Quebec City hospital resurrects crucifix following threats, complaints
Published Wednesday, March 1, 2017 11:23AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, March 2, 2017 7:27PM EST
A controversy over a crucifix at a Quebec City hospital has led to an arrest and a reinstatement of the symbol.
Saint-Sacrement Hospital removed a 30-centimetre tall crucifix hanging near the front of the building last week after getting a complaint from a patient.
That led to a flurry of outrage from MNAs and the Archbishop of Quebec who said the hospital was denying its heritage and also resulted in what the hospital described as a "major threat to its integrity and its leaders."
Police investigated that threat and arrested a man Tuesday night.
“There was a man in his 50s from Quebec who was arrested for uttering threats,” said David Poitras, spokesperson for the Quebec City police.
He was questioned and released with a promise to appear in court at a later date.
Multiple MNAs have criticized the hospital for removing the cross, including Liberal Minister Francois Blais, who said his government's bill on religious neutrality has specific exemptions for Quebec's religious heritage.
The hospital was founded nearly a century ago by the Sisters of Charity of Quebec.
“It's not about religion. It's about a very important historical symbol for Quebecers,” he said.
The Archbishop of Quebec, Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, issued a statement Tuesday disagreeing with the cross's removal.
"At a time when we are talking about being tolerant, open, welcoming and respecting differences, the withdrawal of the crucifix from the Hopital du Saint-Sacrement goes exactly in the other direction," wrote the Archbishop.
The sensitive subject was dodged by Quebec City’s usually outspoken mayor, Regis Labeaume.
“I don't want to be involved. I have enough work to do,” he said. “It’s none of my business.”
The hospital said that it removed the cross to respect the "religious neutrality of the state."
"As our primary mission is to offer health care and services, we must first respect the rights of our patients, who are sort of held captive by the institution," wrote hospital officials.
On Wednesday the hospital issued a statement saying it would restore the cross at the request of the Ministry of Health and put up a plaque explaining its historical significance.
However the Ministry of Health is denying it made any such request. Ministry spokespeople also said there is nothing in the law that requires the cross to be installed -- or to be removed.
Even though nobody is willing to accept responsibility for restoring the cross, a Liberal MNA is pleased with the decision.
“I'm very happy, I think it was a good decision,” said Blais.
The plaque is now in place, and is being watched over by a security guard in order to prevent people taking photos or causing a fuss.