.- Same-sex marriage may be the law of the land in Canada, but “the fundamental and universal reality of marriage remains the exclusive union of a man and a woman for life” and Catholics must continue to oppose same-sex marriage, said the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. “From the perspective of the Catholic Church, the new federal statute denatures the moral values and principles,” the bishops stated, noting that a number of Catholic politicians voted in favor of the bill.
The CCCB issued its statement after Bill C-38 officially became law Wednesday. Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLauchlin issued royal assent, standing in for Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, who is on medical leave. The Senate had approved the bill in a late-night vote Tuesday.
But the bishops believe this debate is “far from over” and that same-sex marriage will be a significant issue in the upcoming federal election, expected in the spring.
Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the bishops stated that in the ongoing efforts to protect the traditional definition of marriage, “homosexual persons must always be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity … [and] every unjust discrimination in their regard is to be avoided.”
Catholics must also work to ensure that all provincial and territorial regulations on the solemnization of marriages provide full protection for freedom of conscience and religion, the bishops said.
The CCCB thanked the “many Canadians of all faiths and also of no religious adherence” who rose to protect the traditional definition of marriage.
“A number of citizens, including public officials, have defended the true reality of marriage with great courage and considerable personal sacrifice, even at the risk of their own careers,” the bishops noted.
They also noted that some Catholic politicians voted for the legalization of same-sex marriage. “In this regard, they are in dissent from the teaching of the Church as enunciated by the Holy Father and the bishops,” the statement reads.
While the bishops did not mention if they planned to take action against these public officials, they did call the politicians’ dissent “a serious and problematic matter.”
The bishops pledged to study the immediate ramifications of this decision and issue further reflections in the defence of marriage and family life.