.- The passage of Canadaâs same-sex marriage bill in the House of Commons yesterday is an indication âthat Canadians are witnessing a dangerous deterioration of their communal values,â said the president of the Canadian bishopsâ conference.
In a statement released last night, Archbishop Brendan OâBrien said with the passage of the bill âCanadians take another unfortunate step toward eliminating civil and social recognition and appreciation for the unique importance of the committed relationship of a man and a woman in marriage.â
The passage of the bill, he said, puts the future of marriage and the irreplaceable role of a husband and wife in conceiving and raising children at risk.
Bill C-38 was passed by a vote of 158-133 Tuesday evening. The Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc QuÃ©bÃ©cois largely supported the bill, leaving only the Conservatives and some Liberal backbenchers voting against it.
Archbishop OâBrien commented on the âpolitical manoeuveringâ that took place in order to ram the legislation through quickly. He said it was âparticularly troubling to note the continued refusal by certain political parties and their leaders to recognize and respect freedom of conscience and religion.â
Bill C-38 was put to a free vote. However, this did not apply to Prime Minister Paul Martinâs cabinet ministers, who were required to vote in favor of the bill. Unable to vote for the bill, Minister of State Joe Comuzzi resigned from cabinet earlier yesterday.
NDP Leader Jack Layton also instructed all members of his party to vote according to the party line.
âMembers of Parliament were forced to follow a political deadline and to vote along party lines on an issue which deeply divides and troubles Canadians,â said Archbishop OâBrien. The archbishop called this political hardball âan ominous signâ of what can be expected in future debates on the application of bill C-38 with regard to human rights legislation, the solemnization of marriage, and school policies on moral and social questions.
He also said the amendments to bill C-38 are not enough to âdiminish significant concerns about protecting freedom of conscience and religion.â
While the House passed the bill, it is not yet law. It will now move to the Senate. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging the Senate to give the proposed legislation âprudent considerationâ and to order public hearings on the matter.
For the full statement, go to www.cccb.ca