G20 Summit will affect, but not close, Toronto parishes

  • June 4, 2010
G20Toronto LogoTORONTO - Catholic parishes in the downtown core plan to keep their doors open during the upcoming G20 summit in Toronto on June 26 and 27.

“We do not anticipate having to cancel any spiritual services," said John McGrath, the archdiocese's chancellor of temporal affairs, in a June 1 letter to all Toronto parishes. "It is important for those parishes in areas impacted by the summit to communicate effectively with parishioners that may be inconvenienced ie. weddings, funerals, etc. held on the weekend of the summit. Reminding all involved to leave ample time for travel, anticipate delays, etc. is an important part of our ongoing communication.”

The letter noted the heavy security planned for the days before and after the formal meetings, and the numerous street closures that could impact operations for some organizations, especially in the downtown core.

A small number of parishes may be affected by the summit due to security requirements. The letter also suggested that pastors work with staff on potential travel challenges and to consider tele-commuting, flexible hours or other options. A discussion of local safety procedures for parishes and review safety protocol would also be helpful, the letter said.

Archdiocesan spokesperson Neil McCarthy noted that the vast majority of the archdiocese's parishes will not be affected by the increased security plans which are concentrated in the downtown core.  

Toronto Police and the RCMP have recently announced some security details, including the establishment of a security perimeter in an area bound by Yonge Street, Spadina Avenue, Queens Quay and King Street. There will also be a security fence surrounding the area around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the site of the G20 meeting, starting June 7.

There are no Catholic churches within the security area. St. Stephen's Chapel, which is located on Bay Street and outside the security perimeter, plans to remain open, as will St. Michael's Cathedral located at Church and Shuter Streets, and St. Basil's Church, located just east of the designated protest zone at Queen's Park North. This protest zone has led the University of Toronto's downtown campus to shut down for four days during the summit. This will affect University of St. Michael's College arts and science students attending classes at the downtown campus. There could be arrangements made to relocate residents to satellite residences and campuses in Scarborough and Missisauga.

Meanwhile, the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto plans to keep its doors open.

Other Catholic organizations, such as St. Joseph's Healthcare on the Queensway, will remain open for patients.

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