Canada Bishop Makes Powerful Statement: ‘We Will Not Be Bullied’

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Photo:  Bishop Ronald Fabbro

The Diocese of London is telling the federal government to keep its money.

Bishop Ronald Fabbro, the head of the Diocese of London, has indicated Catholic churches in the region will take a stand against controversial changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program by not participating this year.

Religious groups across Canada have been speaking out over a new clause introduced in December that requires applicants of the program to sign an attestation on abortion and LGBTQ2 rights.

Prime Minister Trudeau announcing $650 million commitment to increase global access to abortion. Source: The Bridgehead

“I believe that we need to take a stand against the position of the Government of Canada, and say that we will not be bullied into even the appearance of collusion on this issue,” Fabbro said in a letter released Tuesday. “While others may take an alternative path, we can make a powerful statement by saying ‘no’ to the conditions as set down by the government.”

Fabbro went on to write that the Diocese is asking the government to remove or change the attestation, which he calls “a regrettable infringement of freedom of conscience and religion.”

Not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers, and small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees can apply for funding to hire students through the program. But the new attestation states that their organization’s core mandate and all duties of the job be respectful of individual human rights. That includes reproductive rights, and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The Diocese of London, through various groups, had been planning to apply for just under $35,000 in grants from the program. Fabbro hopes churches can raise that amount of money on their own.

“Monies collected would be portioned out accordingly to those who intended to apply to the [Canada Summer Jobs] program. I am confident that we can respond to this challenge, pooling our resources to support our camps, our interns in the Archives office and in IT services, and our youth in general,” Fabbro stated.

The deadline to apply for funding through the Canada Summer Jobs program is Friday.