REGINA — The Prairie Messenger, in recent conversations with Regina Archbishop Daniel Bohan and Regina archdiocesan theologian Dr. Brett Salkeld, discussed troubling issues for Catholics raised by recent Supreme Court decisions.
Bohan explained a comment he made at a February Catholic Connections meeting: “without a higher authority there is tyranny,” and Salkeld reflected on the meaning of freedom and its relationship to law and a higher authority.
Bohan’s comment was in response to the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons draft proposal discussed at their January 2015 conference that doctors must perform procedures contrary to their religious beliefs or conscience or must refer the patient to another doctor who will carry out whatever procedure is requested.
“Doctors would be required to perform a procedure or deliver a service they considered immoral,” said the archbishop. Bohan said the names associated with that document, that has its origins in Ontario, are involved in the pro-abortion movement. “What is happening here is that a particular interest group, because of their power of influence, is beginning to oppress freedom of people in the country.”
Salkeld said the western Judaeo/Christian concept of God as the defender of widows and orphans, the most vulnerable in society, began in ancient Israel long before Christ.
“He is a God for those oppressed by those in power,” said Salkeld. “The west had a conscience that says ‘protect the widow and orphans.’ So our laws about abortion and euthanasia were designed to protect the weak and the vulnerable, those who could be done away with if they were inconvenient. Now we have to get rid of them, we’re told, in the name of freedom.
“Freedom has taken on a pretty dangerous form,” said Salkeld, “when it becomes an absolute value so that things that were designed to protect the most vulnerable must go in its name.”
There have to be checks on freedom, said Salkeld. “What we’re seeing in the expansion of so-called rights is that they actually end up in people getting killed, and that becomes a tyranny.”
Salkeld pointed out the incongruity of Justin Trudeau’s position that any legislation against abortion is against basic human rights. “If you follow through with that logic, it means that every country in the world except Canada, China and North Korea is in violation of basic human rights by having some restriction on abortion, some protection for the weakest among us.”
It’s the follow-through that this freedom must be absolute, said Salkeld, and that is tyranny. “It’s not our natural inclination to defend them, at least when it becomes inconvenient to us, and this is what’s going to happen with euthanasia. The people who are inconvenient in our lives who take up our time and our energy and our money, those people will be implicitly or explicitly pressured to end their lives in the name of freedom.”
The Canadian Constitution, the archbishop noted, recognizes the supremacy of God. “There was always the understanding that the law of God took precedence; there was a higher power, a higher authority, a higher morality which Canadians accepted to follow and to guide them. But when we take away the notion that we have an obligation to obey God and live our lives under the laws of God then we have only our reason to guide us, and human reason is notoriously absent in much of what people do to other people.
“Without the laws of God to guide us we lose a most important protection from the abuses people inflict on each other. We then come under the control of whoever is the strongest, whoever is the loudest, whoever has the most money, whoever has gathered to himself or herself the most power, what we are left with is not justice or freedom, but the tyranny of unaccountable power.”