QUEBEC CITY, Quebec, May 26, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “The abortion debate is on and we must not be afraid of it,” declared Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, in a press conference today, jointly hosted with Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa. The cardinal hosted the press conference following the overwhelming and hostile reaction from media and politicians to his comments at a pro-life conference in Montreal last weekend, in which he stressed the Church’s teaching against abortion in all cases, including rape. The reaction to his remarks “was completely without measure,” he said, adding that “only part of my message has been received and interpreted.” “From the outset, I want to emphasize that my comment in defence of the innocent child, even in cases of rape, was motivated by the desire to call to mind the dignity of women in all circumstances, and the respect due to all new human life,” he said. He explained that there’s “a real social malaise around abortion,” with a lot of suffering for women and families, which makes it difficult to speak about the issue.  But he emphasized that abortion must be addressed for the health of society. He decried Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s refusal to discuss abortion, insisting that “there is debate, and there must be debate.”  “I deplore this attitude of many of our representatives who do not appear willing to face up to the injustice our country condones in offering no legal protection for a child in its mother’s womb,” he said. But he said that given “the political and legal impasse,” he and Archbishop Prendergast are launching an appeal “for an awareness campaign and more programs providing assistance for women in distress in Canada.” “It is vital that more effective aid programs for women facing a difficult pregnancy be implemented at every level, governmental, medical and social, so that the largest possible number may avoid abortion,” he said. Archbishop Prendergast for his part insisted that “to be actively in favor of life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good.” “It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop,” he continued.  “There can be no true peace unless life is defended and promoted.” “We cannot ignore the other great challenges faced by humanity today,” he added.  “But that is not our topic today.  For, the right to life is primordial.” The archbishop said that he and Ouellet are asking “governmental agencies [to] take on their proper role in affording help for pregnant women in distress — and others affected by new life in the womb — to reduce the extraordinarily high number of abortions in our country.” Cardinal Ouellet said that while many Canadians believe the country is at the forefront of promoting human rights, the fact is that “we have no lessons to offer to anyone in this field.” “We should even be more open to what is done elsewhere to have a clearer view of what we must improve to protect the voiceless children who wish to come into the world,” he said. He appealed to the conscience of his fellow Canadians “so that together we may one day call for a change in this unjust situation in our country – the current legal void in abortion matters.” “Let us not fear this debate that will shape the future of our nation,” he said. To sign a petition in support of Cardinal Ouellet, click here.

“The abortion debate is on.”

For forty years, the bishops of this country have stayed silent on this issue.  Now the Primate of Canada has ended that silence and the Catholic Church in this country is now in the game officially. That is a very encouraging sign.

The Cardinal’s approach is also a very positive and shrewd one, focusing on giving pastoral care attention to women who are seeking abortion.  In fact, he should go one step further and realize that there are many women in Church pews all across this country who are desperate to hear the words of mercy and forgiveness from the pulpit.  The single, greatest obstacle today in overturning abortion is the guilt and shame that these women bear.  We must breakthrough to them and release them from the silent prison.  If we are successful, abortion will be history.

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