Statements and Letters

The CRC Requests the Holding of a Commission of Inquiry into the Disappearance of Aboriginal Women

Montreal, March 23, 2015: In a letter to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) request that he hold a National Commission of Inquiry into the disappearance of Aboriginal women and girls in our country.

Committed in the name of its faith to the struggle for justice and peace, the CRC is adding its voice to that of many others who have requested such a commission. Some of its members, men and women religious, have worked or are still working with Aboriginal communities and the situation of our First Nations sisters is very close to our heart.

By itself the number of 1,186 unexplained disappearances justifies the holding of an inquiry that would at the very least allow the victims' families and their communities to bear witness to the loss of a loved one.

The Canadian Religious Conference represents 203 congregations counting 15,000 members and is the association of Roman Catholic religious community leaders in Canada.

The letter is signed by the president of the CRC, Sister  Rita Larivée, SSA.

Open and download the CRC letter:
Request for a National Inquiry into the disappearance of Aboriginal women

The CRC Urges the Federal Government to Sign the Arms Trade Treaty

Montreal, January 20, 2015: In a letter to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Rita Larivée, SSA, the president of the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC), urges the federal government to sign the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) at the United Nations without delay and begin treaty ratification in Canada as soon as possible.

The CRC members believe that "by signing the ATT, Canada would join the large majority of UN member states that have already signed the treaty to create a safer world for the thousands of civilians living under the threat of violence. The devastating humanitarian consequences of current conflicts around the world highlight the urgent need for regulation of the arms trade. The ATT will not resolve current crises, but will surely help contribute to prevention of similar future crises. Canada must sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty without hesitation."

Open and download this PDF document:
CRC's letter on the signing of the Arms Trade Treaty 


CRC Speaks Out on Bill 52

Montreal, January 21, 2014: CRC President, Michel Proulx, o. praem., wrote to the Quebec Minister for Social Services and Youth Protection, Ms. Véronique Hivon, to voice the opinion of the major superiors of religious congregations in Québec to voice their opinion on the proposed Bill 52 concerning end-of-life care.

"We welcome the fact that the Bill states that end-of-life patients must be treated, at all times, with understanding, compassion, courtesy and fairness, and with respect for their dignity, autonomy, needs and safety," states Father Proulx. However, he makes it clear that, "we do not agree that medical aid in dying be presented as part of the "care" provided."

On behalf of the CRC members, Michel Proulx, o. praem., asked that the government take every possible measure within the health and social services system to ensure that the necessary funds are allocated to care for those near the end of life and that the teams of professionals involved — physicians, social workers and psychologists, spiritual care workers, etc. — help these people get the most out of this last stage of their lives. 

The cornerstone of this approach is of course ensuring that palliative care designed to relieve pain and suffering is available throughout the province.

To view the letter, click on this link:
CRC Letter on Bill 52

The CRC Supports the Initiative for an Opinion Tribunal on the Canadian Mining Industry

A letter of support  to the propect of an Opinion Tribunal on the Canadian Mining Industry was sent on December 17, 2013, to Mr. Gerardo Aiquel, Agent, Latin America program, Entraide missionnaire and Coordinator of the QUISETAL Coalition:

Dear Madam or Sir:

"Hereby, the Canadian Religious Conference gives its official support to the project for an Opinion Tribunal on the Canadian Mining Industry 2014-2015.

Insofar as Canada is a major player in the global mining industry — 75% of mining companies in the world are registered in Canada — it seems highly relevant, and even necessary, to contribute to the awareness of the impact of this activity in terms of human rights and environmental damage, and to demand access to justice for those affected, here and abroad, by the megaprojects of Canadian mining companies.

We support the coalition of Canadian and Quebec social organizations wishing to conduct this major project, in collaboration with the Lelio and Lisli Basso Foundation, headquarters of the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal (PPT), which should organize diverse geographic sessions (Latin America, Asia, Africa, North America and Europe) over a period of two years, before concluding the Tribunal with an overall judgment. The first session, which will focus on Latin America, will be held in Montreal in May 2014.

The Canadian Religious Conference is committed not only to officially support the initiative of the Tribunal, but also to disseminate and promote the activities of the tribunal and its conclusions."

The letter is signed by the CRC President, Michel Proulx, O.Praem.

Leaders of Religious Congregations in Quebec Voice their Opinion on the Proposed Quebec Charter of Values

On October 15, 2013, 37 leaders of Catholic religious congregations (of men and women) living and working in Québec sent a letter to Minister Bernard Drainville expressing  their opinion on the project of the Québec Charter of Values.

They are in agreement with the basic principles of the proposed Charter. However, they have serious reservations about banning those who work in childcare centres, schools, and health and social services institutions from wearing the symbols and articles of clothing of their religious affiliation. They "do not agree with the section of the draft Charter which intends to force certain people to remove their religious symbols, especially when these religious symbols form an integral part of their religious identity."

Moreover, they believe that the draft Québec Charter of Values contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states in Art. 18 that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

To read the full version of the letter, open and download this PDF document:  
Letter to Minister Drainville

The Canadian Religious Conference in Favour of a Fair and Peaceful Solution to the Syrian Conflict

Montreal, September 11, 2013: In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Canada, the president of the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC), Michel Proulx, o. praem., asks that the Government of Canada do everything in its power to contribute to a solution that is both fair and peaceful to the Syrian conflict. "A military retaliation against the use of chemical weapons in Syria would only add to the already enormous suffering experienced by the Syrian people."

"Several nations fear a global conflagration throughout the Middle East in the event of military strikes. The chaos in this region would only swell the fundamentalist currents. Let us remember that the initiative of Pope Francis to call for a day of fasting and meditation for peace in the Middle East has received the support of the Patriarchs of the Middle East, united by their concern for an extension of the war in Syria and an Islamist surge."

"With its international reputation as moderator, Canada could persuade its allies to promote other approaches equally capable of convincing Bashar al-Assad to sit down and negotiate."

To view the letter, open and download this PDF document: CRC Letter on the Syrian Conflict

CRC's President Letter on the Issue of Dying with Dignity

February 1, 2013: In a letter addressed to the president of the CCCB, Michel Proulx, O.Praem, assured him and the bishops of Canada of CRC's support in their efforts to promote humane and respectful care of the dying in our country. Along with this letter, Michel Proulx invited CRC members to give the bishops their support, especially through prayer.

"Communities of women and men religious have a long history in health care, of caring for the sick and the dying. We value the dignity of life in every situation and at every stage, from conception to natural death," writes Michel Proulx."Communities of women and men religious have a long history in health care, of caring for the sick and the dying. We value the dignity of life in every situation and at every stage, from conception to natural death," writes Michel Proulx."

Open and download these two letters:
Letter to CCCB's president, Most Reverend Richard Smith
Letter to CRC Members

CRC Supports the Issues Raised by the Idle No More Movement

Montréal, January 10, 2013 : The CRC President, Michel Proulx, O. Praem, wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressing the Canadian Religious Conference strong support of the issues raised by the Idle No More movement. "Along with the respect for treaty rights and the need for consultation, this movement calls for the protection of water and land in Canada, gifts we are all called to steward responsibly. The CRC seek justice for the First Nations people of Canada and urges that the meeting that agreed upon begin to address the serious structural biases that still exist."

The time is now to enter the process of reconciliation, a true graced moment. As Canadian religious we recognize "this graced moment" and express our solidarity with the Idle No More movement participants.

Open and download the letter : Justice for First Nations

CRC Deems Unacceptable the Policy Changes to Canada's International Assistance

Montréal, December 11, 2012: In a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) expresses its deep concern at what appears to be, for some years now, unacceptable policy changes to Canada’s international assistance policy. The letter signed by CRC's president, Michel Proulx, O. Praem., is in response to the November 23 speech before the Economic Club of Toronto of the Minister of International Cooperation, Julian Fantino. He stated that international aid should now be at the service of Canadian commercial interests.

There should be no confusion between the objectives of development and promotion of commercial interests. The Minister’s statement opens the doors to the private sector jeopardizing the goal of CIDA's mission which is to reduce poverty and not become an instrument of Canadian economic interests. Judging by the recent cuts, Canadian foreign aid will unfortunately fall to 0.25% by 2015.

Faced with such radical and inappropriate policy changes, the leaders of Catholic religious communities urge the Prime Minister of Canada, to restore a constructive and open dialogue with organisations of cooperation and international solidarity to reorient Canadian policies of official development assistance so that they correspond with what the majority of Canadians wish.

Open and download CRC's letter on: Canadian International Assistance

CRC Letter Regarding Contracts of part-time Chaplains in Federal Prisons

November 30, 2012
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A0
November 30, 2012

Mr. Prime Minister,

On behalf of the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) and its 18,000 members across Canada, I am writing to express my deep concern regarding your government's decision not to renew the part-time chaplains' contracts in federal prisons next year.

This decision will affect dozens of chaplains, many of whom are our members, as well as a good number of non-Christians chaplains. Immigration trends show that Canada is welcoming new citizens from a growing number of non-European countries or countries where Christianity is not predominant. Nearly all full-time contracts are granted to Christian clergy, while other religions are essentially represented by part-time chaplains.

Hundreds of volunteers who work on an ad hoc basis in the institutions, supported in their work by chaplains who recruit and direct them, are equally at risk of disappearing as well. Also at risk of disappearing are numerous programs implemented by these chaplains and volunteers, such as those aimed at the rehabilitation of individuals during their detention and during the critical period of transition after their incarceration or those aimed at making the prison staff aware of cultural differences so that detainees do not suffer prejudices that may sabotage their chances of rehabilitation.

On the Correctional Service Canada website one reads that “'Religious and spiritual accommodation' means providing access to an adequate level of resources to allow offenders to practise their religion or spirituality as fully as they desire (up to a level that is generally available to people in the community) within the correctional setting.”

In addition, the CSC has for many years recognized the value of the presence of chaplains: “Chaplains are able to communicate with detainees in a way that other staff members are unable to do. By speaking to the deepest values and feelings of a detainee, the chaplain can help them tap into inner resources they need to make necessary changes in their lives that will enable them to live in the community while obeying the law.”

It seems to us that perhaps your government made this decision too hastily, without considering the possible consequences to the rehabilitation of detainees. Indeed, chaplains fulfill a unique supporting role in the efforts of individuals to become rehabilitated. They support their quest for meaning and help detainees to really get involved in the process. We believe that the elimination of this low-cost program ($6.4 million) represents a tiny savings in the short term and risks costing much more to society in the long-term: recidivism or prolonged detention time.

The Canadian Religious Conference therefore urges you, Mr. Prime Minister, to please reconsider your decision for the greater good of detainees as well as that of the Canadian citizens.


Michel Proulx, O PRAEM
CRC President

Cc. Hon. Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety

The CRC Co-Signs the Becoming Neighbours' Submission Concerning the Protection of Canada’s Refugees

Montreal, October 3, 2012 : The Becoming Neighbours' submission highlights concerns, stemming from certain provisions affecting refugees in amended legislation in Canada, viz., Bill C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act. We believe key provisions undermine Canada’s ability to offer fair and just treatment of refugees as that relates to the rights and protections explicit in national and international agreements and conventions concerning human rights. The Canadian Religious Conference is one of the signatories of this submission presented to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Becoming Neighbours is a member of an ad hoc Synthesis Work Group responding from the perspective of refugees and immigrants to Canada’s response to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR is a new UN human rights review mechanism instituted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008. Under the UPR the Human Rights record of every country is reviewed once every four years. Canada’s Human Rights record will be reviewed by the United Nations in early 2013. Deadline for submissions was October 09, 2012.

Dowload this PDF document : Submission