Letter from the the CCCB President to Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson Concerning Greetings and Congratulations Sent from Her Office on the Occasion of Two Same-sex Couples' Purported Marriage Ceremony

Monday, January 15 2001

Her Excellency Adrienne Clarkson
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A1

Your Excellency:

It is with profound regret that on behalf of the Roman and Eastern Catholic Bishops of Canada, I write to criticize and protest the greetings and congratulations that were sent from the office of the Governor General of Canada to Messrs Kevin Bourassa and Joseph Varnell and to Mmes Anne Vautour and Elaine Vautour, on the occasion of a service held 14 January 2001 in the Toronto Metropolitan Community Church purportedly to recognize their relationships as legal marriages.

According to the 15 January 2001 editions of the Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star as well as reports in the Canadian Press, a message of congratulations was sent by your office to mark the occasion.

The role of the Governor General as our acting head of state is to be one that represents all the people of Canada and respects its laws. For millions of Canadians of all faiths, marriage by definition is the sacred union of a man and a woman. Moreover, this is also the civil and legal definition of marriage that is accepted in our society and by the Parliament of Canada. As recently as June 1999, the House of Commons overwhelmingly reaffirmed this definition of marriage which was then included last year in the preamble to the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act.

The decision of your office to send a message of congratulations is controversial and offensive to most faiths, and will inevitably be perceived by Canadians as divisive and political.

It is with regret that I write, Your Excellency, given the high regard that so many of us have for the numerous gifts and qualities that you bring to your office. Please be assured that our deep concerns are expressed out of an even greater respect that we believe is owed to the office of Governor General.


Most Reverend Gerald Wiesner, OMI
Bishop of Prince George
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Cc:  The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada