Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) has granted refugee status to a 74-year-old woman who fled from the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) in the Philippines.
Fredisminda Robosa Menorca was found by the IRB to be a “person in need of protection”.
The woman is the mother of Lowell Menorca, 41, a former unordained INC minister-turned opponent of the church who earlier fled to Canada, and is now based in Metro Vancouver.
According to the IRB, Menorca’s mother faces “a risk to her life or … [a risk] of cruel and unusual treatment and punishment” from the INC.
“I would like to thank everyone who prayed for us and supported us throughout this whole ordeal,” Lowell Menorca said in a statement. “Our battles are not yet over but we can now breathe a little easier knowing that my mother is now a Protected Person here in Canada where human rights and civil liberties are respected and protected.”
“As expected, my family and I are constantly vilified and berated in social media ever since the positive decision came out. I am quite used to the death threats, curses, and animosity from these fanatical members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo. Sadly, what they do not understand is that the more they curse other people especially in public, the more they reveal their true judgemental and vindictive nature to the whole world, making them look more like a cult rather than a religion.”
Menorca continued: “I honestly believe that there is still a greater majority of good-hearted members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, but the core of the problem is not on the members who merely follow blindly, but the leaders of the church who have allowed the sanctity of the church to be adulterated because of their greed, love of money, power and their insatiable thirst for worldly recognition. It’s no wonder why there are now more corruption and crime-related activities involving church members as exemplified by their church leaders’ above-the-law mentality.”
“To date, there are 4 protected persons (3 in Canada, 1 in New Zealand) who are able to prove their cases in international tribunals. This is a very strong indicator that the institution in question, indeed, has the means and motivation to harm people who they consider as their enemies,” Menorca said.
The IRB found that the INC has “the motivation and the capacity to harm her as a way of controlling or punishing her son”.
Lowell Menorca has claimed that members of the church abducted him, attempted to kill him and threatened the life of his young daughter when he lived in the Philippines.
He fled to Canada in 2016.
Lowell Menorca was granted refugee status last year.
After arriving in Canada, Menorca’s mother suffered a stroke that affected her speech and left her partially paralyzed and bedridden.
“As someone who is immobile and completely and utterly dependent on others for her daily life, the claimant is, simply put, a very easy target,” the IRB wrote in its decision.
Menorca’s wife and two children are in Asia.
They are expected to join him when Menorca gets permanent residency in Canada.