CV NEWS FEED // The Archdiocese of Montreal has filed a legal challenge against a Quebec law that recently required religiously-affiliated palliative care homes to offer assisted suicide.
The Canadian Press reported that the challenged legislation was passed in Quebec in December and mandated that all palliative care homes offer the option for assisted suicide. Even Catholic palliative care homes, such as St. Raphael’s in Montreal, are now required to offer assisted suicide against their religious beliefs.
According to Montreal Archbishop Christian Lepine, the law violates Canadians’ constitutionally-protected right to freedom of religion.
“I know it’s a complicated issue and there are many points of view, but I feel that in a democracy and with the Charter of Rights that we have, it should be allowed to respect the freedom of conscience, which is very important,” Lepine told the Canadian Press.
Montreal’s Catholic palliative care center, St. Raphael’s, opened in 2019 and is housed in a former church. The center, which treats everyone regardless of sex or religious affiliation, previously was allowed to transfer patients who requested assisted suicide to a public healthcare facility.
In December, new legislation was added that required all palliative care homes to provide assisted suicide. When St. Raphael’s asked for a religious exemption, Quebec’s Minister Responsible for Seniors Sonia Belanger denied the request.
The lawsuit, filed by Lepine’s office, argues that the assisted suicide mandate puts the Catholic Church in a dilemma—either they stop providing palliative care, or “accept that their property, a former church, be used to commit acts that they consider morally unacceptable,” the Canadian Press reported.