Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 28, 2002
Couples urged to oppose gay marriages
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The Canadian bishops are encouraging married Catholic couples to take part in the national discussions over same-sex marriages.
"I think we have to help our people understand that this debate is an important one," said Bishop Pierre Morissette of Baie Comeau, Que.
Morissette, along with Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Halifax, represents the bishops on the Canadian Organization for Life and Family (COLF).
"Many people don't want to get involved in the debate because they could be perceived as being intolerant or as people who are not compassionate," he said in a joint presentation to the bishops meeting in Cornwall.
The federal government is expected to hold public hearings shortly on the issue of same-sex marriages and COLF hopes to participate. But Morissette said the intervention of married couples would also be helpful.
In September, lawyers for the federal justice department argued in the Ontario Court of Appeal that same-sex couples don't meet the "core opposite-sex requirements" of marriage, which are based on "procreation, the raising of children from the marriage and companionship."
The department was appealing a July ruling by the Ontario Divisional Court stating that the ban against gay and lesbian marriages violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It gave the federal government two years to change the marriage laws.
Some bishops wanted to know how couples could make their voice heard politically on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Archbishop Adam Exner of Vancouver said his diocese's pro-life office is currently organizing a massive letter writing campaign. "It's one way in which we can make our voice heard."
As well, the Ontario bishops are to release a document soon asking Catholics to lobby members of Parliament and the provincial parliament to oppose expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions.