MONCTON, New Brunswick, May 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The archbishop of Moncton says he’s “really surprised” one of his parish councils “knowingly” signed the abortion attestation required for Canada Summer Job grants.
Archbishop Valéry Vienneau told his parishes in a February memo they “could not accept or comply with” the attestation, he told LifeSiteNews.
He’s now sending a memo telling parishes approved for job grants to refuse the money.
The new policy by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government requires employers attest their “core mandate” supports abortion and transgender “rights” to receive federal summer job grants.
It’s provoked a massive backlash from faith communities, and criticism across the political spectrum and in the media.
Catholic bishops have decried the attestation as an “unacceptable” ideological values test that Christians can’t sign in good conscience.
However, the Canada Summer Jobs online database listed at least 157 identifiable Catholic employers among those approved for 2018 grants — meaning they checked off the attestation box.
Many did so not realizing the implications of the attestation, or in the belief the Liberals would drop it, LifeSiteNews found when contacting the groups.
But in one instance, this was not the case.
“The parish council of Sainte-Marie, in the diocese of Moncton, was aware of the government of Canada requirements as far as the respect of reproductive rights. We unanimously accepted to sign the application for a summer job,” wrote Bertin LeBlanc on behalf of Notre-Dame-du-Mont Carmel Parish.
“I’m really surprised about that,” Vienneau told LifeSiteNews. “I’m surprised that they knowingly did that…they don’t have a resident parish priest and they make a lot of their meetings and the priest is not necessarily there.”
Meanwhile, a representative of a neighboring parish, Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, told LifeSiteNews last week they were keeping the grants because they needed the money.
“Honestly I did tick off the J'atteste box not really paying too much attention to the statement. It was brought to our attention by our priest who was very upset,” she wrote.
“Because of the situation of all our parishes budget-wise, we need summer jobs help and money therefore we will accept the money. Somehow I don't understand why religion is mixed up in this….we need each other no matter what our personal views are.”
But Vienneau said after he discussed the attestation in a meeting with his priests Thursday, he sent out a memo to all parishes asking them “to refuse the money.”
The memo also asks priests “to make known to their parishioners why, the reason for the refusal, and also to alleviate the situation, to possibly encourage organizations to raise funds for some projects for the young people.”
His February memo explained “we could not accept those clauses concerning the reproductive and sexual rights,” Vienneau said.
But since the Canada Summer Job program opened in December, and some parishes had already applied, he told LifeSiteNews.
“They do fill these forms out early because they do want to have a project and they need the projects,” Vienneau said.
“When I was a parish priest, I would take projects all the time if I could, because it helps the students and it does help by the work that they are doing.”
Many parishes also applied without reading the fine print, he said.
That was the case with Father Louis-Joseph Boudreau, c.s.c., pastor of Ste-Thérèse d’Avila Parish in Cap-Pelé.
“Unfortunately, my assistant and I did not read attentively what we considered routine and fine print and we Xed the attestation for summer job,” he told LifeSiteNews in an email.
He expected the Liberal government “to change its unacceptable request. Since they persist, I am sending a notice that we do not accept the CSJ funding and the unsupportable requirements for funding,” Boudreau added.
MPs in the area, all of whom are Liberal, are feeling the pressure, Vienneau said.
“I know that some parishes over here have called the MPs from the region, and have written letters. There’s been a lot of action going on from different parishes,” he said.
“I feel it is terrible the way the government has come up with this idea of putting those clauses in there,” Vienneau told LifeSiteNews.
“They’re promoting their own ideology and why should we have to submit to the government’s ideology, because we’re all taxpayers whether we’re Catholics or some other denomination,” he added.
“That’s not acceptable in a democracy.”
To date, 30 Catholic groups approved for the grants told LifeSiteNews they are cancelling them.