Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 30, 2005
Bloc MP slags Christian attitude
MP Real Menard compares Catholic beliefs about marriage to the Flintstones
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Members of the special legislative committee examining same-sex marriage gave Christian witnesses a rough ride May 18.
They derided Catholic beliefs about marriage as something out of the Stone Age and accused those who see a threat to religious freedom of collective hysteria. Bloc Quebecois MP Real Menard described the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' (CCCB) argument that marriage is inextricably linked to procreation as something from the time of the Flintstones.
Menard insisted homosexuals have children by adoption and insemination and challenged CCCB lawyer Helene Aube to produce studies showing homosexuals were not equally good parents. Menard charged that those damaging marriage the most were heterosexuals.
Bloc Quebecois MP Richard Marceau accused lawyer Ruth A.M. Ross of the Christian Legal Fellowship of participating in a collective hysteria for arguments that Bill C-38 would infringe on religious freedom.
Most committee members seemed deaf to repeated arguments that religious freedom was already under attack in Canada, arguing that the Catholic Church had not been forced to ordain women or marry divorced people and thus priests would not be forced to marry gays and lesbians.
Appearing with Aube for the CCCB, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais told the committee that laws must respect the "order inscribed in nature. Once laws contradict this natural order, they become unjust," Gervais said. "They then risk creating division and dissension, and so breed social disorder."
The CCCB brief noted that the Charter of Rights is not self-referential, that its appeals to principles of equality and freedom are rooted in natural law.
Gervais pointed out that the charter's preamble affirms "Canada is founded on principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law," and these laws do "not stem from the will of individuals, judges or governments."
After the session was over, Gervais seemed shocked by the disregard for any concept of a transcendent moral order on the part of most committee members.
Aube, who presented the French portions of the CCCB brief, told the committee procreation and the education of children were among the goals of marriage.
Aube cited statistics to show that children born to stable married couples have the best outcomes, noting that Scandinavian countries which have accorded same-sex couples equal rights have seen a significant increase in the number of children born to unmarried couples.
Gervais relayed the CCCB's concerns about religious freedom.
He asked how the federal government would ensure that Canadians, not just religious officials, would not be forced to act against their consciences; that faith groups be free to teach and preach on marriage and homosexuality; that facilities in addition to sacred spaces be protected; that civil officials be protected from having to officiate in ceremonies against their consciences, and that faith groups not be penalized with respect to their charitable status.
"Will those who believe in the historical definition of marriage henceforth be victims of discrimination?" Gervais asked. "Should we anticipate lengthy, costly lawsuits in the courts to defend the freedom to teach, preach and educate in accordance with one's faith and conscience?"
Dominic Tse of the Jubilee Centre for Christian Social Action told the committee of the Chinese Canadian concern about redefining marriage.
For Oriental cultures, "marriage is not a social construct that can be deconstructed at will, but something sacred and timeless," he said.
He said that already pressure is being applied in public schools.
"My son came to me one day saying that last year their class took a vote on same sex marriage," Tse said. "I asked him being my son what did you vote. He said he didn't vote. Why not? 'Because I'm scared for my life.'"
Tse said votes like that are a form of intimidation.
Conservative Justice Critic Vic Toews has been filibustering the committee demanding that it call Calgary Bishop Fred Henry to testify about how an official from Revenue Canada threatened to remove his charitable tax status if he did not remove a pastoral letter about marriage. Toews also wants the Revenue Canada official called.
The CCCB brief can be found at www.cccb.ca.
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