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'A Bill That Will Profoundly Divide Canada'

7/14/2005 - 7:00 AM PST

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Brief by Cardinal Ouellet to Senate Committee

OTTAWA, JULY 14, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is the text of a brief by Cardinal Marc Ouellet on Bill C-38, the bill redefining marriage, to the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

The cardinal, who is archbishop of Quebec, presented the brief, dated today, on behalf of the Canadian bishops' conference. He was accompanied by Hélène Aubé, a lawyer from Gatineau.

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Saving Marriage as a Fundamental Institution Recognized by the State

On behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), I would first like to thank the Honorable Members of the Senate for this opportunity to present our vision of marriage and the family as part of the debates on Bill C-38. Inspired by human and spiritual convictions common to the Canadian people, this vision is defensible without recourse to religion.

Since November 2002, we have intervened time and time again to convince Members of Parliament not to redefine the institution of marriage for the benefit of persons of homosexual orientation who, nonetheless, as human beings deserve the respect of all their fellow citizens.

Contrary to those who would seek to relegate us to the religious sphere each time we speak, we are convinced that the current debate is predominantly social on the nature and value of marriage. For this reason we have set forth arguments based on natural law and common sense. We will provide a short overview of these arguments in this brief.

As we reach the end of a political process that carries a grave risk of changing the nature of marriage and involving largely unforeseeable but assuredly negative consequences for Canadian society, we are turning to you in the hope that you will prevent the adoption of this unjust law.

A Bill That Will Profoundly Divide the Country

Throughout the country, numerous voices have been raised to denounce this government proposal that does not respond to the legitimate needs or expectations of Canadians. Many consider it to be based on a false understanding of the fundamental equality between persons, on an erroneous understanding of human dignity, on a spurious understanding of minority rights, on a faulty interpretation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and on a truncated understanding of freedom of religion. We are among these voices.

This colossal misunderstanding risks leading Canada down a slippery slope that is prejudicial to the common good of its citizens, for it threatens the natural institution that is the most solid basis of the family, which is itself the basic unit of society. We are not discussing a trivial reality, but the cornerstone of our social structure.

Neither the State nor religions invented marriage nor determined its natural components. They merely institutionalized a reality that existed well before them, thereby recognizing that the inherent characteristics of this reality -- the stability of the couple, as well as the procreation and education of children -- would assure the common good of society.

Today, the issues of Bill C-38 concern not only the definition and foundations of marriage as celebrated since time immemorial and recognized by all cultures. The future of marriage as a fundamental social institution is also being challenged, as well as the importance for society of the irreplaceable role of a husband and wife in conceiving and raising children. Their union guarantees a stable environment for family life, continuity between generations and parental models involving a father and a mother.

A Truncated Definition That Denatures Marriage

Logically, all definitions are made up of a type and a specific difference. Aristotle defines man as a reasonable (specific difference) animal (genus). Therefore, the definition of marriage as a "union between two persons to the exclusion of all others" excludes the specific difference of marriage which is its essential component, namely sexual difference, the union of a man and a woman. This is a truncated definition, applicable perhaps to angels of pure hearts, but not very adequate in defining human beings who are by nature sexual and complementary.

The redefinition proposed in Bill C-38 does not promote the evolution of marriage, but instead breaks irrevocably both with human history as well as with the meaning and very nature of marriage. We have no illusions: it implies a distortion of the natural institution of marriage. If this bill is adopted, we will ascribe the term "marriage" to something that is merely pseudo-marriage, a fiction, a derivative and, in the words of the Honorable Senator Hervieux-Payette, an imposture.

Despite efforts to sow confusion by changing the definition of words, it will not change the ...

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