Toronto, ON February 9, 2024 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) has focused on attacks against churches and the threat of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia expansion in our media work to start 2024.
Our President and General Counsel, Phil Horgan was interviewed by the Catholic Register for the January 13 article, Church burnings said to be ‘understandable’ a reference to the controversial words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 2, 2021, “I understand the anger that’s out there against the federal government, against institutions like the Catholic Church. It is real and it’s fully understandable, given the shameful history that we are all becoming more and more aware of and engaging ourselves to do better as Canadians.” Many individuals went further online, and posted on social media that more arsons should occur.
According to the CCRL’s Church Attacks Database, 85 Catholic churches, and many more of Christian denominations, have been set afire or vandalized since the May 27, 2021, discovery of 215 suspected unmarked graves near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. That figure was itself reduced within the next few weeks by the band council, but the figure continues to be improperly quoted by media outlets.
Over two and a half years later, many claims have not been proven as exhumations have either not occurred or they have produced zero evidence of unmarked or previously unknown graves. Kamloops itself has performed zero exhumations, despite funding available to do so. Academic inquiries have suggested that some ground shifts may have arisen from septic tank changes over the years.
Whereas Trudeau tempered his comments in July 2021 by also stating, “it is unacceptable and wrong that acts of vandalism and arson are being seen across the country, including against Catholic churches”, the overall discourse is that questioning of assertions and assumptions are labelled as residential school denialism.
In the meantime, the attacks continue.
Horgan stated, “while we may have the franchise on turning the other cheek, Catholics have to try and ensure there is a better presentation of the actual facts.”
The article was widely distributed among Catholic media outlets in North America. A follow up piece concerning the tracking of persecutions against Christians cited the League’s Church Attacks Database and the work the CCRL has done to raise awareness of the increase in anti-Catholic violence:
The CCRL has decried multiple times over the past couple of years that mainstream media are ignoring the disturbing data that hate crimes against Catholics rose 260 per cent in 2021 over 2020. The league strives to fill in this awareness gap with its own church attacks database, which has recorded over 85 incidents of vandalism or arson against Catholic parishes since the unproven discovery in May 2021 of 215 unmarked graves outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Again, Phil Horgan was quoted and the article spoke of the work in which the CCRL has been engaged to bear witness to the rise of intolerance of religiously informed views and public expression of faith in Canada.
Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
On January 29, the Canadian government announced that the country’s assisted suicide and euthanasia regime known as Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) would not be expanded to include people whose only medical condition is mental illness. Subsequently, the government announced that the proposed expansion would be postponed to 2027.
The CCRL has been steadfast in its opposition to MAiD and its expansion. In a sense, we can be temporarily pleased with our efforts and those of other Canadian groups who have joined in opposition over the years in arguing against assisted suicide and euthanasia in all forms. The overall picture, however, is not encouraging when one considers the vigor in which Canada has proceeded in aggressively implementing MAiD since its inception. Phil Horgan made this point after being interviewed by the Catholic Register:
The joint committee and the minister commented on the ‘system’ not being ready for the proposed expansion. We hope that after 57,000 deaths (now updated to a figure in excess of 60,000 to the end of 2023) in seven years this legislation be recognized as an unbearable and grisly expansion. The ‘system’ has gone far beyond anything contemplated by our Supreme Court. Perhaps some humility is in order.
Whereas the CCRL and other groups have decried MAiD and its expansion, those who favour extending assisted suicide and euthanasia to people with mental illness, and soon to mature minors, vow to continue to press onward. The League will need to be vigilant as legal challenges ensue.
Currently, a lawsuit is being prepared against St. Paul’s Hospital in British Columbia as they refuse to provide MAiD for patients in their care. The CCRL reported on the climate in BC regarding Catholic healthcare and the pressure being mounted to compel them to offer MAiD, not simply transfer patients to other institutions. Quoted in the US publication, the National Review, Phil Horgan pondered:
The government says ‘we’re providing the funding, you can’t deny a service,’” Horgan said. “But follow that to its logical conclusion. What does that mean for the expression of religious views in the public square? What does that mean to various other possible tax exemptions available to religious institutions?
In Quebec there are similar incursions into religious freedom concerning Catholic hospices and the attempts to compel them to offer MAiD.
Clearly, the CCRL has much work to do. We ask our supporters and friends to help us, perhaps as Lent approaches, by donating so that we may expand our Church Attacks Database and prepare for future legal interventions to protect our freedom of religion in Canada.
We appeal to any of you who are able to send a donation to the CCRL by clicking here or by mailing a cheque to the CCRL at PO Box 84505, RPO Bloor West, Toronto, ON, M6S 4Z7, or by calling the office at (416) 466-8244.
About the CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) (www.ccrl.ca) 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. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
To donate to the CCRL, please click here.
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