OTTAWA - The bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall in Eastern Ontario has called on his fellow Canadian bishops not to repeat the errors of the Inquisition in judging the Army of Mary, a Quebec movement the Vatican wants banned from all Canadian parishes.
"Recently, the Pope asked forgiveness for the errors surrounding the Inquisition; we must be careful not to repeat errors and injustices of the past," said Bishop Eugene LaRocque in a letter distributed to all his parishes.
"The Army of Mary numbers 25,000 members in 14 different countries. A condemnation by our conference [of bishops] would have an effect far outside the limits of our country."
In its publications, the Army of Mary claims its founder, Marie-Paule Giguere, 78, is not only the living incarnation of the Virgin Mary, but will also wield great power on Earth.
Bishop LaRocque and Bishop Colin Campbell of Antigonish, N.S., have each ordained four priests affiliated with the Army of Mary, and are among a handful of bishops in Jamaica, Italy and other diocese around the world that have given at least tacit support to the movement.
It was banned from all Quebec parishes when its writings were judged doctrinally "aberrant" and "gravely erroneous" in 1987 by Quebec's Louis-Albert Cardinal Vachon.
More recently, the Vatican's top doctrinal watchdog, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, told Canadian bishops it is time for them to warn parishioners that the movement can no longer be called "Catholic" and should be banned from Church property. In a Feb. 29 letter, he said the movement has been the source of tension and harm in Canada and other countries.
In his decree removing the movement's status as an official Catholic association, Cardinal Vachon cited a number of heretical references in its writings. The publications call Ms. Giguere "the incarnation on Earth of the Virgin Mary," "the mystical incarnation of Mary" and "mystical priest."
In one publication, titled Vie D'Amour XI, Ms. Giguere's followers are told: "The mission that God confides to Marie-Paule would be universal and extraordinary." It then goes on to quote a prophecy believed to be from God about Ms. Giguere: "One day, you will have a great spiritual and mystical power over all the Earth."
The Army of Mary appealed Cardinal Vachon's ruling, but his condemnation was confirmed by Church courts in Rome.