Culture War Cluelessness Of The Canadian Hierarchy Needs To Be Addressed


In December 2008, broke the scandalous story of the early induction procedures at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in London, Ontario.  The long and short of the story was that this Catholic hospital was engaging in fetal euthanasia by artificially and unnecessarily ending the life of unborn children.   The credibility of these charges led the bishop of London, Most Rev. Ronald Fabbro, to launch an investigation into the practice at the hospital, in order to discover whether the current guidelines are consistent with Catholic teaching. The matter was also referred to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

Earlier this month, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the appointments of two auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  One of them was Fr. William McGrattan, the current rector of St. Peter’s seminary in London, Ontario.  The Diocese of London has a few press releases on the elevation of Fr. McGrattan to the episcopacy. You can read them here.

During the course of the story about the fetal euthanasia scandal at St. Joseph’s hospital, the National Post decided to also cover the controversy as well.  Charles Lewis, the National Post’s religion columnist, wrote an article on the controversy.  You can read it here.  As part of the article, he consulted Fr. McGrattan, who also sits on the board of St. Joseph’s ethics committee.  This is what Lewis wrote:

Father William McGrattan, rector of St. Peter’s Seminary, and another member of St. Joseph’s ethics committee, concedes there are some people within the pro-life movement who come to a “premature conclusion and judgment that this is direct abortion.”

“But the action being done is not an action that is direct killing of the child,” he said. “It is an action that is trying to recognize that the life of this child is dying and we’re trying to support that process in a natural way and balance that with the complications to the health of the mother.” (Source)

Fr. McGrattan’s position appears to be deficient and imprecise.  It also appears to be at odds with the Catholic Church’s teaching on this matter as expressed by the American Bishops.  In 1996, the US National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Doctrine Committee issued a statement entitled “Moral Principles Concerning Infants with Anencephaly” that declared:

“In other words, it is permitted to treat directly a pathology of the mother even when this has the unintended side-effect of causing the death of her child, if this pathology left untreated would have life-threatening effects on both mother and child, but it is not permitted to terminate or gravely risk the child’s life as a means of treating or protecting the mother.

 Hence, it is clear that before “viability” it is never permitted to terminate the gestation of an anencephalic child as the means of avoiding psychological or physical risks to the mother. Nor is such termination permitted after “viability” if early delivery endangers the child’s life due to complications of prematurity. In such cases, it cannot reasonably be maintained that such a termination is simply a side-effect of the treatment of a pathology of the mother (as described in Directive 47). Anencephaly is not a pathology of the mother, but of the child, and terminating her pregnancy cannot be a treatment of a pathology she does not have. Only if the complications of the pregnancy result in a life-threatening pathology of the mother, may the treatment of this pathology be permitted even at a risk to the child, and then only if the child’s death is not a means to treating the mother.

 The fact that the life of a child suffering from anencephaly will probably be brief cannot excuse directly causing death before “viability” or gravely endangering the child’s life after “viability” as a result of the complications of prematurity” (Source)

This teaching, of course, is consistent with the pro-life ethic of the Catholic Church. Catholic moral principles are clear that the good result not be a direct causal result of the bad result. In other words, one may not do evil so that a good may happen.   The evil in this case is hastening the death of the unborn child, and “the good” is the act of saving the health of the mother.  And yet, even this particular scenario is not really in play at St. Joseph’s since it is even dubious whether mothers, who have been subject to early induction, have had their health at real risk at all.  At the very least in two cases that we know of (and probably many more), the health of the mother was not at issue at all.  So, in other words, there is some question about the motivation of these acts of euthanasia, and whether they represent a subtle form of fetal eugenics.

In point of fact, the current guidelines and practices of St. Joseph’s hospital have been roundly criticized and condemned by several respected Catholic health professionals and theologians.


A second major possible concern with Fr. McGrattan is his involvement with a Catholic development and aid charity called Save A Family Plan (SAFP).  Fr. McGrattan sits on their board of directors, and he was vice president for the 2007-2008 fiscal year. In the 2007-2008 Annual Report where Fr. McGrattan is listed as vice president, for instance, we read:

Gender considerations have been mainstreamed in all SPED II activities, with results indicating less discrimination against women, and increased acceptance of women as decision-makers and participants in the community and in the home. Significantly, SAFP was invited to make a presentation at a CIDA Roundtable on Gender Equality at the Canadian High Commission in Delhi, India in March 2008.  (Source)

In and of itself, there is nothing very problematic in the above paragraph, but it’s the euphemisms that need to be picked out and examined to ensure that there is no advancement of radical feminist and pro-abort agendas.  The report makes mention of “gender” being “mainstreamed”.  This is a very akward sounding initiative, at the very least, and it could smack of a certain feminist agenda, at worst.  As a minimum, it deserves further investigation.  In their program called “SPED-II: A Community Driven Initiative for 2006-2009, they engage in funding an initiative called “gender mainstreaming”.  Their Spring 2006 newsletter tells us that one of their objectives is:

“to empower and strengthen the capacities of community and their grass root organizations for improving access to local resources and for addressing local socio-cultural, gender, environment, and other development issues by participating in local governanace process and networking.”

Although this agency does much good and is even funded by well-meaning but ignorant Catholics (gee where have we seen this before?), there could be a serious problem with the initiative of “gender mainstreaming”, which they list in the same newsletter:

Gender mainstreaming is not some off-the-cuff phrase that Save A Family Plan just made up, either. It has a universal and unambiguous meaning in the international anti-family mafia.  The U.N. and other socialist, secularist organizations use the language to advance their anti-family and anti-Catholic goals and objectives in traditional Catholic countries.  Various pro-family and pro-life sources have outed this euphemism as being an initiative that is absolutely lethal to the family:

It has long been the project of the radical feminist and homosexual movements to change the understanding society has toward men and women. This was the reason the word “sex” to define men and women was changed to the more malleable “gender.” If gender is a social construct and has no basis in nature then there is no basis for sex roles. It means that any girl can be trained to want to be a fighter pilot and any boy can be raised happily as a girl.

In the UN system, the idea of “gender as a social construct” comes in the guise of “gender mainstreaming.” According to a paper issued by the UN Special Advisor on Gender “mainstreaming the gender perspective in all types of activities is a globally accepted strategy for promoting gender equality. Mainstreaming involves ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities – policy development, research, advocacy/dialogue, legislation, resource allocation and planning, implementation and monitoring of programs and projects.” (Source: C-FAM)

Here is some more information about “gender mainstreaming”: 

“Gender mainstreaming,” an ideology that proposes to erase the foundational unit of western society, the natural family, is being infiltrated into laws and institutions around the world under the rubric of “equality” legislation and guidelines, says author Gabrielle Kuby.

Kuby, the author of a 2003 book, endorsed by the former Cardinal Ratzinger, warning Christian parents of the danger of the Harry Potter book series, has written on the threat of the work of ideologues on the far left who are working to create a “new man” who can arbitrarily decide whether he is a man, a woman or some other “gender” unrelated to the natural distinctions of biology. “According to them,” she writes, “there are not two sexes, but six or more, depending on sexual preference.”

“Behind the facade” of equality, “lurks the general attack on the moral standards to which we owe the Western culture. Without it, neither the family nor Christianity can survive.”

In her article, “Gender Mainstreaming – The Secret Revolution,” to be published in German in this month’s edition of Vatican magazine, Kuby warns that the new ideology is being carefully inculcated into international law and particularly into the materials made available to educators to create school curricula. Kuby writes, “This view of freedom and sexuality, according to the will of the UN, EU and most European governments is to be imprinted onto the minds of children from the nursery onwards.”

In the case of one national government, Germany’s, the “gender mainstreaming” ideology is part of the guiding principles of every ministry of the government. The homepage of the German government’s Ministry of Science says, “The Federal Government has established an equal opportunities policy based on the political strategy of gender mainstreaming as a universal guiding principle.”

Kuby’s contention is supported by John Smeaton, head of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, who wrote this weekend that people in Europe who adhere to traditional Judeo-Christian values and ideas are under threat by anti-family ideologues working to enforce their anti-family policies and silence dissent.

“Pro-life and pro-family campaigners,” he wrote, “must expect to see the publication of documents, funded by the European Union, which promote abortion, euthanasia and other anti-life and anti-family practices – with a special emphasis on zero tolerance for dissent.”
Kuby’s thesis also corresponds with that of Babette Francis, a long-time campaigner for life and family at the international level who in 2004 told that the fight over the definition of “gender” has become the cornerstone of UN and other internationalist ideology. This ideology also links closely to the efforts of the international agencies to impose legal abortion on countries in developing nations.

Francis said that the gender ideology was first raised at a seminal conference on women, Beijing +5, in 1995, when delegates argued that gender was a socially malleable concept and that human beings could not be restricted to the mere biological categories of male and female. The argument was that there is a “continuous spectrum and that there were all kinds of genders.”

Kuby also relates that the gender ideology first found fertile ground when it was brought forward by a powerful group of feminist and lesbian NGOs at the Beijing conference. Since then gender mainstreaming has been pushed into international law with the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999) and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights of Nice (2000). As a negation of the traditional values of the family, Kuby writes, “abortion follows automatically as part of the global agenda” of the gender ideologies.

Kuby concludes with an admonition that Christians fight the incursions of the new ideologies.

“At this stage of history, the main attack of evil is in the field of sexuality. Christians need to meet the enemy there, otherwise they will have lost. If the young generation is pushed into moral degeneracy, the human condition of family and faith will be further destroyed and abortion will never be overcome.” (Source)

It is unclear, however, whether the “gender mainstreaming” funded by SAFP is identical in nature to the “gender mainstreaming” promoted by the U.N.  More pointed and specific questions need to be asked, and an investigation of  SAFP needs to be conducted to answer this question. 

There are, however, some indications that strongly suggest that the “gender mainstreaming” referred to in SAFP initiatives are indeed synonymous with those used by the anti-family, globalist forces. 

First of all, the fact that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), a pro-feminist/pro-abortion federal agency, sponsors 75% of SAFP’s budget is not a good indication of SAFP’s initiatives in “gender mainstreaming”. 

In SAFP’s 2007-08 Annual Report, we learn about some of the conferences and workshops SAFP staff attend. One of these conferences was called Women and Social Change: Perspectives from Canada and India, May 2007, Montreal, sponsored by Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute and McGill University.  One of the speakers at this conference was the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality at Alberta University, Dr. Cressida J. Heyes.  The title of her talk was “Feminist Work on the Self and the Work of Social Change (Source).  In and of itself, this might not be that significant, but it does raise questions about the themes and messages conveyed at these training sessions which SAFP staff attend and the influences these sessions have on the eventual policies promoted by SAFP.

Much more troubling evidence, however, comes from their own newsletters.  In their Winter 2006 Newsletter, SAFP covers their “gender equality” objectives and activities.  While there is nothing overtly anti-Catholic or anti-family in the newsletter per se, the euphemisms and jingos employed are the same kind of language used by the secular feminist NGOs to advance the anti-family agenda.  They also point to the idea that gender is a socially malleable concept, being “socially constructed”.  Here are a few selections:


This is not exactly the kind of development and aid work conducted by the Sisters of Charity, is it?  And we have to ask the question whether SAFP’s “gender mainstreaming” objective is really interested more in changing or confusing a family rather than saving it.  We also have to ask whether Save a Family Plan (an ostensibly Catholic organization) and Development & Peace look more like satellites for CIDA or the Feminist NGOs that stalk United Nations “women’s empowerment” conferences than they do authentic Catholic relief agencies. 

The purpose of this report is not to embarrass Fr. McGrattan.  I am sure he has fine qualities to become a very good and holy bishop one day.

However, the two concerns raised in this report still remain to be addressed.

1) That Fr. McGrattan’s position in support of the current ethical guidelines of St. Joseph’s practice of fetal euthanasia has not yet changed.

2) That Fr. McGrattan must clarify what his knowledge of “gender mainstreaming” is, and what “gender mainstreaming” really means to the groups which Save A Family Plan funds.

We do not know the extent of Fr. McGrattan’s involvement in the formulation and application of the moral decisions concerning fetal euthanasia which has been going on at St. Joseph’s.  Nor do we have any idea if Fr. McGrattan knows about the sinister side of “gender mainstreaming” and Save A Family Plan’s involvement.  I would like to think that Fr. McGrattan has not played any direct role in knowingly supporting either of these scandals.

Both of these issues surrounding Fr. McGrattan’s elevation to the episcopacy do not only concern him but the entire episcopacy in North America and the rest of the Western world.  

They have enormous implications for the future of Canada and the advancement of anti-family, anti-Catholic views around the world.  Regarding the issue surrounding the scandal at St. Joseph’s, we are in the midst of a full-scale assault on the elderly and the disabled in this country with the advancement of euthanasia and assisted suicide.  The tolerance shown to such a practice on infants at St. Joseph’s hospital compromises the Church’s witness on this issue, and sends the message that once this debate goes into high gear, the bishops of this country will be as active as they were when abortion and same-sex “marriage” were imposed on Canadians; that is to say, not very active or serious about the issue at all.  The reason why moral and social abominations like abortion, sodomy, and euthanasia are successful in gaining traction and eventual acceptance in our culture is because the bishops, as our spiritual fathers, do not actively and vigorously confront the issues.  And they do not do so precisely because they have not accepted or understood the full pro-life ethic, having compromised themselves in one fundamental respect concerning the question at hand. In the case of abortion, they accepted contraception which paved abortion’s road to acceptance in Canadian society.  Likewise, the indirect support of St. Joseph’s fetal euthanasia guidelines by the Canadian hierarchy will once again neuter the strong witness that is required to fight what we consider conventional euthanasia.  No doubt, letters will be sent to politicians and parishioners to ensure that we are all theoretically and theologically correct on this issue, but as far as what it takes to PASTORALLY fight euthanasia, we’ve been already been bought and sold down the river in practice, not just at St. Joseph’s but likely most, if not all, Catholic hospitals. (And please, folks, let us not drink the Koolaid here and believe this is an isolated incident, OK?)

In regards to the “gender mainstreaming” issue, this is, once again, another instance of the Church hierarchy, whether bishops or influential priests, not being fully informed about how the feminist/abortion juggernaut works.  The mere sound of the phrase, “gender mainstreaming” should have bells and lights going off with faithful Catholics.  Are we not to expect AT THE VERY LEAST the same reaction and alarm from our superiors?  Are faithful Catholics to believe that Development & Peace was not just a one-time controversy, but points to a much more fundamental problem with the episcopacy in this country; namely, that their pastoral orientation to fighting the culture war is largely muted and impotent?

It sure looks like it.

In the future, it would be advantageous and prudent for the bishops of this country to consult with pro-life organizations and individuals who might provide them with relevant and important information when making decisions concerning issues impacting the protection of human life and family.  It would also be prudent for them to reserve an afternoon with pro-life activists at their next Plenary Assembly to assist them pulling their collective heads out of the sand and be educated on the culture war, and our opponent’s tactics and their euphemisms.  I respectfully submit that it would be the best few hours the CCCB’s annual plenary assembly will have spent since its existence.

Having said all this, I congratulate Fr. McGrattan on his election.  I invite him, however, to re-examine St. Joseph’s “early induction” guidelines and his role on the board of an organization that could very well be funding groups who are pushing a very anti-family, anti-Catholic agenda.

4 thoughts on “Culture War Cluelessness Of The Canadian Hierarchy Needs To Be Addressed

  1. Great post. We need to pray hard for our bishops… particular for the virtue of humility. It will be needed in spades to honestly confront their costly mistakes over the years.

  2. Father’s arguments are the same ones being taught in Pagan Moral Philosophy textbooks. Are our priests now sounding like planned parenthood who push abortion as reproductive rights?

  3. Thanks, John, for all your research on this important topic. Again you raise the bar. Hopefully, our wonderful Catholic bishops will rise to the occasion.

  4. My appreciation, John, (again) for your hard work routing out these “little irritants.”

    Just when I think we have all the bases covered something else heartbreaking pops up. Maybe we are not being sacrificed physically, yet, but we surely are being tortured emotionally. Sometimes I feel like losing my temper at what is going on. It seems the ones in charge just cannot see, or do not want to see.

    We are having a holy hour on Friday morning to pray for
    all out priests at our Church The Annunciation of the Lord from 9:30 to 10:30 after morning Mass. Join us.

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