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Scandal in Hamilton.

On May 2, 2001, former U.S. president Bill Clinton spoke at Carmen's Banquet Centre in Hamilton, ON, at the invitation of Morgan Firestone, a wealthy non-Catholic American, who organized the banquet as a fundraiser for Hamilton's St. Joseph's Healthcare Foundation.

In the past, the Firestone Foundation has invited other well-known speakers such as Margaret Thatcher and the former Governor of New York state, Mario Cuomo. Because of the controversy created by the earlier invitation to the well-known pro-abortion Catholic Cuomo when Hamilton Bishop Anthony Tonnos asked his priests not to attend, the organizers decided this time to first check the invitation with the Sisters of St. Joseph, more specifically with Sister Anne Anderson, head of St. Joseph's Healthcare. Following that, a February news release announced Clinton's coming to the Hamilton community, much to the astonishment of many Catholics in and outside Canada, a number of whom protested. Sr. Anderson reported their names to the American consulate.

The reasons for the protests were simple. How can a Catholic hospital allow a fundraiser at which the main attraction is the most scandalous anti-life, anti-family president ever? Mr. Clinton's pro-abortion record is well known. It includes two vetoes of a partial-birth abortion ban passed by Congress, vetoes which were denounced vociferously by American cardinals and bishops. His first act in office in 1993 was to restore abortion financing as "aid" to Third World countries; he pushed through approval of the abortion pill RU486; he okayed fetal experimentation; he aggressively promoted the funding of population control; and one of his last acts was to issue a regulation that would redefine the terms "fetus" and "child" so that babies born alive could be used for medical research.

Moreover, he is known the world over for his extra-marital affairs, not to mention "perjury, contempt of court, multiple abuses of power, the sexual exploitation of employees, and at least one plausible charge of rape" (First Things, April 2001, p.65).


According to an interview with LifeSite News, one justification for allowing the invitation to proceed was that Sr. Anderson said she "was not aware of the extent of Mr. Clinton's pro-abortion views." Amazing!

Another justification offered was that Cuomo is a Catholic but Clinton is not. (In other words, Cuomo could be rebuked while Clinton gets off scot-free.) Furthermore, it was noted, Clinton would not be speaking about abortion.

This last point is a standard argument which has been employed elsewhere, for example in recent years by the Canadian Catholic Health Care Association. Last year CCHA invited population-reductionist David Suzuki (who hates Catholic teaching on contraception with a passion) to be their keynote speaker at their annual meeting; this year, 2001, CCHA invited proabortion, former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis whose last contribution as deputy executive director of UNICEF was a biased report against the Catholic Church in Rwanda (see C.I. April, 2001, p.28). For those who think that a pro-abortion mindset has no effect on a person's thinking in other matters, these invitations are just fine. After all, he is not speaking on abortion, is he? In reality, their anti-life views affect their whole thinking and none more so than Mr. Clinton's. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." His private views became public policy.


The reaction of many Catholics was, perhaps, best summed up by Dr. Paul Ranalli's article published in the Hamilton Spectator, April 26, 2001, under the classification "Forum," entitled "St. Joe's 30 pieces of silver":

"Many feel that St. Joseph's need not search for an American flag with which to welcome Clinton on May 2. It could simply run up a hospital bed sheet to signify its surrender of morality to money."

What has been the hospital's reaction to the protests?

1) No apparent effort was made to cancel Bill Clinton's invitation, and/or replace him with someone else.

2) No kind of apology had been issued at the time of writing (May 3).

3) To our knowledge, no one who sent a written complaint has received a response.

As a note of interest, shortly after the outbreak of the Clinton controversy in Hamilton, the Faculty of Theology at St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, announced that Sister Anne Anderson had been appointed Dean as of July 1, 2001.


The Hamilton people are not the only ones who seem indifferent to Mr. Clinton's immoral reputation. The Canadian Society of Yad Vashem (the holocaust museum in Jerusalem) has arranged for him to speak at the 3200 seat Hummingbird Centre in Toronto at $300 to $150 a seat on June 25.

Earlier, the Jewish investment firm Morgan Stanley in New York, after the furor about the outgoing president's last minute pardons broke, publicly apologized for having invited him to address a conference at a reported fee of more than $100,000 (First Things, April, p.65). Canadians go blithely ahead. Once more money speaks louder than honour and integrity of Catholics, and even that of the holocaust victims.
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Jun 1, 2001
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