In a talk the cardinal gave in Quebec to members of a pro-life movement on May 15, he spoke at length on the subject of abortion.
Cardinal Ouellet referred to the "bitter fruits" gathered after "several decades of sufficiently ample experiences of abortion."
He urged the public to be conscious of the fact that to cause the death of a human being will always be a crime, as the Second Vatican Council stated, even if this crime is not "legally" prosecuted.
Pointing out the loss of the moral sense in Canadian society, he said that the "delicate" choice of abortion always has "grave moral, psychological and social consequences."
"Abortion is a very grave deed," he added, lamenting that some take recourse to it as a "method of contraception."
"The human being in the maternal womb" must be "respected because he is a human being," the cardinal said, even if he "comes with a sickness or deformity, even if it can bother the career of a woman who did not expect him."
Cardinal Oullett also referred to the painful consequences of this choice for women, and said he hoped that "more attention" would be given to "women in danger."
"There must be support, help, listening, suggestions and much acceptance must be manifested," he continued, and lamented that adoption is "not promoted more."
The cardinal also referred to the case of rape, noting that the child is not responsible: "The child is not the aggressor; [the rapist] is.
"Do you think that the woman is helped, to repair a crime, by committing a crime?"
He reminded the public of the "sacred" character of life, and called for the development of a "culture of life and of the family": for the child, for the woman and for the family.
Cardinal Ouellet's statements sparked strong reactions in the Canadian media, which reflected the reactions of members of different political parties and pro-abortion movements for whom the cardinal's statements intended to reopen the debate on abortion.
In a communiqué published May 17, Bishop Martin Veillette of Trois Rivières, president of the assembly of Catholic bishops of Quebec, pointed out "the urgency of a calm dialogue."
"The subject of abortion is one of the most difficult and painful that our society must address," said the bishop.
For the prelate, this subject evokes "so many human tragedies and division of consciences, that passions are swiftly unleashed."
Bishop Veillette invited both the "pro-lifers" as well as the "pro-abortionists" to come to an agreement "on the absolute need to implement measures so that every pregnant woman in danger can be supported, helped, protected and loved."
"It must never be anguish, misery and despair that leads women to consider an option as grave as abortion," he stressed.
"In fact, we believe that there is no choice possible, in conscience, if there are not truly two possible options and if abortion is the only way considered or to be considered."
The director of communications for the Catholic Church in Quebec, M. Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre, also reacted to the media's response to Cardinal Ouellet's statements.
He reminded that the cardinal did not condemn "any woman," but hoped that women "are helped before or after the abortion."
"[Cardinal Ouellet] understands the anguish that leads to this painful choice," Lemieux-Lefebvre said. "Mothers and fathers deserve the support of the whole society to avoid choosing abortion. Adoption should be facilitated."
"When the cardinal invites to reopen the subject of abortion, it is to offer protection to the child in the maternal womb," he explained. "Canada is the only country in the world which has a total juridical vacuum on this subject.
"What model should Canada choose? Left in the hands of politicians is the study of a balanced solution among the multitude of options that exist in other places."
"However," Lemieux-Lefebvre concluded, "the priority at this time is not criminalization, but a moral awakening and an education of consciences in face of the tragedy of abortion."