Out of the blue last week Québec's second largest newspaper Le Soleil reported that Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet stated that Scientology "is not a church" and questions what criteria, if any, the government of Québec uses to determine how organizations are granted religious status in the province.
This is surely to be a lively issue in the media, and particularly among Vatican watchers. We have zero information on what moved Cardinal Ouellet to speak so forthrightly. However, he is an impressive and respected figure who was a leading contender in the conclave in which Benedict XVI was named pope in 2005.
Anonymous Québec (AnonQC) along with the rest of Anonymous and the Scientology-critical movement have greeted the news with joy. Cardinal Ouellet is the highest-ranking Catholic cleric to have spoken critically about Scientology in public. In fact, it is only the second critical public statement we have found any where. (See: Light In The Darkness - Scientology is a totalitarian business - Hungarian Papal Nuncio)
AnonQC is preparing a letter of thanks and a press release. In its letter it places itself at the Cardinal's disposal in the task of educating the Church and the public. It brings to public attention Scientology's human rights abuses, such as human trafficking and coerced abortion mentioned in Claire Headley's recent legal complaint (See Scott Pilutik: Claire Headley vs CSI, RTC) AnonQC also proposes a twelve point program of action to the Cardinal, parts of which are surely to be controversial, like requesting the government of the province to investigate whether the aims and intents of organized Scientology are compatible with the Canadian Constitution.
We will post French and English texts of the letter and press release on our sister blog, Light In The Darkness, and continuing reports here.
Four days after the the Thetford Mines remarks Anonymous Québec hand-delivered a letter to the Cardinal commending him, reciting the most salient human rights abuses in Scientology, and suggesting a 12-point program of education and action. They followed up with a press release.
Three days later the Cardinal again criticized Scientology for its litigation against its critics, and defending Anonymous' right to free speech.
Anonymous Québec letter to Cardinal Ouellet regarding Scientology
Anonymous Québec Press Release on its letter to Cardinal Ouellet regarding Scientology
How old is Anonymous and where does it go to church?
Cardinal speaks a second time; defends Anonymous' right to free speech.
Here is a translation of the article with the Cardinal's remarks.
Le Soleil, Thursday, February 6, 2009. Ian Bussières - Scientologie: «Ce n'est pas une Église» - Mgr Ouellet
Scientology: It's not a church" - Cardinal Ouellet
(Thetford Mines) Cardinal Marc Ouellet was questioned Wednesday on the criteria of the Quebec government to recognize religious corporations in the wake of the announcement of the construction by the Church of Scientology of a place of worship at a cost of 4 million dollars in the Saint-Roch quarter.
"I know that in Europe, including Germany, Belgium and France, there are places which refuse to grant the Church of Scientology the status of a religion," Archbishop Ouellet noted at the outset , confessing that he would look into this matter which has been talked about in the media for several days.
Here, since December 1993, the Church of Scientology has enjoyed the status of a religious corporation from the Inspector General of Financial Institutions of Québec, a situation that the primate of the Catholic Church in Canada has difficulty understanding. "I do not know under what principle this status has been granted. But unfortunately, in Quebec, everything is permitted! It seems that here, anyone can invent a church, "he lamented about the movement launched in 1952 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
The archbishop of Quebec emphasized his support for freedom of religion. On the other hand, Cardinal Ouellet does not put Scientology on a footing of equality with Islam or the Catholic religion."Scientology is something else. For me, this community is not a church, "he said.
"For example, the Muslim community in Quebec will build a new mosque.I have no problem with that! The Muslim religion is one of the great recognized religions."
He also feels that Quebec lacks a certain amount of thinking about criteria for recognition of religions. "The state has no criteria for recognizing religions, it's part of our shortcomings," he said.
"However, if some of the freedoms of the Catholic Church are taken away, all sorts of basement windows get opened!" he said, urging governments to learn more about the Church of Scientology.
"Our governments should inquire about what some European countries have made on this group here and the problems it can raise rather than jump in blindly the status of religious corporation to such a body "he concluded.
The Church of Scientology numbers about 350 adherents in Quebec and the construction of the new church, called an "Ideal Org" should begin shortly, to be completed within four to six months in a building on Rue Saint - Joseph bought for nearly 2 million dollars in 2006.
Really, we moved. - I do apologize to anyone who has posted a comment in the last year or so. We really did move and I also haven't been very active on this blog. I just went...
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