Marriage debate in Canada must be reopened, says Archbishop Prendergast

.- The Archbishop of Halifax has urged the faithful of his diocese to contact their members of Parliament and to ask them to vote in favor of reopening the marriage debate in the House of Commons.

In the summer of 2005 Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-38, which wiped out the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and allowed for same-sex marriages.

A vote, on whether or not to reopen the marriage debate and re-examine the definition of marriage in Canada, is expected to take place during the fall session. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had promised such a vote during his election campaign.

“Parliament must have a second chance to vote on the matter, without partisan pressure on MPs,” said Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ, in his Sept. 8 pastoral letter. “Whoever tells you otherwise is using arguments that are not based on the facts.”

The archbishop, who also serves as the apostolic administrator of the neighboring Diocese of Yarmouth, acknowledged all of the reasons Canadians have given to not reopen the debate. But he insisted on the necessity of holding a more lengthy and thorough national public discussion on the subject, due to the importance of marriage.

“The historical and spiritual significance of marriage was never properly debated,” Prendergast said. “The sociological experiment that has been introduced was never adequately studied. All this affects vastly greater numbers of Canadians in ways still uncertain.”

“Parliament put us in this tragic place. It is up to Parliament to lead us out by protecting the institution of marriage, the very fabric of our society, while finding ways to respect the rights and dignity of all our citizens,” he continued.

In addition to contacting MPs, Archbishop Prendergast urged Catholics to pray for Canada and its leaders and “especially for our homosexual brothers and sisters. Reach out to them, recognizing that as cherished children of God we all need the support of each other, on a journey that is sometimes difficult and uncertain.”

He also encouraged members of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, the Knights of Columbus and “zealous young people” to join him in urging Catholics to express their convictions to politicians, family members, and friends.

“Marriage matters,” he wrote, “and government puts its seal of approval on it, precisely because it is within this relationship that men and women typically produce children—the children who will form our society. If it were otherwise, government would have no interest in intimate personal relationships.”

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