Canadian bishop details gov't threat on same-sex marriage

In Canadian House of Commons committee hearings on the same-sex marriage Bill C-38 Monday, Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary revealed details of threats leveled against him by government officials for putting forward Church teaching.

Bishop Henry described in detail how he was called by Terry De Marche of Revenue Canada, the country's tax agency, after issuing a pastoral letter that said the media's description of Prime Minister Paul Martin as a "devout Catholic" was inappropriate due to Martin's support for abortion and gay marriage legislation.

Speaking of the conversation he had in June 2004 with De Marche, the director of policy communications in Revenue Canada's Charities Directorate, Bishop Henry said, "He reminded me very forcefully from the beginning that I wasn't to engage in partisan politics, pointing out that my actions were in contravention of the Elections Act and implying that my actions jeopardized my charitable tax status."

After Bishop Henry pointed out that he did not tell anyone how to vote, he recalled that De Marche "then talked about perception and said: 'Some people may perceive.'" To this Bishop Henry responded, "I can't control the perception of all the people in Canada, I have to assume that they can think and think critically and they can evaluate, and surely to God they can understand that I'm not telling anybody how to vote here."

The bishop recalls that the conversation ended with this exchange: "He said, 'Well, are you going to take down the pastoral letter from your website?' I said, 'No, why should I take it down from my website?' He didn't answer that either. Then he said, 'Are you planning on doing anything else?' I said, 'I find that question very strange, but no, I'm not contemplating doing anything else.' Then he said, 'I'm going to write a report for my superior. You may hear back from us again in the short term.'"

Bishop Henry noted that other pastors of different faith backgrounds have expressed that they were intimidated by these actions and have thus been "gun shy" on speaking out.

The bishop also mentioned having to defend himself against human rights complaints submitted to the Alberta Human Rights Commission and also the complaints against a Knights of Columbus Hall in BC which refused to allow a lesbian couple to rent the premises for a wedding reception.

Bishop Henry was greeted at the hearings by pro-life, pro-family MP Pat O'Brien who left the Liberal party this week over Bill C-38.

CWN - Catholic World News (9. juni 2005)

av Webmaster publisert 16.06.2005, sist endret 16.06.2005 - 13:14