Toronto, Canada, Dec 15, 2003 / 22:00 pm
The Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops (OCCB) is moving full-steam ahead with its campaign in defense of heterosexual marriage. The campaign includes grassroots lobbying of members of Parliament and a request to the Supreme Court of Canada for intervener status in the review process of the government’s same-sex marriage law.
The Ontario bishops’ request for intervener status is separate from that submitted by the national bishops’ conference. Whereas the national conference wants to challenge the constitutionality of the new definition of marriage proposed in the draft legislation, the Ontario bishops want to clarify the rights of the Church if and when same-sex marriage becomes law.
Though many scholars believe Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures that a Catholic priest cannot be taken to court and forced to officiate at a same-sex marriage, there is no case law to support that theory, OCCB lawyer Peter Lauwers told the Catholic Register.
Catholic priests and bishops have refused to marry divorced couples, non-Catholics and others who do not meet the criteria for a Catholic marriage, but a new, more litigious environment in Canada, particularly around same-sex marriage, has the bishops anxious, reported the Catholic Register.