THE WEEK

Politics The Vatican turns up the heat under same-sex marriage

JOHN GEDDES August 11 2003
THE WEEK

Politics The Vatican turns up the heat under same-sex marriage

JOHN GEDDES August 11 2003

Politics The Vatican turns up the heat under same-sex marriage

THE WEEK

There is no more combustive mix than politics and religion, and rarely have the two topics, traditionally avoided in polite conversation, blended in as volatile a debate as the one now raging over same-sex marriage. As the Vatican waded into the fray with all guns blazing, Paul Martin found himself labelled “totally schizophrenic” on the issue by Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe, president of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops. Plouffe took aim at the presumptive successor to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien after a papal directive last week called upon Catholic politicians everywhere—in the strongest of terms—to fight to retain the traditional definition of marriage.

Martin is a practising Catholic yet accepts the Ontario and British Columbia court rulings in favour of gay marriage. He said his duties as a lawmaker “must take in a wider perspective” than his faith. But that perspective is being sorely challenged. Chretien’s decision to redefine civil marriage in

Italian gay rights activists take the fight to the Vatican; Ontario’s Bishop Plouffe takes aim at Canadian politicians

line with those court decisions has put his government at odds not only with the Vatican, but also the White House. President George W. Bush reiterated his opposition to gay marriage and said he’d asked his officials to toughen the existing ban, a move designed to turn this into a hot button in next year’s presidential election, analysts said. Still, the Vatican edict, which called voting in favour of same-sex marriage “gravely immoral,” raised old questions about the separation of church and state. Perhaps the most famous take on the subject came from John F. Kennedy when he was aiming to become the U.S.’s first Catholic president. “I believe in an America,” Kennedy told Protestant ministers in Houston in 1960, “where no Catholic prelate would tell the President, should he be Catholic, how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote.” Four decades later, and not only in the U.S., that vision is far from realized.

JOHN GEDDES

Quote of the week I ‘He’s putting at risk his eternal salvation. I pray for the Prime Minister.' Calgary Bishop FRED HENRY adding his voice to the Vatican’s world-wide lobby against same-sex marriage