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MONTREAL, Quebec, August 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) reported earlier this month that a group of pilgrims was barred from entering Montreal’s famous Notre Dame Basilica because their pro-life t-shirts were too ‘political’, the Archdiocese of Montreal told the Montreal Gazette that the story was untrue, and an anonymous basilica employee said the incident was overblown.

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However, a local pro-life advocate has now stepped forward and told LSN that, in fact, this was not the first time pro-life messaging has been censored at the famous gothic basilica.

On August 8th of this year, Sulpician priest Fr. Robert Gagne told participants with the Crossroads cross-Canada pro-life walk that their t-shirts, emblazoned with the word ‘pro-vie’, were forbidden because they are too political.  Only after a lengthy dispute did the priest allow the pilgrims to pray in a side chapel sectioned off from the main body of the church.

Now Montreal native Cassie Farrell has told LifeSiteNews that a very similar incident occurred last year when she joined the Crossroads team at Notre Dame.

Farrell says that the Crossroads walkers were told by a basilica staff member that they could not bring their cross with a pro-life message on it into the church, nor could they even stand on the front steps with it.

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The historic basilica, built on a site that has been run by the Sulpician priests (PSS) since 1657, charges a $10 entrance fee most days, unless pilgrims state that they are there to pray or attend Mass.

Farrell says that when they arrived last year, a female staff member said they would have to pay the visitor’s fee to enter the church.  When they informed her that they were there to pray, she directed them to a side chapel.

“Then she told us that we could not bring our pro-life cross into the church at all, but that we had to disassemble it and leave it flat on the ground behind the desk,” explained Farrell.  “The leader of the group complied, and we entered the chapel.”

“As a Catholic Montrealer, I was completely infuriated, and I left shortly after entering to wait for the group outside,” Farrell added.

When Farrell left, she found one of the Crossroads pilgrims standing on the front steps of the Cathedral with the pro-life cross reassembled – at which point the staff member approached them.

“I was standing there when the woman who was working at the booth came over and told me I couldn’t stand in front of the church with the pro-life cross,” said the other pilgrim, who wished to remain unidentified.

“Thinking she had misunderstood what I was doing I explained that I was not demonstrating but simply waiting for my friends to come out,” he continued. “Nonetheless she was adamant (but polite) that I could not stay there with the cross.”

“We asked her if she realized that we were at a Catholic Church, [and] emphasized that … the Church is staunchly pro-life,” explained Farrell.  “She said ‘I don’t care, I will call the police.’”

After a heated discussion the woman walked away, and the unidentified pilgrim says he decided it was most prudent to take down the cross while waiting for the rest of the Crossroads team.

LifeSiteNews did not hear back after numerous attempts to reach the Archdiocese of Montreal.

Contact Information:

Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal
2000 rue Sherbrooke ouest
Montréal, Québec
H3H 1G4
Phone :
(514) 931-7311
E-mail: [email protected]

Basilica of Notre Dame
phone 514-842-2925
or 1 866 842-2925
[email protected]

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