Events

Become a volunteer with us!

Rest In Peace, Fr. John Emmett Walsh


We were shocked to learn today that our dear Fr. John Emmett Walsh, a former member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Center for Ecumenism, died suddenly this morning, Monday, November 9, 2020. He was 78 years old. He is survived by his sister, Marlene Robitaille, in Toronto, as well as her children and their families. Please keep them in your prayers during this time. Our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of Fr. John for their loss. Fr. John was a priest for decades, notably at Saint-Jean-Brébeuf parish in LaSalle, before retiring in 2010. In 2016, during a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of his ordination, many people were gathered to celebrate his long career: former Prime Minister Paul Martin, the mayor of Montreal at the time, Denis Coderre, and hundreds of faithful. Religious leaders also celebrated Fr. John who had worked for decades with various communities. Fr. John published his biography, “God Calls, Don't Leave Him Waiting” in 2016.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. 
View more

Reconfinement for places of worship by limiting attendance at 25 or 50 people:  Making the Difference Between Activities in Places of Worship and Other Activities

Reconfinement for places of worship by limiting attendance at 25 or 50 people:

Making the Difference Between Activities in Places of Worship and Other Activities

Montreal, 23 September 2020 — While data shows a resurgence in Covid-19 cases in Quebec, religious leaders in Quebec reiterate their commitment to participate in the collective efforts aimed at containing the disease.

As they have been doing since 22 June, faith communities will continue to strictly enforce the protocols submitted to—and approved by—the Quebec government. No place of worship has been the site of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Because of the adherence to the protocols, at all time people present in places of worship keep the prescribed physical distance, sanitize their hands at the entrance and exit, and wear their mask when they are circulating.

Religious leaders also wish to clarify that the vast majority of weekly religious gatherings on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are not associated with social events before or after the religious service: people simply return home afterward.

Only exceptional events can become occasions for social gatherings after a religious service: rites of initiation, weddings, funerals, etc. Conscious of the risks associated with such social gatherings surrounding these religious rites, authorities responsible for places of worship are ready to contribute to the efforts required for engaging with the individuals involved in these exceptional events, so that they refrain from holding them or postpone them.

In order to limit these exceptional situations, there are means of intervention other than limiting the whole of regular activities in places of worship.

For this reason, the rules imposed to places of worship last Sunday, without any prior dialogue, are disproportionate and infringe upon the freedom to worship. In these difficult times, hundreds of thousands of Quebecers find a source of meaning, comfort and resilience in their regular religious practices. Let us remember that this is one of their fundamental rights.

We once again invite the government to better target its interventions and to thereby contribute to respecting the freedom to worship. Authorities responsible for places of worship offer the government their full collaboration to rapidly find solutions that will benefit the whole of the population, and that will contribute to create a safe and sanitary environment for all.

Gatherings in places of worship have nothing to do with “rooms where the service of alcoholic beverages is allowed” or those “where any event or any reception of a festive nature takes place,” contrary to what is asserted in the 20 September statement by the ministry of health. What takes place in a place of worship is more akin to what takes place in a theater or a cinema.

That is why, in the absence of a specific category for places of worship, the members of the Quebec Interreligious Roundtable reiterate the demands they have expressed since Monday: “that government authorities reclassify places of worship in the category of concert halls, cinemas and theaters, which would allow us to continue welcoming a maximum of 250 people in our places of worship, instead of being limited to 25 or 50 people”, while applying the protocols negotiated on 4 August 2020. They also request that “a frank and open channel of communication be established quickly between them and government authorities.”

In the name of the members of the Quebec Interreligious Roundtable
[1],

+ Christian Rodembourg
Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe
President of the Quebec Assembly of Catholic Bishops

For Interviews:

  • Bishop Christian Rodembourg, bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe and president of the AECQ. Contact : Mgr Pierre Murray, C.S.S., secretary general of the AECQ, 514-914-0553 | pmurray@evequescatholiques.quebec

  • Gérald Cyprien CARDINAL Lacroix, archbishop of Quebec and vice-president of AECQ. Contact : Valérie Roberge-Dion, Catholic Church in Quebec City. 418-802-1214 | vrd@ecdq.org

  • Bishop Christian Lépine, archbishop of Montreal and member of the AECQ Executive committee. Contact : Erica Jacinto, press secretary of the archibishop 514 709 8216 | ejacinto@diocesemontreal.org

  • Iman Hassan Guillet, representing the Muslim community in Quebec, 514-699-7257 | hassan_guillet@hotmail.com

  • Rabbi Reuben Poupko, representative of the Council of Montreal Rabbis, 514-898-4004 | reubenpoupko@gmail.com

  • Dr Adriana Bara, PhD, director of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, 514-937-9177 | abara@oikoumene.ca

  • Dr Denitsa Tsvetkova, PhD, Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, Coordinator of the Interreligious Forum for Peace, 514-937-9176 | denitsa@oikoumene.ca

  • The Right Rev. Bruce Myers, Anglican bishop of Quebec, 418 570 4384 | bmyers@quebec.anglican.ca

  • Louis Bourque, Director of the Association d’Église Baptistes Évangéliques au Québec, Member of the Executive of the Réseau Évangelique du Québec, 514-961-5052 | l.bourque@aebeq.qc.ca

  • Mohamed Labidi, president of the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec City, tel 418-998-3655 | labidi7@hotmail.com

  • Alain Picard, communication advisor, Council of Hassidic Jews in Quebec (CJHQ), 514-953-2632 | alain.picard3976@gmail.com


 

 

[1] The Quebec Interreligious Roundtable brings together representatives from the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, evangelical Churches, different Jewish traditions, different mosques, and the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism.
View more

Reconfinement for places of worship by limiting attendance at 25 or 50 people: Religious Leaders in Quebec Denounce an Injustice

Reconfinement for places of worship by limiting attendance at 25 or 50 people:

Religious Leaders in Quebec Denounce an Injustice

Montreal, 21 September 2020 — Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in Quebec, leaders of religious groups have collaborated closely with public health authorities. In many respects, health measures put in place within places of worship exceed the government’s guidelines. The result is that to this day, to our knowledge, no outbreak has been triggered in a place of worship. In these difficult times, religious leaders are doing all that is necessary to enforce measures that ensure the protection of the health of their communities.

In these troubled times, thousands of Quebecers find consolation and a source of resilience in the practice of their religion, which benefits the entire population. Whatever our perspective, spirituality and the search for meaning play an essential role in human life. This service to the community appears to us necessary for helping our communities to get through this health crisis.

Religious leaders spared no effort in engaging in a frank and open dialogue with government authorities, in a spirit of collaboration. Unfortunately, we lost track of the number of letters that have received no acknowledgment of receipt, and phone calls and emails left unanswered. While government authorities in neighbouring provinces have maintained a direct and constant contact with religious leaders, no communication of this type exists in Quebec. This situation is disappointing and unacceptable.

On Sunday afternoon, the minister of health announced a series of stricter measures in order to protect the population from COVID-19. However, the lack of dialogue that we are denouncing has resulted in the government once again putting places of worship in the same category as bars. In its news release, the health minister speaks in the same breath of “activities within places of worship and in rooms where the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption.” This connection is clearly unjustified and false.

Gatherings in places of worship are, in truth, similar to those that take place inside movie theaters and concert halls, according to the very criteria put forward by the government: “Places where people are seated, relatively immobile, and speak very little or not at all, for instance concert halls, cinemas, theaters and studios of audiovisual production, can continue to welcome a maximum of 250 people.
[1] The government seemed to have already recognized this similarity in the 26 August 2020 ministerial decree (2020-059) from the minister of health and social services, which allows people who are seated to remove their mask or face-covering when they are immobile, and to sit at a distance of 1.5 metres from one another, as in concert halls and movie theaters. Moreover, protocols for the safe reopening of places of worship, established in collaboration with public health authorities, make it so that communities gathering in places of worship limit speaking within assemblies as much as possible.

As a result, we insist that government authorities reclassify places of worship in the category of concert halls, cinemas and theaters, which would allow us to continue welcoming a maximum of 250 people in our places of worship, instead of being limited to 25 or 50 people. We also ask that a frank and open channel of communication be established between ourselves and government authorities. We are not demanding a privilege. We are offering ourselves as partners, and we simply wish to receive a fair hearing from the government.

We, religious leaders who are members of the Quebec Interreligious Roundtable, seek an open dialogue with government authorities. We sincerely hope that this will be sufficient to assert our rights and to receive from the government the recognition that is due to its citizens who practice their religion by respecting health guidelines.

In the name of the members of the Quebec Interreligious Roundtable[2],

+ Christian Rodembourg
Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe
President of the Quebec Assembly of Catholic Bishops

For interviews:

  • Bishop Christian Rodembourg, bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe and president of AECQ. Contact : Mgr Pierre Murray, C.S.S., secrétaire général de l’AECQ, 514-914-0553 | pmurray@evequescatholiques.quebec

  • Gérald Cyprien CARDINAL Lacroix, archbishop of Quebec and vice-president of AECQ: will give a press conference at 3:30pm today. Contact : Valérie Roberge-Dion, Église catholique de Québec. 418-802-1214 | vrd@ecdq.org

  • Bishop Christian Lépine, archbishop of Montreal and member of the AECQ Executive committee. Contact : Erica Jacinto attachée de presse de l’archevêque 514 709 8216 | ejacinto@diocesemontreal.org

  • Iman Hassan Guillet, representing the Muslim community in Quebec, 514-699-7257 | hassan_guillet@hotmail.com

  • Rabbi Reuben Poupko, representative of the Council of Montreal Rabbis, 514-898-4004 | reubenpoupko@gmail.com

  • Dr Adriana Bara, PhD, directrice du Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, 438-822-3141 | abara@oikoumene.ca

  • Dr Denitsa Tsvetkova, PhD, Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, Coordinator of the Interreligious Forum for Peace, 514-937-9176 | denitsa@oikoumene.ca

  • The Right Rev. Bruce Myers, Anglican bishop of Quebec, 418 570 4384 | bmyers@quebec.anglican.ca

  • Louis Bourque, Director of the Association d’Église Baptistes Évangéliques au Québec, Member of the Executive of the Réseau Évangelique du Québec, 514-961-5052 | l.bourque@aebeq.qc.ca

  • Mohamed Labidi, president of the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec City, tel 418-998-3655 | labidi7@hotmail.com

  • Mr Alain Picard, communication advisor, Council of Hassidic Jews of Quebec (CJHQ), 514-953-2632 | picard3976@gmail.com


[1] Communiqué du 20 septembre 2020 : https://www.msss.gouv.qc.ca/ministere/salle-de-presse/communique-2322/. Consulté le 20 septembre 2020.

[2] The Quebec Interreligious Roundable brings together representatives from the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, evangelical Churches, different Jewish traditions, different mosques, and the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism.

 

 
View more