Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The recent release by Statistics Canada of the 2006 census data reportedly revealed a new family portrait, insofar as we are seeing an increase in all sorts of untraditional households and a de-emphasis of the traditional nuclear family of the '50s and '60s.
In some quarters, this is being celebrated but it really ought to be lamented.
The family is the nucleus in which a person first learns human love and cultivates the virtues of responsibility, generosity and fraternal concern. Strong families are built on the foundation of strong marriages. Strong societies are built on the foundation of strong families.
All civic communities should do what they can to promote economic and social policies that aid young married couples and facilitate their desire ro raise a family. As a society, rather than acknowledge, respect and support this venerable institution as the stable union between a man and a woman who willingly embrace a life-long commitment of love and fidelity, we are choosing to discriminate against it.
It is incongruous to grant “marital” status to unions between persons of the same sex. It is opposed, first of all, by the objective impossibility of making the partnership fruitful through the transmission of life. Another obstacle is the absence of the conditions for that interpersonal complementarity between male and female, that communion of life and love at both the physical-biological and the psychological levels.
The term, “de facto unions”, not only includes the 0.6% of same-sex coupledom, but a whole series of heterosexual human realities whose common element is that of being forms of cohabitation which are not marriage.
De facto unions are characterized precisely by the fact that they ignore, postpone, or even reject the conjugal commitment.
In marriage, through the covenant of conjugal love, all the responsibilities that result from the bond take on an institutional character of public recognition by the State that yields not only good results for the spouses themselves and for the children in their affective and formational growth, but also for the other members of the family and the whole of society..
Although not all de facto unions have the same social weight or the same motivations, they tend to reflect private situations and as such do not presume to have either the public character or the stability that is based on the marriage bond. They are characterized by their strong assertion to not take on any ties. There is also a certain more or less explicit “commitment” to “marital fidelity,” so to speak as long as the relationship lasts.
Some de facto unions are clearly the result of decisive choice. “Trial” unions are common among those planning to marry in the future, but on the condition that they have the experience of a union without the marriage bond.
Some other persons who live together justify this choice because of economic reasons or to avoid legal difficulties. The real motives are often much deeper. There is often an underlying mentality that gives little value to sexuality, influenced more or less by pragmatism and hedonism, as well as by a conception of love detached from any responsibility.
In other cases, de facto unions are formed by persons who were previously divorced and are thus an alternative to marriage.
Others live together rejecting marriage for ideological reasons.
Still others form de facto relationships because they fear that marriage would involve tax burdens or the loss of their pensions.
We should seek to understand the existential problems and choices of persons living in de facto unions but understanding circumstances and respecting persons are not equivalent to justification or happy acceptance of such unions.
Furthermore, equality before the law must respect the principle of justice which means treating equals equally, and what is different differently: i.e. to give each one his due in justice.
This principle of justice is violated if “de facto unions” are given a juridical treatment similar or equivalent to the family based on marriage. If the family based on marriage and de facto unions are neither similar nor equivalent in their duties, functions and services in society, then they should not be similar or equivalent in their juridical status.
The pretext used for exerting pressure to recognize de facto unions, i.e. “non-discrimination,” implies a real discrimination against family based on marriage because the family would be considered on a level similar to any other form of cohabitation, regardless of whether there is a commitment or reciprocal fidelity and the begetting and up-bringing of children or not.
Such discrimination is either an ideological imposition exerted by influential pressure groups or a serious sign of the contemporary breakdown in social moral consciousness, or “weak thought” with regard to the common good, or all three.
Wishing you all the best, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
☩ Frederick Henry