Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto expressed “deep concern and disappointment” and called it “arrogant for powerful, wealthy nations to dictate what priorities developing countries should embrace.”
Cardinal Collins and Bishop Douglas Crosby wrote separately to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in response to a March 8 announcement that the government would spend US$483m over three years to provide abortion and other services in the developing world.
“Such a policy is a reprehensible example of Western cultural imperialism and an attempt to impose misplaced but so-called Canadian ‘values’ on other nations and people,” Bishop Crosby wrote.
Cardinal Collins wrote: “It is praiseworthy to offer international aid; it is arrogant for powerful, wealthy nations to dictate what priorities developing countries should embrace.
“Money spent on promoting abortion and contraception could be spent on vaccinating millions of women and girls against malaria or other diseases,” the cardinal said.
Bishop Crosby said the prime minister’s policy and vision “are contrary to the fundamental ethic” of protecting the weak and vulnerable.
He said the policy is “in conflict with the principles instinctively shared by the majority of the world’s population and consistently upheld by the Catholic Church: to defend and protect human life from conception to natural death.”
In addition to abortion services, the new initiative will support contraception, sexual education and reproductive health, according to a government statement.
The Trudeau policy is in sharp contrast to that of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
His government implemented a five-year, $3.5 billion foreign aid program to support maternal and child health that explicitly excluded abortion-related services.