OTTAWA, October 21, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - Justin Trudeau, Catholic leader of the Liberal Party and longtime abortion advocate, unseated Stephen Harper Monday, bringing an end to his nine-year reign.
The Liberal Party has solidly established itself in a position of power, gaining the majority after winning 184 out of the 338 seats in the House of Commons, while the Conservative Party gained only 99 seats — a sharp drop from the 166 seats won in 2011.
Trudeau has been an outspoken advocate of abortion. After he issued a public statement on May 7, 2014 requiring all members of the Liberal Party to vote in favor of abortion, several Catholic prelates spoke out condemning the move.
Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto wrote an open letter to the Liberal leader urging him to reconsider his stance. "It is not right that they [politicians] be excluded by any party for being faithful to their conscience."
And Bp. Christian Riesbeck, auxiliary bishop of Ottawa, called the requirement "scandalous." "It's the fact that he considers himself to be a devout Catholic but then adheres to, or advocates for, abortion," he said.
Riesbeck suggested that Trudeau meet personally with Ottawa archbishop Terrence Prendergast to discuss his public advocacy of abortion — but that if he persisted in his error, according to canon 915 of the Catholic Code of Canon Law, he should be denied Holy Communion. "Ultimately, he would have to make a public retraction of his views," Riesbeck said.
Riesbeck told LifeSiteNews in May 2014, "Out of concern for safeguarding the reverence that is due Our Lord in the Eucharist, and to avoid scandal, one could possibly apply this norm even in the case of a pro-abortion Catholic politician who is extremely vocal about his position."
Archbishop Prendergast, however, has taken a softer stance, saying, "I don't think you can make a judgment about someone's faith position simply by what is said in the public. There needs to be a meeting with myself, or with his parish priest, a priest who is in harmony with the Church's teachings."
Prendergast also expressed wishes to confer with Abp. Christian Lépine of Montreal, where Trudeau is from, even though canonically Trudeau belongs to the archdiocese of Ottawa and is under Prendergast's jurisdiction.
Addressing reporters at a news conference in June last year, Trudeau said he'd be open to meeting with the archbishop, but remained firm on his pro-abortion stance.
"I look forward to sitting down with any and all faith leaders to talk about issues that are important to them," he said. "But the Liberal Party is unequivocal. We stand up for women's rights."
On the question of being denied Holy Communion for his anti-Catholic stance, he said, "I look forward to having a conversation with the bishop where he can explain, if that is the case, his views on that."
In light of Trudeau's election, ChurchMilitant.com reached out to the archdiocese of Ottawa to ask whether this meeting ever occurred. The executive assistant to Abp. Prendergast responded to ChurchMilitant.com Wednesday evening, clarifying that "Mr. Trudeau met with Archbishop Prendergast in 2014. The content of their conversation is confidential."
Justin Trudeau is the son of Pierre Trudeau, Catholic prime minister of Canada for a nearly unbroken period from 1968 to 1984. Pierre Trudeau oversaw the dismantling of the Catholic faith in Canada during that time period, laying the intellectual groundwork for the Quiet Revolution in Quebec, which led to an almost wholesale loss of the Faith in Quebec and beyond throughout the 1970s.
This article was updated Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015.