Quebec religious congregations express ‘serious concerns’ about proposed Charter of Quebec Values

Friday, October 25, 2013

In a letter to Mr. Bernard Drainville, Quebec Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions and Citizen Participation, the major superiors of 38 congregations of men and women religious communities in Quebec have expressed to the Government of Quebec their “serious concerns” on the proposed Charter of Quebec Values. The superiors indicate their agreement on the basic principles of the religious neutrality of the State, the equality of men and women, and the recognition of a common historic heritage. However, they disagree with prohibitions against the wearing of religious signs or clothing by people working in the areas of child care, education, health care or social services.

Just as the Assembly of Québec Catholic Bishops in Section II of its Pastoral Message “Catholics in a Pluralist Quebec” quoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the religious superiors also cite Article 18: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” The letter further notes that when members of religious communities in Quebec during the 1960s and 1970s stopped wearing their religious habits, this was not because of being obliged to do so by the State or other authority.

Link to the letter (in French only)