Canada: Ban on prayer at Saguenay municipal council meetings

Source: FSSPX News

On April 15 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada issued an order to cease reciting a prayer before the municipal council meetings of the city of Saguenay in Quebec (see DICI 289, 31/01/14). Among many other indignant reactions to this decision from the highest court in the land, the clear and courageous statement of the Tradition Quebec movement stands out.

“The Supreme Court of Canada’s judgement was announced this past week. Catholic prayer is now forbidden at the municipal council of the City of Saguenay.

“Not one religious authority from the Diocese of Chicoutimi chose to explain this judgement to the faithful in the region until now. In the newspaper Le Quotidien last December, Bishop Rivest [André Rivest, bishop of Chicoutimi – Ed.] did not take the time to explain to either journalists or faithful what the Catholic teaching on this question is, but instead watered his words on the matter down to the purest relativism: ‘I think that it is possible to be an excellent Catholic and disagree with prayer at City Hall, just as one can be an excellent Catholic and support it. It is a matter of opinion.’

“Father Daniel Couture, therefore, of the Society of St. Pius X, had to come in the end to preach to the Catholics of Saguenay what their own diocese no longer dares to teach them—the eternal doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ as it applies to individuals, to societies, and to the duties of heads of State.

“But it would not have been very difficult for the priests in our area, or even for our bishop, to review with us the concepts of the catechism that teach us the duties of Christian societies, and to set out the broad lines of the history of Catholic states. A population more educated about their religion would certainly be less passive faced with issues that directly impact their spiritual lives.

“But good can come from evil. Father Couture—who was already scheduled to give a conference in Chicoutimi on the Holy Shroud—did not, it seems, sidestep his priestly duty by accepting the Mouvement Tradition Quebec’s invitation to explain and comment on the saga of the prayer.

“If Bishop Rivest claims that a Catholic can side with or against the Truth of God about the duties of the head of State, who holds his authority from the Creator Himself, then any good traditional catechism is more reliable than his Excellency on how to get to heaven!

“One is either Catholic, or not. The Truth does not depend on the world’s opinion!”

The mayor of Saguenay, Jean Tremblay (on the picture), was also supported by another priest, Father Paul-Emile Labrie of Matane who called for civil disobedience with regard to the Court’s decision. This 75-year-old priest “encourages Mayor Tremblay and his counterparts in other municipalities who previously said a prayer before meetings to refuse to obey the decision, even if they risk possible fines or imprisonment.” And, according to Le Soleil of April 19th, he adds with refreshing frankness, “I support respect of the law, but not at all costs,” he said. “If it is done out of conviction, there will always be someone to pay the fines, that is certain. If he goes to jail, they won’t keep him long because praying is not a crime. There are people who go to prison for much worse things, and they don’t keep them!” Fr. Labrie thinks the law is important, but not as important as the law of God. “God’s law is the first law,” he says. “It takes precedence over the others. But it must not be out of bravado or provocation. If it is done out of conviction, in the name of one’s faith, it is better to obey God than men. It is written in the Gospel.” […] According to him, the actual debate on laicization could go far: “It could come to renaming all the streets and towns that are named after a saint. It would be unreasonable.” As for religious symbols, he supports the argument of Mayor Tremblay, who holds that religion is an integral part of the history of Quebec. “When Jacques Cartier planted the Cross, he was not defying anyone,” Fr. Labrie insists, referring to the mayor’s example. “It was in the name of his faith.” The cleric is obviously in favour of keeping the crucifix in political institutions.”

As for Father Couture, he is staying positive. His next plan is to turn a former fire hall in Sherbrooke into a chapel, which he announced to La Tribune of April 17th: “’As soon as we get the keys, we’re turning it into “spiritual barracks,’ jokes Fr. Daniel Couture, Superior of Canada for the Society of St. Pius X. ‘We want to say Mass there every week. It is as simple as that. There is not much renovation needed, the building is perfect as it is. It will make a beautiful chapel for us that will hold 100-150 people,’ he explains. […] ‘We say the Traditional Mass in Latin. We promote traditional values such as teaching catechism. Pope Benedict XVI authorized the Latin Mass in 2007. That is what we are doing, in the way that several generations of Quebecers are familiar with. We are the only religious community to hold Masses in Latin in Sherbrooke,’ Fr. Couture says.

“The Society of St. Pius X offers Masses in several regions of Quebec. The priests who celebrate the Masses in Sherbrooke are based in Saint-Cesaire in Monteregie. […] The City of Sherbrooke has received six offers on the building and lad on rue Prospect. […] The conformity of each offer will be analyzed and a recommendation made to the municipal council of Sherbrooke. The elected members will ultimately confirm the sale of the former fire hall. ‘An offer can always be refused by the council if they feel the offer is not high enough,’ explains the spokesman for the City of Sherbrooke, Louis Gosselin.”

--We need firemen to come to the assistance of victims of catastrophes, even of spiritual catastrophes… Especially spiritual ones.

(Sources: Tradition Quebec – Soleil – Tribune – DICI no. 314 April 24, 2015)

Read also :
Canada: The Supreme Court will rule on the prayer of Saguenay
Québec: A mayor defends the prayer at the municipal council
Quebec: Secularisation Continues
Montreal Saint Joseph Center, Chapel (SSPX)