Correction: This article originally stated that James Loney had “sued” the Knights of Columbus for homosexual discrimination. This is incorrect. Loney publicly accused the Knights of discrimination, but did not launch a lawsuit. We regret the error.
BANCROFT, Ontario, 9 January, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Concerned pro-family leaders and parents are wondering why the Ontario Catholic Principals’ Council as well as the Ontario School Chaplains association are promoting a non-denominational “social justice” camp to students run by dissident Catholics and homosexual activists.
Camp Micah, which operates every August near Bancroft, Ontario, is a six day “ecumenical camp” that seeks to form young people to become the future leaders in “faith and justice,” according to the camp’s director.
The camp’s leadership team includes a laicized Catholic priest and three pro-gay activists, one who performs homosexual ‘marriages’, another who is a practicing homosexual and vocal critic of Catholic teaching on homosexual activity, and a third who leads a gay-straight alliance in a public school.
The FAQ on the camp’s website tells students not to be concerned if they “don’t go to church on Sunday” since “some of us [staff] don’t go to church every Sunday either”. While camp officials write that they are “passionate about the gospel of peace and justice”, the name of Jesus doesn’t appear anywhere on the camp’s website.
Leaders for renewal in Catholic education, pro-family leaders, and parents have called promotion of the camp at Catholic schools a “great scandal”, “disturbing and totally unacceptable”, and problematic.
Camp Micah’s staff
Camp Micah’s director and founder is Dwyer Sullivan, a 75 year-old laicized Catholic priest and former Basilian. Sullivan, now married, is a retired Catholic high school teacher who taught in the areas of social justice and world religions.
Camp Micah staff include Monica Moore, a minister at Affirming United, a branch of the United Church of Canada. Affirm United exists to work for the “full inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in The United Church of Canada and in society.” Moore, who believes that issues on sexual morality are decided by a majority vote, has officiated at numerous same-sex ‘weddings’ at her various posts.
Staff also include James Loney, a homosexual activist who received international renown after being held hostage in Iraq for several months while working with Christian Peacemaker Teams in 2005. However, he is also known for having accused the Ontario Knights of Columbus for alleged homosexual discrimination in 2006 after the group ceased financing the Ontario Catholic Youth Leadership Camp where Loney was an employee for several years. Loney alleged at the time that the Knights specifically closed the camp because of his post-Iraq public revelation of being gay. The Knights stated that they closed the camp to “review” its “mandate and effectiveness.”
Loney, a lapsed Catholic who lives with another man in Toronto, wrote in a 2005 article titled “Confessions of a Spiritual Couch Potato,” that he “avoid[s] prayer like the plague—the kind where you stop, sit or kneel, do nothing but be, even if for only ten minutes. It’s agony-in-the-garden every time; the easiest thing is to let the cup pass. The thought of fasting nauseates me, and as for Sunday mass—that weekly spiritual reboot and virus check—well, let’s just say I’ve accumulated a significant inventory of mortal sins.”
The camp’s program director is Colleen Barrett, a staff advisor for the Gay Straight Alliance at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School in Cambridge, ON.
Sullivan told the Catholic School Chaplains of Ontario association in a meeting last year that the province and all those present at the meeting would “benefit” from having students “engaged in the kind of leadership for justice and faith that Camp Micah teaches.”
A call to Camp Micah director Dwyer Sullivan for comment was never returned.
Endorsing Camp Micah
The Catholic School Chaplains of Ontario have endorsed the camp on their website, calling it a “retreat/camp experience for our young people based on the values of peace and justice.”
The Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario endorsed the camp in a 2010 newsletter, calling the camp a place that “challenges youth to reflect on their personal leadership gifts, builds community and models leadership skills for transforming the world.”
Various Catholic high schools throughout the province have promoted the camp online or in newsletters, some calling it the “best leadership camp for Catholic high school students in Ontario.”
Saint Paul Catholic High School in the Niagara region pointed out in a 2012 newsletter that a “number of students” from Niagara Catholic District School board have attended the camp in the past, adding that “it has been an amazing opportunity to build Christian leadership skills which then strengthened the school faith community upon their return.”
Pro-family leaders and parents react
One Ontario Catholic school system teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, told LifeSiteNews that it comes as “no surprise” that “leaders in our schools are supporting a social justice leadership camp where three prominent members of staff are publicly at odds with Church teaching”.
The teacher said that supporting the camp reflects the “desire by some in the system to encourage staff and students to ignore the Church’s authority and to ‘promote change’ so as to change the Church”.
Jack Fonseca, program director for Campaign Life Coalition, said that “this camp isn’t training youth to be faithful Christians at all, but rather, left-wing political activists.”
Andy Pocrnic, a Catholic father from Ottawa, called it a “great scandal” to have a camp promoted by Catholic principals and chaplains that is “staffed by gay activists.”
“When parents send their kids to Catholic schools they expect whatever is being promoted within those schools to be in harmony with the Catholic faith,” he told LifeSiteNews. “Instead, we find these leaders actively undermining that faith and betraying their duty to protect the children in their care.”
Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholics called the camp’s promotion in Catholic schools “disturbing and totally unacceptable”.
Kim Galvao, head of Concerned Catholic Parents of Ontario, called social justice camps like Camp Micah problematic for their propensity to turn young people against the Catholic Church and its teachings on sexual morality.
Galvao said her own experience in social justice groups as a young high school student led her to “doubt” that the “Catholic church was doing the right thing in terms of social justice.”
“My experience in social justice caused me to question the church’s teaching not only on contraception but on many other aspects that lead to confusion and doubt.”
Galvao wondered why it appears that “at every turn [Catholic] educators are trying to undermine what Catholic parents are trying to teach their children.”
“Who’s side are they on? What’s the point of being Catholic if this kind of camp is the kind of extra curricular activities we are giving our children. This should be boycotted at all cost.”
Galvao suggested that Catholic principals and chaplains should “look at other camps that come from a Catholic perspective” and that “support” Pope Benedict’s teaching that working for peace in the world includes working to end to abortion and protect true marriage and the family.
Catholic School Chaplains of Ontario
David McNorgan, President
30 Wentworth St. N.
Hamilton, ON L8L 8H5
Ph: (905) 522-3581, x3020
Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario
Carole Allen, President
400 - 161 Eglinton Ave. East
Toronto, ON M4P 1J5
Ph: (416) 483-1556
Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
Catholic Pastoral Centre
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario, M4T 1W2
Ph: (416) 934-0606, ext. 609