Sunday, 28 July 2013

Anti-Pope Day: a Q and A with Ethan Chow of The Centre for Inquiry

**The Centre for Inquiry has been circulating a petition they wish to present to the Senate to oppose Pope John Paul II Day.

What is Pope John Paul II Day? Well, recently Canada's House of Commons passed a bill (Bill C-266, sponsored by Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville) declaring April 2nd every year to be Pope John Paul II Day. For most, this event passed without any recognition, but for members of the Centre for Inquiry this was an offensive act that they want reversed. 

Ethan Chow is the Lower Mainland representative for the group. He was kind enough to answer some questions for me. His answers are here, unedited. I would love to know what you think about this petition and about the day itself. Please feel free to comment below this post or email me.

Q: Why does it personally bother you to have a Pope day? 

A: There are serious concerns to be had with appointing such an honorific on Pope John Paul II. The first is the child sexual abuse that occurred during his reign as Pope. Barbara Blaine, head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) group, points out, "In more than 25 years as the most powerful religious figure on the planet, John Paul II did almost nothing to safeguard kids." 

Pope John Paul II also took a strong stance against gay rights— he personally intervened to advise Jean Chretien against introducing legislation allowing same-sex marriages in Canada. We also shouldn't forget about his edicts against contraceptives and condoms, even when they were used to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. 

If Canada is going to give an honorific to the Pope, what message will that send to gay Canadians who have struggled to gain the rights and freedoms that are accorded to all Canadians? What about the victims of sexual abuse that came at the hands of Catholic priests? What steps will the government of Canada take to also mention the abuses by the Catholic church that he ignored, discuss all the pedophile priests he protected, and perhaps give all the victims a forum to discuss exactly what happened to then under his tenure?

Q: How many signatures do you have on your petition now? 

A: Currently we have 3,361 signatures. Here's a link to the petition:

Q:What is next? What does the group hope to accomplish?

A: As the petition gains signatures and more people become aware of the controversies around this Pope, we hope that the government will reconsider what sort of message such an honorific sends to the people of Canada and the world.

**This interview is one in a series I have done with different leaders of different groups. I am neither endorsing nor condemning this group. I welcome all beliefs from our community to be expressed. This is a blog, not a newspaper. 

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