24-August-2006 -- Catholic News Agency |

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Hamilton, Ontario, Aug. 24, 2006 (CNA) - After receiving complaints from across Canada, Bishop Gerard Bergie, is encouraging Catholics to boycott an upcoming fundraiser at which former President Bill Clinton is speaking.

Bishop Bergie, who is an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Hamilton in Ontario, says that Clinton is an inappropriate guest speaker for a $500 per seat fundraiser being held by the Catholic Family Counseling Centre, The Kitchener Record reports.

Clinton is well known for his outspoken support of abortion in the U.S., a stance which is absolutely opposed by the Catholic Church. His administration also promoted abortion worldwide, especially in third world countries, in a stated attempt to control “over-population” and put an end to world poverty. The Record also noted that while in office, Clinton twice vetoed a ban on partial-birth abortion, which is performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy. One most remembered moments of his administration remains, however, the scandal surrounding his marital infidelity with a White House staffer.

More recently, the former U.S. President has opposed the Church his continued attempt to push condoms as a primary tool in the prevention of AIDS.

Taken in part or as a whole Clinton’s stance on life issues made him an inappropriate choice to speak at a “Catholic” event, Bergie said."We felt it wasn't appropriate to have Mr. Clinton as a speaker, based on the fact that they were at Catholic counseling centre," Bergie told the Record.

The bishop said that he agrees with the numerous people who have contacted him, concerned about the message Clinton’s message sends. “They find it difficult to reconcile the fact that an organization that calls itself Catholic has extended an invitation to an individual whose views, in particular regards to life, go against the Catholic Church," the bishop said.

Cathy Brothers, the centre's executive director, told the Record that, “The decision to ask Clinton wasn't connected to the Catholic Church. Nothing that we're doing, with having Bill Clinton, is a comment at all on what we believe. It's not about our Catholicism."

Brothers also claims that despite their name, the organization is actually a non-denominational agency, saying, “We're a very diverse agency made up of people of all different backgrounds and faiths."

While the organization was founded by a priest in 1952, Brothers said that the center still calls itself Catholic, but only follows the portion of the Church’s teachings. “We see ourselves as having been committed to the social teachings of the Catholic Church around the importance of doing good works," Brothers said. "The name has always motivated us to try a little harder to make sure everything we do is based on love and compassion."

But Bishop Bergie said that Catholic organizations don’t need to act in a manner contrary to the teachings of the Church in order to be effective in a world which may disagree with you. "Personally, I feel you can be faithful to your Catholic tradition and still be able to minister to the greater community," Bergie told the Record. "The greatest challenge is how to deal with that, especially when an organization wants to proceed in a way the diocese feels is not appropriate."

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