(Vatican Radio) A controversial bill, tabled by the Quebec government on Thursday,
is “problematic” because it does not respect the dignity of every human being nor
the liberty of religion and expression, said Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal.
The archbishop spoke with Vatican Radio while in Rome on Wednesday. He explained that the bill, commonly known as the “Charter of Values”, seeks to expel the religious reality from the public sphere. The population of Quebec, Canada’s French-speaking province, is statistically predominantly Catholic.
The bill would amend the province’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and affirm its secular character. Among the more controversial provisions is a requirement that would limit the rights of state personnel to wear conspicuous religious symbols that represent their faith. Other provisions include “establishing a duty of neutrality and reserve for all state personnel”, and making it “mandatory to have one’s face uncovered when providing or receiving a state service”.
“The role of the state is not to control how you dress,” the archbishop said. “It’s problematic.”
He also distinguished between the secularity of the state and the plurality of Quebec society. And the role of the secular state, he said, “is to protect a space for pluralism, a space for the dignity of every human being, a space for liberty and a space for liberty of expression and religion, where religion is not imposed but also does not block it”.
Listen to Laura Ieraci’s interview with Archbishop Lépine: