SUDBURY, Dec. 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As Sudbury’s Catholic school board appears determined to go forward with a Friday campaign event for Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau, one trustee is speaking out against the school giving a platform to a politician who openly opposes the Catholic Church’s teaching on key issues such as abortion and same-sex “marriage”.
“I just feel I’m not comfortable having Justin speak in a Catholic school in light of the fact that he is pro-abortion,” Estelle Scappatura, trustee for Zone 1, told LifeSiteNews Monday. “I’m not speaking for anyone else on the board. I’m speaking just for me,” she added.
The Montreal-area MP is scheduled to speak Dec. 21 at St. Charles College, a Catholic high school in the board, on the topic of youth leadership.
The board has reportedly received a slew of complaints over the event given Trudeau’s public opposition to the Church. In February, the MP said he would support Quebec’s separation from Canada if Parliament moved to restrict abortion or same-sex “marriage.” Then in June, he told an assembly of high school students that the Catholic Church’s opposition to gay-straight alliances is “repulsive.”
Kevin Murphy, a Catholic ratepayer in Sudbury, said he was “absolutely astounded that a Catholic institution would permit someone such as Justin Trudeau to come and speak to the students.”
He said he called the school this morning and was told Trudeau was only speaking on student leadership and would not address abortion. “When I questioned how can you possibly segregate student leadership and the question of someone’s morals, he was short of an answer,” he explained.
By the school’s standards, said Murphy, Hitler himself could have been welcomed as a speaker so long as the topic was deemed acceptable.
Norah Ryan, another ratepayer, has also called on the diocese and the school to cancel the event but has yet to hear back.
“It’s disappointing to think that he would be invited because we all know that as far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned, it is definitely against abortion, and we know that he is not,” Ryan said.
Gina Tullio, the school board’s communications officer, told LifeSiteNews on Thursday that no one would be available for comment until Monday. But today she said to call back again Tuesday.
Trudeau threw his hat into the federal Liberal leadership race in October and immediately assumed the role of presumed frontrunner. Five other candidates have officially registered so far. The leader will be picked April 14th.
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The 40-year-old son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau has focused much of his campaign rhetoric on the need to engage youth. For years he has built up a coalition of youth as a frequent speaker at schools, including Catholic schools across Ontario, and large events like the Kielburgers’ We Day.
David DiBrina, student trustee for the Sudbury Catholic District School Board, told Sudbury Northern Life that he is looking forward to Trudeau’s talk on Friday because he was inspired by hearing the politician speak at We Day in Toronto on Sept. 29th.
“He spoke about how as young people now, we need to start taking a stand and starting to say what’s right and what’s wrong,” said DiBrina. “When I found out there was an opportunity for him to come, I expressed how great of a motivator he is to young people, not just in Canada, but all over the world. I was very, very excited for him coming to the school.”
DiBrina said he supports Trudeau’s campaign because the MP is “very charismatic” and cares for young people and “making a positive change in this country.”
He also expressed hope that the event will prompt students to take a look at the Liberal Party. “Maybe they’re going to say ‘Wow, this guy is really great. Maybe I’m going to research the Liberal party a little bit more and go do my research on the prime minister now.’”
Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, is also calling on the school to cancel the event.
“It’s appalling that this is continuing, allowing a politician who’s pro-abortion and pro-same-sex ‘marriage’ and ridicules the Catholic hierarchy, including the Pope, to speak at a Catholic school. I think it’s irresponsible of the Church to allow this to happen,” he said.
The Sudbury Catholic District School Board is overseen by Sault Ste. Marie Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe, who has yet to comment publicly on the controversy.
Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe
Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie
(705) 674-2727 ext. 222
Catherine McCullough, Director of Education
Sudbury Catholic District School Board
(705) 673-5620 ext. 238
Find contact information for school board trustees here.