QUEBEC –The Archbishop of Quebec is expressing disappointment at a hospital’s decision to withdraw the crucifix from its premises.
The Hopital du Saint-Sacrement in Quebec City says it removed the religious sign last week after receiving a complaint from a user.
And in a recent letter to the archbishop, Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, it said it had no choice if it wanted to respect the “religious neutrality of the state.”
“As our primary mission is to offer health care and services, we must first respect the rights of our patients, who are sort of held captive by the institution,” it said.
Lacroix issued a statement Tuesday to voice his disapproval with the decision.
“I sincerely believe this is a lack of respect toward the population and the history of this institution, which was founded in 1927 by the Sisters of Charity of Quebec in the name of their faith in the message of Jesus Christ,” he said.
“Like very many Quebecers, I am expressing my distinct disappointment with this decision, but I can’t believe this is the end of the story. At a time when we are talking about being tolerant, open, welcoming and respecting differences, the withdrawal of the crucifix from the Hopital du Saint-Sacrement goes exactly in the other direction.”
Lacroix urged people opposed to the withdrawal to tell authorities, hospitals and other public institutions.
The hospital said Tuesday it has contacted police after receiving a “major threat to its integrity and its leaders.”
This isn’t the first time debate has erupted with regard to the place of the crucifix in public institutions in Quebec.
The cross above the Speaker’s chair in the legislature sparked discussion after the Parti Quebecois introduced the 2013 bill that became known as the secularism charter or charter of Quebec values.
It sought to enshrine in law that the province was a secular state. The bill also banned public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols on the job, although the charter made exceptions for what was described as the province’s religious heritage.
The author of the charter, Bernard Drainville, said at the time the cross atop Montreal’s Mount Royal Park, or on the Quebec flag, as well as the crucifix in the legislature – all Christian religious symbols – would remain.