Archbishop calms conflict inside pro-life movement
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
OTTAWA (CCN) — A Sept. 7 statement by Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller clarifying whether Catholics can support so-called “gestational legislation” has helped calm growing tensions within the pro-life movement.
Both positions, for or against gestational legislation, are morally licit,
the archbishop said.
Each side has accused the other of not being Christian
or Catholic enough — either
for not saving those babies some believe can be saved through having
at least some restrictions on abortion, or for not sending a clear enough
message about the value of all human life from conception.
The archbishop’s statement, quickly endorsed by Cardinal Thomas
Collins on the Archdiocese of Toronto’s blog and now posted on
the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (CCCB) website, urges
co-operation in the pro-life movement but stresses: “Co-operation
does not always mean unanimity regarding a given strategy; open and civil
debate about the wisdom of any specific strategy is healthy.”
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), co-sponsored
by the CCCB and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus, welcomed
“The division within the pro-life movement is very preoccupying,
especially when leaders and members of pro-life groups point at each
other and criticize each other’s approach to protecting the unborn,” said
COLF director Michele Boulva. “All this hinders our chances of
obtaining a law that would protect the most vulnerable of Canadians — its
She applauded the bishops for taking leadership in the
pro-life arena. “As
Catholics it is essential that we turn to our bishops when confusion
arises regarding the church’s teaching. Christ has empowered them
to teach in his name.”
Miller wrote it is “morally licit” for Catholics to support “gestational” legislation,
i.e. legislation that would allow abortion in the early weeks of the
unborn child’s development, as an incremental step aimed at reducing
the harms of “an unjust legal regime that permits abortion.”
Based on Blessed John Paul II’s teachings in Evangelium Vitae, “legislation which intends to limit the harm done by a pro-abortion law is not itself co-operation with unjust law but rather ‘a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects,’ ” the archbishop wrote.
Priests for Life Canada (PFLC) is one of the many pro-life
groups that would support gestational legislation. PFLC board chair Rev.
John Lemire, a parish priest based in New Liskeard, Ont., said he is
pleased the archbishop’s
statement has clarified the issue of gestational limits.
Lemire says no one who knows his organization’s work can say PFLC does not stand up for the rights of the unborn.