Quebec City, March 12, 2007 – A number of public interest groups, including the League, held a press conference today to ask all the province’s political leaders to re-consider the plan to replace religious instruction in publicly-funded schools with a secular ethics curse.
The new course, scheduled for implementation in 2008, will replace traditional Catholic or Protestant religious instruction. Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec City and Primate of Canada, attended the press conference and said the new program should be optional. He said that parents should maintain their right to a choice of Catholic (or Protestant) moral and religious teaching. He is also in favour of extending to other religious communities the right to a course in accordance with their beliefs where the number of students warrants it.
The citizens’ groups had several questions for the leaders of the Quebec political parties. They asked if they are willing to guarantee, during this electoral period, that they will :
1) Respect Paragraph 3 of Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 that states that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” (Adopted on December 10, 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations).
2) Bring back Article 41 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in its original form “Parents or the persons acting in their stead have a right to require that, in the public educational establishments, their children receive a religious or moral education in conformity with their convictions, within the framework of the curricula provided for by law.”
3) Amend Bill 95 so that the State course of Ethics and religious Culture becomes optional in public and private schools.
4) Grant parents who request it access to a program of moral and religious education for their children, in conformity to their beliefs, in public and private educational establishments within the framework of the school timetable, while allowing the churches and religious groups recognized by the State the choice of the contents and of the teaching personnel.
The Parents-Action Committee has sent a letter to the leaders of the political parties asking that they make a public commitment, during the electoral period, to respect parents’ rights and religious freedom in the schools.
Groups supporting the requests of the Parents-Action Committee:
Association des parents catholiques du Québec
Association des juristes catholiques du Québec
Campagne Québec Vie
Ligue catholique pour les droits de l’homme (www.ccrl.ca)
Le Conseil catholique d’expression anglaise
Filles d’Isabelle Beauce Bellechasse
Les Chevaliers de Colomb Québec
Louis O’Neill, professor emeritus (theology)
Gary Caldwell, sociologist
M. Jacques Goulet Madame Jean Morse-Chevrier
Comité Action Parents Association des parents catholiques du Québec
Tél : (418) 656-2131 poste 5454 Tél cellulaire : (514) 292-8068
Tél. cellulaire : (514) 944-5751