27 March 2003



Letter sent by Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, P.H., the CCCB General Secretary

to all Members of Parliament


Re: Marriage


The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops was very pleased to be invited to make a presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on the Discussion Paper issued by the Minister of Justice entitled Marriage and legal recognition of same-sex unions. A copy of our brief presented on 13 February 2003, is enclosed for your information.


We support the continued recognition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. We believe that the fundamental purposes or characteristics of marriage are the good of the couple, as well as the procreation and education of children, which in turn are for the good of society. Marriage thus has anthropological, personal, social and religious dimensions that have deeply entwined roots in our history and culture.


We know that not every married couple has children, that not all children are born in marriages, and that not all marriages lead to stable and nurturing environments for children. We also recognize that, with the help of new technologies and the intervention of a third party of the opposite sex, same-sex unions can have children. Exceptions, however, do not invalidate but prove the rule; individual practices and choices do not determine the objectives of an institution such as marriage which plays such a pivotal social role.


Should you see fit to address the concerns of other adult interdependent relationships, we ask you to do so in a way that respects their human dignity but does not radically redefine and thus void the vital and irreplaceable social institution of marriage.


 We encourage you to read our brief which develops the anthropological, personal, social and religious dimensions of marriage. We hope that you will find it helpful as you debate and reflect on this institution which is so essential for the future of society.




Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, P.H.

General Secretary