Ottawa (Fides Service) - On 20 July the Canadian Senate approved Bill C-38 to redefine marriage, recognising same-sex unions as marriages with 47 votes in favour, 21 against and 3 abstensions. Canada is the fourth country to recognise these unions after Belgium, Holland and Spain. The Bill approved by the house of commons on 28 June guarantees homosexual couples the same rights asheterosexual couples something which has already been in force for some months in 8 of Canada’s 10 provinces.
Immediately the Bill was approved the Canadian Bishops’ Conference issued a statement in English and French which read: “Although Bill C-38, An Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes, has now been approved as federal legislation in Canada, the fundamental and universal reality of marriage remains the exclusive union of a man and a woman for life. From the perspective of the Catholic Church, the new federal statute denatures the moral values and principles. Catholics are to continue to oppose it, and to ensure that all provincial and territorial regulations on the solemnization of marriages provide full protection for freedom of conscience and religion, as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.
The Bishops recall with with deep gratitude and respect the “efforts that so many Canadians of all faiths and also of no religious adherence have invested, and continue to invest, in ensuring that the universal definition of marriage is maintained and protected. 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.”. Although they admitted that Catholics were among those who promoted the redefinition of marriage.
The Bishops say it is clear that the question is far from closed and they will examine the immediate consequences. They assure the faithful there will be further reflections by the Conference and from individual Bishops to assist in the ongoing defence of marriage and family life. The Bishops conclude by saying that although the universal and traditional definition of marriage is to be upheld, homosexual persons must always be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity and every unjust discrimination in their regard is to be avoided. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 21/7/2005, righe 24, parole 327)