Quebec: Parishioners demonstrate against church closing

Source: FSSPX News

Many Catholics demonstrated on July 31 against the closing of the Church of Saint-Grégoire-de-Montmorency.  They responded to an appeal by the corporation to preserve that parish church, which is situated in the District of La Chute-Montmorency, part of the City of Quebec.  Brandishing placards, the protesters showed their displeasure to the parish council and the diocese.  Out of the four churches in the district, this is the third to close, for lack of parishioners.

Starting in the early morning, around a hundred demonstrators with placards and slogans gathered in front of the church.  Some tried to make their way inside to express their anger, but policemen intervened.  The religious authorities also tried to close the door so as to celebrate Mass in peace and quiet.  After negotiating with law enforcement and the demonstrators, they finally left the church open during the ceremony.

The Preservation Corporation blames the diocese for not listening to its demands.  “It would have been nice to be consulted,” the vice-president of the corporation, Jean-Guy Robitaille emphasized.  “For two years now the Preservation Committee has acted to try to save the church.  Several plans were sent to the diocese.  Unfortunately they do not even take the trouble to acknowledge our proposals,” he declared to Radio Ville-Marie.

Auxiliary Bishop Paul Lortie of Quebec was also interviewed by the radio station in Quebec;  for his part he emphasized that there were “several meetings of bishops and committees, both at the regional and diocesan levels, to try to examine all facets of the matter and to explain the delicate decisions that we had to make.”

Several days previously, on Radio Canada, the president of the Corporation to Preserve the Church of Saint-Grégoire-de-Montmorency, Michel Tremblay, had pointed a finger at the financial mismanagement of the parish:  “In 2008 an amount of 700,000 dollars was listed under reserves, but there was a significant loss of 300,000 dollars after it was put into capital shares.  For a finance committee, I think … that there are some questions that need to be asked.”  Eventually the church could be transformed into a social, community or cultural project, but the decision is up to the Diocese of Quebec.

According to local estimates, practicing Catholics make up between 3% and 10% of the total population of Quebec.  Between 1957 and 2000 the rate of parishioners attending Sunday Mass fell from 88% to 20%.  Among young people the trend is even more accentuated:  only 5% of those between the ages of 18 and 34 were practicing their faith in 2000.  In almost all dioceses the median age of the priests is more than 70.  A half a century ago, la Belle Province, the Province of Quebec, was still Catholic.  (Sources: apic/ Radio Ville-Marie/Radio Canada - DICI no.239 dated August 13, 2011)

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