Patrick Craine

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Coptics renew threat to remove 4,000 families from Catholic schools over ‘equity’ policy

Patrick Craine
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TORONTO, Ontario, August 16, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After facing criticism from the media and the Canadian Egyptian Congress, Toronto’s Coptic Orthodox leaders have renewed their threat to remove up to 4,000 families from the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) should it fail to protect Catholic teaching in the schools.

Nazeer Bishay, president of the Canadian Egyptian Congress (CEC), had called on parents August 8th to reject the Coptic leaders’ position in an interview with the Toronto Star.

But Fr. Rueiss Awad, the priest for St. George and St. Rueiss Coptic Orthodox Church in North York, told the Star that the CEC “is just one man’s personal opinion and it carries no weight.”  “We do not recognize the authority of this group to represent our congregations, or our families, or the church in any way, shape or form,” the priest said.

LifeSiteNews revealed at the end of July that Fr. Jeremiah Attaalla had warned the TCDSB in June that the Coptic Orthodox Churches in Toronto would withdraw their 4,000 families if they did not pass crucial amendments to their controversial equity policy.  One expert LSN spoke with said if the threat were carried out, the board could lose upwards of $40,000,000 in annual public funding, and over 150 teachers.

The equity policy, passed earlier this year as part of the Ontario government’s sweeping equity and inclusive education strategy, has sparked an unprecedented mobilization of parents who fear that it will give homosexual activists a foothold in order to further subvert already weak Catholic sexual teaching in the schools.  On August 31st, the board will be considering a set of amendments to the policy promoted by trustee John Del Grande and Angela Kennedy to ensure that equity and inclusion are interpreted consistently with Catholic teaching.

News of the Coptics’ warning sparked a vehement media reaction with claims that Fr. Attaalla was “preaching intolerance.”

The Globe and Mail argued in an editorial August 10th that publicly-funded Catholic schools “must abide by the equality principles in the Canadian Constitution – even if they are out-of-step with the church’s own teachings.”

“Students’ welfare and equality rights trump official religious dogma,” they added.

But Toronto lawyer Geoff Cauchi said the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed in 2001 that Catholics’ denominational rights in section 93 of Canada’s Constitution are “absolute.”

“Canada’s self-proclaimed ‘national’ newspaper has sunk to a new low in either journalistic integrity or competence,” he told LifeSiteNews.  “If the editor sought legal advice on this topic before writing this editorial, he ought to fire the lawyers.  If he did not seek legal advice, the Globe ought to fire the editor for incompetence.”

“Any statute or government edict that would force Catholic schools to teach that homosexual behaviour is ‘moral’ would certainly” violate Catholics’ denominational rights, he added.

Despite the claims that the Coptic priests are “preaching intolerance,” Fr. Attaalla has highlighted that the Christian position on homosexuality is fundamentally based in love.

Pressured by Xtra! about how we would react if one of his children announced he was gay, Fr. Attaalla responded: “I would love him.”

“I would do what Christ would have done, love him even more than before,” the priest continued.  “I would tell him to go and read the Bible. If this is his choice, that’s his choice. But that’s not according to what we believe ... Schools teaching Adam and Steve is a reality, and it’s not what we believe.”

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