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New Canadian cardinal condemns Quebec’s controversial values charter

Archbishop of Quebec Gerald Cyprien Lacroix walks past then Pope Benedict XVI after receiving the pallium, a woolen shawl symbolizing his bond to the Pope, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, June 29, 2011

Canada's freshly appointed cardinal says Quebec is making its people increasingly fearful of each other by moving forward with its controversial values charter.

Quebec Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix was among a new batch of cardinals selected Sunday by Pope Francis, joining an elite group near the top of the Roman Catholic Church.

Lacroix is now speaking out against Parti Quebecois legislation tabled last fall that would ban public sector employees — including teachers and doctors — from displaying or wearing religious symbols.

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

Lacroix told a news conference in Quebec City today that the province's heated identity debate is building walls between cultures and making people from different backgrounds afraid of each other.

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

Lacroix was one of 19 men named Sunday to the senior ecclesiastical post by Pope Francis.

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

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