Catholic leaders are accusing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of bullying religious groups into supporting abortion on demand.
Trudeau’s administration is facing a huge backlash after it decided to begin forcing groups to affirm their support of “reproductive rights” on an application for grants for student summer jobs.
Leaders of Catholic diocese in Sault Ste. Marie and London, Ontario said they will not apply for the grants this year because they cannot comply with the government’s ideological demands.
CNA reports Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the London diocese sent a letter to the 118 parishes in the diocese in February outlining their opposition to the policy.
“I believe that we need to take a stand against the position of the government of Canada and say that we will not be bullied into even the appearance of collusion on this issue,” Fabbro said. “While others may take an alternative path, we can make a powerful statement by saying ‘no’ to the conditions as set down by the government.”
He said they will take up collections in the coming months to pay student workers instead.
The Sault Star reports the Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie refused to apply for the government grants as well.
“It is ideology we cannot accept,” said Robert Lariviere, director of canonical and pastoral services.
Many churches and other groups provide students with summer jobs through the Canadian Summer Jobs program. However, the new 2018 grant application requires groups to say that they respect “reproductive rights,” including abortion on demand, as one of their “core” values. Groups cannot submit the online application unless they do, the National Post reports.
The decision sparked a huge backlash. Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Jewish leaders have raised concerns about the new ideological requirements, according to The Canadian Press. Pro-life groups are suing the government over the new policy.
The Canadian government released the discriminatory rules in December.
“… these changes help prevent youth (as young as 15 years of age) from being exposed to employment within organizations that may promote positions that are contrary to the values enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and associated case law,” the government stated.
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Despite the backlash, Trudeau and his administration have refused to back down on their pro-abortion ideological push.
The pro-abortion administration attempted to assuage the public in late January by claiming groups only must “respect” abortion on demand if they want to receive the grants, according to The Canadian Press.
In January, Trudeau also denigrated concerns voiced by a pro-life student about free speech.
“If you’re pro-life then you are ridiculed and insulted, but if you’re pro-choice then you’re praised,” the student told Trudeau, according to the National Post. “And I just want to know if this [free speech] is important to you.”
Trudeau answered: “Women have fought for generations for the right to control their own bodies, to be able to choose for themselves what to do with their bodies.
“When those beliefs lead to actions aimed to restrict a women’s right on what to do with her body, that’s where we draw the line,” he continued, according to Global News.
However, these explanations have not satisfied many religious groups, which employ students to help run summer camps, refugee service organizations and charities to help low-income families and minorities. Reports indicate that hundreds of groups that used to employ students may not this summer as a result, and summer camps and other charities could be forced to close.
Canadian taxpayers pay about $200 million a year to support the youth-based program, which provides funding for businesses and non-profits to offer temporary summer jobs to youth ages 15 to 30. It is a way the government encourages young people to get hands-on training before entering the workforce full-time.