Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 27, 2004
Supreme Court worries bishop
Nine people can decide legislation Parliament will pass
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
One of Canada's most outspoken bishops says it is frightening that the Supreme Court of Canada can decide the legislation that Parliament will pass.
"Why do we elect legislators?" said Archbishop Adam Exner, the archbishop-emeritus of Vancouver. "So that they go to a nine-person court to tell the country what to do?"
In his keynote speech to the annual Priests for Life Canada symposium in Ottawa Sept. 18, Exner said, "It's scary when we put legislation into the hands of nine, non-elected people."
He was referring to the federal government's decision early this year to seek the high court's opinion on the constitutionality of retaining the traditional definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.
The court will hold hearings on the case in October. A free vote is to be held in the House of Commons following the court's ruling, which isn't expected until the middle of next year. In the meantime, four provinces and one territory have already opened their doors to same-sex marriages, and the federal government supports the countrywide legalization of such unions.
Exner's comments on the court's power came during a wide-ranging speech on the need to evangelize the "death culture."
"Have you noticed in the last few years, particularly, the concerted effort in Canada to push God out of public life," he said.
Prayers were not allowed during government-sponsored ceremonies in Canadian remembrance of the victims of the 9-11 attacks in the U.S. But Exner pointed out that prayer was very much a part of memorial services in the United States. "President Bush prayed with a whole bunch of people from different faiths," he said.
God is being pushed out of the courtrooms, public hospitals and public schools in Canada, said the former Vancouver archbishop. "There is no room for God. It's the in thing cultural way to think."
Once God is pushed out, another trait of the death culture surfaces - "loss of the sense of sin," he said. And with God and sin out of the way, human life no longer seems sacred but "just another form of life along with plant life and animal life."
Modern culture is in need of "new evangelization" from the laity, he said. Evangelization of culture means "restoring the sense of the sacred and holy, and of God," he said. It also means restoring the sense of sin, the sacredness of human life and the sacredness of marriage and family, he added.
Evangelization means bringing Christian beliefs and values into the marketplace, said Exner. It means bringing Christian beliefs and values into Parliament, into the courtrooms, into public schools, public hospitals, the media, entertainment, sports and "in every phase of human activity."
Letter to the Editor - 10/04/04