President of Canadian Episcopal Conference on Supreme Court decision
Archbishop James Hayes, president of the Canadian conference of Catholic
Bishops, issued the following statement on 28 January 1988 following the
announcement of a Canadian Supreme Court decision on abortion laws.
The Supreme Court decision striking down the abortion law is a dramatic
challenge to all lay members of the Church and to all of us their pastors. The
need for responsible political action was never more urgent. For God's law
condemning abortion is not changed by the Supreme Court decision.
In the process of writing a new law that protects human life from conception,
lay Christians as voters and legislators have the first responsibility.
The situation of "abortion on demand" that follows from the Court's decision
must be corrected legislatively as soon as possible. This is our common task
now, and the future of our human society depends on how soon and how well it is
In the process of working for new legislation, all Christians must also apply
themselves to the continuing pastoral work of evangelizing modern culture
regarding the God-given values and rights of every human life, and the need to
safeguard and respect that life in all circumstances.
Abortion is the destruction of human life. The challenge is to change our
society's attitude towards life and to channel the energies and strong emotions
involved in this debate towards correcting mentalities and situations that lead
to abortion. We need to create a society that supports life and enables children
to be raised with dignity; a society that puts other people's rights and needs
ahead of personal comfort and gain; a society that respects human life at every
stage of its development.
The vision and hope that lead us forward flow from our God-given belief that
every human life is sacred. Today's Supreme Court decision leaves us in a
situation where the sacredness of life is being violated. We must urgently work
together with all Canadians for legislation that will indeed safeguard the life,
liberty and security of every person, including the unborn.
Teachings of the Magisterium on Abortion