From an article in the Tablet about Charlie Angus who is the Canadian Catholic MP
No bishop will publicly contradict Bishop Henry’s damaging rhetoric, in large part because his template is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s rejection of same-sex marriage in “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons”. It is only the most glaring example of how the CDF document threatened the Canadian Church’s outreach to politicians – and, in the process, virtually scripted the drama surrounding Mr Angus’s vote.
The Church’s outreach to politicians was threatened? Well I guess in fact truth usually does make outreach to politicians problematic. If only truth would stop getting in the way of Church/State relations.
To begin with, the document’s timing could not have been any worse. Exactly one week after its release in June, 2003, an Ontario court struck down the traditional definition of marriage because it violated gays and lesbians’ equality rights. Whatever the merits of their theological and anthropological arguments, its defenders now had to contend with the official verdict that heterosexual-only marriage was legally (and, by extension, politically) unacceptable in Canada.
Actually the document’s timing was pretty good since it coincided with the legal maneuvering for same-sex unions and marriages. The Vatican is usually criticized for releasing documents long after a threat appears, for example just last year the Vatican was criticized just for that in relations to documents relating to radical feminism and new age movements. Of course the document proposed no new teachings and only affirmed what the Church has always taught, so it isn’t exactly as if the document was any surprise theologically in any way.
As the policymakers started to react to the court rulings, the bishops’ lawyers urged them to plead the best case they had: that in a diverse, pluralistic country like Canada, the most equitable way to reconcile the equality demands of gays and lesbians with the vital need for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience was to take marriage out of the public realm and to adopt a new system of governance for adult interdependent relationships. Reportedly, several bishops – notably Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic of Toronto – quietly favoured this strategy.
In the end, though, it was something the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) proved unwilling to pursue, either in the courts or with politicians, many of whom liked the idea but needed the Church’s blessing to give it political life. Where their lawyers cited constitutional law, the bishops cited the CDF.
I am surprised that they didn’t bring up the fact that when the document was released Cardinal Ratzinger was the head of the CDF.