The court filing sets out the historical and moral connection between St. Raphael and the Archdiocese of Montreal. No date has been set for a hearing.
The appeal notes that “the archbishop’s support for the Maison St-Raphaël project was aimed at improving the Montreal community’s access to quality end-of-life care while reflecting and respecting Catholic beliefs in this area.”
When the hospice opened in 2019, an agreement was also in place with the local health authority that clearly stated St. Raphael did not offer MAID but specified “the responsibilities of the parties when a patient of Maison St-Raphaël requests this service … and, if necessary, the transfer of the patient to the CIUSSS [Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux] for the administration of this procedure.” In other words, the palliative care center has always had a system in place to ensure that patients who requested MAID would be transferred “promptly” to a local facility to that end.
In addition, the lawyers stress that St. Raphael is “not a public health institution but a community organization,” according to the Quebec Health Act, and as such it is free to “define its orientations, policies, and approaches, even if it receives public funding.”
The appeal reveals that at Lépine’s request, St. Raphael applied to Quebec’s health minister for an exemption on Sept. 12, 2023. On Nov. 14, Health Minister Sonia Bélanger refused the request, saying that MAID is “a form of care that is part of the continuum of palliative and end-of-life care, and it is essential that all users who wish this care be able to access it in all settings offering end-of-life care. To this end, no derogation may be authorized.”
The conclusion, according to the filing, is that “the applicants are faced with an insoluble dilemma.”
“Either give up their support for Maison St-Raphaël and thereby abandon a project that bears witness to the faith and commitment of the Catholic community, or allow their property, a former church, to be used to commit what they consider to be morally unacceptable acts.
“The state is thus de facto hijacking the intent of the founders and donors and the mission of the former church, which we are graciously making available to a community organization.”
This article was originally published in The Catholic Register from Canadian Catholic News and is reprinted here with permission.