OTTAWA (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-life Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) MP Leslyn Lewis says that if elected Prime Minster she will reinstate the Office of Religious Freedom to ensure Canada would once again be a “defender” of religious liberty.
“I said it in 2020 and I’ll say it again, we must stand up for religious freedom in Canada and around the world,” wrote Lewis in a Tweet yesterday.
“As I stated in the previous leadership race, as Prime Minister I would reinstate the Office of Religious Freedom, and under my leadership, Canada would once again be a defender of religious freedom across the country and around the world.”
I said it in 2020 and I’ll say it again, we must stand up for religious freedom in Canada and around the world. pic.twitter.com/u1WSnw3dLS
— Dr. Leslyn Lewis (@LeslynLewis) March 14, 2022
ewis’ tweet mentioned Quebec Bill 21, which the government of Québec passed in June 2019 with the full support of the Québec Premier François Legault. It bans public sector employees such as schoolteachers, police officers, government lawyers, and other workers from wearing religious symbols, which include crosses and crucifixes, the kippah (Jewish skullcaps) and hijab (Muslim headscarves).
By all accounts, Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres' diocese of Arecibo in Puerto Rico is flourishing because of his adherence to the perennial teachings of the Church.
But, without any formal proceedings, Bishop Fernández Torres has been summarily 'relieved' of his episcopal duties allegedly because he championed conscience rights in the face of a Church vaccine mandate in Puerto Rico.
Please SIGN this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres now.
To be clear, COVID-19 is a serious disease, oftentimes with debilitating consequences, or worse, for those who contract it.
However, all coronavirus vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been tested on or produced with cell lines of aborted babies. And, the vaccines have been linked to serious side effects, while none has yet completed long-term testing.
Given the complexity of this issue, the Church has determined that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal discernment which each individual must make after informing his or her conscience.
As such, the Church teaches that there is no moral obligation to be vaccinated. Indeed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Church's teaching authority where faith and moral are concerned, issued a statement to that effect in December, 2020.
Specifically, the CDF's, “Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines,” of December 17, 2020, n. 5 states: “At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”
Therefore, it would appear that for simply restating the current teaching of the CDF and for opposing his brother bishops in Puerto Rico on this seminal matter of conscientious objection, Rome is now attempting to "cancel" Bishop Fernández Torres.
This is wrong, unfair and discriminatory!
And, Bishop Fernández Torres is hardly the first bishop to defend Church teaching on conscientious objection on the issue of mandatory vaccination. Both the Colorado and South Dakota bishops' conferences released similar statements, and like Bishop Fernández Torres, they also offered to validate religious exemptions for member of their flock who asked to be exempted from vaccination.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres.
For his part, Bishop Fernández Torres, 57, a staunch defender of life and family, protested his removal as "totally unjust" in a statement released Wednesday (3/9/2022).
The bishop, who led his diocese for nearly 12 years, noted that Pope Francis’ apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico verbally requested that he resign, but said that he refused to do so, as he "did not want to become an accomplice of a totally unjust action."
"No process has been made against me," Bishop Fernández Torres wrote, "nor have I been formally accused of anything, and simply one day the apostolic delegate verbally communicated to me that Rome was asking me to resign."
“A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be a due canonical process to remove a parish priest,” the bishop added.
“I was informed that I had committed no crime but that I supposedly ‘had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico,’” he said. “It was suggested to me that if I resigned from the diocese I would remain at the service of the Church in case at some time I was needed in some other position; an offer that in fact proves my innocence.”
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres. Thank you!
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Pope Francis abruptly removes faithful bishop who opposed COVID vaccine mandates' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-abruptly-removes-faithful-bishop-who-opposed-covid-vaccine-mandates/
'Puerto Rico bishop supports conscience objections to COVID vaccines, allows priests to sign exemptions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/puerto-rico-bishop-supports-conscience-objections-to-covid-vaccines-allows-priests-to-sign-exemptions/
**Photo Credit: Diocese of Arecibo
An amendment to the bill allows those who currently wear religious symbols to continue to do so until they take a new position in the public sector.
Those opposed to the secularism law say it unfairly targets Muslims and Sikhs.
The Catholic bishops of Québec in 2019 condemned the ban on wearing religious symbols, saying it could “fuel fear and intolerance.”
Wrote Lewis of Bill 21, “Our Party needs to make decisions based on principle. Making a decision based on how it will be received by any demographic is the wrong reason. Even making the right decision for purely political purposes is wrong.”
“While I respect provincial jurisdiction, Bill 21 is explicit religious discrimination and as leader of our party, I will always defend religious freedom. Religious discrimination should always be condemned, no matter who it is against, or where it is happening.”
Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom was established by former Prime Minister Stephan Harper in 2013 to “promote religious diversity and religious tolerance around the world.”
In 2016, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with the help of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois party, voted to shut down the Office of Religious Freedom.
CPC MP Leslyn Lewis, who is running for party leadership, recently criticized Trudeau’s “undemocratic” mandate barring those who reject COVID vaccines from traveling, saying it’s time for it to end.
The CPC will hold its leadership vote on September 10.