TORONTO, ON September 9, 2015 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) expressed profound disappointment today in response to the offensive comments admitted by NDP Director of Communications, Shawn Dearn. The comments made by Mr. Dearn reported in various media included the following:
“Memo to CBC & All media: Stop calling the misogynist, homophobic, child-molesting Catholic church a ‘moral authority.’ It’s not.” (March, 2013)
“Dear Pope Benedict — go f— yourself.” (2010)
The CCRL normally avoids any engagement in partisan politics, especially during a federal election. However, the comments used by Mr. Dearn, and the general comments which have been made in social media in agreement with him are reflective of a coarsening of public engagement on matters of religious faith.
It is not really a surprise to the CCRL that Mr. Dearn’s Twitter comments in 2010 and 2013 are reflective of anti-Catholic sentiment in matters of public engagement, for which Mr. Dearn apparently seeks to distance himself in 2015. Mr. Dearn states that his previous tweets do not reflect his views, but he does not adequately explain why he made the comments in the first place.
The CCRL remains concerned that a senior director for communications of a national political party would have engaged in such a public diatribe and for having made comments that deeply offend the sincere views of millions of Canadian Roman Catholics.
It is of further concern that the federal NDP would have hired Mr. Dearn for this senior post earlier this year without checking his Twitter account, or by ignoring these otherwise publicly available statements.
According to media reports, Mr. Dearn’s Twitter account was made private this past week in response to the furor. To his credit, Mr. Dearn has apparently deleted the comments and apologized.
The CCRL urges that all involved in public discourse engage in a respectful presentation of views, so as to improve the nature of public debate, rather than engage in its debasing.
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.
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