Catholic Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary defends the traditional marriage definition

Bishop Henry - Pastoral Letter Released  on January 15-16/1/05
Submitted to by Calgary Bishop Henry Fred Henry

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Many assume that we are powerless, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been invoked and the Supreme Court has spoken and settled the same-sex issue. However, such an assumption is erroneous. The Supreme Court has said that Parliament may redefine marriage, it has not said that it must redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. The Supreme Court Justices talk about reading the Constitution,“expansively,” and that it is like a “living tree which by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life.”

Nevertheless, I would suggest that there are more roots to the tree than simply the Charter of Rights and Freedom. There are also historical, cultural, philosophical, moral, and anthropological roots. The failure to attend to the health of all the roots runs the risk of killing the tree and destroying the public good.

Contrary to what is normally alleged, the primary goals in seeking legalization of same-sex “marriage” are not the financial or health or inheritance or pension benefits associated with marriage. The search for stability and exclusivity in a homosexual relationship is not the driving force. The principal objective in seeking same-sex “marriage”is not really even about equality rights. The goal is to acquire a powerful psychological weapon to change society’s rejection of homosexual activity and lifestyle into gradual, even if reluctant, acceptance.

It is significant to note that 18 months after same-sex “marriage” arrived in Canada (principally as a result of court decisions in Ontario and British Columbia), more than 95% of adult Canadian gays have chosen to ignore their new legal right.

The Supreme Court also refused to answer whether the Charter requires that marriage be redefined.

As Catholics we hold marriage to be a sacrament, a sacred covenant in which husband and wife express their mutual love, and join with God in the creation of a new human person, destined for eternal life.

However, without recourse to the sacramental reality and without reliance on a multitude of quotes from Sacred Scripture, we find ourselves sharing basic common ground with the majority of Canadians who understand marriage to be the union of a man and a woman, faithful in love and open to the gift of life. Marriage and the family are the foundations of society, through which children are brought into this world and nurtured as they grow to adulthood. As such, the family is a more fundamental social institution than the state, and the strength of the family is vital for the well-being of our whole society.

Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good.

It is sometimes argued that what we do in the privacy of our home is nobody’ s business. While the privacy of the home is undoubtedly sacred, it is not absolute. Furthermore, an evil act remains an evil act whether it is performed in public or in private.

Personal choice is exercised both in opting for the marital state and in the choice of one’s spouse. However, the future spouses are not free to alter marriage’s essential purpose or properties. These do not depend on the will or the sexual orientation of the contracting parties. They are rooted in natural law and do not change.

The committed union of two people of the same sex is not the same human reality as the committed union of one man and one woman. A same-sex union is not a physical union that transmits human life, producing children. A same-sex union is not the joining of two complementary natures that complete each other. Simply stated, a same sex union is not marriage. The idea that homosexuals can create same sex “marriage” through their individual choice is false. All the packaging in the world doesn’t alter substance.

Some would allege that opposing same-sex “marriage” is pure prejudice. This contention is also false. There are human rights laws, which say: men and women must be paid the same wage for the same work; an employer may not refuse to hire someone because of the skin colour; landlords may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. These decision uphold the rights of the individual and, at the same time, strengthen Canadian society. They encourage us to recognize the humanity of the other person.

Furthermore, a man and a woman wanting to marry may be completely different in their characteristics such as: colour, ethnicity, in wealth and social status, physical attributes, and educational background. None of these differences are insurmountable obstacles to marriage. The two individuals are still a man and a woman, and the requirements of nature are respected. Two individual of the same sex, regardless of their race, wealth, stature, erudition or fame, will never be able to marry because of an insurmountable biological impossibility.

The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to same-sex couples is not discrimination. It is not something opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires such an opposition.

It is the right and the responsibility of all citizens who are troubled by the proposal to reinvent the institution of marriage, to enter into the debate and, with clarity and charity, to make their voices heard by their fellow citizens and our political leaders.

Please take the time to write, email and/or fax government leaders and your local member of parliament registering your objection to the proposal to reinvent the institution of marriage.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
F. B. Henry
Bishop of Calgary.