The Canadian Bishops oppose Bill C-38 on same-sex marriage

on Saturday, 01 January 2005. Posted in Church teachings

All citizens must tell their MPs they strongly oppose this bill

"The right decision for politicians under the circumstances is to confirm the traditional definition of marriage as "the legitimate union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of any other person." - Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec City

"Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good." — Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary


On December 9, 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada gave the federal government the go-ahead to legalize homosexual marriage. On January 31, 2005, Paul Martin's Liberal government introduced in the House of Commons Bill C-38, called the Civil Marriage Act, which wants to put aside the traditional definition of marriage (between a man and a woman), and replace it with a definition favouring homosexual marriage (the union of two persons). The Canadian Bishops raised their voices against this attack against marriage and the family — and also an attempt to silence the Church, as it is explained below - and called on Catholics and all Canadian citizens to tell their elected representatives they oppose this infamous bill. Woe to the nations that establish laws against God's Commandments!

The Pope warns Canada

On September 4, 2004, Pope John Paul II had received Donald Smith, Canada's new ambassador to the Holy See. In his speech in English to the diplomat, the Holy Father warned about a future legalization of same sex marriages:

"For generations Canadians have recognized and celebrated the place of marriage at the heart of your society. Established by the Creator with its own nature and purpose, and preserved in natural moral law, the institution of marriage necessarily entails the complementarity of husbands and wives who participate in God's creative activity through the raising of children. Spouses thereby ensure the survival of society and culture, and rightly deserve specific and categorical legal recognition by the State. Any attempts to change the meaning of the word'spouse'contradict right reason: legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, cannot be applied to unions between persons of the same sex without creating a false understanding of the nature of marriage... With goodwill, I am confident that the splendid vision of supportive and stable family life, so dear to the people of Canada, will continue to offer to society the foundation upon which the aspirations of your nation can be built."

On Ash Wednesday, February 9, 2005, Most Rev. Brendan M. O'Brien, Archbishop of St. John's and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote a Pastoral letter to Catholics in Canada on redefining marriage:

"Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

"The Catholic Bishops of Canada are united in their belief that marriage is the unique, essential and fundamental relationship of a man and a woman. This has been the teaching of the Church since its beginnings, and reflects human history.

"For this reason, the Bishops of Canada reaffirm their opposition to the proposed redefinition of marriage, as they have already declared on a number of occasions, including statements by individual Canadian Cardinals and bishops, in addition to those of many other Canadian citizens.

"The conjugal partnership of a man and a woman constitutes a particular benefit for the couple and a unique good for society, as evident in their mutual love as well as in the procreation of children. Marriage provides a stable and positive environment for children and thus for future generations. The right to marriage is more than the rights of two individuals; it involves the common good.

"The proposed redefinition of marriage not only clashes with the faith and practice of Catholics and other Canadians, but also has enormous civil and social implications for everyone.

"The committed relationship of a man and a woman in marriage is basic to the family and thus for all society. Marriage and family life already are undergoing enormous pressures; the proposed changes risk disrupting the very nature and meaning of the institution of marriage.

"Government and society will contribute to the erosion of marriage and family by decreasing the importance of the union of a woman and man as wife and husband, mother and father. Society should do all it can so that children have a mother and father living in a stable and loving relationship.

"Instead of uniting Canadians in respect for the dignity of homosexual persons, the proposed redefinition of marriage is divisive in its attempt to impose uniformity in pursuit of equality.

"The proposed redefinition is not a step in evolution but a radical break with human history and with the meaning and nature of marriage.

"The Supreme Court of Canada did not say that the proposed legislation of the government to redefine marriage is necessary to conform with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, nor did it suggest that the traditional definition of marriage is contrary to the Charter.

"As recently as 9 June 1999, the House of Commons reaffirmed the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. Why rush into a radically different definition when the long-term consequences are of such potential importance but have not yet been studied?

"The Bishops of Canada encourage all Catholics to express their social concerns by writing to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, members of Parliament and other elected officials.

"As Canadian citizens, you not only have the right but the responsibility to inform your political representatives and government leaders of your convictions about marriage and the social issues that are involved in its definition and nature.

"May this Lent be a time of serious reflection on this matter and an opportunity for us to pray for the guidance of our political leaders. "Sincerely in Our Lord,

+ Brendan M. O'Brien

Archbishop of St. John's

Several Bishops have also raised their voices against this bill. We will just mention a few. On January 22, 2005, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec City and Primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada, wrote a letter entitled "Marriage and society - For a free and enlightened vote in Parliament". Here are few excerpts:

"Does the context of contemporary Canadian society call for changing the definition of marriage and recognizing a legal right of marriage for homosexually oriented persons who should desire it?... The fact is that making such a change would alter the institution of marriage by ignoring two of its essential finalities: the procreation and education of children, within the context of the love of a man and a woman, guarantee the future of society. The union of persons of the same sex cannot make this essential contribution to society, because it lacks this properly conjugal complementarity that defines the institution of marriage. Trying to bring two such different things under the same legal category is to fail to recognize that they are in fact different and is, indeed, falsifying the meaning of words, which exist to designate objective reality, and not tailor this reality to our desires. (...)

"A the risk of being judged'politically incorrect,'we need to recall that the bill under discussion is offensive to the moral and religious sensibility of a great number of citizens, both Catholic and non-Catholic. In fact, many Christians and adherents of other religious traditions find the union of persons of the same sex to be morally unacceptable, even as they refrain from judging those persons themselves. (...)

"We therefore find ourselves at a turning point in the evolution of Canadian society, and the bill announced by the Government threatens to unleash nothing less than a cultural upheaval whose negative consequences are still impossible to predict. The strong reaction of the Canadian people against the bill is a sign that common sense still has a good chance to prevail and that the right decision for politicians under the circumstances is to confirm the traditional definition of marriage as'the legitimate union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of any other person.'

"The question Canadian society has to face is this: do we wish to discard the universal definition of marriage, which reflects the nature of things, the common sense of the people, the Judeo Christian tradition, and the wisdom of the great religions? The choice to be made could bring in its wake bitter and unpredictable demographic, social, cultural, and religious consequences. Members of Parliament have to ask themselves how they can serve the public interest by voting in the light of an informed conscience. I hope that there will be a genuine debate about this issue in society, and that it will help us to see clearly and to choose with our eyes wide open."

+ Cardinal Marc Ouellet

On January 15, 2005, Most Rev. Fred Henry, Bishop of Calgary, also wrote a pastoral letter on the same issue:

"My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

"Many assume that we are powerless, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been invoked and the Supreme Court has spoken and settled the same-sex issue. However, such an assumption is erroneous. The Supreme Court has said that Parliament may redefine marriage, it has not said that it must redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. The Supreme Court Justices talk about reading the Constitution,'expansively,'and that it is like a'living tree which by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life.'

"Nevertheless, I would suggest that there are more roots to the tree than simply the Charter of Rights and Freedom. There are also historical, cultural, philosophical, moral, and anthropological roots. The failure to attend to the health of all the roots runs the risk of killing the tree and destroying the public good.

"Contrary to what is normally alleged, the primary goals in seeking legalization of samesex 'marriage' are not the financial or health or inheritance or pension benefits associated with marriage. The search for stability and exclusivity in a homosexual relationship is not the driving force. The principal objective in seeking same-sex 'marriage' is not really even about equality rights. The goal is to acquire a powerful psychological weapon to change society's rejection of homosexual activity and lifestyle into gradual, even if reluctant, acceptance.

"It is significant to note that 18 months after same-sex "marriage" arrived in Canada (principally as a result of court decisions in Ontario and British Columbia), more than 95% of adult Canadian gays have chosen to ignore their new legal right.

"The Supreme Court also refused to answer whether the Charter requires that marriage be redefined.

"As Catholics we hold marriage to be a sacrament, a sacred covenant in which husband and wife express their mutual love, and join with God in the creation of a new human person, destined for eternal life.

"However, without recourse to the sacramental reality and without reliance on a multitude of quotes from Sacred Scripture, we find ourselves sharing basic common ground with the majority of Canadians who understand marriage to be the union of a man and a woman, faithful in love and open to the gift of life. Marriage and the family are the foundations of society, through which children are brought into this world and nurtured as they grow to adulthood. As such, the family is a more fundamental social institution than the state, and the strength of the family is vital for the well-being of our whole society.

"Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good.

"Personal choice is exercised both in opting for the marital state and in the choice of one's spouse. However, the future spouses are not free to alter marriage's essential purpose or properties. These do not depend on the will or the sexual orientation of the contracting parties. They are rooted in natural law and do not change.

"A same-sex union is not a physical union that transmits human life, producing children... Simply stated, a same sex union is not marriage... All the packaging in the world doesn't alter substance... Two individual of the same sex, regardless of their race, wealth, stature, erudition or fame, will never be able to marry because of an insurmountable biological impossibility. The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to same-sex couples is not discrimination. It is not something opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires such an opposition.

"It is the right and the responsibility of all citizens who are troubled by the proposal to reinvent the institution of marriage, to enter into the debate and, with clarity and charity, to make their voices heard by their fellow citizens and our political leaders. Please take the time to write, email and/or fax government leaders and your local member of parliament registering your objection to the proposal to reinvent the institution of marriage.

"Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Fred. B. Henry Bishop of Calgary

It is worth mentioning here that in June, 2004, Bishop Henry of Calgary had received a call from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, which threatened him to have the Church's charitable status revoked, because Bishop Henry had written a diocesan pastoral letter rebuking Prime Minister Paul Martin for his bad example as a so-called devout Catholic. Bishop Henry refused to remove the letter from the diocesan website, explaining that his letter was written to clear parishioner "confusion" about Paul Martin's referring to himself as a "devout Catholic" while taking the morally anti-Catholic stand on gay "marriage" and abortion. The letter called Martin's opinions "a source of scandal in the Catholic community," and a sign of "fundamental moral incoherence."

On February 15, Archbishop O'Brien, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote another letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin, pinpointing a number of significant weaknesses in Bill C-38, which he says threaten freedom of conscience and religion, contrary to federal government promises. The Bill does not state that leaders and members of faith groups everywhere in Canada will have the freedom to teach and preach on marriage or on homosexuality in accordance with their conscience and religion. In addition, the Bill fails to help protect civil as well as religious officials who witness marriages from being compelled to assist when these are contrary to their conscience and religion.

Write to your MPs to tell them you categorically disagree with this change of the traditional definition of marriage! Use the postcards enclosed in this journal, and order from us more. This is urgent for the future of our country!

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