TORONTO, ON February 11, 2013 – The Catholic Civil Rights League thanks Pope Benedict XVI for his devoted leadership of the Church as priest for 62 years, Archbishop, Cardinal and Pope of the universal Church for last seven and one half years, and wishes him every blessing in the future.

“Today’s announcement that His Holiness will resign for health reasons comes as a surprise, but the discernment, charity and leadership shown by the decision certainly does not,” said League President Philip Horgan. “In 2013, a leader’s recognition that his health no longer permits him to function completely in his role must be respected.

“We will always appreciate Pope Benedict’s leadership on questions of religious freedom, which he has stated is not only a God-given right but also the path to peace, civil order and the common good.”   

The Pope’s many references to what he called “the dictatorship of relativism” and his warnings about the growth of secularism were also grounded in his belief that one of the greatest threats to freedom today is the increasing decline in religious belief and loss of interest in the search for truth, Mr. Horgan added.   “The Pope’s resignation provides a unique opportunity to reflect on his many speeches, writings, and other statements.  It will be interesting to see how the Pope’s long held interest in pursuing theological studies will evolve in his “emeritus” status.”

Pope Benedict also gave great leadership in pro-life and other human rights matters. In his annual message for the World Day of Peace on Jan. 1, he said he was concerned about continued attacks on human dignity and human rights, including abortion, euthanasia and attempts to restrict religious freedom on pro-life issues. “Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life,” he said. 

The League encourages all people of good faith to pray for the health of the Pope, and for the important work of the conclave that will be undertaken in March.  Easter of 2013 will draw greater attention to the witness of this Pope, and to the Church’s next Pope, in the commemoration of the Easter Triduum, and the great feast of the resurrection of Christ.  

About CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information:
Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244;

Op-Ed: Defender of faith and reason, by League Director Richard  Bastien, Ottawa Citizen, February 11, 2013