Comment by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the approval of Bill C-38, An Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes

Tuesday, July 19 2005

Although Bill C-38, An Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes, has now been approved as federal legislation in Canada, the fundamental and universal reality of marriage remains the exclusive union of a man and a woman for life. From the perspective of the Catholic Church, the new federal statute falsifies moral values and principles. Catholics are to continue to oppose it, and to ensure that all provincial and territorial regulations on the solemnization of marriages provide full protection for freedom of conscience and religion, as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops notes with deep gratitude and respect the efforts that so many Canadians of all faiths and also of no religious adherence have invested, and continue to invest, in ensuring that the universal definition of marriage is maintained and protected. A number of citizens, including public officials, have defended the true reality of marriage with great courage and considerable personal sacrifice, even at the risk of their own careers.

Unfortunately, there are also some Catholics who have promoted the redefinition of marriage, including politicians who have voted in its favour. In this regard, they are in dissent from the teaching of the Church as enunciated by the Holy Father and the Bishops. This is a serious and problematic matter.

Canadians in general have been and remain deeply divided about changing the nature of marriage and altering its basic meaning. It is clear this debate is far from over, and that it will be a significant issue in the upcoming federal election.

The Roman and Eastern Catholic Bishops of Canada will be studying the immediate ramifications of these decisions. Pastors and all the faithful can be assured there will be further reflections by this Conference and from individual Bishops to assist in the ongoing defence of marriage and family life.

With respect to homosexual persons, they must always be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity. At the same time that the universal and traditional definition of marriage is to be upheld, every unjust discrimination in their regard is to be avoided (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358).

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