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New Quebec cardinal condemns charter of values for its divisiveness

QUEBEC – Canada’s freshly appointed cardinal says Quebec is making its people increasingly afraid of each other with its controversial values charter.

Quebec Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, among a new batch of cardinals selected Sunday by Pope Francis, spoke out Monday against proposed Parti Quebecois legislation.

READ MOREQuebec archbishop among 19 new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis

The PQ government’s plan would ban public sector employees — including teachers and doctors — from displaying or wearing religious symbols.

“We’re dividing people,” he told a Quebec City news conference when asked about the charter, a document tabled last fall by the minority PQ government.

“People are every day more afraid of each other. Instead of bringing us together and bringing our cultures together and sharing the richness of who we are, we’re starting to build walls and be afraid of each other.

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“And I don’t like that. I don’t think that that’s where humanity should be going.”

The bill would force state employees to take off their headscarves, kippas, turbans and larger-than-average crucifixes if they want to keep their jobs.

READ MOREQuebec National Assembly prepares for charter hearings

The government argues the charter would shield the province from what it describes as increasing fundamentalism and says it would provide protection against gender discrimination.

The proposal will go under the microscope Tuesday in Quebec City, when public hearings into the document are set to begin.

Lacroix was one of 19 men named to the senior ecclesiastical post, joining an elite group near the top of the Roman Catholic Church.

The appointment means Lacroix will have a hand in electing the next pope, which is a cardinal’s most important task.