WINNIPEG, Manitoba, October 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The principal at a Catholic school for K-8 students in Winnipeg has been put “on leave” after he promoted the 40 Days for Life campaign, the Winnepeg Archdiocese informed LifeSiteNews Friday.
Principal David Hood of Christ the King School had urged families to participate in the local 40 Days campaign in a school newsletter, and then told media on Tuesday he was considering participation in the vigil as a voluntary “official school activity,” whereby grade 7 and 8 students could satisfy their 10 hours of community service.
“Mr. Hood is on leave while the Board of Directors reviews what has [taken place],” Robert Praznik, director of education for the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, told LifeSiteNews. While the school is based in the Archdiocese of St. Boniface, Praznik oversees schools in both dioceses.
“There is always a lot more to a situation that cannot be shared when dealing with personnel issues,” Praznik added.
The school’s board of directors held a closed-door meeting Wednesday night with 30 parents who had complained about Hood’s actions.
Christ the King is an independent school under the auspices of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface, but receives 50 percent of its funding from the Manitoba government.
A government representative told LifeSiteNews Thursday that the 40 Days for Life would not satisfy their community service curriculum requirements, which they say are meant to support “worthwhile causes or organizations.”
Fr. Alphonse de Valk, editor of Canada’s Catholic Insight magazine, said he believes that is a “real threat and a real disgrace for the Catholic school board” that Hood was put on leave.
“The kids are doing a community service. They are trying to reduce the incidence of abortion and it’s wonderful work,” the priest commented. “What’s wrong with getting the credit for it?”
“I don’t think it’s fair at all, just because the parents complain about,” said Maria Slykerman, who coordinates the local 40 Days for Life campaign. “I mean it is a Catholic school, what do they expect?”
Slykerman said Hood is a “solid Catholic,” the father of a large homeschooling family, and that the pro-life cause is “close to his heart.” “He was always at the vigil himself and always helping out,” she noted.
In his comments to LifeSiteNews, Praznik emphasized the school’s work with the local pro-life educational group Life’s Vision, but suggested they would not get involved with 40 Days for Life in Winnipeg because of its ties with a group that works to secure full legal protection for the unborn at the political level.
“The 40 day activity is sponsored by [Campaign Life Coalition] which is a political organization and not a registered charity,” said Praznik. “Life Vision is a registered charity is the organization that works with our schools and parishes to support the pro-life movement.”
While the 40 Days for Life in Winnipeg is not organized under the auspices of Campaign Life Coalition, Slykerman also serves as President of CLC Manitoba.
Canada’s largest pro-life group and the political arm of the country’s pro-life movement, CLC works with fully-funded Catholic schools across Ontario and thousands of students from the Catholic separate schools to flood Parliament Hill for the politically-oriented March for Life every year.
Fr. De Valk stressed that the 40 Days campaign is “completely unrelated to politics,” but noted nevertheless that students have benefited greatly from witnessing at Ottawa’s March for Life. “They’re doing good work and getting an education on an extremely important issue,” he explained.
“I have no patience for those that say, certainly not with anyone in the Catholic school board, who thinks that this principal should be removed,” said Fr. De Valk. “They should be removed because they’re unfit to deal with Catholic education.”
Slykerman emphasized that Archbishop Albert LeGatt of St. Boniface, in whose diocese the school resides, has been a good pro-life bishop, and encouraged concerned individuals to contact him in a respectful manner.
“The Catholic schools have sold their soul because now the government is in there,” she noted. “You can’t do anything anymore. Once the government gets into it, they can say, well look, we’re paying 50 percent, why shouldn’t we tell you what to do?”
“If this isn’t worthy of community service, what is?”
Bishops across the world have joined the 40 Days for Life vigils, including campaigns in Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver.
Christ the King School
Board of Directors
Click here for online e-mail form.
Most Rev. Albert LeGatt, Archbishop of Saint-Boniface
151, avenue de la Cathédrale
Saint-Boniface, MB R2H 0H6
Tel: (204) 237-9851
Fax: (204) 231-2652