A Canadian government programme now requires churches to support abortion if they are to receive funding

A Vatican adviser has called for prayer for Justin Trudeau, after the Canadian prime minister effectively barred pro-life employers from a major government scheme.

Under the Summer Jobs programme, church and other non-profit organisations receive subsidies to employ students. But Trudeau’s government now requires all such employers to endorse “the right to access safe and legal abortions”.

Fr Thomas Rosica, a Canadian priest and press advisor to the Vatican, tweeted: “Pray for conversion of mind and heart of this PM. His youthfulness and hope that he brings to Canada is overshadowed by the darkness of his words.”

[Fr Raymond de Souza: Justin Trudeau is the acceptable face of hardline secularism]

The Canadian government has introduced an “attestation” which groups must sign as part of their application. Churches and others must affirm that their “core mandate” respects “individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

These include “reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” The form explicitly defines “reproductive rights” as including the right to an abortion.

In response to protests from organisations which support the lives of unborn children, the government has confirmed that they will reject applications which do not affirm abortion.

The government already faces a legal challenge from the Toronto Right to Life Association.

The Canadian bishops’ conference said in a statement that, even apart from the effect on free expression, the reform would damage useful programmes: “summer camps will be forced to close; the services of numerous non-profit organizations will be reduced; valuable opportunities for apprenticeship will be lost.”

The move has been criticised by Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative opposition party, who said: “For them to have their funding jeopardized because of their own views on some of these issues, it doesn’t make sense to me.”