Primate of Canada weighs in on same-sex marriage debate

Canada’s top cleric is calling for a “genuine debate” on the federal government’s proposed same-sex marriage legislation and warns that such a law “threatens to unleash nothing less than a cultural upheaval whose negative consequences are still impossible to predict.

“As a Canadian citizen and as the Primate of Canada, I feel it is my duty to express my concern and disagreement and that of a great number of Canadians, who have asked me to step forward to give public voice to their opinion about the meaning and the consequences of this proposed change,” said Marc Cardinal Ouellet in an open letter, issued Jan. 22.

Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Liberal government is expected to table a bill on same-sex marriage in February.

In its Dec. 9 opinion, the Supreme Court of Canada stated that same-sex marriage would be in line with the Constitution.

“Contrary to an interpretation that has become widespread in the media, the Supreme Court’s judgment does not have force of law and has involved no change in the current legal framework,” wrote the archbishop of Quebec.

“It is Parliament that must decide about this matter,” Cardinal Ouellet insisted.

The cardinal argued that same-sex marriage would “alter the institution of marriage by ignoring two of its essential finalities: the procreation and education of children, within the context of the love of a man and a woman, guarantee the future of society.

“The union of persons of the same sex cannot make this essential contribution to society, because it lacks this properly conjugal complementarity that defines the institution of marriage,” the Sulpician explained.

“Trying to bring two such different things under the same legal category is to fail to recognize that they are in fact different and is, indeed, falsifying the meaning of words, which exist to designate objective reality, and not tailor this reality to our desires,” he said.

The cardinal recognized that children are raised in a variety of family situations, but said most Canadians maintain that children benefit most when raised by a father and a mother.

Cardinal Ouellet insisted that the future of children must remain a priority in this debate.

“It is not the competence of the law to assert that another model of the couple would provide just as valid a support for the child’s growth process,” he stated. “To make such an assertion would be tantamount to discriminating between one category of children who have the right to be raised by a mother and a father and another category of children who do not,” he argued.

“At the risk of being judged ‘politically incorrect,’ we need to recall that the bill under discussion is offensive to the moral and religious sensibility of a great number of citizens, both Catholic and non-Catholic,” he wrote.

The cardinal said he was encouraged by the strong reaction of the people against the bill. He called it “a sign that common sense still has a good chance to prevail and that the right decision for politicians under the circumstances is to confirm the traditional definition of marriage.”

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