Canada's Beef With Catholics
Statements that allegedly promoted hatred and contempt against homosexuals were taken from recent Vatican pronouncements.
The commission has been investigating the Toronto-based publication since homosexual activist Rob Wells, a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Pride Center of Edmonton, filed a nine-point complaint last February with the government agency in which he accuses the magazine of promoting "extreme hatred and contempt" against homosexuals.
Father Alphonse de Valk, the founder and editor of Catholic Insight, disagrees the accusations. "Wells took three pages of quotes out of context," he told ZENIT.
The Basilian priest added that Catholic Insight "bases itself on the Church's teaching and applies it to various circumstances in our time." He noted that some of the statements that allegedly promoted hatred and contempt against homosexuals were taken from recent Vatican pronouncements.
Other types of statements published by Catholic Insight on the topic of homosexuality include political statements, medical studies, news reports and other studies. Many of the articles concerned addressed the campaign in Canada to legalize same-sex marriage, which Catholic Insight openly opposed.
"The basic view of the Church is that homosexual acts are a sin, but we love the sinner," said Father de Valk, adding that opposing same-sex marriage is not the same as rejecting homosexuals as persons.
The priest said that homosexual activists are broadly defining opposition to homophobia as opposition to any homosexual act: "They maintain that the whole Catholic Church is homophobic."
The complaint against Father de Valk is just one of several complaints against Christians that Canada's human rights commissions have investigated in recent years. Despite assurance from politicians that Canadian faith communities would not be affected when the government legalized same-sex marriage, the number of complaints against Christians have only increased since 2005, say several concerned Christians.
Canada's human rights commissions are empowered by Canadian law to investigate allegations of offensive speech. There are 10 commissions in the country -- the national commission, known as the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and a provincial commission for each of Canada's 10 provinces, except British Columbia.
Once any one of the commissions has completed its investigation, it may then pass the case along to its respective human rights tribunal for adjudication. In British Columbia, individuals bring their complaints directly to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.
The process favors the complainant over the accused, claim Father de Valk and other Christian critics of the commissions and tribunals. There is no cost to the one who files a complaint, and the commission provides legal support to the complainant. In contrast, the accused must pay his legal costs.
Additionally, contrary to the English legal tradition, there is a reverse onus requiring the accused to prove his or her innocence. "There's a presumption of guilt," said Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary, who himself was subject to two complaints before the Alberta Human Rights Commission in 2005 after publishing a pastoral letter defending the traditional definition of marriage earlier that same year.
"I really feel that we are into a crisis situation here where we are experiencing a trumping of religious freedom," said Bishop Henry.
The prelate describes Father de Valk as "an orthodox, very straight-forward individual."
He said that Catholic Insight's studies have been in-depth and in keeping with Catholic teaching, but given Canada's current culture, the bishop anticipated Father de Valk would eventually be subject to a human rights complaint. "He's a public target," Bishop Henry said. "His magazine is rather public."
Bishop Henry feels that Canada's commissions and tribunals are targeting Catholics in the name of promoting human rights. "Catholicism seems to be under attack for a variety of different reasons," he said. "I think one of the things is that we're not trendy; we don't easily kind of compromise on anything we consider to be essential.
"So when you have very clear definitive teaching with respect to marriage and what marriage is all about, and with homosexuality as intrinsically disordered and contrary to natural law, closing sexual relations to the gift of life, I don't see where Catholics can say anything else that what our traditional teaching is."
"That is not a very popular, politically correct expression of views in our society," the bishop said. "If you can knock down that and kind of bring the Catholic Church to its knees, I would think the ...
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