Neil MacCarthy, director of communications for the Diocese of Toronto, said everyone should be included in a pluralistic society and not discriminated against because of their views.
"We certainly believe that core values of our faith, including the sanctity of life, should not preclude us from discussion and engagement in the public square. We must do so respectfully and thoughtfully but certainly, ours is a country with citizens holding a variety of views on a number of different topics," he told CNA.
"We need to be part of the dialogue. It is difficult to see how caring for the most vulnerable among us at every stage of life would clash with Canadian society and values," he added.
In an opinion column for the National Post, Father Raymond J. de Souza further noted that the policy is a deliberate act of discrimination by the government, which tried and failed to block pro-life groups from the grant last year only to double down this year.
"Last year the federal Liberals denied the applications of several pro-life groups because, well, the Liberal Party bans pro-life Canadians for running for office under its banner and concluded that if you can't be a good Liberal then obviously you should be disqualified from public programs," de Souza wrote.
But because there was nothing in the program guidelines requiring applicants to support abortion, the discriminated groups took the government to court and won, de Souza noted.
Demanding "coerced" assent to certain positions is "the hallmark of a totalitarian government," de Souza added.
"Demand public displays of ideological loyalty, even from those who everyone knows do not really believe it. That the totalitarian ethos, a cabinet minister who advises pastors to make false statements to qualify for programs their own parishioners pay taxes to fund," he said.
The Toronto Right to Life Association, a pro-life group which has received funding from the grant in the past, is suing over the new policy.
The Catholic Civil Rights League noted in a statement that as the policy currently stands, no Catholic group could in good conscience apply for the grant, and called for change.
"Any Catholic individual or organization, which professes fidelity to the teachings of the Church, cannot make this affirmation, and is thereby excluded from a program which should be open to all law-abiding organizations," the statement said.
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"We call upon the government to revoke this unconstitutional and deeply offensive provision immediately," said the League. "Canadians of all faiths must recognize what is at stake."
The Catholic Register in Canada reported that numerous Christian groups have joined Catholic groups in voicing opposition to the measure. The Catholic bishops have advised groups applying for the grant to do so by paper application, in order to avoid automated exclusion from the program, and to explain their pro-life position in writing.