OTTAWA—At least two Canadian bishops have urged Catholic
parishes, charities, and groups that received Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) grants
to return the money.
The federal government has released the names of organizations that received funding for 2018, with a searchable data base that shows dozens of parishes, as well as religious orders, Catholic schools, and Catholic charities have received grants, despite the opposition of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) to the government’s new policy that required applicants to tick off a pro-abortion attestation in order for their application to be processed.
The CCCB joined Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim leaders in March in urging Employment Minister Patty Hajdu to drop the attestation requirement.
“Any organization that has submitted an application for a grant is urged to withdraw its application and return any funding received, explaining that the organization does not support the right to abortion,” wrote the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchial Bishop of Toronto Stephen V. Chmilar in a letter to his faithful.
“Considering the serious implications of the government beginning to act discriminatorily towards those who believe in the most basic principles of religious freedom as well as the fundamental right to life, I am urging our faithful to consider the serious implications that are at play with such an attestation,” he said.
“Parishes and other Catholic entities cannot make this attestation without contradicting our Right to Life stance,” Bishop Anthony Daniels of Grand Falls, Nfld., said in a statement to his parishes.
“A few of our parishes made applications for grant monies before any of us fully understood the consequences of making the required attestation,” Bishop Daniels wrote. “Recently these parishes have received Notice of Approval that they have been granted monies and will be given instructions to access the grants.”
“It is now incumbent upon us to return the Notice of Approval with a brief note stating that the Attestation was made in error and the application must be withdrawn,” he said.
The highest number of parishes receiving grants are in the Atlantic provinces, with fewer examples moving west through Quebec and Ontario. There were no records of parishes receiving funding in Vancouver, Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut.
In the Toronto archdioceses, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society is listed as having received grants at its Willowdale and Scarborough locations. Cardinal Thomas Collins, who has adamantly opposed the attestation, is on the board.
Catholic Cross-Cultural Services has also received grants for its Mississauga and Scarborough locations.
“We shared instructions with all parishes and Catholic Charities regarding direction for applications on the Canada Summer Jobs program,” said Neil MacCarthy, communications director for the Toronto archdiocese, suggesting we contact those charities directly. As of our deadline, neither responded to requests for comment.
“We have heard some instances across the country where the attestation was not endorsed yet funding was still approved,” McCarthy said. “A number of our groups are still awaiting final correspondence regarding the program and we are continuing to monitor the situation.”
Several L’Arche communities are among those charities that received CSJ funds this year.
“L’Arche is not a Catholic organization and our members come from different traditions which have different points of view,” said John Guido, director of outreach and communications for L’Arche Canada. “We are funded by all levels of government and are obligated to respect the law of the land in all of our hiring practices and government contracts including the Summer Jobs program which is a valuable support to our work.”
Guido said some L’Arche communities may have ticked the box; others may not have.
Last February, L’Arche Canada protested against the attestation, writing Minister Hadju: “L’Arche, like other organizations and employers, should not be compelled to check a box to attest that respecting rights and the law including sexual and reproductive rights, particularly abortion, are part of our 'core mandate,’” Guido said
“We requested that the minister take immediate action to rectify this situation,” Guido said. “We explained that for 50 years, the core mission of L’Arche – inspired by Jean Vanier – is to advocate day in and day out for respect for the life and dignity of persons with intellectual disabilities who are among the most vulnerable persons in Canada.”
“Led by our members with intellectual disabilities, our 31 L’Arche communities in 9 provinces advocate for their right to be born, to receive appropriate medical care, to have meaningful lives in their communities, and to be supported well until the natural end of their lives,” Guido said.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa archdiocese has launched a fundraising campaign so Waupoos Farm can continue to provide vacations to poor families after it was refused funding for not signing the attestation.
Waupoos farm received national attention April 25 when Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre pointed out in Question Period the charity had been denied CSJ funding, while an environmental organization received funding for a student to organize anti-pipeline protests.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast wrote in his Ottawa Sun column the archdiocese will commit to raising $12,000 and asked readers to help raise an additional $12,000 at waupoos.com/donate.
Founded in 1975 by members of the Cursillo movement and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the farm offers 40 families a summer program helped by CSJ grants to hire four students.
Canadian Catholic News