Subject: Catholic bigots condemn Ontario Equal-Rights bill
From: C. J. Henshaw
* Forwarded by C. J. Henshaw (1:250/820)
* From : firstname.lastname@example.org, 1:343/70.10 (Wednesday June 01 1994 19:22)
* Subj : Catholic bishops condemn Ontario Equal-Rights bill
From: email@example.com (NY Transfer News)
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 22:22:10 -0500 (EST)
From *The OttawaCitizen* 1994
CATHOLICS PROTEST SAME SEX BILL
*Archbishop to urge letter-writing blitz against legislation*
Roman Catholics priests will take to the pulpit this Sunday to urge parishoners to join a letter writing campaign denouncing proposed Ontario legislation that will extend benefits to same sex couples.
Later this week, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais will send a letter to 120 churches condemning the Ontario bill that would give gay and lesbian couples the same medical, pension, employment and other benefits as common-law couples.
Priests will be instructed to read the pastoral letter during mass either this Sunday or the one following, Gervais's executive assistant Guy Levac confirmed Sunday.
The letter will also include instructions on how to invite people to protest their MPP, said Levac. That could mean offering pens, paper, stamps and suggested phrasing at the back of the church so letters could be written on the spot.
Gervais could not be reached for comment.
Gervais's statement is still being drafted, but the overall tone will be the "objection to changing the status of the family" in Ontario, Levac said. The rare political lobbying campaign shows how strongly the church feels about the issue, he added.
It's part of a province wide strategy lead by the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops that would have each of the archdioceses formulating its own protest.
On Sunday, Toronto priests lead the way by reading Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic's statement to parishoners that said in part, "any attempt to promote a homosexual lifestyle as the equivalent of legal marriage must be vigourously opposed."
"It is not sinful to have homosexual tendencies, but sexual acts between people of the same sex are morally wrong because they do not respect the plan of God in creating us male and female," the letter said.
But gay and lesbian organizations reacted swiftly.
"This is an outrageous misuse of power of the pulpit in a democratic society,"
three gay and lesbian Catholic groups countered in a weekend statement.
"It holds the conscience of Canadian Catholics hostage to the power of the church, exercised in a context where there is no opportunity for debate or rebuttal,"
said the joint media release from the Coalition of Concerned Catholics, Covenant CIrcles and Ottawa-based Dignity Canada.
Dignity's Joe Brabant called the lobbying strategy "homophobic" and "hypocritical", A recent report in the Chicago-based National Catholic Reporter estimated that at least one-third of Catholic priests are homosexual and only half of them are celibate, he added.
"What we're dealing with is not a religious issue, it's a civil rights issue," said Brabant.
The bill, which would also give gay and lesbian couples the same adoption rights as heterosexual couples, narrowly passed first reading early this month. Bill 167's second reading is expected this week.
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