The news released by LifesiteNews.com on April 14, 2009 was a bombshell: The Cardinal of Montreal had stated, “I am against abortion, but I can understand that in certain cases, there is almost no other choice than to practice it.”1
Goodness gracious! A Cardinal of Holy Mother Church saying that abortion in some cases is almost inevitable!2
“In Certain Cases, There is Almost No Other Choice Than To Practice It”
Montreal’s newspaper, Le Devoir, published an interview with Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, in which, after mentioning the legitimacy of killing someone in self-defense, the prelate concluded by saying: “I am against abortion, but I can understand that in certain cases, there is almost no other choice than to practice it.’”Even with the recent scandalous declarations by highly placed Catholic prelates, Cardinal Turcotte’s statement seemed so unlikely that prudence called for checking the French original. That having been done, there is no doubt that the words attributed to the Cardinal − except for a small oversight − were exactly those translated into English by LifesiteNews.com.
Determinism That Destroys Morals
First of all, it is shocking to equate an innocent child conceived in the mother’s womb with a violent aggressor. Even in the case of rape, the aggressor is not the child, who is a victim as much as his mother; thus, the child cannot be treated as someone who employs force against someone else and must be violently repelled. Furthermore, one evil does not justify another: the rapist’s sin does not justify that of the mother, undergoing an abortion to kill the child. According to moralists, legitimate self-defense must be practiced during the aggression and in very grave circumstances: “Killing an aggressor is permitted only for the defense of one’s life, one’s bodily integrity against grave mutilations or grave injuries, and in the case of a woman to protect her corporal virginity.”3
Secondly, to affirm that in some cases a person is almost compelled to do evil is tantamount to destroying the principles of personal responsibility and human freedom, thus annihilating the morality of human acts: “Freedom, an essential characteristic of intelligent beings, constitutes one of the most fecund resources that God gave man and is at the same time the necessary premise for the morality of his acts.”4
Do the Principles of Morals Not Apply to Specific Cases?
Cardinal Turcotte seems to subscribe to the so-called situation morals (or ethics) condemned by Pius XII, according to which the general rule of Morals does not apply to specific cases: indeed, the high-ranking prelate stated:5
“Christ is not in agreement with adultery, but he shows great compassion towards the adulterous woman. On the one hand you have the evangelical requirement and, on the other, something that has to do with its application in specific cases, which is what the Church is doing at present.”6
Contrary to what the prelate insinuated, Our Lord did not release the adulterous woman from the general rule of keeping chastity and conjugal fidelity, to show her “great compassion.” He released her from the Law of Moses that required that she be stoned, since Our Lord replaced it with the Law of the Gospel: “Neither will I condemn thee…” Being God, He knew the woman’s inner dispositions, saw her repentance, and therefore He gave her absolution for her sin. And He went on to add the condition for being absolved from sin, that is, a firm resolution not to sin again: “Go, and now sin no more” (John, 8:11).7
The Use of Condoms Is Intrinsically Evil
Continuing in his line of argument, Cardinal Turcotte applied the same strange exegesis to justify condom use: as far as he is concerned, the Pope did not condemn condom use but only emphasized that it is not the only solution. The Archbishop of Montreal affirmed: “Essentially, the pope said that it took two things to fight this disease, the means, but also a change of mentality. He pronounced this sentence to show that condoms were not in and of themselves the perfect solution; we took his words out of context and all this was largely amplified. As if the pope had said that condoms should not be used. This is ridiculous! When someone has AIDS, it is his or her responsibility to protect the people with whom he or she has intercourse…”8
It is not surprising to see someone who believes that the principle of self-defense justifies abortion in some cases, invoking the same principle, at least implicitly, to justify condom use. This argument, already employed by other prelates, is entirely devoid of doctrinal or logical foundation. Contagion of a sexually transmitted disease cannot be compared to physical aggression, for the person voluntarily exposes himself to it, which is the opposite of taking reasonable measures to protect his life from an assault. From the medical standpoint condom use is also an evil because it increases the risk of contagion through behavioral disinhibition.9
Is Compassion Only for Those Who Sin?
While showing “compassion” toward those who refuse to follow the natural and revealed morals, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Montreal was very severe toward one of his brothers in the episcopate for fulfilling his duty as shepherd. He demonstrated, moreover, complete ignorance of the facts when referring to an action by Brazilian Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho as follows: “The least one could say is that this event seems an awkward action by this bishop down there.”10
As is known, Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho, of Recife, Brazil, strove in earnest to prevent a young girl, raped by her mother’s companion, from having her twins aborted. His whole effort was to support the girl and her family and at the same time to save the lives of the two unborn children. Furthermore, the archbishop had in mind to counter the ongoing struggle in Brazil to legalize abortion.11
When his efforts (and those of the girl’s own Ordinary, Bishop Francesco Biasin, of Pesqueira, as well as many priests, nuns and lay people) were frustrated and the abortion performed, he stated that according to the Code of Canon Law those directly responsible for the abortion were excommunicated. He made it clear that the girl did not incur in that penalty, being younger than 16. His statement, perfectly consistent with Church doctrine and laws, was in fact an act of true compassion not only for the girl but for all those involved in the crime, who could now gauge the gravity of their action and repent, and also toward the Brazilian public, which is completely confused regarding abortion due to the intense disinformation campaign by abortionists and their liberal Catholic allies.12
The Truth Alone Shall Set You Free
In sum, it is lamentable to see a high-ranking figure of the Catholic hierarchy, who should be ex officio the guardian and defender of Church doctrine and laws, to depart from the latter with such ease by making statements that only increase the terrible doctrinal and moral confusion of our times.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said that the truth would save us. Now then, confusion in principles is the opposite of the truth and as such can lead to the opposite of salvation: perdition.
Let us beseech the Blessed Mother, Seat of Wisdom, to keep us firm in the faith and courageous in the combat in defense of the truth.
- Tim Waggoner, Montreal Cardinal: “I am against abortion, but I can understand that in certain cases, there is no other choice than to practice it.” April 14, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) at //www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/apr/09041416.html.
- The word “almost” (presque), which nuanced a bit the Cardinal’s statement, had been left out. The same day the news agency issued a correction and published the Cardinal’s full statement: “I am against abortion, but I can understand that in certain cases, there is almost no other choice than to practice it.” (Cf. //www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/apr/09041512.html).
- Cf. Réginald Harvey, Rencontre avec le cardinal Turcotte – L’Église est en quête d’un équilibre entre le dogme et la pastorale, Édition du samedi 11 et du dimanche 12 avril 2009, Le Devoir.com, //www.ledevoir.com/2009/04/11/245045.html. At least until today, April 17, no denial has been published by the Cardinal, either in Le Devoir or on the web site of the Archdiocese of Montreal (cf. //www.diocesemontreal.org).
- Fr. Ludovico Bender, O.P., Self-defense, Legitimate, in Francesco Cardinal Roberti-Monsignor [Cardinal] Pietro Palazzini, Dictionary of Moral Theology, (The Newman Press, Westminster, Maryland, 1962) p. 1117.
- [Bishop] Antonio Lanza-[Cardinal] and Pietro Palazzini, Principios de Teologia Moral, I, Moral General, (Ediciones Rialp, Madrid, 1958) pp. 116-117.
- Cf. Luis Sergio Solimeo, Adding Fuel to the Fire: Church Authorities on Condom Use Feed Media Uproar Against the Holy See, Friday, April 03 2009, //tfp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1176.
- Réginald Harvey, Rencontre avec le cardinal Turcotte – L’Église est en quête d’un équilibre entre le dogme et la pastorale, Édition du samedi 11 et du dimanche 12 avril 2009, Le Devoir.com, //www.ledevoir.com/2009/04/11/245045.html. (Our emphasis.)
- Cf. The Great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide, The Holy Gospel according to Saint John, (Mossman-Miller, Loreto Publications, 2008) pp. 314-317.
- //www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/apr/09041416.html; //www.ledevoir.com /2009/04/11/245045.html (Our emphasis.)
- Cf. Luiz Sérgio Solimeo and Raymond Drake, “The Church’s Infallible and Immutable Doctrine on Contraception Stands Amid Growing Opposition,” //tfp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=526 . ]Cf. John B. Shea, M.D., FRCP, “Why do some clergy question abstinence in the fight against HIV/AIDS?,” Catholic Insight at //catholicinsight.com/online/church/family/printer_624.shtml.
- Michael Cook, “African AIDS: the facts that demolish the myths,” March 21, 2009, MercatorNet.com, //www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/african_aids_the_facts_that_demolish_the_myths/. Cf. Luis Sergio Solimeo, “Behind the “Pro-Condom Media Uproar:” The Old Struggle of Rationalism and Secularism against the Church, //tfp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1173.
- Cf. Canons 1398; 1329, §2 and 1323. Cf. On the case of Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho, see Luis Sergio Solimeo, Liberal Media Lynching of Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho, March 21 2009, //tfp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1167.