Outremont bans annual Eastern Orthodox parade
MONTREAL - Eastern Orthodox worshipers celebrate their holiest days of the year next week but parishioners at one Russian Orthodox Church in Outremont won't be allowed to hold their procession planned for next Saturday night.
That's because the borough of Outremont has banned parades and processions, including those for Eastern Orthodox Easter.
The ban resulted after strained relations between some Outremont residents and the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of Hasidic Jews.
Reverend Michael Metni is disappointed that authorities have outlawed the annual procession, which his St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church on St. Joseph Boulevard has held for 50 years.
Metni is encouraging his parishioners to work to reverse the ban by appealing to a higher power.
"We tell them pray and the Good Lord will resolve it. Man plants and God unplants, we always say," said Reverend Metini.
Parishioners believe that the Outremont borough should not involve their church in a conflict between some residents and the Hasidic Jewish community.
"We're not part of their group and they're not part of ours. I don't know what their problems are there and they have to resolve themselves," said Peter Paganuzzi, parishioner of the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox
Outremont Borough Mayor Marie Cinq-Mars said that she sympathizes with the church's position, however she and a majority of councillors voted Monday to ban processions and parades until June 1.
The measure comes in the wake of a shouting match on Durocher St. between Independent borough councillor Celine Forget and some Hasidic Jews celebrating Purim in March. The conflict required police intervention.
The mayor says the ban on processions and parades is an attempt to stop the tensions from growing.
But one neighbour argued that it is wrong to punish St. Nicholas for an unrelated conflict.
"I think it's too bad because I've been living there for a few years. They've been doing that procession every spring and there was never any trouble," said nearby resident Isabelle Brunet.
Brunet noted that student protesters flouted the rule without any penalty. "Why were student protesters recently allowed to march on the streets? Nobody did anything to stop that and that really ticks me off."
Parishioners plan to keep the traditional 50-year-old Easter procession alive by conducting the procession on church grounds.