At a press conference held in front of the Montreal Archdiocese, the Duplessis Orphans Committee called on worshippers to boycott the Sunday collection carried out by the Catholic churches as a show of support for their cause and to send a clear message to Church leaders. The Committee suggested that all those whose conscience dictates they respect this boycott can donate their usual contribution to the United Way instead, and this for as long as the Catholic Church refuses to assume its responsibilities in recognizing its faults and compensating the victims of abuse.
The announcement of this boycott comes following an interminable wait. For more than seven years, the Committee has been hoping the Church would act and recognize its wrongs toward these innocent victims. Furthermore, in the last few months alone, six written requests for a meeting and answers to specific questions were addressed to Cardinal Turcotte. These requests were made after the offices of Mgr. Turcotte and Mgr. Morissette, president of the Quebec Council of Catholic Bishops, jointly issued a press release on March 31 (now more than five months ago) announcing they would explore ``avenues of solutions'' and after they had ignored several written requests to consult with the Committee. The Duplessis Orphans Committee also announced that it would not hesitate to carry out other short-term actions if its just demands continue to be ignored by the Catholic Church.
Bruno Roy, president of the Committee, stated at the press conference: ``Given the shameful silence of the Church and the undue delays of the religious authorities in compensating the victims, and given that Cardinal Turcotte and Mgr. Morissette are reacting like businessmen who flee their moral and financial responsibilities towards the victims, it is our right to launch a boycott of the financing of the Catholic Church. This boycott is based on the following undeniable historical facts:
``That the religious communities did not honour their obligation to care for and educate the children who were placed in their charge according to the agreements made with the Quebec government;
``That the religious communities concerned participated, in collaboration with the Duplessis government, in falsely and illegally declaring normal children as 'mentally deficient' in order to transfer them from orphanages to psychiatric hospitals so that their upkeep would be paid for by the Federal Government;
``That the doctors working for the religious communities provided false diagnoses of mental retardation so that normal children could be transferred into psychiatric asylums, thereby causing these children grave physical and psychological prejudice following their illegal internment;
``That these false diagnoses caused the confinement of children and the loss of their most fundamental human rights;
``That this situation financially benefited the religious communities, allowing them to obtain larger grants from the Quebec government;
``That the religious communities did not honour their obligation to provide adequate instruction, putting an end to the education of these children who were under their care (contrary to the laws in force at the time);
``That these actions resulted in subtantial losses to the victims due to the lack of instruction and professional training, since the education of these children ceased upon their transfer into psychiatric asylums;
``That these children served as slave labour, performing work for the benefit of the religious communities and of cultivators while illegally interned;
``That the state in which these children were maintained caused a loss of physical and psychological integrity;
``That the wrongs and prejudices suffered by the victims mortgaged their future;
``That the religious communities and the Catholic Church still refuse today to recognize their past and the reality of these adults handicapped by the circumstances of these shameful acts;
``That is why we, the Duplessis Orphans Committee, ask anyone who disapproves of the conduct of the Catholic Church - which refuses to act to recognize and repair its wrongs - to boycott the collection plate for as long as the Catholic Church denies its responsibilities, that is, until it compensates the victims, recognize the wrongs of the past and finally offer them a measure of justice.''
The boycott will begin on Sunday, October 3, 1999, at which time the victims will present themselves at the church doors with pamphlets explaining the situation and will invite worshippers to withhold their Sunday contribution. Anyone who would like to participate in supporting the collection plate boycott, either by distributing information pamphlets in front of churches or by any other form of support, can contact the Duplessis Orphans Committee,1231 Panet Street, 3rd floor, Montreal, Quebec H2I 2Y6, tel 514 521 -1954, fax 514 521-8005.