Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 29, 2003
Bishops cheered by Commons support of traditional marriage
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops was buoyed by the support for a motion in the House of Commons to re-affirm the traditional definition of marriage even though the resolution was defeated.
"It shows that certainly there are more people in favour of keeping things than perhaps the media was giving credit for but it does mean that that there is still a lot of work to do," said Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, the CCCB's general secretary.
The motion, introduced by the Canadian Alliance party, was defeated Sept. 16 by a margin of 137-132 with 53 Liberal MPs voting against the wishes of their leader, Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
The motion to a re-affirm the definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others was almost identical to a similar resolution passed in the Commons in 1999 by a vote of 216-55, with Chretien among those voting in favour.
The new resolution is seen as a prelude to draft legislation expected to be presented to Parliament by the federal government next year. It is aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage across Canada while protecting religious groups who choose not to marry homosexual couples. Court rulings this summer opened the doors to gay marriage in Ontario and British Columbia.
Schonenbach said in a CCN interview that the Quebec bishops reacted to the vote by agreeing "It's time once more to urge the folks in the pews, and especially married people, to voice their support for maintaining the (traditional) definition."
A week before the vote, the CCCB issued a pastoral statement calling for the traditional definition of marriage to remain intact.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) said it was disappointed that the Canadian Alliance motion failed to pass.
"It is tragic to see the fundamental issue of the nature of marriage being sacrificed to party politics," said Bruce Clemenger, president of the EFC.
"The vote is a reflection of the deep division in Parliament and in Canadian society on this issue," added Janet Epp Buckingham, director of Law and Public Policy for the EFC. "It is a positive step to see debate on this issue finally beginning in the House of Commons."
The EFC is a national association of Protestant Christian denominations, organizations and churches.