Toronto, ON December 25, 2021 – In a country so blessed with prosperity and an amazing quality of life, the past two years have been a reminder that circumstances can change rather quickly. Our earthly “paradise” quickly descends into a vale of tears, especially for so many who have lost loved ones, or who may be suffering with illness, or who may be isolated or separated in response to covid restrictions.
Many have suffered job losses, lack of access to family members, or other disruptions to what were previous expectations of daily living.
We now see in Quebec, and in other diverse locations, such as in northern British Columbia (part of the Whitehorse diocese in the Yukon), the establishment of government lockdown orders, which cross a serious line in the understanding of the independence of church interference by the state.
In such locations, the state has demanded vaccination passports, and presumes that parishioners be deputized to enforce them. Proof of vaccination certificates have replaced baptismal certificates.
Such orders impinge on the importance of faith gatherings for the spiritual and mental well-being of individuals. To Catholics, access to the sacraments, and to the Eucharist, are essential.
Recorded and streamed Masses do not readily fulfil these obligations, even where dispensations may be available. The new government restrictions forbid those Catholics who are not vaccinated from fulfilling central tenets of their faith. But Catholic churches are required by Canon 912 of our Code of Canon Law to admit all Catholics in a state of grace to Holy Communion.
It is not merely a breach of Charter Section 2(a) guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion. It is an intrusion onto areas for which the government lacks competence and authority.
Health concerns of secular authorities do not provide licit grounds for dividing the body of Christ. In the Church “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Churches have not typically been a source of spread of the virus. Mass attendance has been exercised in a calm atmosphere. There is very limited movement and interaction during a service. Social distancing and masking have been followed. But in Quebec, the regulations go so far as to dictate when one should kneel or stand.
Meanwhile “essential” services such as grocery and department stores, banks, government, and health-care services, all remain generally open.
If the government is allowed to move to this degree of restriction, the spiritual welfare, and benefits of freedom of religion may soon be sublimated to any number of “pressing and substantial” state goals.
We urge all governments to refrain from such demands, and to allow churches the necessary independence from overzealous state interference, which is at the core of our history.
Come Lord Jesus!
As we celebrate the incarnation of God as man, we remain resolute in prayer: Jesus, come and find rest in the hearts of your faithful, and renew the face of the earth.
We appeal to those of you who are financially able to help us in our mission by sending a donation to the CCRL by clicking here or by mailing a cheque to the CCRL at 2305 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M6S 1P1, or by calling the office at (416) 466-8244 or 1-844-722-2275 (CCRL).
About the CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
To donate to the CCRL, please click here.
For further information:
Christian Domenic Elia, PhD
CCRL Executive Director