Canadian Catholic Bishop Disciplines Politician For Same-Sex Marriage Stance

LONDON, ON, July 7, 2005 ( – In a letter dated June 6 and distributed to all the priests of his diocese, bishop Ronald Fabbro of London Ontario informed his priests of his decision to suspend the liturgical privileges and public Church activities of Windsor MP Joe Comartin. Bishop Fabbro cited Comartin’s public support for same-sex marriage, and the confusion that Comartin’s contradictory beliefs may cause his fellow Catholics, as his motivation.

“It is with sadness that I am informing you of a decision that it is my duty to make,” Fabbro’s letter began. “This decision is prompted by a public statement made by Mr. Joe Comartin, Member of Parliament for Windsor-Tecumseh.”

On June 28th Comartin, a Catholic and a marriage counselor in the London diocese, directly contradicted and defied established Church teaching when he spoke in favour of Bill C-38 during the debates in Parliament.

“One of my visions is that some day my church will allow those couples [in marriage preparation]to not only be heterosexual but also to be homosexual,” said Comartin, after informing the House that he was a Catholic and a marriage counselor. “My vision says to me that some day this will happen. The Roman Catholic Church in this country and across the globe will follow the precedents that the United Church, the Quakers, the Metropolitan Church and any other number of Christian denominations have taken. This is about love; we will guarantee within our religious services that all couples will be treated equally.”

According to Church teaching when a member of a bishop’s diocese publicly and stubbornly contradicts fundamental truths of the Catholic faith, the bishop has the duty not only do what lies in his power to shepherd the dissenter back to the truth, but also to protect others in his diocese from the false teaching.

“I have decided that Mr. Comartin is not to give marriage preparation sessions within this diocese, and that he is not to engage in any liturgical ministries, for example, minister of the Eucharist or reader,” said Fabbro. “The issue…is that a person who does not accept Catholic teaching on fundamental matters is disqualified from acting on behalf of the Church in a public capacity. Marriage is, beyond doubt, a fundamental matter.”

“My decision will remain in effect until Mr. Comartin has a change of mind with regard to the moral status of homosexual activity and the use of the word ‘marriage’ with reference to some homosexual unions,” the letter continued. “In the meantime, I would urge Mr. Comartin, other Catholic politicians, and other Catholics who share his views to take the necessary steps to form their consciences correctly on these issues according to the teachings of our Church.”

“By virtue of nature itself, marriage is a union of man and woman. As a natural institution, marriage predates any state, parliament, or court of law. No public institution has the authority to claim that marriage is something other than what it is. The issue is not one of rights; rather, it is a question of what the word ‘marriage’ means.”

Fabbro instructed the priests of his diocese to publicly inform their parishioners of his decision during the upcoming weekend Masses in order to curb and counteract the confusion caused by Comartin’s public and erroneous belief that approval of same-sex marriage and profession of Catholicism are in any way reconcilable.

It was unclear whether or not Comartin would be permitted to receive Communion.

Read the full text of Mr. Comartin’s June 28th statements:


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