Canada Deserves Better Than Pope John Paul II Day: National
Organization for Atheists

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – July 15, 2013) – The Centre for
Inquiry’s Petition to the Senate to Oppose Pope John Paul II Day (Bill
C-266) surpassed 2500 signatures in its first week.

CFI is troubled that the late pontiff enjoyed a free pass unavailable
to most other candidates for such a naming honour. The sponsor of the
Bill, Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon, provided a hyperbolic
description of Pope John Paul II as a champion of free speech,
democracy, and inclusivity, that went unchallenged.

“Pope John Paul II ruled the last absolute monarchy in Europe,” said
CFI President Kevin Smith. “During his reign he spoke approvingly of
censorship for religiously offensive speech, punished nonconforming
Catholics, and demeaned secularism as a ‘culture of death’.”

Lizon argued John Paul II deserves unique recognition due to his
championship for human rights, a commonality between the Pope and
Canada, stating “We [Canada] are currently a party to seven major
international human rights conventions.”

“In fact, the Pope refused to sign two of those very conventions,
putting him in the company of countries like Somalia and Iran,” said
Smith. “Meanwhile, John Paul II failed to provide mandatory annual
reports on Vatican compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the
Child.” The Pope’s betrayal of trust and dereliction of duty in the
global child sex abuse scandal is well known.

“Canada has named days in honour of only three other individuals: two
Canadian Prime Ministers and Raoul Wallenberg, who helped rescue tens
of thousand of Jews from Nazi-occupied Hungary,” said Smith. “Simply
put, Canada deserves better.”