Cardinal to Trudeau: Be "the king's good servant, but God's first"

Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
ROME – Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, speaks to reporters on March 10, 2013 ahead of participating in the College of Cardinals which would elect Pope Francis. (DAVID AKIN/QMI Agency)

Last week, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said that any Liberal candidate who is not already a sitting MP must be pro-choice. This week, Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, sent Trudeau the following letter, a copy of which was distributed to the Parliamentary Press Gallery:

Mr. Justin Trudeau, MP
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
House of Commons, Ottawa

May 14, 2014
Dear Mr. Trudeau,

I am deeply concerned about your decision that citizens who, in conscience, seek to assure the protection of the most vulnerable among us are not acceptable as candidates in your party.

Just last week Pope Francis sent a message of support for thousands of your fellow citizens who gathered on Parliament Hill to peacefully affirm the right to life, and the need to protect the vulnerable. He assured them of his spiritual closeness “as they give witness to the God-given dignity, beauty, and value of human life.” It is worth noting that if Pope Francis, as a young man, instead of seeking to serve in the priesthood in Argentina, had moved to Canada and sought to serve in the noble vocation of politics, he would have been ineligible to be a candidate for your party, if your policy were in effect.

Among the 2 million Catholics of my archdiocese, there are members of all political parties, including your own. I encourage all of them, of whatever party, to serve the community not only by voting but by active engagement in political life as candidates. It is not right that they be excluded by any party for being faithful to their conscience.

Political leaders surely have the right to insist on party unity and discipline in political matters which are within the legitimate scope of their authority. But that political authority is not limitless: it does not extend to matters of conscience and religious faith. It does not govern all aspects of life.

The patron saint of politicians is Saint Thomas More. He came into conflict with the political authority of his day on a matter of conscience. The king claimed control over his conscience, but Thomas was “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” Political leaders in our day should not exclude such people of integrity, no matter how challenging they find their views.
I urge you to reconsider your position.

Sincerely yours,
Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto

8 thoughts on “Cardinal to Trudeau: Be "the king's good servant, but God's first"”

  1. The Cardinal should have instructed Trudeau to not to approach the table of the Lord. Until, Trudeau is right with God and his Catholic faith. Until then Trudeau is NOT a Catholic.

  2. Dear Justin:
    I have several reasons to write you but the most important and salient point of this letter is my discussions with voters who are concerned with your denying a person the right to choose using their conscience as a guide. Not one person I have talked to agrees with your stand.

    The second most talked about subject the last few days at Tim Horton’s is the flippant, rude, and totally unacceptable response given to a well thought out and carefully constructed letter by Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto on your behalf by your communications director (hopefully without your knowledge or permission) Kate Purchase. May I suggest, that office should not just be another pretty face. May I also suggest the Cardinal deserves a personal response from you; not a tweet by Ms. Purchase.

    With all due respect sir; you cannot command a person’s conscience to agree with yours. To do so is wrong and not the liberal way. Indeed, only the NDP insist their members vote black is white.

    Millions of Roman Catholics, Christians and people of all faiths will be looking for leadership in this matter and I think that Cardinal Collins’ letter offered what they were looking for. That is of course if your representative erred in dismissing the Cardinal as one person and you will reconsider your position regarding candidates’ beliefs.

    Your communications director was correct in one sense. The issue is the right to choose but not just a woman who agrees with her but women who believe that an unborn child deserves protection at some time.

    My belief is and the reason I am writing you; is that I have a right to follow my conscience as long as that right doesn’t interfere with your rights.

    You are a great leader, a fine man and likely the next Prime Minister if my work has anything to do with it.

    However, I also feel that you are wrong in this instance and I think like all great leaders; you can if after examining your conscience find you might have erred; admit it.

    It would make me feel better and it will allow many who will have to examine their conscious before they vote have an easier time at the polls.

    Sincerely yours,

    1. It is with great sorrow that I must withdraw my support from Justin and his Liberals inasmuchas any politician who does not respect freedom of conscience among the voters is obviously not worthy of our support, and indeed brings shame and betrayal to the good name of the LIBERAL party.

  3. How good of the Cardinal to reprimand Mr. Trudeau on an issue of conscience! Is this the same Catholic Church that has moved and hidden pedophile priests for centuries and even denied the seriousness of their crimes? I just wanted to check the validity of this man to give religious advice to another man. In my sense of values, the little red beanie cap is not a crown nor a halo.

  4. Religion has no business in politics just like politics has no business in religion.

    Todays world has changed all political parties looking to be elected and they are looking for the vote.

    Politicians will say and do anything to get your vote but once elected the promises are forgotten or impossible to keep.

    Only a woman is in a position to understand the rights of who controls her body.

    Only a woman should decide if she can bear a child and raise that child to become a productive member of society.

    If she cannot give that child all it needs to develop both mentally and physically it should be her right to discontinue that life.

    Its her decision to make to abort or give the child up for adoption.

    I don’t see where a politician or a religious group should make the choice for her.

    A woman should control her productive cycle.

    An abortion is a last option to someone unable to raise a child.

    To resort to end a pregnancy should not be taken lightly.

    Abortion to some women is a form of birth control and if politicians want to help and be pro life they should legislate FREE birth control to all who ask for it.

  5. Part of Mr Trudeau’s appeal is that he comes from a famous Catholic family and, indeed, is a practicing Catholic himself. He is now, however, in total opposition with the Catholic Church on abortion. He must change his position or face excommunication. That will not go over well with Catholic voters.

  6. The cardinal is no doubt aware that St Thomas Aquinas, whose Summa Theologiae is the philosophical and theological foundation of the modern Catholic church, taught that a human foetus passes through three stages, one vegetable, one animal and one human, each roughly corresponding to a trimester of pregnancy. That would leave some room for the church to get out of the all-or-nothing position on abortion that causes so much trouble.
    It would also help if he admitted that the church’s position on contraception is, at least statistically, the cause of many abortions.
    Perhaps that is why pope Paul VI’s commission on that issue recommended that the church alter its teachings on contraception. The recommendations were rejected, but it shows that the issue is not as black-and-white as the church claims or pretends.

  7. I find it interesting that everyone on the right is aghast on Trudeau’s position. His Pro-Choice position is not different from the Greens or the NDP. He is being criticized because the Conservatives know he has a chance to become prime minister. I don’t think his position will make much of a difference anyway. Anyone who is strongly Pro-life isn’t going to vote for anyone other than the Conservatives or the Christian Heritage Party. What hurts Trudeau the most is his lack of a vision.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *