On Thursday, February 12, for the second time in eight days, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Québec spoke critically of Scientology as reported by the Québec daily Le Soleil and Radio-Canada, Québec . The previous Thursday he had said to the Québec daily Le Soleil of Scientology, "It is not a church." The following week at his annual press lunch he said that he did is not a warpath with Scientology. He reiterated his call on the government to review the criteria to discern which organizations are authentic and which are cults in granting religious status under Québec's Religious Corporations Act
He did say, however, that
Anonymous Québec and the rest of the world-wide Anonymous Scientology-critical movement greeted the news of his initial remarks enthusiastically. They hand-delivered a letter to the Cardinal's office in which they commended him, pointed out the worst Scientology abuses, and proposed a 12-point program of education and action for the Catholic Church in Canada. They also issued a press release which was distributed to Canadian media outlets.
The Cardinal explicitly referred to Anonymous without mentioning its name when he said,
The words of the Cardinal are significant news. The Catholic Church has said almost nothing publicly about Scientology. Cardinal Ouellet is the highest-ranking member of the Church to speak out. He is respected for intellectual acuity, pastoral sensitivity, and his work for Catholic charitable organizations His performance at the gathering of Catholic bishops from around the world in 2007 has been praised as a tour de force . His remarks indicate that the Church is doing some re-examination and reflection on Scientology's doctrines and practices, perhaps as a result of Anonymous' relentless exposure of organized Scientology since January of 2008.
So far, the Church of Scientology has not spoken a word of response.
Anonymous Québec is continuing to publicize the Cardinal's remarks and to educate Catholic faithful, clergy, religious, and organizations in Canada and francophone Europe as well as the United States. Their website has become a major French-language source of information on organized Scientology's suppression of free speech and human rights abuses in the Sea Org, which manages and controls the Scientology organization, as well as ongoing issues in Québec and the rest of Canada.
Anonymous Québec has established a bilingual French-English Projet Cardinal situation room which will continue to report and execute the project's next stages to bring the abuses of Scientology to wider awareness in Québec, particularly among Catholics, and to the rest of Canada.
In my humble opinion the best comment on this affair so far was made in the situation room by poster lonesome cowboy:
Béni soit Mgr Ouellet! C'est rare qu'un écclésiastique ose se prononcer de
la sorte. Il a des couilles, cet homme!
Blessed be Cardinal Ouellet. It is rare that a ecclesiastique dare make
such pronouncements. This man has balls!
For Great Justice will be publishing a fuller analysis of this extraordinary sequence of events.
For our initial reporting on the Cardinal's see earlier posts:
Radio-Canada Québec, February 12: Church of Scientology - Cardinal Ouellet doesn't want a war ( Église de scientologie -Mgr Ouellet ne souhaite pas la guerre )
The Archbishop of Québec, Marc Ouellet, said Thursday [February 12] during his annual press luncheon that he is not on a warpath against the Church of Scientology, which will soon build a $4 million complex in the Saint-Roch quarter.
Archbishop Ouellet states that he is more concerned about the legal definition of what is a Church than about the presence in Québec of a place dedicated to the practice of Scientology. The archbishop of Québec fears confusion and invites the National Assembly to revise the legal framework which defines a religious movement.
"I'm at the point where it seems to me this issue needs to be seriously examined." What is a Church? What is a cult and what are the implications of such a of lack of criteria in relation to the social fabric?" asked Archbishop Ouellet.
Archbishop Ouellet, who acted as General Reporter of the Catholic Church at the last synod in Rome, also considers that religious practice needs to evolve significantly, especially regarding the role of parents in the religious education of children.
The Archbishop believes that devoting more time to religious practice as a family, for example reading the Bible, would promote family life.
Le Soleil, Thursday, February 12, 2009: Cardinal Ouellet not crusading against Scientology (Le cardinal Ouellet n'est pas en croisade contre la scientologie )
(Québec) - "I am not on a crusade against the Church of Scientology," said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, "I would simply like the government to revise the law that defines a church. The criteria are so vague that a group of three people can start up a church and a religion any way they please."
While answering questions from Quebec City journalists yesterday morning, the Archbishop of Québec had to revisit the statement he made last week in response to questions by a reporter from Le Soleil.
In his opinion, the Religious Corporations Act is too vague and too generous in its recognition criteria. "Can we put on the same footing a Church with a billion followers and a 2000-year history and a small group of followers whose emergence is only recent? There is a need to know whether the law truly reflects reality," reflects the cardinal.
Without denying that minorities can have rights and know that these rights will be respected, he does not believe all organizations should be treated the same way. According to him, the law provides no way to distinguish between a religion and a cult. He deems that the government and lawmakers should think this out in order to establish clear criteria for distinguishing Church and religion from what may be only a passing phenomenon.
Though he said he does not know Scientology, he indicated that he has observed what is happening elsewhere in the world and in Canada with this organization, in particular the legal disputes and the libel lawsuits involving adherents and opponents.
Concerning the demonstration that will be held in front of the Church of Scientology in Québec City [on Saturday, February 14], Archbishop Ouellet replied that those who are crusading against the group have the right to exercise their freedom of speech and he thus refused to either disapprove or support the actions of the opponents.
He also refused to take a stand or comment on the commemoration of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, saying that this issue is very political and that the debate over it is a matter for politicians.