Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 25, 2003
Bishops launch petition
Ontario clerics campaign to preserve man/woman definition
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The Ontario Catholic bishops have launched a petition campaign calling on members of Parliament to preserve the traditional definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman only.
Tom Reilly, general secretary of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops (OCCB) said the bishops have received many requests from individuals wanting to add their opinions to the current national debate over same-sex marriage and that signing a petition is one of the simplest ways.
"We're aware petitions are not a terribly effective method of influencing parliamentarians - "I think they become inured to them," he said in a CCN interview. "But I think it will let them know that people are conscious of this issue and I think if I was a parliamentarian it would have some effect on me."
The petition notes that MPs affirmed in 1999 by a vote of 216-55, "that marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and Parliament will take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada."
It also states that marriage is an institution that existed before the state "because it is based on a profound human need for having children and continuing the family from generation to generation." As well, the petition says marriage is an institution "so basic to the human condition and the common good that its nature is beyond the reach of civil law to change."
It concludes by calling upon Parliament to take all necessary means to maintain and support the above definition of marriage in Canada.
The Liberal government is to hold a "free vote" on legislation that will legalize same-sex marriage when it receives a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada on the proposed bill's constitutionality. A decision is not expected for at least a year. Meanwhile gay and lesbian couples are free to marry in Ontario.
The OCCB also sent a memo to all dioceses in the province August 5 asking them to take steps to have the petition signed by as many adult Canadians as possible. The petition is to be tabled in the House of Commons after MPs return from their summer break Sept. 15.
The petition campaign is the latest salvo in the church's battle against the same-sex marriages in the wake of the decision by the government not to appeal an Ontario court ruling June 10 that the definition of marriage as the union between "a man and a woman" only is unconstitutional and must be changed to "two persons."
On July 30, the Vatican issued new instructions calling on Catholic politicians to oppose same-sex marriage, as well as abortion and euthanasia. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops earlier argued that legislation re-defining marriage to include same-sex partners would devalue traditional marriage and the basis of the family.
Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has written a personal letter to the PM - who is one of his parishioners - and also took his fight against same-sex marriage to the pulpit. "Even though it would appear that Parliament has abdicated its primary responsibility of being the place where discussion and debate takes place, each one of us has a duty to be heard by our members of Parliament who will eventually speak on our behalf in this regard," he said in a recent homily.