10 January, 2011

Opting out of marrying same-sex couples unconstitutional: Sask. court | Posted | National Post

 This is exactly what the Canadian Bishops said would happen once we opened the door to same sex marriages. First, it will be those who are exclusively civil officers of marriage that will be forced to perform same-sex ceremonies. Soon the courts will be asked to force the Churches to do the same.


We are headed to a European style of marriage ceremony. I predict that soon clergy will soon begin to renounce their civil license to marry and couples will then go through two ceremonies: one civil for the State and (if desired) a religious ceremony to solemnize the union.


Maybe this is a good thing? What do you think?

Opting out of marrying same-sex couples unconstitutional: Sask. court | Posted | National Post

39 comments:

  1. Does a Catholic working as a civil officer of marriage have to marry a different sex couple where one of the spouses is divorced? Yes. Does a Catholic Priest? No. Does a Catholic teacher teaching in a public school have to allow into the classroom a child whose parents are not married? Yes. Does a Catholic school? No.

    If a person is operating in a civil, public capacity they have to obey the law of the land? If a person is operating in a religious capacity, they are free to not obey certain laws associted with descrimination on the basis of sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

    This is a red herring. If the state has not forced the Catholic Church to marry divorced Catholics it is certainly not going to force them to marry gays.

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  2. Michael: The difference is that there has not been an organized effort to attack the rights of the Church on behalf of divorced Catholics. There is such a lobby working on behalf of the promotion of the forcing the Church to act contrary to its beliefs. In Vancouver, there has been a civil action as well as a HRT action trying to force the Diocese of Vancouver to rent its facilities for gay weddings. There has already been one example where the clergy of British Columbia were written to by the government informing them that they could not choose not to celebrate gay marriages. The letter was subsequently explained away with a statement that it inadvertently was sent to all holders of marriage licenses in the province. It was evidently meant only for civil commissionaires of marriage. At least that was the eventual government response after the Archbishop went public with his objection to the instruction.

    Fr. Tim

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  3. No one is going to force any church to marry any one they don't want to. Some churches don't have marriages at all.

    As to renting facilities, the church should just have a policy of not renting its church hall to non Catholics. I'm curious, how does it get around the using of church halls for Scouts, sinc e Scouts Canada allows gays as both leaders and scouts.

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  4. Michael: Let me offer two examples of why I believe that the Church can no longer presume the benevolence of the state.

    1. Clergy have always expressly enjoyed the right to privilege when it came to private and/or confessional conversations they shared with their parishioners. This was written into the old Child Welfare Act in Ontario when I was a protection worker in the early 1980's. Now this privilege has expressly been removed, opening clergy to the possibility of being criminally charged if they fail to report abuse upon hearing someone confess the offense. Back then, the government said that they would never compel a priest to violate the seal of the confessional. Now they write the demand to do so in legislation. I personally know of a priest who faced this situation in Ontario.

    2. When abortion was first legalized by P.E. Trudeau in the 60's, it was under very strict conditions and required that there be a threat to the health of the mother as determined by a 'therapeutic abortion committee'. Then the word 'health' was redefined to exclusively mean the will of the mother, and voila... we were on the way to abortion on demand, which is the legal position on the issue today.

    So, let me ask you: Why should I believe that history is not going to repeat herself again? EVERY TIME that the Catholic Church agrees to trust a politicians promise, it has been shafted. The only thing keeping the State from forcing the Church to offer same sex marriages now is an exemption in the federal law legalizing them. 'Exemptions' often get lifted. Ask any western grain farmer about the permanence of such exemptions if you need further evidence.

    We will eventually face the situation I describe. You can take that to the bank!

    Fr. Tim

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  5. You're absolutely correct Fr. Tim. Look how the Ontario provincial government recently attempted to force sex education on the youngest of elementary school children with plenty of homosexual propaganda. Frankly, its bad enough what they've managed to force into the Catholic schools already. There was no exemption for Catholic Schools despite the obvious conflict of interest but the public backlash forced them to back off. You know they'll be back at a more opportune time or they'll turn up the heat slower as to not startle the boiling frog.

    Cheers
    Paul

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  6. I don't know anything about the confessional seal issue. As to abortion, the federal law has changed, for better or force, but the state is not forcing the church to change its postion on abortion.

    The point at hand is whether the state will dictate to a church who they have tomarry. The state has had different laws than the church for decades re. divorced and consanguinity and there has been no movement to change church teaching. I see no movement to change that.

    A person employed by the state in a civil role must follow the regulations of the state or resign.

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  7. There should be no such thing as the seal of the confessional when the laws of the land are broken as in cases of sexual abuse. Wouldn't you agree?

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  8. Michael: But in both your and my country, Catholic Hospitals which receive public health care funds are coming under pressure to provide abortion services. I know this to be the case as a good friend of mine is on a committee working for that very end here in the Ottawa Valley! (She's a wonderful friend, but we stand on opposite sides of the life issues.)

    So yes we are being pressured to change our position on abortion!

    One other point: can you formulate an argument that would justify the religious exemption when the State declares that as its licensed agent, (that is my role as priest) I would have no grounds to refuse to officiate at a same sex marriage?

    Fr. Tim

    Fr. Tim

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  9. Larry Green10 January, 2011

    Tim :
    It sure is perplexing for me to hear you refer to the concealment of a known child abuser as a “ privilege.”
    You do not agree that anyone who knowingly and willingly subjects a child or children to the hands of a monster should not be prosecuted ? You feel shafted about this move to help protect innocent children
    ?
    Abortion as it is linked to the health of the mother? What about the termination of life for child who was 80 days of age because of her health condition ? This contradiction for certain does not spring from the same principle. I fail to how the church received any shafting here - only a little girl shafted by the church.

    I agree that eventually the church will be forced to treat gay people as human beings and with same respect and dignity as all other human beings. That is the fundamental role (and necessarily so) of government to compel through legislation it’s citizens ( those who would otherwise refuse) to treat one another with respect and dignity. This is the ‘minimum’ requirement for being an inhabitant
    in any society across the globe .
    I do not think it will be vary long before this inevitable happens but I,m sure if the Catholic church is still around a hundred years from now the pope of the day - if he isn’t openly gay- will still express opposition.

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  10. "This is exactly what the Canadian Bishops said would happen once we opened the door to same sex marriages. First, it will be those who are exclusively civil officers of marriage that will be forced to perform same-sex ceremonies. Soon the courts will be asked to force the Churches to do the same."

    No, Tim. If that's what the bishops told you, they lied to you. There was never any intention of allowing marriage comissioners to "opt out." And there was never any intention of forcing the clergy to go against their religious teachings. Nothing has changed. A lot of money, time and energy was just spent on lawyers and judges in order to accomplish exactly nothing.

    The fact is that marriage commissioners are strictly there for the civil registrations of non-religious marriages. Religion is deliberately kept out of civil ceremonies, and in BC at least, marriage commissioners may NOT include any religious aspect to their registrations! It's just not an option, and it never has been. So when someone comes along and says that registrars and commissioners are being "forced" to compromise their own religious beliefs by being made to perform same-sex marriages, that is a lie. They can't be made to compromise what is not allowed in the first place.

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  11. STG: No I would not agree. In fact, under the pain of violating a sacred oath I swore before God, I can not agree.

    Every priest is obliged directly to God to maintain the absolute sanctity of the seal of the confessional. There are no exceptions permitted.

    We are not unique. Lawyers too have always been exempt in appreciation for the role they play in our legal processes.

    Fr. Tim

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  12. "In Vancouver, there has been a civil action as well as a HRT action trying to force the Diocese of Vancouver to rent its facilities for gay weddings."

    Conducting business pertaining to the rental of property is an entirely different matter from performing a religious ceremony. The rental of the hall is a business, not a religious practice, and when you are conducting a lawful business, you may not discriminate against any member of the public who wishes to engage that business.

    "EVERY TIME that the Catholic Church agrees to trust a politicians promise, it has been shafted."

    Well, welcome to the real world! What makes the Church different from any other organization or citizen? And I say that both with a straight face and with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. Rule Number One: Politicians LIE!

    "There was no exemption for Catholic Schools..."

    Of course not, Paul! When a school accepts taxpayer money, it must automatically accept public policy. If the Catholic schools in this country do not wish to teach the full spectrum of civil rights, they must refuse to accept public monies and pay their own way with their own money. You may not take my money and then use it against me!

    "Catholic Hospitals which receive public health care funds are coming under pressure to provide abortion services."

    Of course they are! As they should.

    "So yes we are being pressured to change our position on abortion!"

    No. You're being offered an option. You could always refuse to accept public health care funding.

    "One other point: can you formulate an argument that would justify the religious exemption when the State declares that as its licensed agent, (that is my role as priest) I would have no grounds to refuse to officiate at a same sex marriage?"

    I can answer that. As long as you are a member of the Church which holds your license, you will be allowed to keep your religious exemption. However, if you ever decide to leave your church and go independent, you will lose that religious affiliation, and with it, your religious exemption. You only hold your license now because you are a member of your religion which has been granted marriage registration status. You can look up the specifics in your provincial statues under Vital Statistics.

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  13. Larry: I'm not speaking of concealing known child abusers. I'm speaking about maintaining the seal of the confessional. That's shouldn't surprise you one whit!

    As to the abortion/London issues, you're comparing apples and oranges. As much as I acknowledge that there is more to the case you referenced that gives me grave pause & cause for concern, it has nothing to do with the Churches stance on abortion. (It is not as 'b/w' as it was first explained to me and the advice and actions of the hospital and church may have been tragically wrong.) I do not know. But I do know that an abuse of the right should not be a reason to promote life in the abortion debate. So even if the the hospital was wrong, it doesn't change the morality of the abortion debate.

    Fr. Tim

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  14. Lady Janus: I see that things are different there than here in Ontario. I can see why you would see the issue the way you do. The lines are not so clearly drawn here.

    Fr. Tim

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  15. "I see that things are different there than here in Ontario."

    Are they, really? Interesting. On the other hand, perhaps not so surprising. Marriage law is under provincial jurisdiction, after all, not federal; so perhaps it does vary from one province to another. Did you know that your church's license to operate as a religious body is also a provincial matter?

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  16. "Larry: I'm not speaking of concealing known child abusers. I'm speaking about maintaining the seal of the confessional."

    And this is a question for which I have never had a satisfactory answer: when the seal of the confessional hides the very real public danger of an active criminal, how do you reconcile the conflict in which you must find yourself?

    Maybe I'm not asking this correctly, so let me try putting it another way: When your religious obligations put you athwart your legal obligations as a citizen of the country, how do you resolve the situation?

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  17. Tim,

    "STG: No I would not agree. In fact, under the pain of violating a sacred oath I swore before God, I can not agree.
    Every priest is obliged directly to God to maintain the absolute sanctity of the seal of the confessional. There are no exceptions permitted.
    We are not unique. Lawyers too have always been exempt in appreciation for the role they play in our legal processes."

    Can you give any theological or biblical reason to justify your claim that God authorizes you to maintain the "sanctity of the confessional" when some illegal activity comes to your attention such as child sexual or physical abuse?

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  18. Larry: For a reason I cannot comprehend, your posts are being shunted into my 'spam' box. I've never gave you such a label and don't know why it's happening. If you submit something that doesn't seem to show up, either leave me a comment on Sylvia's site or send me an email. I'll continue to work with Blogger to fix the problem.

    On the positive side, you're the first person that my settings determined to be 'spam'. To quote the 'Church Lady' of SNL fame, "Isn't that special!" (grin)

    Fr. Tim

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  19. Larry Green10 January, 2011

    Could it be SATAN ?

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  20. Larry: ROTFLMAO!!

    Thank you! I seem to have solved the problem (although I don't really know how). Thankfully an exorcism wasn't required!

    Fr. Tim

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  21. "Can you give any theological or biblical reason to justify your claim that God authorizes you to maintain the "sanctity of the confessional" when some illegal activity comes to your attention such as child sexual or physical abuse?"

    Hi Wayne
    Can you show me a place in scripture where Jesus forgave a repentant sinner only to turn them over to the authorities of his day to face punishment for their crime?

    Cheers
    Paul

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  22. "Every priest is obliged directly to God to maintain the absolute sanctity of the seal of the confessional. There are no exceptions permitted."

    And, presumably, god is free to enforce this any time he sees fit. The fact that he either can't or won't appears significant to me.

    On the other hand, why worry?
    Correct me if I am wrong, but if you were to break the seal of confession, isn't it simply a matter of feeling honest regret and asking god for forgiveness? Doesn't that make it as if it never happened?
    For that matter, doesn't that apply to our hypothetical rapist? If he honestly feels ashamed for having brutalized some little girl, and asks god to forgive him then he's no longer guilty of anything, yes?

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  23. Paul,

    Are you saying it is alright to hide or shield criminals from the authorities simply because they have made a secret confession to a priest? The Apostle Paul makes it clear in his epistle to the Romans, chap.13 christians are to be subject unto the higher powers.

    "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

    For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

    For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

    Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake."
    Romans ch13 vs 1-5

    Did not Jesus also say render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's?

    Romans chapter 13 is speaking about civil authority and clearly Paul is teaching christians are subject to it. If someone is aware of criminal activity such as child molestation he has a duty to report this to the proper authorities and not keep it a secret.

    Did not Jesus also say it were better for someone to have a millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea than to offend one of the little ones?

    I don't know if you read any of it, but I have written at great length in the past about how christians are taught in the Bible to confess to God and opposed the RC confessional. There is no authority for a confessional, with absolution and penance. Therefore the idea of a "seal of the confessional" is a man-made business, not ordained by God.

    If someone who is guilty of sexual abuse really wants to make things right, they should turn themselves in to the authorities, not think they can go to priest, confess, receive absolution and penance, and walk away free. That would most likely change nothing.

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  24. Paul,

    "Can you show me a place in scripture where Jesus forgave a repentant sinner only to turn them over to the authorities of his day to face punishment for their crime?"

    Also, when Jesus was on earth he followed the laws fully. If the law required someone to pay for a crime, we can assume that the guilty party would face up to the authorities for his crime if he really meant business.

    "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee;
    Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
    Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison." Matthew 5:23-25

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  25. Hello Wayne,

    You didn't do what I asked. Jesus never did turn a repentant sinner over to authorities did he? Not even the woman caught in adultery where the law demanded her execution. He forgave her and simply told her to sin no more.
    As for your dismissal of confession, it all falls apart with the words of Christ himself.
    "RECEIVE YE THE HOLY GHOST : WHOSE SOEVER SINS YE REMIT, THEY ARE REMITTED UNTO THEM; AND WHOSE SOEVER SINS YE RETAIN THEY ARE RETAINED [John 20:21-23].
    I know this fits badly with your theology but it says what it says. Jesus gave his apostles the authority to forgive and retain sin. That authority is still with his church today.

    Cheers
    Paul

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  26. Paul,

    "Can you show me a place in scripture where Jesus forgave a repentant sinner only to turn them over to the authorities of his day to face punishment for their crime?"

    ON further consideration of this question, I am not aware of a specific example where Jesus turned them over to authorities. But then the gospels do not give every detail of the life of Jesus. They do record the three years of Jesus' ministry up to the time He was crucified.

    The main point I think is there is no provision for an earthly priesthood hearing confessions, etc. So the whole business of the "sanctity of the seal of the confessional" is purely a man-made invention and not sanctioned by Scripture. Further there is no authority given in Scripture to an external, visible church or class of men or society (episcopate) to set up such a system.

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  27. Hi Tim,

    Getting back to the actual subject of your post...

    The Saskatechewan Court's decision is not surprising. It is entirely consistent with what we should expect from our secular institutions.

    As I have pointed out many times before on your blog, virtually any vile belief can find a basis in someone else's religious interpretation or doctrine. Do you really want the state deciding which religious beliefs are worthy of incorporation into our secular institutions? Think about this carefully before you answer...racism, misogyny, genocide, anti-semitism, genital mutilation, sexual exploitation of minors etc... can all find a theological home in someone else's religion.


    If we allow marriage commissioners to discriminate against LGBT couples based on personal religious convictions regarding homosexuality, then should we not also allow them to discriminate based on personal religious convictions about divorced individuals?

    And why only privelege marriage commissioners with this special "right" above all other civil servants carrying out their secular duties? How about social workers? How about policy analysts and statisticians? Where do you propose to draw the line?

    To argue that there is some kind of slippery slope involved, or to suggest that the state may soon impose a responsibility on all Churches to treat citizens as equal before the law is ridiculous. You guys already have the freedom to discriminate against your own members on virtually any basis you please. It does not even have to make sense...you simply need to appeal to your own doctrine, dogma, tradition, scriptural interpretation or whatever.

    Cheers...Martin

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  28. Paul,

    "You didn't do what I asked. Jesus never did turn a repentant sinner over to authorities did he? Not even the woman caught in adultery where the law demanded her execution. He forgave her and simply told her to sin no more."

    Sorry. That was a special case in special circumstances which I don't think can be compared with the sexual abuse crimes of today. Nor does it give any legitimacy to the "seal of the confessional", or to keep secret those guilty of breaking the law. I fail to see any connection.

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  29. Paul,

    "As for your dismissal of confession, it all falls apart with the words of Christ himself.
    "RECEIVE YE THE HOLY GHOST : WHOSE SOEVER SINS YE REMIT, THEY ARE REMITTED UNTO THEM; AND WHOSE SOEVER SINS YE RETAIN THEY ARE RETAINED [John 20:21-23]."

    The RCC depends heavily on their claimed interpretation of this verse for the confessional.

    Loraine Boettner says:

    Quote In the chapter on Peter, and the section dealing with the 'Keys,' we have discussed the meaning of Matthew 16:19, and have pointed out that the power given to the apostles was symbolical and declarative, and that it related to the authority given to them to preach the Gospel which contains God's conditions for repentance and forgiveness.

    'Repentance and remission of sins' was to be preached in his name unto all the nations (Luke 24:47). 'To him (Christ) bear all the prophets witness, that through his name every one that believeth on him shall receive remission of sins' (Acts 10:43).

    And again, "Be it known unto you therefore, brethren, that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins: and by him every one that believeth is justified from all things" (Acts 13:38-39)

    Christ often used figurative language, as when He said, "The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses' seat: all things therefore whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not" (Matt. 23:2-3); and, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye shut the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye enter not in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering in to enter" (Matt. 23:13).""

    Further down, Boettner wrote:

    "The powers of binding or loosing, and of forgiving or retaining sins, were given to the apostles as proclaimers of the Word of God, not as priests. As we have shown elsewhere, there are no Christian "priests" in the New Testament dispensation. The apostles never claimed the power of forgiving sins by absolution as Roman priests do. Rather they preached the Gospel of salvation through Christ--which was a declarative power, by which they announced the gracious terms on which salvation was granted to sinful men. Unquote

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  30. Martin: I agree completely with you, so long as the State stops at demanding this only from its secular commissionaires. I simply fear, as with many other examples I could enumerate, that soon the Provinces will make it a requirement of EVERYONE who holds a provincial marriage license. That will result in us renouncing our licenses. Remember, when I am officiating at a wedding I am wearing 'two hats': as a priest performing a religious ceremony and as an agent of the province empowered to witness and register the civil aspect of the union. I am not without grounds for fearing what is coming down the pipe so long as I am responsible for the second role.

    I hope you enjoyed your holidays and the 2011 brings you much success and happiness!

    Tim

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  31. Hi Tim,

    While I will overlook your misunderstanding the Civil Marriage Act of Canada, I am less forgiving of your bishops - your bishops have access to informed legal counsel.

    Firstly, the Civil Marriage Act governs civil marriages only - not religious ones.

    Secondly, Section 3 of the Civil Marriage Act recognizes that religious officials are already protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms from being compelled to perform marriages that would be contrary to their religious beliefs, as confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in its opinion on the marriage Reference.

    Let's get a proper context here - marriage commissioners are civil servants empowered to perform civil marriages - not religious ones.

    You are conflating and confusing issues. This court decision has zero impact on preists and religious ministers licenced to perform marriages. No one in the LGBT community I know of is even remotely interested in intervening in this area.

    Defunding separate schools in the province of Ontario is an entriely different matter....but that is a subject for another post.

    Cheers...Martin

    PS: I and my family had a wonderful holiday. Hope your's was as well.

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  32. Martin: I appreciate the benefit of understanding. Thank you. Alas though, I am still confused about one point. As I said previously, I stand as both a religious and civic official whenever I officiate at a wedding. Why would I, in my capacity as the civic official who received and certifies the exchange of the wedding vows, be exempt from the obligation to not discriminate on the grounds of the gender of the spouses? I appreciate that right now I am permitted by virtue of an exemption in the legislation, but such exemptions are disappearing in legislation now. Priests are specifically named and commanded in the current provincial child welfare laws to report any information we hear in the confessional (something that you can appreciate is not acceptable to the Church).

    As I say, that's the only point of fear for me. I have lived long enough to see such exemptions disappear after hearing all types of assurances whenever the Church raised a concern - assurances that held as much weight as what they were composed of... politicians promises. I saw it happen in Quebec when the schools were reorganized into exclusively civil units. (Eg: not only is confessional religion no longer taught, but schools that have religious names -usually the same as the local parish- are being renamed with 'more appropriate' ones that 'reflect the cultural diversity' of the province. Evidently, diversity doesn't include Catholic saints.

    One of our former classmates was charged with failing to report from a confession he heard in his parish. He escaped trial solely because he heard the confession in the confessional and thus could not be absolutely identified by the penitent. If the state is trying to pierce the veil of the confessional, why would I trust their assurance that they will respect our religious practices, especially if our practice runs counter to the values of the government of the time?

    Glad you had a wonderful holiday. Mine was (understandably) tiring, but joyous none the less.

    Tim

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  33. Hi Tim,

    The "assurance" I am offering you is not a politician's promise: it is the actual wording of the Civil Marriage Act - which is supported by a Supreme Court of Canada opinion. I don't know what greater assurance is possible to anyone in this country?!

    Must every secular institution in Canada get down on bended knee and accept Catholic dogma regarding the nature of homosexuality in order for you folks to feel "comfortable"?

    Must every civil protection be stripped from LGBT citizens so that the Roman Catholic hierarchy feels that their views are "valid" and "worthy"?

    Obviously, I ask these questions with tongue in cheek - but I think you can see why I find your fear a bit overwrought? Your Church is still wealthy and powerful - you throw your political weight around with impunity to target small minority groups like LGBT folks, and yet I see you guys time after time portraying yourselves as trembling victims cowering at the sacraficial altar of the state. Please spare me the farce.

    What bothers me is that your bishops know the law of the land (or ought to know the law of the land) - yet somehow you all still feel compelled to scare monger about how LGBT folks are out to stifle religious freedoms.

    Utter. Complete. Nonsense.

    I am not aware of the case or facts of your "classmate and the confessional". If there is a link to a credible news source, please share it. I would be interested to understand what the actual points of law were.

    Cheers...Martin

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  34. Martin: It never hit the media because of the identification issue and thus couldn't proceed. It happened to Gary S. when he was stationed the Hamilton Cathedral.

    Of course I don't expect LGBT citizens to be stripped of any rights whatsoever! I am not trying to do anything other than ensure that my rights as a RC priest are not infringed upon either.

    As to the Bishops, I can only surmise that they have legal opinions which back up their concerns. Even when we account for the blood circulation problems that their mitres causes for their grey matter, even they wouldn't be so stupid as to assert a legal position without first ensuring that they stood on reasonable legal ground.

    What you say though does point out that we all seem to fall prey to the habit of looking at these issues as a series of 'net sum zero' questions. I am certain you believe that asserting LGBT rights should (and does) not diminish the rights of others. It can work both ways if we (Church and partisans of other camps) can get past our rhetoric and find a common path.

    The church has much to learn... as do we all.

    Tim

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  35. Hi Tim,

    IMHO most LGBT folks just want to live and let live. While I am an atheist, you might be surprised to know that a lot of LGBT folks are quite religious. Just like you, they don't want state interference in their personal religious convictions.

    If you guys toned down the anti-gay vitriol and stopped demonizing LGBT people at every turn, you might find that a lot of the ill will would melt away. In fact, you might even gain greater appeal among younger Catholics.

    Cheers....Martin

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  36. "...when I am officiating at a wedding I am wearing 'two hats': as a priest performing a religious ceremony and as an agent of the province empowered to witness and register the civil aspect of the union."

    That does not happen in BC. A priest in BC holds only one license, and that comes through his church; he does not hold it on his own, but only as an agent of his religious institution. It seems like the answer to your dilemna is therefore simple (if not easy, for it involves making the bureaucracy change its methods, and that can be more difficult than getting a hen to warble Amazing Grace): stop the issuing of two licenses to one person, and simply issue one or the other of two separate ones -- one for those who perform religious ceremonies and the other for those who perform non-religious ceremonies. Problem then solved.

    As for the move to force priests to give up the seal of the confessional, I can see both sides of the issue, and that one is not so easy! However, in two other professions for which privacy is guaranteed -- doctors and lawyers -- exceptions to the rule exists, and the state now requires that they report every instance in which certain things occur. For doctors, it is the presence of a bullet wound -- all such wounds MUST be reported to the authorities. Likewise suspected child abuse. There are possibly other examples for doctors, but I can't think of any right now. And as far as lawyers are concerned, they are required by law to report any activities of their clients that involve RICO (and the Canadian equivalent), and possibly others.

    These exception to the rule of guaranteed privacy are in place to protect society from the criminal. Priests are so far the only profession that are allowed to protect the criminal from apprehension without themselves being charged as accesories after the fact! And while I can appreciate that you have a spiritual goal in mind when you hear confessions, I am far more interested in protecting the law-abiding from the lawbreakers than I am in making the lawbreakers feel that their sins are being forgiven. If they want forgiveness, they can confess their sins while they're in prison.

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  37. Martin: Point taken (at least by me) and appreciated. I will endeavor with posts such as this one to defend the rights of the Church, but I will do my best not to forget that rights are not a 'net sum zero' game, and there is no need to stand in opposition to the rights of one group over others. When I fail to do so, especially as it relates to the GBLT perspective, I count on you to call me to task. Your presumption of my good intentions demands I do the best I can.

    Thanks.

    Tim

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  38. Hi Tim,

    You have stated it very well: Human rights are not a net zero sum game.

    Now, if only you could have a chat with Maurice Vellacott, the Conservative MP, who blasted the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal's decision:

    “The Court has hereby belittled religious faith or any faith for that matter...It sets up a hierarchy of rights saying these same-sex rights are more important than freedom of consience and religion.”

    Utter. Complete. Nonsense. Let's even leave aside Mr. Vellacott's implied assertion that all religions oppose same-sex marriage (they do not) and look at the facts.

    No public servant, even if they are LGBT, was ever entitled to deny public services to anyone legally entitled to those services. That right never existed, and this ruling hasn’t changed it. Religious freedom still exists in Canada.

    For the Court to have decided otherwise would have opened up a 'pandora's box' of religously motivated exemptions that would have undoubtedly forced the state to intervene and decide which religiously motivated expemptions were "worthy" and which were "unworthy".

    Anyone interested in religious freedom (regardless of whether or not they detest homosexuals) should have been opposed to the plaintiff's cause from the outset.

    Cheers...Martin

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