On Saturday, 18 February 2012, Toronto’s Catholic archbishop, Thomas Collins, was elevated to the College of Cardinals. Before Collins left for Rome, Brian Bethune interviewed Collins for Maclean’s magazine. Although I suspect Bethune is sympathetic to religion, Bethune did ask Collins some tough questions; however, Collins’ answers to the issues that are of concern to Canadian Atheist are infuriating.
Q: For outsiders at least, the sexual abuse of children by clergy, and the Church’s response to it, is the single greatest issue facing the Church. Do Catholics feel that way?
A: That’s a very serious issue, obviously, but I think there are many things we need to deal with. I think that’s something we have to learn from, we have to learn where we’ve done wrong and where we’ve not handled it well. I think we have learned, but we can always learn more. It’s an issue, it’s an important issue, but it’s not the only issue.
The sexual abuse of children by clergy, and the Church’s response to it is not just a very serious issue or just an important issue; it is the most serious, most important issue.
Q: You’re eyeball to eyeball with the provincial government. You do have an issue. How much can you diverge from what the province mandates for education and still be within the public system?
A: The norm for education is set by the government, but also by the Constitution. The goal is: we work together, we try to find a way. There are many different approaches for dealing with the different challenges we face in education, and we have our ways of doing them which reach the goal just as well as anybody else, and we would say better.
Q: So you expect to reach a compromise over the anti-bullying policy?
A: Bullying is something that’s totally against Catholic teaching. We think in schools people are bullied for many different reasons. It should never happen in any school, and we feel that the whole school is the place for an environment where people are treated with real love and respect. No school is perfect, no individual is perfect, but in our Catholic schools we earnestly seek to do well, and I think when people recognize that, they are grateful for the example we show.
The duplicity of Collins’ answers to the two questions above is so obvious they don’t deserve rebuttal
Q: You’ve been very active in what Catholics call “life issues.” Is that role going to increase when you’re a cardinal?
A: I think it is the ultimate issue, the respect for life from the moment of conception to natural death. The challenges have always been in terms of abortion, and that’s still very true. But the challenge of euthanasia is another dimension to pro-life. We need to put our resources into providing palliative care, to helping people in their time of sickness. We all are called to die, but we are called to live here as long as God gives us the gift of life on this Earth.
This is the Roman Catholic stand on euthanasia and the Catholic Church can continue to maintain, “We all are called to live here [in excruciating pain and misery] as long as God gives us the gift of life on this Earth.” However, the Catholic Church has no business imposing its stand on euthanasia and physician assisted dying on the rest of the population through its pressure on the government.
Bethune did not challenge any of Collins’ answers, but concerned Catholics, and the rest of the Canadian population should challenge Collins, and make him aware that they are not happy with his approach to serious issues: the sexual abuse of children by clergy, the need for GSAs in Ontario Catholic schools, and euthanasia.