100-year-old clapboard housing is some of the worst in the country.

“We still must have handouts from the richer provinces but the industrial development of the Atlantic region is essential to its survival. The existing economic disparity is far more divisive to Confederation than any language dispute.”

He said he will also press for greater economic aid to the Third World. “Time is running out and the biggest judgment of God on Canadians will be that we have virtually ignored the vast problem of the developing nations.”

Although the NDP has taken a stand on the removal of abortion from the Criminal Code, Hogan said individual party members are free to follow their conscience on the matter.

“I’m unalterably opposed to abortion and will continue to oppose it in Canada.”

He joined the NDP because there had always been a socialist tradition in his family.

“And in reading carefully the social documents of the Church, the NDP seemed to come the closest to their ideal,” he said.

Hogan captured his seat with a 5,000 vote margin over his nearest contender, Liberal George Wilson. The riding is about 65 per cent Catholic.

“It was the ordinary people who contributed a few dollars each to my election fund who enabled me to collect the $14,000 for my campaign. Of course, when you take a tough stand against corporations you can’t expect any donations from them.”

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