2014 CCRL Annual Report

Events and Engagements

CCRL Dinner with Guest Speaker Brian Lilley

On May 22, the CCRL hosted its annual dinner in Toronto. This year the keynote speaker was Catholic husband and father, host of Sun News Network’s Byline, Brian Lilley. He urged all of us in our everyday lives to “normalize being Catholic.”

CCRL presented Archbishop Adam Exner Award to Gwen Landolt

Also on May 22 at the CCRL annual dinner, the League presented the Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life to Gwen Landolt, long time national Vice-President of REAL Women of Canada. Gwen has had a long career in prolife advocacy, and the promotion of the family in national and international circles.

Faith in the Public Square symposium

From August 5-7, CCRL President Phil Horgan and Executive Director Christian Elia attended a symposium co-hosted by St. Augustine’s Seminary and the Archdiocese of Toronto, “Faith in the Public Square”. Presenters included Cardinal Collins, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Professors Douglas Farrow, Iain Benson, Randy Boyagoda, Fathers Tom Rosica and Tom Lynch, and Dale Ahlquist. Both Phil and Christian participated by sitting on three different discussion panels, discussing issues such as freedom of conscience and religion in the public square, and variants of notions of pluralism.

Interventions

In the past six months, Phil Horgan has submitted five briefs to various provincial law societies on the Trinity Western University (TWU) file, while also engaging in five court interventions, three at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), two of which as the CCRL’s counsel of record.

League opposes approval of RU-486

The CCRL wrote to federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose asking that the abortion drug RU-486 not be approved for Canada.  Opposition to the drug, under the theme “RU-4Life?” was the theme of this year’s March for Life in Ottawa on May 8.

CCRL Comments on UN Committee Report on Children’s Rights and Vatican

The Catholic Civil Rights League commented on the report of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which accused the Vatican of systematically covering up child sexual abuse and called for changes to Church attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change Canon Law. The report was issued after hearings in Geneva last month at which Vatican officials testified.

“We deplore all instances of child sexual abuse and support the rights of victims in these cases,” said League President Philip Horgan. “We also are encouraged by the improvements that have been made in the reporting and processing of such cases within the Church in recent years, and find it unfortunate that the UN report appears to have taken no account of these improvements, which in many dioceses have led to protocols stricter than those found in schools, youth groups, sports associations and other groups where youth may be at risk.

Loyola High School

We were a joint intervener in the Loyola appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, argued on March 24, 2014. A decision is pending on this case involving the imposition of the Quebec Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) curriculum on a private Catholic school, to the exclusion of its Catholic ethos.

The CCRL, along with out co-interveners, the Association des Parents Catholiques du Quebec,

the Faith and Freedom Alliance and the Association de la Communaute Copte Orthodoxe du

Grand Montreal argue that Loyola, an established Catholic school is entitled to the protection of section 2(a) of the Charter, the heart of which is the right to manifest one’s religion “in community with others.”

The ERC’s requirement that Jesuit teachers at Loyola must put aside their beliefs, that is authentic Catholic scriptural and magisterial teaching, in favour of a mandatory secular view is a coercive act which infringes upon Charter rights of freedom of religion and conscience.

Carter

The CCRL had been granted intervener status on this SCC appeal argued on October 15 on the issue of assisted suicide. The Carter case challenges the existing provisions against assisted suicide in the Criminal Code. The League supported the government’s opposition to decriminalization.

In addition to other interveners, the CCRL focussed on the impact such a change would have on medicine and conscience rights, and the significant risks associated with adopting a euthanasia regime in Canada. A particular fear in the event of decriminalization are concerns by the elderly, the disabled or physicians and health care workers, and indeed all individuals and groups that object to assisted suicide and euthanasia for reasons of conscience and religion, that safeguards will prove inadequate from forced participation, directly or indirectly, in such objectionable actions.

The new legislation recently passed in Quebec is illustrative of these concerns, in that health care facilities will be required to facilitate “medical aid in dying” practices, despite objections from health care workers.

Saguenay

The CCRL had also been granted intervener status on this SCC appeal argued on October 14 on the issue of prayer at municipal council meetings. The SCC examined the issues raised by an atheist group which has treated Christian prayer prior to city council meetings in Saguenay as discriminatory. The CCRL had been granted status to intervene in support of inter-denominational prayer at such public events. It is our position that state neutrality does not entail the imposition of radical secularism, atheism, or agnosticism, all of which are beliefs in themselves. Canada ought to embrace an authentic pluralism by including various forms of prayer representative of the community in a manner that is not imposing, nor offensive by those who belong to a different faith group, or those who have no faith life at all.

CCRL Submission to the CPSO

On August 1, the CCRL filed a submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) regarding their review of their Physicians and the Human Rights Code policy of 2008. We strongly advocated for the protection of the Charter right of freedom of conscience and religion for all Canadians including physicians in the daily routine of their care provision to patients and in the overall forming of their individual medical practices.

Trinity Western

The CCRL has previously submitted briefs to 5 provincial law societies and is now involved in two judicial review applications regarding the accreditation of future Trinity Western University (TWU) law school graduates. The judicial review applications are in response to rejections by the various law societies to prospective law graduates from Trinity Western University in British Columbia, set to commence operations in 2016. The rejections of the proposed TWU law school were based on that institution’s adherence to the traditional definition of marriage in the school’s community covenant.

The opposition faced by Trinity Western is yet another example of the politics of exclusion, as in the view of opponents a traditional understanding of Christian morality is objectionable in Canada’s institutions of higher learning. We continue to maintain relationships with our supporters, most recently with the delivery of the quarterly newsletter in September, with a year-end coming later this month.

Administrative

CCRL Office Relocation and addition of a Toll Free number

In August, the CCRL moved to 2305 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1P1. Our phone number is still (416) 466-8244 and our fax number is still (416) 466-0091. We are pleased to have introduced a nationwide toll free number: 1-844-CCRL (2275).

The CCRL secured the required Articles of Continuance from the federal government in October.

On Tuesday, December 2 we launched our new website with secure integrated online donation and membership maintenance areas. We have also invested in a new client management database platform, which is also integrated with our donations and membership.

We continue to maintain relationships with our supporters, most recently with the delivery of the quarterly newsletter in September, with a year-end coming later this month.

Media

Christian and Phil both maintain active engagements on matters in the media, whether on the prostitution issue, the TWU file, or the various engagements at the Vatican this past year. Both our president and executive director are quoted regularly in the Catholic Register, both by staff reporters and the Canadian Catholic News.

We have re-launched the Facebook page and added our Twitter feed @CCRLtweets directly to our new website ccrl.ca.

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