Catholic World News News Feature
Ontario Bishops Launch Strong Defense of Traditional Marriage July 03, 2003
The Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops have announced their intention to work to defend marriage. The short statement delivered to all dioceses and parishes in the province was read out at some churches last Sunday. Parishioners at Toronto's St. Michael's Cathedral greeted the announcement with applause when it was delivered at a Sunday evening Mass.
The statement in full reads: "The Catholic bishops of Canada have made it clear to the federal government that we are firmly committed to the maintenance of the common law definition of marriage as 'the voluntary and lawful union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others' and to the sacramental nature of that union.
"From recent announcements, it would appear that the federal government is ready to abandon that concept of marriage in favor of some other. The bishops of Ontario are opposed to this federal initiative. In the coming months we will be asking you to join us in defending marriage as it has existed for millennia.
"Marriage and the family are fundamental institutions which contribute to the common good in terms of the formation of children, loyalty, faithfulness and responsibility in our society. Marriage, as we have known it, cannot be allowed to slip quietly away."
Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, has also issued a statement to Catholics in the diocese in which he strongly criticizes equating homosexual unions with marriage and provides directions to parishioners on writing to members of parliament about the issue.
Bishop Lahey states that calling gay unions marriage "goes against common sense." The bishop emphasizes that "this is not merely a legal matter, or a question of fairness, but something that overnight will change one of the basic institutions of our society." Lahey warns that the legal sanction of gay unions as marriages "would especially create animosity toward the many religious groups, both Christian and others, whose belief holds marriage to be something sacred and unchangeable, and who could not recognize or officiate at such unions."