Quebec Cardinal wants abortion debate reopened

QUEBEC – Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who sparked controversy this month with his comments on abortion, has called for a broader debate into the issue and legal protection for the unborn child.

The Quebec cardinal – who is the primate of the Catholic Church in Canada – on May 15 told a pro-life conference in Quebec City that abortion is a "moral crime," one as serious as murder. He said abortion is never acceptable, even in cases where a woman has been raped.

But on Wednesday Ouellet called a press conference to "clarify" his message. Ouellet said he is sorry if his remarks offended women facing abortion, but stressed his comments were distorted and taken out of context.

"They were used as a weapon against me," he told reporters.

He said he considers abortion a "serious moral disorder" but he does not condemn any woman who had one.

The cardinal also said the number of abortions in Canada is too high and called for an "awareness campaign" to provide women with more information about abortion.

"The number of abortions could be reduced by half if only women in distress because of an unwanted pregnancy were welcomed, informed and accompanied in their choice with compassion and solidarity," he said.

Ouellet denounced the "legal void" surrounding the rights of the unborn child but acknowledged there is no political will to make legal changes right now.

"The abortion debate is on and we should not be afraid of it," he said.

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