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Drop pro-choice test for Liberal candidates, archbishop urges Trudeau

Canadian Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins waves to reporters as he arrives for a meeting at the Vatican, Monday, March 4, 2013.

Andrew Medichini/AP

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Toronto is asking Justin Trudeau to reconsider his decision to bar would-be Liberal candidates who do not endorse the party policy on abortion.

In a letter to the Liberal Leader, Cardinal Thomas Collins says he understands the need for party discipline, but questions whether that discipline can extend to matters of conscience and religious faith.

Trudeau has said the party won't accept new candidates who are not pro-choice on abortion, although sitting MPs will be allowed to run even if they oppose it.

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The cardinal reminds Trudeau – who was raised in the Catholic faith of his famous father – that the patron saint of politicians, Thomas More, was executed for following his conscience against the political authority of his day.

Collins says he encourages the Catholics of his diocese to be involved in politics as both voters and candidates.

And he says it is wrong that they should be excluded from a party for being faithful to their consciences.

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