Canadian church leaders have issued messages of condolence and tribute to the Hon. Jack Layton, leader of the Official Opposition, remembering him as a politician with a strong commitment and passion for social justice.
Layton died of an unidentified cancer on Aug. 22, just 16 weeks after his New Democratic Party (NDP) became the Official Opposition for the first time in the party’s 50-year history. He was 61.
“Jack was a dynamic leader and politician known for his integrity, energy and enthusiasm,” said a statement issued on Aug. 23 by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. “…His entire public life was characterized by a profound commitment to the common good.”
Archbishop Hiltz noted Layton’s advocacy for human rights, the environment, healthcare, public housing and education.
In a statement issued Aug. 23, the Rev. Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), said Layton never compromised his dedication for issues such as aboriginal rights, affordable housing, the environment and ending violence against women. “We mourn the loss of a great leader who was unfailing in his compassion for people in need,” said Bishop Johnson. Layton’s “hope and optimism,” in both public and private spheres, have inspired Canadians, she added.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), in a statement issued Aug. 22, said Layton was ” a dedicated politician who served his country with devotion and generosity.” His struggle with cancer has given people “a wonderful example of courage and hope,” said the statement signed by Bishop Pierre Morissette, president of CCCB and bishop of Saint-Jerome.