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Witness

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 06, 2003

Not only did he fail to back down and apologize, but he carried the battle further into his opponents' lines. Calgary Bishop Fred Henry said that Catholic politicians who work to nullify Catholic doctrine put their souls in jeopardy. Squeals of outrage, predictably, could be heard as far as Hyannisport and St. Petersburg. Now Henry has an op-ed in the Toronto Globe & Mail in which he shows he is neither a fool nor a coward.

It is disingenuous to ask religious believers not to base their contribution to society and political life -- through the legitimate means available to everyone in a democracy -- on their particular understanding of the human person and the common good. The mantra of "separation of church and state" in our Canadian context is simply a crass secularist attempt to discount and marginalize persons with religious faith. ...

What is at issue is the duty to be morally coherent within one's conscience, which is one and indivisible. There cannot be two parallel lives: on the one hand, the so-called "spiritual" life, with its values and demands, and on the other, the so-called "secular" life in a family, at work, and in the social realm of public life and culture.

Note that Henry is being quite generous to the Catholic pols he's rebuking. He concedes that they are merely walling off their lives of political duty from their lives of faith, sacraments, and prayer --as if such spiritual lives are really flourishing in the pertinent individuals . A less gracious man might wonder whether, in reality, these cherished spiritual lives were simply a sham, whether in fact raw political expedience had wholly eclipsed any remnants of Catholic conviction in that part of their being in which important decisions are made.

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  • Posted by: - Aug. 10, 2003 3:27 PM ET USA

    Bishop Henry has quickly become a role model for me. It fills me with hope to see the Bishops on the offensive. It seemed like no one was willing to speak out, and out of no where I've seen several Bishops and Cardinals do just that. I hope this spreads. Bruce

  • Posted by: - Aug. 06, 2003 8:59 PM ET USA

    Oh, I'm swooning! If Bishop Henry could actually bring himself to tell his priests to deny communion to the pols and then enforce his decision I may fall in love--spiritually, of course, lol.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Aug. 06, 2003 8:13 PM ET USA

    Everyone. Say an extra prayer for Bishop Henry tonight. Not in anyone's wildest dreams did anyone think that the US culture war over gay marriage would have a front line Leonidas in Canada holding the throng of millions back while the reinforcements arrive. I've reread this story 3 times. Extraordinary.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Aug. 06, 2003 8:11 PM ET USA

    This is an extraordinary display of guts by a Canadian Catholic bishop. Based on this latest from Diogenes, I retract my previous hedging as to whether this is grandstanding. The G&M is Canada's den of the left [the National Post has been neutered]. As in the case of the Nigerian Cardinal at Georgetown, it is clear that he knows exactly what he's doing. And his nuanced editorial indicates that he's no fire and brimstone hell-monger. This guy is the real deal!!!!!

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