Catholic Bishops of Quebec, Canada Letter to Faithful and Remind Government that Vaccine Passport "requirement goes against our beliefs..." FULL TEXT

Letter from the bishops to the Catholics of Quebec
Published on: 2022-02-03 

Along with all people of faith, we, the Catholic Bishops of Quebec, welcome the reopening of places of worship on February 7, 2022. We see this as recognition by public authorities of the importance of religious gatherings and activities for a large number of citizens.  (See 3: 44 Mark on Video Below)

It will thus be possible for the communities to gradually resume their activities and thus provide support and comfort to a large number of people.

The resumption of our activities is an opportunity to recall the duty of the State to respect, promote and protect religious freedom. The Declaration on Religious Freedom made during the Second Vatican Council is very clear on this subject and we endorse this conviction:

It is an essential duty for all civil power to protect and promote the inviolable rights of man. The civil power must therefore, by just laws and other appropriate means, effectively assume the protection of the religious freedom of all citizens and ensure favorable conditions for the development of religious life so that citizens are able to exercise their rights and to fulfill their religious duties, and that society itself may enjoy the goods of justice and peace flowing from the fidelity of men to God and his holy will. [1]  

The reopening of our churches is the result of the many efforts of the members of the Table interreligious de concertation du Québec, with whom we are in solidarity and with whom we have coordinated our efforts to insistently ask the government to reopen places of worship as soon as possible. . We have also insisted that people attending our assemblies be exempted from the requirement of the vaccination passport, aware of the negative effects of its imposition on our communities.

We recognize that many believers believe that this requirement constitutes intolerable discrimination that deprives unvaccinated people of their right to religious freedom. This exclusion appears to them to be incompatible with the very essence of a welcoming community of believers, compassionate and open to diversity, with which we fully agree.

However, in this exceptional time of pandemic, Catholics have a duty to join their efforts with those of all members of society to ensure the safety and health of all. And this, even if certain measures affect for a time the exercise of certain freedoms.

The Declaration on Religious Freedom [2] challenges us on this subject. At number 2 of this text, we can read:

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has the right to religious freedom. This freedom consists in the fact that all men must be exempt from all constraint on the part of individuals as well as of social groups and of any human power whatsoever, so that in religious matters no one is forced to act against his conscience nor prevented from acting, within just limits, according to his conscience, in private or in public, alone or in association with others.

The declaration therefore recognizes that "just limits" can be imposed on religious freedom in certain circumstances. Moreover, the Council Fathers also consider it necessary to underline in number 7 of the same declaration that this freedom is not absolute: it comes with a responsibility with regard to the common good. 

In the use of all freedom must be observed the moral principle of personal and social responsibility: the moral law obliges every man and social group to take into account, in the exercise of their rights, the rights of others, their duties towards others and for the common good of all. With regard to all, we must act with justice and humanity. [3]

Thus, for members of the Catholic community, the expression of religious freedom is not centered solely on individual rights and needs, but also on concern for the health of others. This freedom may exceptionally be subject to temporary restrictions for the common good.

The same is true for freedom of conscience. Indeed, conscience does not operate in a vacuum: it is formed in dialogue with different sources of moral wisdom and its decisions must be oriented towards others, in solidarity with others. As Pope Francis reminded us in an address to members of the Catholic media on January 28, 2022, “  we do not come out of a crisis alone  ” [4] . To do this, we must work together, together for others, especially those who are in need, and together in the service of the truth, which means seeking that which promotes communion and the good of all.

As humanity faces the risks posed by the pandemic to our societies, Catholics recognize that the government not only has the right, but above all the duty to intervene to ensure the health and safety of all. It is the duty of the State, even if the decisions taken are imperfect and questionable, made at the cost of scientific and political compromises.

While exercising healthy vigilance as well as our democratic duty to discuss and question certain decisions, we are challenged by the apostle Paul, who reminds us to never stop supporting our rulers with our prayers:

I encourage, above all, to make requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving for all men, for heads of state and all those who exercise authority, so that we can lead our lives in peace and quiet, in all godliness and dignity. (First Epistle to Timothy 2,1-2)

This is why it seems reasonable to us, in the circumstances, to agree to certain compromises to contribute to the safety and health of all. For a time, we accept that the vaccination passport is required to access a place of worship, even if this measure upsets us deeply. However, we remain in contact with government authorities to remind them that this requirement goes against our beliefs and to ensure that it will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so.

That said, we would like to affirm the concern of all the pastors of our Church to seek by all means to accompany and offer support to all those who for a time will not have access to our churches. Whether through individual meetings, through the broadcasting of celebrations, through outdoor celebrations or by any other safe means, we want all baptized persons to be welcomed and accompanied.

In these exceptionally difficult times for everyone, we join our prayer to that of Pope Francis: I ask God, concludes the Holy Father, that each of us may bring his little grain of sand, his little gesture of love . [5] In no way do the constraints we encounter prevent us from loving our neighbour, from helping him, from offering him our friendship.

May the Peace of the Lord and his grace be with you!

The members of the Executive of our Assembly,


+ Christian Rodembourg, MSA
Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe
President of the Assembly

+ Paul-André Durocher
Archbishop of Gatineau
Vice-President of the Assembly

+ Gerald C. Card. Lacroix
Archbishop of Quebec

+ Christian Lépine
Archbishop of Montreal

+ Luc Cyr
Archbishop of Sherbrooke


February 3, 2022                

Information : Msgr. Pierre Murray, CSS, Secretary General
Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops
Telephone: 514-914-0553
Email:  |


[1] Declaration on Religious Freedom — Dignitatis Humanae of December 7, 1965. , number 6, accessed January 28, 2022 .

[2] Ibid. number 2.

[3] Ibid. number 7.

[4] Address by Pope Francis in English on January 28, 2022. , accessed February 2, 2022. Unofficial translation.