Places of Worship Reopen as from June 22

Montreal, June 17, 2020 – Following the authorization to hold indoor gatherings in public places respecting a maximum of 50 people, Quebec religious leaders announce the reopening of places of worship as from June 22. The reopening will proceed according to a joint protocol submitted earlier this month by participants in an Interfaith Roundtable and recently approved by Public Health.
This protocol provides strict rules that religious groups must respect to ensure the protection of the health of their members and prevent any spread of the virus during religious activities. Churches, synagogues, mosques and others are already busy applying them, each at its own pace.
The current crisis has given religious leaders from different backgrounds the opportunity to come together, to discuss, and to speak with one voice to government authorities. The crisis has also revealed a profound lack of understanding of religions and the benefits they bring to hundreds of thousands of people in Quebec. It is regrettable that the authorization to reopen places of worship was delayed by this lack of understanding.
In their respective religions, believers find meaning, moral and spiritual resources, and community support that contribute to their well-being. Many have suffered greatly from confinement, despite the measures adopted by several faith communities in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the lockdown. The reopening of places of worship will enable faith communities to resume services they consider “essential” and strengthen their efforts to participate actively in building a society based on justice, solidarity, and peace.
In light of these issues, religious leaders intend to continue the experience of the Interfaith Roundtable and make it a permanent forum for dialogue among religious groups, with government authorities, and with Quebec society in general.

The Interfaith Roundtable brings together representatives from the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Evangelical Churches, different Jewish traditions, different mosques, and the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, which works in interchurch and interfaith dialogue.
For comments or interviews:
Dr Adriana Bara, PhD, ( Executive director of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, 438-822-3141
Dr. Louis Bourque ( Director of the AEBEQ, Member of the Executive of the REQ, 514-961-5052
Imam Hassan Guillet ( 514-699-7257
Mgr Pierre Murray, C.S.S. (, AECQ, 514-914-0553
Mr. Alain Picard ( Communications Advisor, Council of Hasidic
Jews of Quebec (CHJQ), 514-953-2632
Rabbi Reuben Poupko (, representative of the Montreal Board of Rabbis, 514-898-4004.
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The spiritual, always essential

While the easing of restrictions regarding outdoor gatherings and the gradual resumption of activity in many sectors have sparked renewed hope in the general public, a cloud of uncertainty still hangs heavy over many facets of life: personal, family, social and religious.

The government and public-health officials are proceeding with caution, rightly so. However, I must draw attention to the impact the closure of places of worship has had on the lives of many individuals and families.

The pastoral team of the Archdiocese of Montreal is in touch daily with many people, those who believe and those who do not, seeking spiritual support. Deprived of access to their usual social and community surroundings, they describe feelings of being lost and adrift.

People searching for meaning, peace and strength seek to recover their equilibrium in a tranquil space, such as a church offers; or they express a need for accompaniment, which, as a starting point, is being met through social media and online services, but it can never replace direct physical contact with one’s faith community.

Those gripped by grief long for an event, even with limitations imposed, where prayer is offered and, at the same time, their sorrow eased. When a loved one approaches death or dies, whenever that moment occurs, it always entails suffering and grief. During this pandemic, this suffering is compounded by conditions that make it difficult to be at the bedside of someone whom we love and who is approaching the end of life. Add to this the restrictions governing how we gather to mourn.

Still others, who had prepared to be married, to celebrate a milestone that will enhance and transform their lives, have seen their public commitment of love put on hold. They have dealt with it by postponing their wedding ceremony and reception, but it is no less of a trial that is no less upsetting.

We understand and share the urgent concern to protect public health. Again, we express our appreciation for the crucial role that governments have played during this public-health emergency. Still, we want to draw attention to the suffering of those struggling to find meaning in life, dealing with grief, wrestling with deferred marriage plans. They need a compassionate response.

With that in mind, we want to underline the need to recognize the importance of the spiritual dimension, which is integral to the human person. Let us not underestimate the importance of the spiritual life as a source of inner peace and strength to help us calmly and courageously face the challenges arising from this pandemic and other hardships.

We sincerely hope that through the experience of the pandemic, we become acutely aware that attention to the spiritual is essential. We need to consider all the dimensions of each individual, and the reciprocal relationship that binds body, mind, heart and soul.

We are constantly being asked the question: When will church doors open again? We want to reassure everyone for whom this remains a pressing concern that we have been working, both from an inter-faith as well as a Catholic perspective, to put in place the necessary protocols and guidelines. Rest assured, we will be ready!

+ Christian Lépine
Archbishop of Montreal
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Vers une réouverture sécuritaire des lieux de culte au Québec

Montréal, le 29 mai 2020 – La planification du déconfinement des lieux de culte du Québec est enfin amorcée.
Depuis trois semaines, une coalition de leaders de groupes religieux présents au Québec a transmis au gouvernement plusieurs documents en vue de préparer une réouverture sécuritaire des lieux de culte. Jeudi le 28 mai, une équipe gouvernementale a rencontré les membres de cette table de concertation interreligieuse. De l’avis général, ce premier contact s’est avéré très positif et laisse entrevoir une réouverture sécuritaire des lieux de culte dans un délai rapproché.
Les membres de l’équipe gouvernementale ont souligné la qualité des documents soumis par les membres de la table de concertation interreligieuse et ainsi que des discussions entreprises. Ils accélèreront la mise au point conjointe d’un protocole prévoyant les mesures à mettre en place pour prévenir toute propagation virale dans les lieux de culte. Une fois ce protocole entériné, la Santé publique pourra donner au gouvernement un avis favorable au déconfinement. Une décision et l’annonce d’une date de réouverture suivraient bientôt.
Au cours des échanges, on a tenu à rappeler l’importance des lieux de culte pour les croyants, toutes religions confondues. Au-delà du simple rassemblement social, ils s’y retrouvent pour approfondir leur foi, partager leur prière, se soutenir mutuellement, trouver la force dans les épreuves et se mobiliser au service de la justice, de la solidarité et de la paix, contribuant ainsi au bien-être général de la société.
On a tenu également à rappeler le rôle important des leaders religieux dans leur communauté, notamment pour faciliter à leurs membres la communication et la compréhension des décisions du gouvernement sur le déconfinement et le retour dans leurs lieux de culte.
Les leaders religieux se sont dits très satisfaits de cette rencontre qui constitue un réel déblocage de la situation. Ils réitèrent leur volonté de collaborer étroitement avec l’équipe gouvernementale au cours du processus et en appellent encore à un peu de patience de la part de leurs membres.
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Cette table de concertation interreligieuse regroupe des représentants de l’Église catholique, de l’Église anglicane, des Églises baptistes évangéliques, de différentes traditions juives, de différentes mosquées, et du Centre canadien d’oecuménisme qui oeuvre dans le dialogue entre les églises et dans le dialogue interreligieux.
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Ecumenical Pentecost Prayer

Amid the unique challenges and opportunities of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) is hosting an online ecumenical Pentecost prayer service that will allow us to “come together in one place” (Acts 2:1) in ecumenical friendship and prayer.
Leaders of CCC member churches from coast to coast to coast will gather with us as we look together to an uncertain yet hope-filled future. Prayers, Scripture readings, and reflections will be offered in English and French.
Highlights of the service:
The Rev. Amanda Currie, Moderator of the 2019 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and The Most Rev. Pierre Goudreault, Roman Catholic Bishop of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, will offer brief homiletic reflections.
Other service leaders include:
The Rt. Rev. Richard Bott, Moderator of The United Church of Canada
The Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
The Rev. Stephen Kendall, President of The Canadian Council of Churches
The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
Pastor Peter Noteboom, General Secretary of The Canadian Council of Churches
Commissioner Floyd J. Tidd, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda
The Rev. Archpriest Fr. Zareh Zargarian, Vicar, Armenian Holy Apostolic Church, Canadian Diocese
Learn more and register at the link below (FR/EN):

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