Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk celebrates Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Vancouver. Malin Jordan / The B.C. Catholic.Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth speaks to journalists Sept. 17 about Motion 312. The motion, which investigates personhood, will be voted on Sept. 26. Deborah Gyapong / CCN.Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, recently released a statement on "gestational legislation" to clarify misunderstandings differences of opinion in Catholic pro-life groups over legislative strategy. Special to The B.C. Catholic.
By Malin Jordan
This week I'm looking at three issues in the news here, and across the country.
Canadians should be watching with great interest the debate in Ottawa this Friday, Sept. 21, over Stephen Woodworth's Motion 312, the so-called personhood motion, and the subsequent vote Sept. 26.
That's because it isn't a debate about abortion, as many pro-abortionists have tried to frame it; it's really a debate about whether Canadians can speak freely.
You see, debating the nature of what constitutes humanity shouldn't be a war cry for pro-abortionists. But it has been. This is because any talk about science and ethics in the abortion context would punch a million holes of light into the darkness of abortionists' fanatical support of a culture of death.
All of the opposition to M-312 has been based on misinformation. The motion doesn't target abortion or seek to "destroy women's rights," it simply seeks to debate, using the expertise of secular scientists and ethicists, about when a baby can be legally defined by courts and MPs as a human.
But virulent opposition has tried to frame it as an attack on women. It is not; and to promulgate that lie, as the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has, is as big a lie as that of abortion being the best solution to an unwanted pregnancy. It is not; adoption is the best, healthiest, safest solution.
Concerned Catholics should telephone their MP's office and ask which way they will vote Sept. 26. If they say they won't support the motion, ask them why Catholics should vote for them in the next election. If they won't support open and free speech now, what will happen if someone proposes a law that targets free speech or religion? Will they be afraid of free speech then too?
The significance of voting against M 312 is that they, as elected representatives, won't support free speech, thought, and scientific inquiry. The motion is about free inquiry, not abortion. Voting against the motion is about turning one's back on freedom and giving in to fear.
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Once again Catholics in B.C. (and Canada for that matter) can be extremely proud of our metropolitan, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB. The shepherd of Vancouver has, yet again, shown wise insight and robust, necessary leadership on an important moral issue for Canadians.
He has now weighed in on the issue of gestational legislation. Issuing a pastoral statement dated Aug. 31 (see the opposite page for the full text), the archbishop has clarified Church teaching surrounding the issue.
Clarity over this politically divisive debate has been greatly needed, especially over the past few years, as many pro-lifers have been at odds over incremental legislation. Many have wondered, can Catholics of good conscience support the passage of incremental legislation that attempts to restrict abortion?
The archbishop articulately reinforces Catholic teaching by quoting Evangelium Vitae. Providing clarity and context, he notes, "A law aimed at limiting the number of legally authorized abortions does not entail the approval of those abortions that it fails to criminalize." He discerns that a Catholic of good conscience could either support gestational law, or not support it.
Bishops are endorsing the statement across Canada, including Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto. It has also been posted on the website of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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Finally, as the Ukrainian Bishops' synod in Winnipeg ends and Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk heads for a pastoral visit to the Eparchy of Saskatoon, it is time to reflect on his pastoral visit to the Eparchy of New Westminster.
The visit here was an extraordinary one for Ukrainian Catholics in B.C., and for many it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The major archbishop celebrated two Divine Liturgies and conducted a prayer service. During the visit he connected to his faithful and inspired them with a renewed vigour for their faith.
Major Archbishop Shevchuk's mandate to visit every eparchy in the world is laudable. So too, is his undertaking to spearhead the Church's move towards patriarchate within eight years, following his ambitious Vision 2020 plan. That plan comes on the heels of the publication of the Catechism of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Ukrainian Catholics should be excited. These are meaningful and historic times for this church as it develops and grows after a sorrowful 20th century in Ukraine.