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International News Archive
May 21 - May 27, 2000


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This page contains news for the period May 21, 2000 through May 27, 2000.



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May 26, 2000

Pope says gay unions won't be endorsed

A story published today by Reuters reports that Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church's teaching against gay marriages Thursday, saying that only a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman could form a family.

"Attempts to define the family as something other than a solemnized lifelong union of man and woman which looks to the birth and nurture of children are bound to prove destructive," said the 80-year-old leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

He said the family is the fundamental cell of society and a traditional family is the best place for children to learn the skills needed for life.


May 25, 2000

British churches good dating territory for single men

A story published today in the Times of London says that men looking for love should forget dating agencies and go to church instead, according to a report published today. Single women in the average congregation outnumber men by more than two to one.

But most churchgoing women do not believe in sex before marriage - possibly a reason they find it difficult to attract a partner. The ratio of 70 women churchgoers to every 30 men rises to four-to-one among forty something's and six-to-one among people in their fifties.

But while it represents good news for church-going men, it is a different story for women.

Flirtatious male worshippers play the field, leaving a string of broken hearts behind them, according to the report in next month's Christianity, the magazine of London's Premier Christian Radio.

The report, Looking for Mr. Right, says that for those women who can't find love in the pews, Christian and secular dating agencies are trying to redress the balance. Ian Gregory, author of No Sex Please We're Single, has launched a Christian introduction agency, Choices, aimed at London and Home Counties professionals aged between 25 and 45.


May 22, 2000

Most divorcees in Canada marry again

A story published today in The Ottawa Citizen reports that despite widespread worry over crumbling relationships and family breakdowns, the institution of marriage is decidedly not dead, according to a landmark study of Canadian society by the Ottawa-based Vanier Institute of the Family.

In fact, people seems to be so wedded to the institution of marriage that many of them tie the knot again and again.  Most Canadians who divorce will give matrimony at least a second chance.

In 1970, there were just 29,975 remarriages in Canada; by 1989, the number was 62,276. There was a slight dip in the early 1990s but by 1996, the numbers were up again.

"The institution of marriage is not dying," says report author Robert Glossop. "We do know that the vast majority of Canadians still do marry," even after the first attempt falls short.

Two thirds of female and male lone parents can be expected to either marry again or cohabitate with a new partner.  The chief reason for remarriage, says Mr. Bishop, "would be to establish a stable family unit."

"People want to live their lives with and for another," says Mr. Glossop. "These committed relationships are the essential foundation of meaning for most people and most Canadians will tell you that the most important thing in their lives is their family. We are a species that establishes what we think -- at the outset at least -- are lifelong commitments to another."

There was hardly any difference between the percentage of married Canadians at the start of the last century and the finish. In 1901, 52.1 per cent of Canadians were married, while none described themselves as being involved in a common-law relationship. In 1996, 51.1 per cent of Canadians were married and another eight per cent were cohabiting with an unmarried partner.

May 21, 2000

Unmarried cohabitation on the rise in Canada

A story released today by The Ottawa Citizen reports that a new study shows that more and more young Canadians are deciding to live together, transforming the face of marriage.

Marriage rates in the country continue to decline and people are waiting longer and longer to wed, but unmarried cohabitation is still on the rise as a popular alternative, most of all among Canada's youngest couples.

"The rush to marriage is not as apparent," said Robert Glossop, researcher with the Vanier Institute for the Family and author of the landmark study Profiling Canada's Families II. "But they are still forming conjugal unions prior to marriage in pretty much the same proportion as they did in the past." 

The Ottawa-based institute's new report describes the so-called common-law trend in detail.

"Common-law marriages have become, for many, an alternative to legal marriage," the report says. "The reasons for living common law may vary. Couples may choose this type of relationship as a trial stage before marriage. They may be awaiting a divorce before remarriage or simply seeking a partner after being widowed. For others, common-law unions are not a prelude to marriage or a trial stage before marriage. It is simply the preferred pattern of family formation -- they simply choose not to marry."

 What is clear is that one thing has not changed: people still consider it an ideal to settle down with another person, preferably for life.

"No person is a nihilist and no one likes to live alone," said Ben Schlesinger, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto faculty of social work. "So what have they done? Chosen a different pattern of living together.

"If you add them up, a lot of people are living as couples. The idea of family or living together hasn't changed. It's the choices that have changed."

The story says that Canadians are taking more and more advantage of those choices.

"The institution of marriage no longer has the same kind of hold on people, particularly the young, but even older people who have been separated or divorced may choose to cohabit rather than marry," Mr. Glossop says.

"My impression here is that this is largely by virtue of the fact that individuals now think of the commitment that they make to another as essentially nothing less than and nothing more than a personal decision. In the past, it was a decision that was taken in order to live up to societal expectations."

 According the institute's report:

  • In 1996, 1.8 million unmarried adults in Canada were cohabiting with an opposite-sex partner, more than ever before. Of those, 65 per cent had never been married; 32 per cent were divorced or legally separated; three per cent were widowed.  The story did not include figures for same-sex couples. 

  • Overall, eight per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older are in common-law relationships, compared with 51.1 per cent who are married, 27 per cent who are single, 6.2 per cent who are widowed and 5.1 per cent divorced.  In comparison, in 1901, common law did not even exist as a category: 52.1 per cent of Canadians were married, 41.5 per cent were single, 6.3 per cent were widowed and 0.05 per cent were divorced. 

  • 13.5 per cent of all conjugal unions in Canada were common-law in 1996, a 26 per cent rise from 1991. Across the country, the North had the greatest proportion of common-law couples -- in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, common-law couples accounted for 32 and 26.8 per cent, respectively, of all conjugal unions. And there is a strikingly high number in Quebec, where 24 per cent of settled couples are common law.

The story says that most couples that enter common-law relationships eventually marry. Furthermore, those couples that live common-law are twice as likely to break up -- even those who have children or who eventually marry -- when compared to their married counterparts.

Regardless of the outcomes of these relationships, and despite the differences of opinion about why people enter them, observers agree that the upward trend in common-law arrangements is leaving a profound mark on society.

"This is, sociologically speaking, very big," says Diane Pacom, a sociologist with the University of Ottawa.

Ms. Pacom says she sees the rising popularity of common-law arrangements as a sign that we are in confusing times.

People no longer trust marriage as they once did, she says, but they cling traditional notions of lifelong monogamy even though it is more and more difficult to achieve.

"People are confused. They are not living in a harmonious way yet," she says.

"For now, we're stuck between two paradigms. We're all aspiring to find our soul mate, but it's impossible. The image is still there, but we cannot follow through."


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