CNS FILE PHOTO | GIANCARLO GIULIANI
Pope John Paul II appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica after being elected pope.
OTTAWA — A bill that would make April 2 every year Pope John Paul II Day has been referred to the Heritage Committee, after passing a second reading vote in the House of Commons Feb. 14.
Liberal MP Andrew Kania, who represents the Brampton West riding, introduced Bill C-573, an act to establish Pope John Paul II Day, last year.
A Canadian of Polish extraction and a Roman Catholic, Kania told the House Nov. 16, during the bill’s first hour of debate, that he hoped the anniversary of the late pope’s death on April 2, 2005 would be “a day of memory” for Canadians. The bill would not make April 2 a statutory holiday.
Kania spoke of the role Pope John Paul played in the fall of communism. He and several other MPs also praised the late pope’s reaching out to other religious communities, especially Jews and Muslims. Members from all political parties spoke in favour of the bill.
On Feb. 14, Kania updated his speech. “Pope Benedict has declared that Pope John Paul II will be beatified on May 1 in Rome, a ceremony that millions of Catholics, including myself, are planning to attend,” Kania said. “That is of huge significance for the Roman Catholic Church and for the Polish community generally.”
Kania said thousands of Canadians mailed in cards in support of the bill.
Though the Bloc Quebecois supports the bill, Bloc MP Carole Lavallée used her time Nov. 16 to both praise the late pope “as a promoter of peace” and to criticize the Catholic Church.
“The Bloc Québécois would also like to acknowledge the contribution made by Catholics in building Quebec, despite abuses in the Church’s dogma concerning the rights of women and homosexuals and despite having hidden cases of pedophilia in the Church,” Lavallée said.