Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cardinal Ouellet's small first step & Dion's good move

Let me add my voice in reaction to yesterday's open letter from Canada's senior Roman Catholic clergyman Cardinal Marc Ouellet. His full letter can be found here.

The Cardinal's letter was itself a reaction to the hostility he received last month after testifying at the Bouchard-Taylor 'reasonable accommodations' commission. Some also say he's trying to reposition the church, which has largely fallen out of favour in the secular province.

In his letter, the Cardinal recognized that priests sexually abused children and scolded women for not bearing more children.

"These scandals shook the confidence of the people toward religious authorities, and we understand that," Cardinal Ouellet wrote. "Forgive us for all this harm!"

The line that got my attention was this:

"As Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, I recognize that the narrow attitudes of certain Catholics, prior to 1960, favoured anti-Semitism, racism, indifference toward First Nations and discrimination against women and homosexuals."

Of course, the narrow attitudes of certain Catholics (and others) after 1960 have also caused great harm and continue to do so.

Still when I first heard about this open letter yesterday, the cynic in me fully expected the apology to be directed toward everybody except for homosexuals. For the Cardinal to mention "homosexuals" as being undeserving of abuse they've received and to issue an apology is very significant. This follows years of the Cardinal attacking equal treatment under civil marriage laws, so obviously the Church is not guilt-free when it comes to spreading, shall we say, indifference or disregard to the lives and loves of we friends of Dorothy.

But I will admit this was a small first step by the Cardinal in reckoning for the wrongs of the past.

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On another note, I'm very happy to see that Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and his team in Ottawa have taken up the cause of Ontario's under-representation in the federal parliament and come to the defence of Premier McGuinty (who faced snide and small-minded attacks this week from Tory Anti-Democratic Reform Minister Peter Van Loan). This is very smart.

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