As many of you know, Jim Flaherty recently passed away. By all accounts, he was very much respected as a person and a politician. From all of the condolences and praises offered about him, it is pretty clear that he was a pretty remarkable man. As a Finance Minister, I think he was one of Canada’s best, and Canadians owe him a great deal of thanks for his steady hand in steering us through the financial collapse of 2008.
However, because he was a public official and politician, it behooves us to, while acknowledging his many accomplishments (and they were many, both public and private), consider a few things from a perspective of Faith which, in the end, is really all that matters.
I remember seeing Jim Flaherty at the Conservative Party nomination meeting for Ottawa West Nepean, the same one that I was disqualified in running for, back in 2006. I was there to support a pro-life candidate against pro-abort, and pro-same-sex marriage candidate, John Baird. Based on his previous career in Provincial politics, I had thought that Jim Flaherty was pro-life, but then someone educated me that night that he was there to support Baird. I distinctly remember feeling rather disappointed in hearing about his about-face.
Early in his career, Jim Flaherty was indeed a pro-life and pro-family politician, but as with all things political today, he shifted his position, at least on the homosexual agenda:
As Jim Hughes of Campaign Life remarked recently: “He was very strong in the beginning,” Hughes said. “Gradually he drifted, a mixed bag.”
The other important thing in Minister Flaherty’s life is that, based on what I’ve read, he had a Catholic heritage and yet the funeral was conducted in the Anglican Cathedral in Toronto where the Anglican Archbishop, in the presence of Cardinal Collins, informed the congregation that, “Jim had a Catholic heritage, but found his spiritual home in the Anglican Church“.
So let’s figure out why he found his spiritual home away from the Catholic Church. One possibility springs to mind: a second “marriage” after a first, binding one. We don’t know for certain, of course, why Jim Flaherty left the Catholic Church, but rarely these days do people leave because they have a problem with the Church’s teaching on the hypostatic union of Christ’s two natures. It usually involves sex and/or fidelity to the marital covenant. Today, departures from the Church to “other spiritual homes” are not spiritually motivated, but rather usually involve issues restricted to the area below the belt and above the thigh – either by those leaving for sex or those running away because of predator homosexual priests.
This post is really not about Jim Flaherty per se. Yours truly prays that he made his peace with God before he was called to give an account of his life. I pray that God looked mercifully on his soul to admit him to everlasting life, without ignoring or sugar-coating Our Lord’s dire warning to all of us to ensure we are ALWAYS prepared to meet our Maker:
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:37-39)
The conditions surrounding his sudden death and his formal and public marital status within the Catholic Church, however, are indeed important for us to remember. In the eyes of the Church, Jim Flaherty was still married to his first (and only) wife, even though he was later “married” to Ms. Elliot in 1986 at All Saints Anglican Church in Whitby. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, his second formal and public union was an adulterous one, or as we say today in candy land, an “irregular one”. At least Flaherty had the honesty to formally leave the Catholic Church – demonstrating the man was at least honest with himself and God – which is much more than we can say about our Church leadership and lax laity who want it both ways.
Admittedly, this is not a pleasant business to belabour this small fact, but the Gospel is not pleasant in many places. Jesus was not pleasant when He reminded us of the consequences of not being faithful to marriage and His promises and commandments. The Catholic Faith is about getting people to heaven, and while being polite and pleasant are definite bonuses, pulling punches doesn’t do anyone any favours — neither for Jim Flaherty (God rest his soul) nor the rest of the Catholic politicians in this country who are floating in the same boat.
Yet, if you read the coverage from the Catholic news media today or watch the reaction from Church leadership and other Catholic public personalities about Jim’s otherwise exemplary life, this poor man’s marital status in the Catholic Church is barely noticed or mentioned. It’s met with a collective shrug when it’s understood that he was still married to his first (and only) wife when he died.
Today, marriage and religion have become by-words among the nations – a mere inconsequential footnote to the otherwise importance of “public service”.
Except his state funeral today is at St James, the Anglican cathedral in Toronto. Just the most convenient location? Was he never a Catholic after all, or did he convert somewhere along the path? It’s certainly an old Upper Canadian tradition: converting to the elite church as you seek to move up in the world. The nice thing about this is that nobody really gives a damn. He could have been some generic 20th century agnostic for all anyone cares. I have not seen a peep in the media about the significance of the place where his funeral is being held. You can still call Jim Flaherty Irish, but those old tribal religious identities just don’t seem to matter any more. Hurrah. (Source)
Is it any wonder why definitions today in society and the Catholic Church mean less and less? Why are we surprised at what’s going on in Rome today when high-ranking Cardinals try to blur definitions and gut the indissolubility of marriage?
The problem of ignoring definitions for one person is that they end up affecting the relationships of others. If marriage no longer matters or can be changed willy-nilly for one couple, the change applies across the board for Catholics because we reject relativism.
And it provides us with another stellar example that the Catholic public witness by our leaders on the indissolubility of marriage either really sucks or is virtually non-existent.
Ignore the moral law. Ignore the Church’s binding authority of the matrimonial union. Ignore fidelity. Ignore permanence. Ignore God. Define marriage as you please. Define your own reality.
Today, we live in an era where society and much of the Church, as the above blogger pointed out, don’t much give a damn about the “old tribal religious identities”, or for that matter, what those identities ask of us in sacrifice. Ecumenical sensibilities have made all these things rather obsolete. Indeed, even politicians today, who appeared to have received a very thorough grounding in the Catholic religion, can formally defect without anyone in authority in the Church being apparently too concerned about the consequences, or the scandal about showing up for their public funeral. It’s a great example to set for other (formerly) Catholic politicians that can count on such ecclesiastical support and encouragement, while concurrently having, as they say, “a little bit on the side”. Our Catholic leaders get human respect and toleration, while Catholic politicians get boundary-free sex! It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Although we’ll keep the law on the books, in practice you can go at it. Hypocrisy is our gas, man. Eat our dust.
These things just don’t matter any more. Marriage, Religion, Morality – it’s all one big happy salad. Greek, Caesar, Garden – the only thing that matters today is that we have such a large ecumenical selection to choose from. No more boundaries. No more definitions. No more rules. No more restraints. No more law. We use to call this anarchy. Today we call it chow-time.