January 20, 2014

Canada's Catholic bishops will maintain their opposition to prostitution despite the Supreme Court of Canada's Dec. 20 ruling striking down Canada's prostitution laws.

"The bishops of Canada and the CCCB will continue to teach Catholic values on the sacred role of sexuality in building a committed, loving relationship between husband and wife," Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops media relations director Rene Laprise said in an email.

"As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains (no. 2355), prostitution injures the human dignity of all those engaged in it. Furthermore, it reduces human persons to instruments of profit and sexual pleasure," Laprise said.

"While recognizing that destitution, coercion and violence are concerns that society needs to take into careful consideration, the Church across Canada will continue working with other religious and social organizations to limit all forms of human trafficking, including prostitution," he said.

In a message responding to Pope Francis' New Year's message for World Peace Day, CCCB president Gatineau Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher also touched on prostitution.

"Our pope deplores the presence of criminal organizations that profit from the sale of drugs, corruption, human trafficking and prostitution," he said.

The Supreme Court suspended its judgment for a year to give Parliament a chance to respond.

The Catholic Civil Rights League has urged its followers to write Justice Minister Peter MacKay and their members of Parliament to introduce "a new law that will combat prostitution in a charter-compliant way."

"Despite the excessive attention given by the media to the shouts of joy from the plaintiffs in the case, these changes aren't really about making it easier to work as a prostitute; rather, they are about pimping, living off the avails and public solicitation," the league said.

"In other words, activities that involve either exploitation of a vulnerable population or the forced exposure to the trade of neighbours and bystanders."

The unanimous court decision, written by Chief Justice Beverley MacLachlin, noted prostitution itself is legal in Canada.

The laws against communicating for the purposes of prostitution, living on the avails, and keeping a brothel were struck down for violating the Charter's right to security of the person.

They prevented prostitutes from working in safer environments indoors, properly screening their clients and from hiring bodyguards or security staff, the decision said.