TORONTO, Oct. 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto has shot back against Ontario’s government after Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Education Minister said the Catholic schools should not be teaching that abortion is wrong.
“Defending the voiceless is our mission,” Cardinal Thomas Collins told a crowd of 1,700 at the annual Cardinal’s Dinner in Toronto on Thursday. “Both the constitution and the Education Act make it clear that the Catholic identity of the school must be respected.”
This identity must be respected, he said, “when it comes to protecting the freedom of all in the school community to engage in pro-life activities in order to foster a culture of life in which the most vulnerable and voiceless among us are protected and honoured throughout their whole life on earth from the moment of conception to natural death.”
The Cardinal’s comments came after Minister Laurel Broten told media on Wednesday that Catholic teaching on abortion amounts to “misogyny” and so is in violation of Bill 13, the government’s newly-enacted “anti-bullying” legislation.
“We do not allow and we’re very clear with the passage of Bill 13 that Catholic teachings cannot be taught in our schools that violates human rights and which brings a lack of acceptance to participation in schools,” said Broten, in response to a question about whether it’s okay for the schools to send students to pro-life rallies.
She made the comments in reaction to a press conference at Queen’s Park organized by Campaign Life Coalition, which had been sponsored by three Tory MPPs.
Neither Broten nor McGuinty were at the Cardinal’s Dinner Thursday night, but the government was represented by Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Charles Sousa, reports the Catholic Register.
In his remarks, Cardinal Collins insisted that the Catholic identity of the schools is “recognized and protected both by section 93 of our Canadian constitution – for without recognition of that identity the agreement that created Canada would not have proceeded – but also by section 1 of the Education Act of Ontario.”
Catholics’ denominational rights must be respected when it comes to anti-bullying groups, he insisted, which, he said, “means following the method outlined in the document Respecting Difference.”
He said the “essential role” played by people of faith in our society “should give pause to those … who seek to sterilize public discourse and publicly funded institutions from religious influence.”
“They should realize that apart from the strangely forgotten fact that people of faith pay taxes, Ontario would be a colder, harsher, darker, more cruel place without the generous action of people of faith motivated by their faith,” he continued. “There is more beauty in the variety of a garden than in the uniform, undifferentiated, monotony of the dull flat surface of a parking lot.”
Marino Gazzola, president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, told LifeSiteNews they found it “incomprehensible” that the Minister would label Catholic teaching on abortion “misogynistic,” but also indicated they still have no intention of challenging Bill 13.
“We deliver the curriculum that affirms life, our curriculum is aligned to the teachings of Jesus Christ,” he asserted. “I think it’s a well known fact the Catholic teaching that abortion is an act that is contrary to the core teachings of our curriculum and the values we promote in Catholic schools. And that’s what we continue to go with.”
OCSTA had strongly endorsed Bill 13 before the government introduced a clause forcing schools to allow clubs named “gay-straight alliance,” but when the bill passed with the clause intact they announced that the schools would obey it nevertheless.
Gazzola told LifeSiteNews he sees no connection between Bill 13 and abortion, and that OCSTA will continue to advise school boards to comply with the law.
“I don’t see the correlation between Bill 13 and this. That’s her choice I guess. I don’t remember seeing anything in Bill 13 about abortion,” he said. “It’s still legislation that is in effect and we’re complying with it. I don’t see that changing right now and I don’t see our position changing.”
He said he would not comment on whether the government was taking an adversarial stance towards Catholics.
Cardinal Collins’ full talk is available is available at the Archdiocese of Toronto’s blog.