Canadian Bishops Continue Fight Against Marriage Bill

Appeal to Conservative Party Leader

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OTTAWA, FEB. 6, 2005 ( Canada’s bishops have continued their campaign against bill C-38, the proposed legislation to legalize same-sex marriages, in a letter to the leader of the Conservative Party.

Archbishop Brendan O’Brien, president of the episcopal conference, appealed in a letter sent Thursday to Stephen Harper to vote against the so-called Civil Marriage Act.

«The Roman and Eastern Catholic bishops of Canada stand united in their opposition to legislation that would redefine marriage in such a way that it is no longer recognized as the unique, essential and fundamental relationship of a man and a woman,» the archbishop stated.

«The conjugal partnership of a man and a woman constitutes a unique good for society, providing a stable and positive environment for children and thus for future generations,» he continued.

The Catholic prelate encouraged Harper to maintain his position «on the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and to ensure that all members of your party can vote according to their conscience on the draft legislation being presented before the House of Commons.»

Additionally, the Canadian prelates published a statement Friday outlining their stance on C-38. The statement manifests concern for the long-term social consequences of allowing same-sex marriages.

The bishops anticipate «prolonged and divisive litigation across Canada on the rights under freedom of conscience and religion to refuse to be involved in so-called ‘same-sex marriages,’ to be free to teach and preach on marriage and homosexuality as consistent with one’s faith and conscience, and for organizations identified with particular faith groups not to be compelled to use their facilities in preparations for or celebrations relating to ‘same-sex marriages.'»

The issue is one that has developed after a series of legal decisions in provinces allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The matter was then referred to the Canadian Supreme Court, which decided in December to hand over responsibility to the federal government, recommending that the law be changed. The proposed legislation has provoked various Church leaders to make strong statements against same-sex unions (see ZENIT, Feb. 5).

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