NORTH BAY, Ontario, August 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The parents of a grade 12 student in an Ontario Catholic high school whose teacher denied the Resurrection of Christ in the classroom last year have decided to remove their children from the Catholic school board after the Catholic school denied anything inappropriate had occurred. The teacher in question has since quit the Catholic school and moved to the public school board.

Francesca Sinicrope, who has since graduated, told LifeSiteNews in June that her sociology teacher at L’École Secondaire Catholique Algonquin told her class that “people have taken the Bible too literally.”  “He began saying that it was like a metaphor that you follow … He said that Jesus never resurrected,” she explained. 

Francesca’s mother Pauline told LifeSiteNews that the difficult decision to pull her other children from the school came only after she and her husband had exhausted every avenue to obtain assurances that the problem would be resolved. She said the educational leaders and church hierarchy to whom she appealed had provided no response, and given them “no other choice.”

While the principal at the time had said an investigation cleared the teacher of wrongdoing, another classmate corroborated Sinicrope’s account.  “He began talking about how we as Catholics took the understanding of the Resurrection too far,” said Celine Giroux.  “The moral is right, it’s just the story is wrong,” the teacher said, according to Giroux.

The Sinicropes have enrolled their two younger daughters, Marina (going into grade 7) and Sabrina (going into grade 11), in the local public school board where the parents feel their children’s faith will be less at risk.  The move is expected to cost the Catholic board up to $80,000 based on government revenue allocation estimated at up to $10,000 per student, per year.

“The fact that my own Bishop did not respond to our concerns about heresy being taught openly in the classroom, was probably the final straw,” said Mrs. Sinicrope.  “It felt like a punch to the gut.”

The school board trustees also did not respond to her written complaints. After getting no response from these authorities, she wrote to the Papal Nuncio for Canada.

Mrs. Sinicrope said she recognizes that there are potential problems with the public school system, but that at least there her daughters know what to expect and will not have to contend with deciphering or second-guessing whether a religious teaching is faithfully Catholic or whether it is partly “heresy.” In addition, she and her husband feel they are obligated in principle to pull out their daughters as an act of protest and to avoid the risk of scandal.

“We felt that if we left our daughters in the Catholic system, just to save ourselves hassle, we might be sending a message to the Board that Catholic parents aren’t really bothered by the teaching of false doctrines in class ... and that the board can turn a blind eye the next time this sort of problem occurs,” she explained.

Mrs. Sinicrope said she was “disgusted” by the response of the school principal, Mr. Daniel Villeneuve, who has since left the position.

Villeneuve told them in May that their complaint was “thoroughly investigated” and that they found that the teacher’s “beliefs and program delivery are in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church that reviewed many beliefs and practices under Vatican II.”

Several weeks after the Sinicropes finalized their decision to move their daughters, they received a phone call from the high school’s new principal.  He pleaded with Mr. Sinicrope to not remove Marina and Sabrina, explaining that the resurrection-denying teacher had quit and decided to take a teaching job in the public system starting in September.

The Sinicropes say the offer was too little too late. “The new principal still did not admit that any wrong-doing ever occurred,” said Mrs. Sinicrope. “He didn’t tell us the teacher was fired for contradicting Catholic doctrine. That would’ve restored our confidence. Instead we’re told he suddenly quit and now everything’s supposed to be ok. Well, that doesn’t inspire confidence. It just confirms that something is still very wrong in the Catholic system.”

The Sinicropes’ decision comes as school boards across Ontario face a crisis of declining enrolment with large-scale school closures as a result.  Besides pulling their kids out of the Catholic school system, the Sinicropes also redirected their taxes to the public board.

LifeSiteNews did not hear back from the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie or the school after multiple attempts.


Contact Information:

Ecole Secondaire Catholique Algonquin
555 Algonquin Avenue
North Bay, ON
Canada P1B 4W8
Phone: 705-472-8240
Email form: http://www.northbaychamber.com/index.php?module=rolodex&uop=message_member&id=459

Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie
Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe
30 Ste-Anne Road
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada P3C 5E1
Phone: 705-674-2727
Fax: 705-675-9889
Email: chancery@diocesecentre.com