The 19 priests
published a letter of dissent regarding Church teaching on same-sex
marriage and the ordination of homosexuals. The bishops’ call also
responded to a document by the Canadian Religious Conference that is
critical of Church teaching as well.
open letter appeared in La Presse, the largest Montreal newspaper, in
late February. The priests are from five dioceses; five of them
minister in the Archdiocese of Montreal.
communiqué, dated March 9, the bishops expressed openness and a need
for dialogue in the Church. However, they said, they regretted that
they were dragged into “a confrontational dynamic” with the clergy and
religious by the way in which these issues emerged in the press.
letter “raises a complex question in our society” about sexuality, said
the communiqué. “Faithfulness to the Gospel also invites all Christians
to critically look at certain currents of thought that run through our
culture,” it continued.
two cardinals, Jean-Claude Turcotte and Marc Ouellet, and the president
of the Quebec bishops’ conference, Bishop Gilles Cazabon, held a press
conference in Trois-Rivieres that same day.
Turcotte, archbishop of Montreal, told journalists that such dissent
within the Church is not unprecedented. He said each local bishop would
meet and speak with the priests who signed the letter.
Turcotte said the Church welcomes and ministers to homosexuals but it
cannot condone or bless behaviors that run counter to the Gospel. The
same rule applies to heterosexuals, he said.
of the Archdiocese of Quebec agreed. He defended the Church’s teaching
on same-sex marriage. He affirmed that the Church must remain faithful
to the message of the Gospel and could not bless same-sex unions or
The document of
the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC), which was to remain private,
was leaked to La Presse at the beginning of March. Among the CRC’s
concerns, which include the need for faith education and outreach to
the poor, it asked the Canadian bishops to review the Church’s position
on women’s ordinations and abortion.
The document was
the result of a survey of religious congregations in Canada; not all
congregations responded. It was submitted to the bishops in view of
their upcoming Ad Limina visit.
communiqué, the Quebec bishops said they intend to discuss “the
questions and concerns of the Church in Quebec”—including the priests’
letter and the CRC document—during their visit to Rome in May, “with
the conviction that this will contribute to strengthening the links of
communion with the universal Church.”
response to 19 dissenting priests, the Quebec bishops have issued a
press release calling for mutual understanding and unity in the Church.