Anti-bullying bill ‘an egregious assault on religious liberty,’ priest says
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, June 1, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an op-ed published yesterday in the National Post, Father Raymond J. De Souza points out that the Ontario government’s “bureaucratic crusade” to force Catholic schools to establish “gay-straight alliance” clubs is “a violation of the constitution and an egregious assault on religious liberty.”
Last Friday the McGuinty government’s education minister, Laurel Broten, told reporters at a news conference that she will introduce an amendment to the controversial homosexual anti-bullying bill (Bill 13) that “neither the [school] board nor the principal shall refuse to allow a pupil to use the name gay-straight alliance or a similar name.”
The move was criticized as a direct rebuke to Ontario’s Catholic bishops. Although they allow homosexual clubs, the Ontario Catholic schools framework for anti-bullying clubs, “Respecting Differences,” specifies that gay-straight alliances are “not acceptable in Catholic schools.”
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Fr. De Souza, renowned as a speaker on both religious and secular subjects, observed that the trustees of Catholic school boards have objected “[n]ot to the anti-bullying effort, but to setting one form of bullying — sexual identity — above all others, and mandating clubs which at least implicitly will advocate that traditional Christian (and Jewish and Muslim) teaching regarding homosexual acts is wrong.”
Fr. De Souza also pointed out “The absurdity of the government’s intransigence has made it clear that the anti-bullying measures are being used to effect a theological change in Catholic teaching in the schools. That is beyond the competence of the state, a violation of the constitution and an egregious assault on religious liberty.”
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that bullying on the grounds of sexual orientation is immoral,” he noted.
The Ontario government had become “unhinged on homosexuality,” he wrote, noting that most bullying involves body image and academic achievement.” So where is the mandate for the ‘Acne-clear skin alliance’? How about the ‘scholars-dullards’ club?” he asked.
The anti-bullying bill’s intent is to “force Catholic schools to countenance as morally good sexual relations outside of marriage in direct defiance of millennia of settled moral teaching,” Fr. De Souza concluded.
Fr. Raymond De Souza is a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario, where he serves as chaplain for the Catholic chaplaincy at Queen’s University.