Canada a Step Closer to Same-Sex Marriage

Archbishop Sounds Warning in Wake of Commons Vote

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OTTAWA, JUNE 29, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The House of Commons' vote to approve same-sex marriages portends a "dangerous deterioration" of Canadians' "communal values," says a bishop.



The 158-133 vote on Tuesday night capped a two-year Commons battle. All that remains for the same-sex bill to become law is debate in the Senate, where Liberals outnumber the opposition Conservatives and are expected to pass the bill early in July, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

Approval would make Canada the third nation to legalize homosexual marriages, after Belgium and the Netherlands.

In a statement, Archbishop Brendan O'Brien, president of the Catholic bishops' conference, said: "With the House of Commons having passed Bill C-38 on 28 June 2005, Canadians take another unfortunate step toward eliminating civil and social recognition and appreciation for the unique importance of the committed relationship of a man and a woman in marriage."

He continued: "The issues at stake are not only the basis and the definition of marriage as established and celebrated since time immemorial by all religions and cultures, and as inscribed in nature.

"What is also at risk is the future of marriage as a fundamental social institution, together with the importance that society accords the irreplaceable role of a husband and wife in conceiving and raising children. Their partnership assures a stable context for family life, continuity with past and future generations, and gender models involving both mother and father."

Deep divide

"The passage of Bill C-38 by the House of Commons, like the difficulties in health care, are indications that Canadians are witnessing a dangerous deterioration of their communal values," Archbishop O'Brien said.

"This worrisome decline in shared concern and care for the common good is also evident in the continuing high rates of marriage breakdown, the annual number of abortions, and the declining number of births," the episcopal conference president said.

"Given the political maneuvering on Bill C-38, it is particularly troubling to note the continued refusal by certain political parties and their leaders to recognize and respect freedom of conscience and religion," the prelate added. "Members of Parliament were forced to follow a political deadline and to vote along party lines on an issue which deeply divides and troubles Canadians.

"This is an ominous sign of what can be expected in future debates on the application of Bill C-38 in the provinces and territories with regard to human rights legislation and the solemnization of marriage, as well as regarding school policies on moral and social questions.

"The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops calls on the Senate to exercise in full its role of assuring a 'second and sober' look at the proposed legislation, in order to give prudent consideration to all the various social, religious, legal and civil consequences of Bill C-38."