Kingston archdiocese “opposes” Bill C-6 in pastoral letter

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Photo of St. Mary's church, managed by the Archdiocese of Kingston.

Last Updated on January 21, 2021 by YGK News Staff

The Archdiocese of Kingston has shared a pastoral letter that rebukes Bill C-6, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy). The letter, originally written by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and shared on the website of the Kingston Archdiocese, encourages members to share the letter as widely as possible. The letter also shares its opposition to federal Bill-7, Medical Assistance in Dying. 

The letter was originally posted in October 2020 and forwarded to the House of Commons Human Rights and Justice Committee in December 2020.

While the Catholic Church is opposed to “all forms of coercive and manipulative activities,” it believes that actions which are now lawful will soon be subject to the Criminal Code. “A range of activity and well-intended actions…could become subject to prosecution under the Criminal Code, despite the apparent claims to the contrary on the website of the Department of Justice,” wrote the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

The letter then lists several current practices which could be problematic after the royal assent of Bill-6. “The Bill could even criminalize Catholic ministries and groups, religious leaders, or pastors who encourage individuals with same-sex attraction to live chastely and in conformity with the teachings of the Gospel,” the letter says.

Excerpt of the Pastoral Letter shared by the Archbishop of Kingston

Though a news release by the Department of Justice clarifies that the offences do not apply to faith leaders who provide support for persons questioning their sexual orientation, the Catholic church feels that the proposed bill remains too broad. 

“[It is] unclear as to whether the kind of “support” invoked in the news release would even allow for the moral teachings of the Catholic Church,” the letter says. 

The letter representing the Catholic Church was among several religious organizations who lobbied to oppose or amend certain aspects of Bill-C6. They were among over 260 briefs submitted to the House of Commons Human Rights and Justice Committee. Some of these organizations include:

  • Canadian Centre for Christian Charities
  • The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
  • The Gospel Coalition Canada 
  • Archdiocese of Toronto
  • The Christian Legal Fellowship

In response to the concerns of the religious organizations, Justice Lametti reiterated that church organizations would not be criminalized for carrying out conversations with persons who are questioning their sexuality and is targeted at overt practices of Conversion therapy. Bill C-6 is currently on its second reading as of December 11th, 2020.

On January 13th, Kingston City Council voted unanimously to pursue bylaws that would prohibit conversion therapy across all age groups. This would make Kingston one of Canada’s first municipalities to ban the practice of conversion therapy at a local level and the first in Ontario. Despite this, religious leaders who spoke at City Council warned that their some Kingston churches make it harder to be open about their sexuality than others.

Update: The letter was originally posted in October 2020 and forwarded to the House of Commons Human Rights and Justice Committee in December 2020.

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